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TV Take: ‘Total transmission failure’ happened to more than San Diego’s defense

The idea was a simple one.

Watch the Gonzaga women play live in the McCarthey Athletic Center on Thursday evening and set the DVR for the men’s game from San Diego.

Race home after the women’s win and watch the men roll.

Then pull a page out of a high school English exam. You know, compare and contrast.

Little did anyone know, especially not the good folks at Spectrum SportsNet in San Diego, that a “total transmission failure” would scuttle those plans.

Nothing says Thursday night fun better than “total transmission failure,” but that’s what happened, according the crawl KHQ ran following about 20 minutes of a still-screen image from The – the West Coast Conference’s broadcast arm – telling us they are experiencing technical difficulties.

In the compare and contrast vein, at least when you are in an arena watching live, there is rarely a total transmission failure. Unless, maybe, your glasses break or something.

Even then there would be the sounds of the crowd, the whistles from the officials, and the smell of popcorn or a hot dog or whatever the person behind you is scarfing down.

The other positives from being at the game live?

  • When the officials seem to be doing their best to even out an uneven matchup, you can join your neighbors in booing. Righteous indignation is so much better when you share, don’t you think?
  • When the game begins to go the home team’s way and the 6,000 or so in attendance begin to make so much noise your seat shakes, you don’t have to worry about blowing out your TV’s bass speaker. Or an earthquake. Those seem like the only things that could do that to the recliner at home.
  • And when the head coach – in this case, Lisa Fortier – throws up their hands in disgust after another boo-inducing call, you can watch the entire thing live. Instead of staring at a sign saying there are technical difficulties.

To be fair, the broadcast from San Diego, with Steve Quis doing the play-by-play, former Stanford standout Casey Jacobsen on commentary and Kelli Tennant on the sidelines, started out fine.

Jacobsen, who played inside throughout his career, mentioned how the undefeated Bulldogs play through their bigs and “basketball is best played inside-out.”

And as San Diego shot itself out of the game early – the Toreros missed their first 10 field goals and didn’t score in the first 6 minutes, 27 seconds – Quis understated “a sloppy start, to say the least, by San Diego.”

But, as the Zags built leads of 11-0, 23-5 and 44-16 in the opening half, the broadcast started to disintegrate.

It started slowly, with some sound problems beginning at about 7:20 p.m.

From there until the end of the half, the video was fuzzy and hesitant at times. The sound was hit and miss. Sometimes the picture would speed up before settling into a few seconds of normalcy. Then the choppiness would return. Throughout, KHQ ran a crawl informing viewers of the difficulties and how they were coming from the San Diego production.

But, hey, the commercials were fine.

Just after halftime, at 8:03 p.m. to be exact, the screen went dark, only to return with a clear view of the game. That lasted less than a minute and then the screen turned teal blue.

A better color, sure, but not what was wanted. There was a little noise. And back to the teal.

At 8:05, the technical difficulties screen from The shows up. It lasts until 8:17, when the game returns. It’s 62-24 Gonzaga. And, poof, it’s gone.

At 8:20, KHQ gives up and joins the comedy “Superstore.” The first joke? It has to do with casual sex.

Oh joy.

Within minute a different crawl appears across the top of the screen.

“We apologize to all our Gonzaga viewers. The company producing the broadcast in San Diego had a complete transmission failure. Once again we apologize to our viewers.”

As much as anyone appreciates an apology, the game, which the Zags won 96-38, would have been better. It was not to be.

According to an email from Jeff Tourial, the West Coast Conference’s associate commissioner for broadcasting, there was an equipment failure on site, having to do with the broadcast and not game production. The second half was recorded and will be available for Root and KHQ to broadcast down the road if they want.

Maybe then we can all compare and contrast with what we saw on Thursday.