My condolences to all of you Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans, bummed that for the first time since the 20th century (and for the first time ever at Raymond James Stadium in the regular season), your beloved men in orange won't be available to watch this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. However, unlike the pre-season when this happened on two occasions, you won't be deprived of football, as WTSP will instead offer the Buffalo-Miami telecast (which is almost as unappealing as Cleveland-Tampa. As Tom Jones with the St. Pete Times reports this morning, every other game available for CBS to broadcast in Tampa would have been a better choice).
For the first time ever, the media-research firm Nielsen has developed a system for ranking the popularity of NFL teams based on each team's local and national TV rankings, how often they're mentioned on the Internet, and how many visitors they attract to their official websites. The Nielsen Sports Media Index lists the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the 2nd least popular team in the NFL, trailed only by the St. Louis Rams. My favorite clubs, two of the most iconic franchises ever, the SF 49ers and Oakland Raiders, didnt fare that much better, with the Raiders only 25th and the Niners 27th in those rankings.
But that's all fine and good. Best of luck to whomever you're rooting for this fall. The season opened last night to a less than stellar performance in the Superdome as the New Orleans Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings, 14-9. Some of the play was pretty sloppy, which was really frustrating considering these teams played four meaningless games, presumably so they would be poised to play to their full potential last night.
However, can I turn your attention on to what all college football fans are salivating about this weekend? That is, a spectacular array of out of conference games that will be better than anything will see on January 1, due to BCS, which scatters the major bowl games throughout the first week of January.
For local fans, what could be finer than watching the USF Bulls traveling to Gainesville to take on the Tim Tebow-less University of Florida Gators in front of an estimated crowd of 90,000. That comes your way at 12:21 p.m.