Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 | 2 a.m.
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Ryan Greene and Christine Killimayer, back safely from Wyoming, discuss what went wrong for the Rebels in a 30-27 loss to Wyoming, then take a look at how it translates forward for Mike Sanford's 2-2 club. Plus, Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal chimes in to offer some insight on UNR, who UNLV faces up in Reno this weekend in a must-win for both sides.
What does it say when Bishop Gorman has a better TV deal than UNLV?
Friday night’s Gorman-Green Valley High game was televised nationally by CBS College Sports.
Today’s UNLV-UNR game in Reno will not be televised. Last week’s UNLV-Wyoming game in Laramie was not televised. And even if it were, how many would have seen it?
The Mtn., the Mountain West Conference’s almost around-the-clock TV network that launched when CBS College Sports decided it would rather show Vanderbilt vs. Kentucky reruns because they generate higher ratings, has roughly the same number of viewers as the public access channel in Aurora, Ill., that carried Wayne’s World. At least when Aerosmith wasn’t the featured guest. Then the public access channel had more.
But if you are willing to pay for The Mtn., at least you can get it in most places. Er, some places.
Some of the marquee games in the Mountain West have been farmed out to the Versus channel. But even if you want to pay extra for sports tier programming, you still can’t see Mountain West games if you are a DirecTV subscriber. That would explain the black screen when you tried to tune in BYU vs. Florida State a couple of weeks ago.
That’s not going to get the Battle for the Fremont Cannon on TV because there were no plans to show it in the first place.
And that’s what is wrong with this TV deal.
Forget about the cost to consumers, lack of exposure for recruits and any snide remarks that Kirk Herbstreit, the ESPN college football analyst, might make about its limited access or appeal: The fact the UNLV-UNR game, the one game that people who live in Las Vegas would most like to watch, isn’t being televised this year is proof this TV deal stinks like a dead skunk in the middle of the road.
In defense of the Mountain West on this issue — and I never thought I would be typing those words — there’s not much that could have been done to get the Fremont Cannon game on the tube. Because UNLV and UNR play in different conferences, they have different TV partners.
UNR is aligned with theWestern Athletic Conference, which is aligned with ESPN. There are 16 games being shown under the massive ABC/ESPN umbrella on Saturday and every one, with the possible exception of the last game of the day, Colorado State vs. Idaho, is more attractive to the average college football fan than UNLV vs. UNR.
The host conferences and their broadcast partners have the option of releasing the game to an outsider, such as a local network, but seldom do when the game would go up against one of its own regularly scheduled ones. This is especially true where ESPN is involved, because it and the Mountain West aren’t exactly on the best of terms following their contentious divorce a few years back.
A spokesman said the Mountain West might be a little more flexible about releasing a nontelevised game provided the participants display a little flexibility of their own. Maybe that would entail playing an afternoon game in the evening or moving the game to another day. This is how the WAC gets a night on ESPN all to itself, which is basically the same deal the Mountain West had — and said it hated — before it took the money and ran off to the TV hinterlands.
There is a replica of an old leather football helmet on my desk which symbolizes where I stand on a lot things, including these deals with obscure TV networks. In the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust world, Woody Hayes decrees home games should not be televised unless they sell out in advance, and Bo Schembechler demands every road game be on TV.
This is not how it’s done in mid-major college football these days. You sell your soul to the TV devil and hope like heck the Utah schools are traveling when you play your biggest nonconference rival at home.
You take the money and run. You get your own TV network. You get a lot of Wyoming vs. Colorado State volleyball games. You get up close and personal with the San Diego State water polo coach.
And you get to imagine UNLV and UNR moving left to right across your radio dial.