Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010 | 11:36 a.m.
What a great way to begin the weekend.
Several UNLV basketball fans surely followed this pattern Saturday morning: wake-up, grab a cup of coffee and some breakfast, and turn on the television to watch the Rebels’ game at Louisville. That surely summarized my start to the day.
The early 9 a.m. PST start can be credited for some sloppy sequences by the scarlet and gray in their 77-69 loss, but the final score or key plays, wasn’t the only noteworthy occurrence.
It was the simple fact the game was on national television. And not the Mtn., CBS College Sports and Versus.
All schools in UNLV’s Mountain West Conference all locked into an awful 10-year contract with the Mtn. — a network owned by the league that gives sufficient publicity to member schools, but is watched by virtually nobody.
Louisville’s Big East Conference has a deal with ESPN, allowing the Rebels to make a much-need performance on the big stage.
It was about time.
UNLV has been ranked in the top 25 the past two weeks, yet its last three games — against Illinois State, UNR and Boise State — haven’t been televised. Not even by the Mtn, which has No. 20 UNLV under contract for another five (long) years.
The Rebels will play Kansas State Dec. 21 on ESPN, then will not make an appearance on a major network the rest of the regular season — despite 18 of the team’s final 20 games scheduled for television.
UNLV isn’t the only school lacking television exposure.
Undefeated San Diego State of the Mountain West, which is ranked No. 14 by the Associated Press, is one of the nation’s best teams. Yet, only four of their nine games have been televised. Five of the Aztecs’ six games to close the month also won’t be televised.
That’s embarrassing. Wouldn’t it be nice if the league’s best team can get some love by the league-owned network?
What’s even more alarming is the fact team such as UNLV, San Diego State and BYU — another ranked Mountain West team — are getting very little recognition.
That will hurt come March when the teams are jockeying for seeding the NCAA Tournament. The league is considered a mid-major conference, yet its top three teams are each capable of making a run to the Sweet 16 or deeper.
It would be nice if more people knew that fact. The only way for that to happen is to get out of the television contract with the Mtn. and get games played on ESPN.
The publicity of playing on ESPN is priceless in terms of marketing your program, especially with recruits. Like fans wanting to watch the Rebels, the Mtn. and other networks it’s affiliated with, aren’t attractive options. UNLV is a major college program with a national reputation, it should be playing on a network with equal credentials
So, enjoy your Saturday. Here’s hoping more include watching the Rebels on a major network — win or lose.