This time of year, there's plenty to talk about in the world of sports besides BYU's quest for more exposure for its athletic program and Utah State's plight of possibly being left without a conference. . . .
Lost in all the shuffle over the BYU's concerns over its television deal with the Mountain West Conference is the MWC's basketball television schedule for this coming year, which recently was released. After having 12 non-conference games televised over the past two years, Utah has exactly zero games on the docket this year. Is that retribution for the Utes' decision to leave the MWC behind and join the Pac-10 next year?
Not exactly. The MWC has substantially cut back on the non-conference televised games this year with just a dozen total games compared to 18 last year and 27 the year before. Still, every other school in the league has at least one televised game — even Air Force and Wyoming — while Utah has none scheduled. . . .
The BYU QB battle turned out about like I expected. I wrote a month ago that Heaps was unlikely to be the starter for the first game, which he's not, but that he'd see some action in the first game, which he will. I don't know who will emerge, but I doubt the two-quarterback system will continue very long and could even be resolved after Saturday's game. . . .
We've all been waiting for a couple of weeks to see which direction BYU is heading with its athletic program. Although football is the sport that drives the bus, I can't see the school leaving its other programs behind by putting them in the West Coast Conference or in a watered down WAC. It makes more sense to stay with the Mountain West Conference with added television revenue concessions and then hope a Big 12 invitation comes though in the next two to three years, which seems very possible.
If the Cougars do stick it out in the MWC, the logical move for the MWC would be to add Utah State as a 12th team. That would give BYU a travel partner in the western part of the league, while UNLV and Nevada and San Diego State and Fresno State would pair up. The East wouldn't work out quite so well, where Boise State would have to most likely partner with Air Force or Wyoming. If the league went north-south, Boise would still have to partner with a Front Range school. . . .
No one is predicting a national championship for Utah this year, but the last time an in-state team opened with a victory over Pittsburgh, it went on to win the national title. That was BYU in 1984. While it would be nearly impossible for a local team to win a national title in football these days, a win Thursday night could at least propel the Utes up the rankings with pretty clear sailing until the final month of the season when the tough games hit with Air Force and Notre Dame on the road and TCU and BYU at home. . . .
Have you been thrilled with all of the coverage of the Little League World Series over the past couple of weeks on ESPN? I don't get why the LLWS has become such a big deal. Sure it's fun to see a couple of games, and the change to pit a world team against a U.S. team several years ago was smart. But do we really need so many televised games of 6-foot 12-year-olds playing baseball? Also it's a bit over the top to have some of the coaches wearing microphones so we can hear them encouraging their players. Anyway, in case you missed it, Japan beat Hawaii 4-1 for the title on Sunday. . . .
Finally, I was glad to see that the Utah High School Activities Association is finally going to make sensible changes to the realignment process. Going four years between changes didn't make sense with the population fluctuations and making realignments every two years is much better, even if it does mean more meetings for school administrators. It's better to get it right than leave teams in unfair regions for a couple of years. Also, making regions a uniform size within each classification and cutting back on the 5A numbers seems like a good idea.