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Scott D. Pierce: Utah Blaze performance spoiled great TV exposure for state

Published: Friday, July 4 2008 12:09 a.m. MDT

Utah got some nice exposure on ESPN this past Saturday afternoon.

Too bad the Blaze had to mess it up by coming from ahead to lose their first-ever home playoff game in the Arena Football League.

ESPN's coverage was generally complimentary of the city, the state and the fans. And it started out being complimentary of the team as well, which was easy when the Blaze jumped out to a 14-0 lead.

You could hardly blame the ESPN announcers for being less complimentary as the Utah squad let that lead — and the game — slip away.

Was it just me, or was there a more-than-necessary amount of showboating, celebrating, extra-curricular shoving and taunting going on during the Blaze's loss to the Colorado Crush?

It sure looked like players were playing to the camera. Or, at least, to the crowd.

I will readily admit that I'm not particularly familiar with the Arena Football League, so maybe this wasn't anything out of the ordinary. But, on several occasions, this activity would have gotten college or NFL players flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Quite honestly, it was reminiscent of the XFL at times. And I'm not at all sure that the AFL wants to be equated with the XFL in any way, shape or form.

AT THE RISK OF ticking off local fans and (gasp!) inadvertently making the Powers That Be at the Mountain West Conference happy, you could argue that BYU and Utah fans have it pretty good compared to UCLA fans.

At this point, all 12 of BYU's football games will be televised on one channel or another. And 11 of Utah's 12 games will be on TV.

At this point, six of UCLA's games will be televised. And one of those — the Bruins' Sept. 13 game in Provo — will be on Versus because of that channel's deal with the MWC.

(A seventh game will be on TV only in the Los Angeles area on FSN Prime Ticket.)

Now, I realize there are a lot of yeah-buts to all of this.

Yeah, but UCLA will be on ABC twice (once nationally), ESPN once, ESPN 2 once, Fox Sports Net once and Versus once.

Yeah, but BYU won't be on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Utah will be on ABC once (regionally vs. Michigan), but not on ESPN or ESPN2.

Yeah, but BYU has seven games on The mtn. and Utah has six.

Yeah, but you've got to have access to The mtn., CBS C, Versus, and Fox Sports Net, ABC (and, perhaps KJZZ-Ch. 14) to see all the Utah and BYU games.

Yeah, but five of UCLA's other six games could get picked up by ABC/ESPN, FSN or Versus.

And all the yeah-buts are absolutely true.

Yeah, but the fact is that Cougar fans will have the capability of seeing 100 percent of BYU's football games on TV this fall. Ute fans will be able to see 92 percent of Utah's games. (There are no plans to telecast the Weber State matchup.)

Bruin fans won't be able to see that many UCLA games no matter what satellite/cable system they're hooked up to or how much they're willing to pay.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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