Scott D. Pierce: FSN biased toward Pac-10

Published: Friday, Sept. 12 2008 1:18 a.m. MDT

So much has been said and written about "the call" at the end of last week's BYU-Washington game that I'm hesitant to drag it out any farther.

Except to point out that the two main TV sources of criticism are compromised by their financial arrangements with the Pac-10.

That the coverage on Fox Sports Net was just short of cheerleading for the Huskies was no surprise, given FSN's deal with the Pac-10. It's like NBC's coverage of Notre Dame is pro-Irish and The mtn.'s coverage of Mountain West teams is pro-MWC.

The loudest shouting about how the Huskies had been robbed (tainting BYU's win) came from ESPN. And ESPN/ABC, of course, has a deal with the Pac-10 but not with the MWC.

There are conspiracy theorists out there who believe (and keep e-mailing me) that ESPN has an anti-MWC/anti-BYU bias. It's not a theory I subscribe to, but the fact remains that ESPN has a financial interest in seeing the teams/conferences it has contracts with do well to boost ratings/profits.

So, the conspiracy theory goes, if ESPN can discredit BYU, then maybe, say, Fresno State out of the WAC (which has a deal with ESPN) could slip into the BCS instead of BYU. That's better for ESPN.

And Fox has deals with the Pac-10 and the BCS.

Again, I'm not big on conspiracy theories. But ESPN itself gives critics ammunition. Like the post-game blog posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller, which declared that Washington QB Jake "Locker most certainly did not throw the ball 'high into the air"' — which is, by definition, an unsportsmanlike act.

That's a flat-out lie. Unless you believe a sudden gust of wind carried the ball up into the air.

In a later post, Miller accused his critics of "a quibble" over whether the ball was thrown or "flicked," as he maintained. And he wrote, "I will admit that video angles came out later that showed the ball going higher than I might have guessed watching the game on TV."

That's also a lie. It was right there on the FSN replays. But it's hard to admit when you're wrong.

Before the posters start arguing over interpreting rules, that's not the point. I'm not an expert.

Neither are TV analysts, apparently, because in the immediate aftermath of the game, none of them seemed to realize there was anything in the rule book about throwing the ball in the air.

But the fact is that, somehow or other, Locker certainly did throw the ball high into the air. Or flick it high into the air.

Claiming otherwise just feeds the conspiracy theories. And that's pretty much the last thing we need.

THE MTN. WON'T BE IN HD anytime soon. Certainly not this football season; probably not until next football season at the earliest.

And watching a standard-definition channel on a high-definition TV isn't ideal. The picture is fuzzy, particularly wide-angle shots.

I compared the picture for last week's Utah-UNLV game on The mtn. by watching it on both my HD and my SD sets ... and it really was better on the SD set. So if you've got a way to do the same, you might be happier.

Yes, it stinks that The mtn. isn't in HD. I'm not making excuses for The mtn. (Like I'd ever do that.)

I'm just trying to make your viewing experience a little less fuzzy.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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