Scott D. Pierce: MWC gets little bit of love

Published: Friday, Dec. 19 2008 12:38 a.m. MST

What's this? A little love for the Mountain West Conference from ESPN?

Well, a little.

ESPN.com's March Schlabach ranked the 34 bowl matchups, and two of the five featuring an MWC team are in the top five; three are in the upper half; four are in the top two-thirds; only one is near the bottom.

Schlabach doesn't give the Utes that much love, however. He has TCU-Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl at No. 4 (the only non-BCS bowl in the top five) and Utah-Alabama in the Sugar Bowl at No. 5.

But you've got to love that TCU-BSU is No. 4 while the Orange Bowl, with Virginia Tech and Cincinnati, is No. 12. And over-ranked at that.

Pat Forde agreed with Schlabach's assessment that the Poinsettia Bowl is "the best non-BCS game." Although, what with that dog of an Orange Bowl, that's faint praise.

Other MWC games are BYU-Arizona (Las Vegas Bowl) at No. 16; Air Force-Houston (Armed Forces Bowl) at No. 22; and Colorado State-Fresno State (New Mexico Bowl) at No. 30.

And, no, there's not that much respect from ESPN. Will Harris picked TCU and CSU to win, and BYU, Utah and Air Force to lose.

CALL ME CYNICAL, but I find all the debate over which media giant would do the best job televising the 2014 and 2016 Olympics sort of amusing.

Are we really supposed to believe that members of the International Olympic Committee are worried about whether NBC, ESPN/ABC, Fox or CBS/Turner will do the best job producing the Games? I'm kind of thinking the IOC is more concerned with who will pay them the most money for the rights.

That's not to suggest that the IOC would sell those rights to E! or Comedy Central, but then channels like those aren't bidding.

The latest possible entrant in this fray — CBS and Turner are considering a combined bid — is intriguing because it's two separate companies. (The two combined to cover the '92, '94 and '98 Winter Games.)

In the same way that NBC has telecast Games on its broadcast network and cable channels USA, CNBC, MSNBC and Oxygen, the partnership would use the CBS broadcast network along with cable channels like TBS, TNT and perhaps even truTV and Cartoon Network. Or maybe the CBS College Sports Network.

Turner's corporate parent, Time Warner, is already partnered with CBS in The CW, raising the possibility that Olympics could be telecast on two broadcast networks.

Because of the lousy economy, the IOC has delayed the bidding on the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, and the 2016 Games, whose host city won't be selected until October.

If that city turns out to be Chicago, expect the bidding for the American TV rights to grow even more fierce. And more lucrative for the IOC.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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