Dick Harmon: No coffee, smokes or ESPN at BYU

Published: Thursday, May 7 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Something happened on the way to poking fun at BYU's on-campus TV services nixing ESPN from its lineup.

Then I turned on the all-sports channel Wednesday morning.

What I saw was ESPN's overcooked, inflated, hour-upon-hour speculation put to loop over whether Brett Favre would creep out of retirement and sign with the Minnesota Vikings.

After this droned on for hours, I actually thought of turning the channel to "The View," something I try to avoid like piggy flu.

I was all set to make this column about the absolute need for ESPN on BYU's campus, part of the package piped through student housing at Helaman Halls, Heritage Halls, Wymount Terrace and Wyview Park.

This past week, BYU switched from analog to digital on campus, anticipating the industry's switchover to digital signal.

As it turned out, the ESPN programming packages cost as much as all other channels combined that the university considered in the digital lineup. In a cost-cutting measure by the administration, a decision was made to take ESPN out of the lineup.

The cost, they said, could not be justified.

"We decided to keep all the channels we have currently, except for ESPN, based on the cost of that package," according to Todd Hollingshead, University Communications information and financial manager.

In its place, BYU will run CBS College Sports, which has its own wrap-up shows, scoreboards and game broadcasts that include the Mountain West.

That, of course, opened up a door for a little fun commentary.

ESPN has become sort of an institution, a rite of passage for sports fans. From its plays of the day to College GameDay festivities, it is part of our culture.

I envisioned a column projecting a setting at LaVell Edwards Stadium next September with visiting Florida State from the ACC.

A sportswriter from Tallahassee approaches the cute, kind, cherubic hostess in the press box and asks where the coffee machine is located.

"Sorry, sir, we don't serve coffee here."

Perplexed, the reporter asks where he can get a Diet Coke.

"Sorry, sir, we don't serve caffeinated soda drinks here."

Panicked, the writer asks where he can go to have a quick smoke.

"Sorry, sir, that is not allowed."

On edge, the visitor from Florida asks if could simply get a refreshing glass of iced tea.

"Sorry, sir, that is not served."

Frustrated, the puzzled reporter decides he wants to check on scores from around the ACC and tune in to some SEC games, Florida or Alabama on ESPN, so he turns to the giant Mitsubishi screen in the press room and finds a Wyoming vs. New Mexico game prominently on display.

He kindly asks a BYU representative to see if somebody could switch the channel to ESPN.

"Sorry, sir," he is told. "We don't subscribe to that channel on campus."

You can see the story line where that commentary would have headed since the sign at the entrance of the campus is "The World is Our Campus."

Then I tuned in to ESPN Wednesday morning, just after breakfast.

The Favre Watch, and what he may do had a life of its own. I saw a poll asking if he should play for the Vikings, call an NFL game or go fishing this season.

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