Scott D. Pierce: Mountain West Conference a low priority for CBS C

Published: Saturday, Aug. 22 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Remember when the Mountain West Conference first signed its deal with CSTV back in 2003 and we got all excited (well, sort of excited) about the prospect that a (hopefully one day) national cable network would be excited about the MWC?

Boy, were we naive. At least, I certainly was.

Of course, back when the MWC-CSTV deal was announced, it wasn't made clear to us that most Mountain West games would end up on what has become The mtn. And that MWC teams wouldn't exactly dominate the channel formerly known as CSTV — now CBS College Sports (or CBS C).

CBS C has pretty much finalized its fall football schedule, and there are 43 games on it. Which, of course, means that there's the potential for 86 teams to appear on the cable/satellite network.

Of those 86 spots, 12 will be filled by MWC teams. That's 14 percent. And that isn't a lot.

The Mountain West is not, of course, the only college football entity that has a contract with CBS C. The channel also has ties to Conference USA, Army and Navy. (The two service academies do not belong to a football conference.)

So, how does the MWC stack up against Army/Navy and C-USA on CBS C?

Between them, Army and Navy will be seen more often than the nine teams in the MWC. Navy will make seven appearances and Army will make six — 13 games/15 percent of the total.

And C-USA will claim 26 of those 86 spots — 30 percent.

If that's not distressing, how about this? CBS C will cover six Division 2 games. Not FCS (formerly known as I-AA), but Division 2.

That's six of the 86 slots on the channel this fall — half the number as the MWC.

No, C-USA doesn't have its own channel the way the MWC does. But it does have a deal with ESPN, too, and 17 of its games will be on either ESPN or ESPN2.

And it's worth pointing out that The mtn. is available in about 7 million homes, whereas more than 80 million homes have access to CBS C.

Of course, conferences control only their members' home games. So maybe that's a better comparison. Here's how home games stack up:

C-USA — 13 (out of 43)/30 percent

Army/Navy — 11/26 percent

MWC —10/23 percent

All 12 C-USA teams are scheduled to make at least one appearance on CBS C. And there are three more C-USA matchups to-be-determined in November. (All will feature league games.)

Only seven of the nine MWC teams will be on CBS C, and it's not a balanced schedule by any means. Colorado State and Wyoming won't be on at all; San Diego State will appear once; BYU, New Mexico, TCU and UNLV twice each; Utah three times; and Air Force five times.

(That's 18 combined appearances for the service academies.)

No matter how you spin it, it would be hard to find a way to argue that the Mountain West is anywhere near the top priority for CBS C.

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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