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Scott D. Pierce: ESPN fuels the fire of MWC conspiracy theorists

Published: Friday, Oct. 9 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Is ESPN biased against the Mountain West Conference?

Or is the MWC — which severed ties with ESPN in 2006 — simply just out of sight, out of mind?

I watched a lot of college football on TV this past Saturday on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ABC. Overall the coverage was great.

Heck, sister network ABC even did right by viewers in Utah when it switched away from USC's blowout of Cal to show us the final minutes of Miami's win over Oklahoma.

I'm pretty slow on the uptake, but after watching several hours of football, I realized that I hadn't seen the BYU-Utah State score on the "bottom line" graphic.

So I paid close attention to the Top 25 score updates, and — lo and behold — the BYU-USU score wasn't there. On any of the ESPN channels.

Yes, I know that the Cougars and Aggies played on a Friday night. And, if ESPN had a general policy of not reporting Top 25 games played earlier in the week, then the ESPN-hates-the-MWC (and/or BYU) conspiracy theorists wouldn't have anything to theorize about.

Except that that's clearly not ESPN's policy.

When Mississippi played on a Thursday, that score played in the bottom line throughout the following Saturday. Same thing when Boise State had Thursday and Friday games.

Yes, the SEC and the WAC have contracts with ESPN.

As far as I can tell, the policy is to include that week's results in the Top 25 update.

Unless you're BYU.

You could certainly argue that this is No Big Deal. And I'm not trying to make it one.

But there are those who will believe it was a deliberate slight — that there are poll voters out there who wouldn't even know that BYU won because of that slight.

That sounds utterly ridiculous. But, given what we know about the polls, it's at least a possibility.

At the very least, it speaks to ESPN's lack of interest in a MWC team.

(I didn't see it myself, but a colleague tells me he did see the BYU-USU score on an ESPN channel on Saturday — when the bottom line was reporting WAC scores.)

I stayed up late to watch Colorado State lose to Idaho on ESPNU. And the BYU-USU score never showed up in the Top 25 bottom line.

Apparently, ESPN just doesn't care that it gives the conspiracy theorists ammunition. Which says something. And not something good.

SURE, BOISE STATE is ranked No. 6 in the polls and is, perhaps, headed toward a BCS bowl bid. But the Broncos still have to play a Wednesday-night game this week (at Tulsa) because Conference USA (and the WAC) allow themselves to get pushed around by ESPN.

Not that there aren't great things about being on ESPN, but playing Wednesday-night games isn't one of them.

Could be worse. Tulsa plays two Wednesdays in a row.

e-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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