Laura Seitz, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott was right where he wanted to be Thursday night — at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Scott made the journey to Utah for the historic first football broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks.
"I'm thrilled. I wanted to be here for it," Scott said. "I wanted to be with the fans to kind of celebrate this, especially given it is going to be such an exciting season."
Scott considers it "a major statement" that Utah kicked things off. He praised university president David W. Pershing and athletics director Chris Hill for being receptive to hosting the inaugural game.
"They've been great," Scott said of Utah's willingness to assist on new initiatives. "They've wanted to look for ways to partner together and this was a perfect way — to say we're going to do the first football broadcast on the Pac-12 Networks with Utah."
NETWORK NEWS: In a pregame press conference, Scott noted that the Pac-12 Networks likely won't be on DirecTV in the foreseeable future.
"We want fans to know they've got options. They ought to seriously consider them if they want to get Utah football and Utah basketball and all the other Olympic sports," Scott said after explaining that the conference knows distribution is a process and not everybody is going to be there from day one.
Scott said the Pac-12 Networks have had a pretty good launch with 30 different cable companies already on board.
"I'm hopeful that any of the distributors that aren't taking it currently will," Scott said. "Hopefully they'll do it soon. Hopefully they'll listen to our fans and their customers that want it and they'll take it."
HOW IT HAPPENED: Hill said the Utah-Northern Colorado game was scheduled three or four years ago when both teams had schedule openings in 2012.
"It's just a one-game thing," Hill said. "We needed to balance a home game."
Future meetings with Football Championship Subdivision teams, Hill explained, will include Weber State (scheduled for 2013) and perhaps Southern Utah.
"If it's an FCS team why not bring in teams nearby?" Hill said.
MAC WAS BACK: Former Utah coach Ron McBride attended the game. McBride, who was on hand to represent caterer Sonny Bryan's Smokehouse, said it was "very weird" to watch a game from the Rice-Eccles Stadium press box.
"First time I've ever been up here (for a game) I think," said McBride, who explained that the only time he ever coached from the box was during his three-year stint as an assistant at Kentucky.
Thursday's game pitted two teams McBride prepared for while serving as head coach at Weber State. He retired from the Wildcats after the 2011 season but returned to the game a few months later to become the offensive line coach for the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League.
"I love the Blaze. It was a lot of fun," McBride said while noting that he enjoyed being a position coach instead of the head guy. "It was good and the organization is good. I liked the whole thing."
The 72-year-old intends to return to the Blaze next season.
EXTRA POINTS: Utah native Trevor Lewis of the NHL champion Los Angeles Kings was introduced to the crowd at halftime. It was his day to bring the Stanley Cup home to celebrate. He signed autographs and met with fans earlier in the day at the Maverik Center . . . NFL scouts from the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys and San Diego Chargers were at the game . . . The attendance was 45,273, Utah's 13th consecutive sellout.
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