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Scott D. Pierce: MWC just can't get anything right

Published: Friday, March 21 2008 1:33 a.m. MDT

A recent e-mailer asked a perfectly logical question that included a perfectly logical comment:
Can anyone explain why the MWC tournament games were on three different networks? That doesn't seem like a successful recipe to help fans find the games.
My rather flippant reply was that, well, the Mountain West Conference is run by chimps.
No offense intended to chimps, by the way.
The chimps comment, of course, was just a joke. And not particularly fair.
Well, unless you look at the, ahem, "security" arrangements at the Thomas & Mack Center last weekend. And then you start thinking the whole chimp theory doesn't sound particularly far-fetched.
The fact is that if you wanted to see the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of the MWC men's basketball tournament, you had to have access to three different channels — The mtn., CSTV and Versus. And, no, that is not fan-friendly by any stretch of the imagination.
Certainly, an argument can be made that it's better to have the MWC semifinals on CSTV than on The mtn., because CSTV is available in twentysomething-million homes and not 1.2 million. And an argument can be made that it's better to have the finals on Versus because Versus is in seventy-something-million homes.
And you could argue that some of the "big leagues" have games on ABC or CBS after earlier rounds were on ESPN, ESPN2 or FSN.
But — note to MWC officials — The mtn., CSTV and Versus ARE NOT analogous to ESPN, ESPN2, FSN ABC and CBS. If you subscribe to cable or satellite, you almost undoubtedly have ESPN. You almost undoubtedly have ESPN2. You probably have FSN.
And almost every home in America has access to ABC and CBS.
As we've discussed here ad nauseam, almost nobody has The mtn. Only a relative handful have CSTV. And, seventysomething-million households or not, Versus has yet to enter the public awareness.
The bigger problem is that, depending on your cable/satellite system and what package you're paying for, you might have one or two of those channels, but not all three.
It was a very smart move to air Thursday's third and fourth quarterfinals on both CSTV and The mtn. It's not a great solution, but it's better than nothing.
It would have made sense to simulcast ALL the games that CSTV carried on The mtn.
Again, that would be better than nothing.

PET PEEVE: Is it so impossible for TV types to distinguish between league champions and postseason tournament champions? CBS referred to UNLV as the Mountain West champions on Thursday afternoon, which is incorrect.
BYU is the Mountain West champion. UNLV is the MWC tournament champion.
(Just the way Utah was the MWC champion and New Mexico the MWC tournament champion in 2005. Just the way BYU and Utah were conference co-champions and Colorado State was tournament champion in 2003. And so on ... )
If you want to refer to one as the regular-season champion and the other as postseason champion, that's one thing. But a tournament champion is not the league champion.
CBS isn't alone, however. KUTV-Ch. 2, KTVX-Ch. 4, KSL-Ch. 5 and KSTU-Ch. 13 each had the same inaccuracy on their Web sites.
And, by the way, it still drives me crazy to hear TV types say, "WAC conference." That, of course, means "Western Athletic Conference conference."


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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