It usually isn't this easy for me.
Last week we got a letter to the editor from Steve Hurlburt, executive producer and director of programming for The mtn., who took me to task for some mild criticism of his channel and claimed its standards are up to those of NBC, ESPN and Fox. Then, on Saturday, we saw BYU-UNLV on The mtn.
It was the single worst telecast of any college football game I have ever seen. The consistent inability to follow the play with the cameras was nothing short of shocking.
It wasn't just that the cameras occasionally trailed the play a bit. With astonishing frequency, they completely missed the play. On occasion, they were 30 yards (or more) off the play.
Forget NBC, ESPN and Fox. Please try to match KJZZ's high-school coverage.
I was in the office Saturday watching the TV on my desk, and I couldn't believe what was happening. "Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" I asked the sports staffers.
"No we're not seeing what you're not seeing," one of them replied.
And we weren't the only ones who noticed. Here's what a few readers had to say about The mtn.:
• "Saw my first game on The mtn. Saturday, BYU vs. UNLV.... The broadcast was terrible.... I lost my voice during the game, not cheering for BYU, yelling at the cameraman to catch up with the play."
• "I could do a better job following the ball. Not being zoomed in would help; having good angles wouldn't hurt."
• The mtn. is "a total and complete failure.... The commentators are poorly prepared, and the sideline reports are inane. The camera work is amateur. Oftentimes the camera operator is faked out by a play action or does not know where the ball is on a run play. The entire operation can be described as an exercise in incompetence."
• "You can see that something is happening on the field, such as a pass or a run, but you have a tough time reading a jersey name or even number at times. The quality of the production is nowhere near that of any of the other networks."
• "I ... work for Comcast and I'm surprised that I don't receive any calls about the poor quality of The mtn. I guess the view is at least it's on TV even if all we can do is know which team is ours by their jersey color."
• The "quality of broadcast is so poor, I've taken to watching other teams like USC on HD and channel flipping, or just listen to the radio. After HD, viewing normal TV is a little harder to view, but The mtn. is WAY harder to take."
To be fair, the BYU-UNLV game was out of character even for The mtn., which has generally provided adequate coverage of MWC football. They're dreaming if they think they're up to the standards of, say, the Big Ten Network, but it's been adequate.
The only praise any e-mailer had for The mtn. was from one who said he "saw some of the TCU vs. Wyoming game. Although the announcers weren't the best, I thought the production was pretty well done."
I saw the last quarter of that game and, yes, it was adequate.
What worries me the most is Hurlburt's insistence that The mtn.'s "standards are no lower" than those of the established networks. You've got to recognize a problem before you can correct it.I'd feel a lot better had Hurlburt written a letter telling viewers his team is working hard to upgrade their broadcasts, not telling us, "We work hard to match or surpass any network in the world in programming quality." Anyone who's seen The mtn. can clearly see that's not the case.