Tom Smart, Deseret News
Brigham Young Cougars wide receiver JD Falslev (12) is congatulated after scoring as Brigham Young University plays New Mexico State University in football Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Provo, Utah.
If it's exposure that BYU wanted by going independent, mission accomplished.

PROVO — Grateful voices echo from all over the globe.

BYU fans finally have access to BYU sports, thanks to ESPN, BYUtv and the Internet. It could be called a modern wonder, a true World Wide Web.

Mike Ellis, a consultant for a contractor in India, watches every BYU game on BYUtv or ESPN through a Slingbox since the country doesn't allow direct access. Stephen Christensen from New Mexico listened to the BYU-Oregon State game in Morocco. Russell Memory reported he caught the BYU-Idaho replay in the Dubai airport a few days ago. Allan Reay says he has tuned in BYU football every week from Edmonton, Canada.

If it's exposure that BYU wanted by going independent, mission accomplished.

And for that, many BYU fans around the country are very grateful this Thanksgiving Day.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Tyler Robertson has watched multiple games on BYUtv in tents from multiple locations in Afghanistan, approximately 7,400 miles from Utah. "I love the ease of watching games on BYUtv while deployed, as they are a great escape from the chaos that often exists," said Robertson.

Another Air Force captain, David R. Smith, has seen BYU football this season from Kandahar, Afghanistan, because of BYUtv.

A couple friends went into a restaurant in Cancun and watched BYU play Utah. A golf professional in Denver has a Cougar football game tuned in at the pro shop, and a few club members have started to follow how Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps are doing.

On the north shore of Oahu in Laie, a die-hard BYU fan watched the Cougars play basketball against the BYU-Hawaii Seasiders. Trent Hatch, of El Paso, Texas, has about 20 fans over to his house to watch BYU football every week.

Said Hatch, who works daily across the U.S. boarder in Juarez, "Access to the games has really been convenient compared to the Mountain West channel without the added cost to buy the Mtn. Only feedback for BYUtv would be to have games broadcast in HD."

Actually, with a $59 Roku device and the Internet, BYUtv is available in HD.

Reed Carr saw a delayed BYUtv broadcast of BYU-Oregon State while with Hope Arising on a humanitarian trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Fan Gabe Larsen watched BYUtv sports live from Saudi Arabia. Nathaniel Hancock reported, "To date, thanks to BYUtv live, ESPN live or BYUtv replay I have watched BYU games in New York (UCF), in China (SJSU) and on a plane (Oregon State via Delta Wi-Fi). It has been awesome to have BYUtv, especially for those of us out of Utah."

From Jeff Jardine, of Falls Church, Va., "Being able to watch BYU football on ESPN has made it relevant. Even though the loss to TCU was slightly devastating, it was outstanding for my colleagues — most of whom are ACC fans who have never seen BYU play before this season — come to me and tell me how I should help BYU football improve (same thing happened in the Texas game). I tell them that I have Bronco on my speed dial and I'll make sure and mention their suggestions to him."

Joe Bjarson, of Farmingdale, N.Y., has a houseful of fans to his house for every BYU game. Jeremy Hansen has the same experience in Charlotte, N.C. Julie Rowse watches Cougar football on BYUtv with her iPad. "It's awesome," she said.

Charlie Smith, vice president of Global Operations for Tahitian Noni International, told me Tuesday he watches BYU football in Tahiti.

"I love it. Being on ESPN that much has been great access to BYU football," said Aaron Brown, assistant professional at the Cherry Creek Country Club in Denver. "I turn it on and a lot of the guys have joined in watching, they've even become BYU fans."

Former Utah Valley resident Michael Bliss is currently vice president of administrative services at BYU-Hawaii and he enjoys the luxury of tuning in to see his Cougars live.

"In the 1980s while living in Texas, I purchased a large satellite dish to watch BYU sports," said Bliss. "In subsequent years, I have been excited and disappointed as BYU had TV time or lost it. The time in the Mountain West was agonizing for those of us living outside Utah. The recent independent status has granted us access through ESPN and both BYUtv and BYUtv online that is maybe the best ever. I would hate to see BYU move in a direction that would lose us this great access to BYU sports major and minor."

Brad Jardine, a Phoenix attorney with Jardine Baker Hickman & Houston, said he's feasted on the access. "Aside from the Utah and Texas games, which results tarnished my Sabbath oblations, it's been terrific to see the Cougars this season. Much thanks to the university for its efforts to make these games viewable by a larger segment of Cougar Nation."

Shaun Hegsted and his wife said they watched the BYU-Idaho game from Pompei, Italy. "It was awesome to watch the game live-streamed over the Internet on BYUtv."

Highland resident Donovan Bushman was in Hau'ula, Hawaii, when BYU played Idaho State and he watched the entire contest on BYUtv. "My sister lives there, but I wouldn't have gone to visit her unless I was so easily able to watch the game," he said.

Jason DeLoy Casperson, of Kissimmee, Fla., is a former Deseret News paper boy. "I watch every single BYU football game no matter the time or the television station," he said.

Another Floridian in Tallahassee, 2,100 miles from Provo, reported he's watched every BYU game but Texas and Ole Miss because he traveled to those two. "I absolutely love being independent with the ESPN contract where I can see every game, which is the complete opposite of when trying to watch BYU games here in Florida last football season," said Trent Ladle.

Last month, Jon Cook was in Ireland setting up new offices in Dublin. "For the Oregon State game, I listened to the game online until the end of the first quarter before falling asleep. I don't have ESPN3, thanks to Qwest. With BYUtv, I was able to watch the game on my iPad the next day. Coming home, I was able to watch the Idaho State game on my plane ride from London to JFK. I switched planes to Salt Lake City and continued watching the game. Greg Wrubell even read my tweet from 30,000 feet above Laramie. Thanks to BYUtv and Wi-Fi on the plane, the time flew."

Jerry Busenbark uses a Slingbox to watch Cougar football and basketball in Doha, Qatar. "I follow BYU sports religiously. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to watch BYU. Thanks to whomever it is at BYU that makes this all possible."

And there you have it.

Grateful reflections from afar.


Twitter: Harmonwrites