League commissioners tend to speak in hyperbole, and WAC commissioner Karl Benson is more hyperbolic than most.
But his statement that the Western Athletic Conference's new deal with ESPN "truly shows that the WAC has re-established itself as one of the premier conferences in the country" is ludicrous. This deal is not that big a deal.
Benson may have a point that the success of the Boise State and Hawaii football teams has helped the league, but if he really believes (as he told members of the press) that Fresno State winning the College World Series had any effect on a TV deal that's mostly football and basketball, he's crazy.
(I don't think Benson really believes that. It was just a chance to slip that into various stories and columns.)
In terms of money, the WAC's new deal remains chump change. Yes, the league got a big increase from $1 million per year to a reported $4 million a year. That's about $445,000 per year for each of the league's nine teams, including Utah State.
The SEC, by comparison, signed a deal guaranteeing $15 million per year per school. Heck, Mountain West Conference schools get nearly three times as much ($1.3 million per year) from their deal with The mtn./CBS C/Versus.
Make no mistake. The WAC's new deal, which runs through 2017, is an improvement. And there's no denying that a deal with ESPN means you're going to get more exposure on shows like "SportsCenter" than do conferences without an ESPN tie (like the MWC).
The new deal has some great upgrades, like guaranteeing each of the WAC's nine teams at least one football and one basketball game a year on one of the ESPN networks.
(That's particularly good news for the Utah State football team.)
Ten football games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC is also a big win for the WAC.
But the WAC is getting pushed around by ESPN. It will have to play football games on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays in addition to Thursdays and Saturdays. Six games on ESPNU, which is available in only about 19.5 percent of American homes, is not a big win.
In basketball, it's great to have six regular-season games on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. Adding one tournament semifinal to the championship game is a win, too.
Six regular-season games on ESPNU as well as the other tournament semifinal, not so much. For the same reason, neither is getting every team in the ESPNU BracketBuster games.
And, while game times have yet to be announced, if you think the WAC is going to avoid horrible time slots you probably believe Fresno State's baseball team helped the WAC get a new football/basketball TV contract.
If this means the WAC is a premiere conference, what are we to make of the fact that the WAC teams will make less than 3 percent of what SEC teams will take home from ESPN?
Some Utahns are still being charged $12 by DirecTV to get The mtn. Which even DirecTV admits should not be happening.
Again, if you have at least the Choice or Total Choice package on DirecTV and you live anywhere in Utah, you should get The mtn. at no extra cost. That news apparently hasn't reached all the people who answer phones for DirecTV.
Both the MWC and The mtn. have been urging DirecTV to get the word to its employees for quite some time.
According to DirecTV, "There may be some confusion at the customer service level. Some of our agents may have used the wrong 'look-up tool' when asked about The mtn.'s availability. This is being addressed and there should not be any more confusion."Let's hope not. Just don't let anybody convince you to pay $12 if you live in Utah.
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