If ever there was a season for ESPN to be, well, less than supportive of the BYU football team, this is it.
The Cougars were 2-8 heading into Friday’s game at UNLV, having beaten only a winless FCS team (Portland) and a one-win FBS team (San Jose State). And only one of BYU’s eight losses was even close (19-13 to Utah).
And yet ESPN2 treated the Cougars gently and respectfully during Friday’s telecast.
When play-by-play announcer Adam Amin told viewers there was “not a whole lot to be lit up about if you’re BYU”; when analyst Dusty Dvoracek said the Cougars’ “offense has not helped them out,” that was as severe as the criticism got.
There was a good bit of chatter about all the injuries BYU has suffered, and more chit-chat about how BYU was not “getting down” despite all the losses, according to Dvoracek.
The upbeat note he struck was at odds with reality at times. Like when he told viewers BYU still has “a lot left to play for” — which is not exactly true, given that the best-case scenario is the Cougars end up 5-8.
All this sunshine actually had less to do with BYU than it did with Amin and Dvoracek trying to hype a weak matchup. They were trying to get viewers to buy that UNLV (4-5 going into the game) was on a roll because it had won two in a row. Amin told viewers there was “a buzz” about the UNLV team as we’re seeing a lot of empty seats.
Official attendance was 19,811 in the 40,000 seat stadium, and, according to Tribune reporter Jay Drew, the crowd was evenly mixed between UNLV and BYU fans.
It’s also true that ESPN didn’t assign its A team to the game. Amin and Dvoracek were inordinately excited about being in Las Vegas, about Flava Flav in the stands and about shrimp. Really.
Amin told viewers Friday’s game was the “first time BYU has come to play at Sam Boyd Stadium since 2009,” and he was off by six years — BYU played in the 2015 Las Vegas Bowl, which the Cougars lost to Utah, 35-28.
So when Amin called BYU’s 31-21 win over UNLV “an impressive performance on the road”; when Dvoracek said, “The fact that they’re in position to beat a pretty good UNLV team right now speaks volumes about where this team has been and where it’s moving towards” — best to keep that in perspective.
Where’s the game?
Big Ten fans in Utah were kind of angry Saturday morning. Well, Ohio State and Michigan State fans were upset.
At least for a while.
The Buckeyes-Spartans game was scheduled to air nationally on the Fox broadcast network at 10 a.m. MT. But when local fans tuned in to KSTU-Ch. 13, they found “Xploration Station,” a block of educational programming aimed at kids and teens.
The folks at KSTU had moved the game to one of their alternate channels, 13.2, although that change apparently didn’t make all the listings.
And it wasn’t for any nefarious and/or money-grubbing reason. The Federal Communications Commission mandates that broadcast stations air educational programming — and in a rather tight time period — and KSTU found itself caught between that, its local news programming and the football game. Plus, Fox aired a college football tripleheader Saturday and an NFL doubleheader Sunday, further narrowing the options.
Switching it to Ch. 13.2 was not a bad option.
The Michigan State fans probably didn’t stay mad for long at Fox 13. The Spartans were down 14-0 in the first quarter and 35-0 at halftime, en route to a 48-3 loss. Who wants to watch their team lose by 45 points?
C’mon, it had to be boring for Ohio State fans, too.