The last night of the college football regular season must have taxed more than a few TV remotes in Utah. BYU, Utah and Utah State all played Saturday night in games that kicked off within about an hour of each other — and they were all on national TV outlets.
Which speaks more to the proliferation of games on national TV than anything else. Only one team in those three games had a winning record, and after USU’s loss to Air Force (on ESPN2), that number dropped to zero.
Utah’s thrashing of Colorado was on Fox Sports 1; BYU’s win over Hawaii was on CBS Sports Network. And, if you spent time flipping among the three games — or if you DVR’d them and watched later — one thing was obvious.
The loser, in terms of TV, was BYU. The Cougars were on a second-rate channel with third-rate announcers telecasting a fourth-rate game.
(That’s harsh, but 3-9 vs. 3-8 is the definition of a fourth-rate game.)
It’s also a bit harsh about the CBSSN. It’s not like the game was unwatchable, but the quality of the production, graphics and what we heard from the broadcast booth and the sideline reporter was at least a step or two below ESPN and FS1.
The Utah and USU telecasts weren’t perfect. It was live television, after all. But they were noticeably better than the BYU game.
It’s not like CBS doesn’t have talent. The broadcast network’s telecast of Auburn’s win over Alabama on Saturday afternoon was great. And, regrettably, it’s hard to find fault with CBSSN sending the C Team to work a late-night game between two losing teams. (It was scheduled before the season began as part of the Mountain West’s TV deal.)
Dave Ryan, who did the play-by-play for CBSSN, was pretty average, but former Georgia QB Aaron Murray sounded like the rookie he is. And they both openly rooted for Hawaii running back Diocemy Saint Juste to break the Hawaii single-season rushing record “all night,” Ryan admitted, even when that could have affected the outcome.
With rare exceptions, sportscasters at national outlets don’t root for anybody. And I don’t believe Ryan and Murray were actually cheering for Hawaii.
But it’s not hard to understand how fans arrive at that conclusion. More skillful sportscasters could have made the same point without sounding like cheerleaders.
And you had to feel sorry for sideline reporter Cassie McKinney, who stumbled through her first report — mispronouncing Dylan Collie (as Cawley) as she offered this: “Three years ago while he was on his LDS Church mission, he found out that the coaches who recruited him to BYU got released. So he chose to get released from BYU himself. So that led him to accept an offer from Hawaii.”
It was both painfully awkward and confusing. McKinney was, apparently, referencing position coaches and not former head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff, who resigned two years ago to go to Virginia — but she didn’t make that clear.
At least the game started at a decent time. (Kickoff was 7:09.) Local fans used to have to stay up until the middle of the night — if the game was on TV at all — when the Cougars played in Hawaii 14 times between 1978 and 1998.
What’s on those helmets?
While the idea for the helmet design Utah unveiled on Saturday was kind of cool, it didn’t work on TV. At first glance — at second third and fourth glance — it was difficult to see it was two hands making the “U” symbol.
My daughter (a Westminster grad) had to explain it to me. “It’s that ‘U’ thing they stole from Miami,” she said. Which is pretty much true.
Cougar fans missed the first 6:08 of Saturday’s game because the last 4:45 minutes of the TCU-St. Bonaventure basketball game that preceded it took 22 minutes to play. And BYU scored during that time.
“They missed a touchdown,” the same daughter said. “And BYU doesn’t score many touchdowns.”
Also true. BYU scored just 24 touchdowns this season (1.85 per game).