I have professed my affinity for the Mountain West on this site before, and I still think it is a better league top-to-bottom than the Big East this year. But it’s getting harder and harder to defend the league from the slam jobs going on in the national media.
Popular opinion is that Utah, if they go undefeated has no business playing in a BCS bowl game. Most casual college football fans see the league as being on par with the WAC. I disagree. If you’re going to give the Big East and ACC champs a spot in the BCS this year, then Utah more than deserves a bid if they go undefeated. In fact, I’ll take it a step further and say that the Mountain West champ – even with a loss – is more deserving of a BCS bid than the ACC or Big East champ.
The problem is I have a hard time convincing anybody of this (including myself) because there are never any Mountain West games on television. It’s hard to commit to defending the league when I never actually get to see any of its teams play. Even inferior leagues like the MAC and WAC have tv contracts far better than what the Mountain West has.
Here’s some proof: Potentially the biggest game in the conference’s history will be played Saturday night between 8th ranked Utah (11-0), and 24th ranked BYU (10-1). However the game is set to be televised by some network called “The Mtn.” [LINK]. Do you get this network? Have you ever heard of it? I answered “no” to those questions, and I follow these sorts of things pretty closely.
It’s an abomination to me that this game won’t be on a channel that anybody gets, but it’s even worse that it isn’t going to be streamed on the internet for free. That means Utah/BYU won’t be seen by anybody outside the 45,000 or so at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Even the die hard college football fans that go out of their way to try to find it will most likely not get to watch.
There have been some rumblings this fall of the Mountain West making a case to become an official member of the BCS. I’m not sure how they plan to make a move of this magnitude without at least a little bit of support from the casual football fan.
If the Mountain West wants to gain some legitimacy among casual fans, they have to get some of their games on channels the rest of the world has heard of. I'm not saying they should sell their soul like the MAC and play games on Tuesday and Wednesday every week, but at least make big games like Utah/BYU available for free online so that people like me who have an interest can watch and spread the word.