Jan 182005
Authors: Jon Pilsner

Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson didn't bother to mince words or beat around the subject when he said the MWC would schedule games against Big East teams in football.

"We want their BCS bid," Thompson said Monday. "I think our conference champion (Utah) beating their conference champion (Pittsburgh) 35-7 was a pretty good statement."

It's a statement all right. A statement of Thompson's vision for the MWC.

Part of that vision was on display Monday, as local media members attended a presentation by College Sports Television (CSTV), the 24-hour college sports network.

CSTV, which inked a deal with the MWC last year to show football, basketball and other games, intends to launch a channel dedicated to coverage of the MWC, called (surprisingly enough), MWC-TV.

The deal is a landmark of sorts for college football. No other conference, big money BCS or otherwise, currently has a channel dedicated to coverage of all its sports.

It's a big step for a mid-major conference like the MWC. In many ways, it could become a giant leap.

Ever since the inception of the MWC in 1999, member schools have been a slave to the beast of ESPN, which dictated dates, times and games to be played.

ESPN can be thanked for the Friday night game against Wyoming, and the numerous 8 p.m. starts, as well as the occasional late night basketball game.

Until now, the only way the weaker, younger and smaller MWC could be seen nationally was to be at the mercy of ESPN.

With this new deal, hopefully, the Rams will have more exposure, not only in football and in basketball, but in all sports.

MWC-TV intends to televise as many, if not all, the sports that MWC schools participate in. And, selected games will be bumped from the local MWC-TV to the national CSTV.

This past fall, the MWC became the first conference ever to have its entire volleyball tournament broadcasted on national TV.

On Feb 5., the CSU women's basketball team will play against New Mexico on CSTV. The first two rounds of the women's basketball tournament will also be televised.

It can only (hopefully) get better from here.

National exposure is the best way to attract top recruits, grow fan bases and increase power and sway over the multi-billion dollar collegiate sports world.

And, as was addressed on Monday, the end of abnormal game times will help stop alienating the casual fan base who don't find 8 p.m. football games on a Friday night appealing.

It's all part of the plan.

Utah's victory over Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl sent every MWC member school, including CSU, a nice big check. Imagine if that would start coming every year.

For now, all that can be hoped for is good ratings and more national exposure.

And that's a good place to start.

Jon Pilsner is a junior journalism major. He is the assistant sports editor at the Collegian.

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