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Ags, Utes, Cougars are on the tube Saturday

Well, this doesn't happen very often. Local college football fans will be able to sit down and watch all three of the state's 1-A football teams on TV on Saturday.

And the last time that happened (at least when two of them weren't playing each other) was . . . well, I can't remember the last time.

What makes it an even more astonishing lineup is the teams the three local schools will be matching up against. Utah State at Nebraska (10:30 a.m., Fox Sports Net). BYU at Southern California (6 p.m., ABC/Ch. 4). Utah at Texas A&M (6 p.m., Ch. 14).

Whoo-hoo.

Well, let's temper that enthusiasm a bit. If we are to believe the college football experts (and I'm certainly not counting myself among them), only one of those three games will be competitive — Utah at A&M. Both USU and BYU will be lucky if they're not blown out.

Or so we're told.

On the other hand, if the games were totally a foregone conclusion, why would they bother to play them? And, if nothing else, it will be fun to count the number of times the sportscasters at each of those games tell us that the underdogs have a chance. And even more fun, should those blowouts materialize, to count the number of times they tell us to stay tuned because the outcome has yet to be decided.

Never forget — sportscasters are in the business of helping the ratings at least as much as they're in the business of giving us the cold, hard facts. All too often it's more the former than the latter.

And let's not get too carried away with how much TV exposure these games are going to give the Cougs, the Ags and the Utes. The BYU-USC game will be seen in only about 15 percent of the country, which is understandable given that the other "half" of ABC's split-national telecast will be No. 3 Miami vs. No. 18 Florida.

(For good or ill, however, there will be lots of updates of the Cougars and the Trojans in the other "half" of the country, not to mention on ABC's sister networks, ESPN and ESPN2.)

And while the folks at USU are calling the Fox Sports Net coverage of their game in Lincoln a national telecast, that's not exactly true. For one thing, FSN only reaches about 80 percent of the country. And, for another, FSN is an amalgam of 21 regional sports channels, not all of which will carry USU-Nebraska.

As for the Utes, well, the only broadcast of their game at Texas A&M is on a single local station — KJZZ. Which means that only viewers in Utah (plus a few in parts of Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada) will be able to see the game on free TV.

There will, however, be some Aggie fans in Texas who don't have tickets to the game but will be paying to see it. This is one of several Texas A&M games sold on a pay-per-view basis.

Imagine making fans pay to watch their team on TV.

Shhhh. Don't tell the folks at BYU about this. They could probably turn it into some sort of safety or security issue.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com