Perhaps the Mountain West Conference ought to reconsider its decision to leave ESPN in a couple of years.

Utah coach Urban Meyer credits Thursday's appearance on the network for his team's three-spot rise (over teams that also won last week) in both major college football polls. Days after moving up to No. 17 in the Associated Press Top 25, the Utes are 16th in the latest ESPN/USA Today coaches poll.

"That's an honor," said Meyer. "You know what that is? It's ESPN. People got to see us play."

Utah, he added, is benefitting from a luxury Colorado State enjoyed a few years ago — frequent appearances on national television. The Utes' 41-21 win over Texas A&M kicked off ESPN's Thursday Night broadcasts.

"If we weren't on TV, we wouldn't have been up there (so high in the rankings) — regardless of the score," said Meyer. "That's the product of us being on national television."

Over the past two seasons, Utah is 3-0 on ESPN. The Utes were 0-6 before Meyer's arrival. The success has translated into their highest national rankings in more than a decade. In 1994, they finished the season eighth in the AP poll and 10th in the coaches listing.

Since then, the Bowl Championship Series has evolved and so has an increase in hype. In the MWC's weekly teleconference Tuesday, reporters from media outlets across the nation asked Meyer about Utah's chances of crashing the BCS party at season's end.

His response? He doesn't think it'll happen. Meyer explained that going undefeated may be a thing of the past, pointing out that national champion Southern California lost to California a year ago.

As for the Utes, Meyer insists they simply don't have time to speculate on such things. Practices are challenging and, as was the case in Monday's session geared toward Saturday's game in Arizona, often difficult.

"It's a hard program. I said that before the A&M game and I'll say it now before the Arizona game," said Meyer. "If our players have time to worry about something other than playing Arizona and getting through today's practice, then I'm not doing my job."

EXTRA POINTS: Meyer said injured safety Eric Weddle (MCL sprain) will not play this weekend and there's only a 50-60 percent chance he'll play at Utah State on Sept. 18. Though hopeful he'll play in Logan, Meyer fully expects the sophomore to be ready by Sept. 25 when the Utes open MWC play at home against Air Force . . . With Weddle sidelined, walk-on Casey Evans will start in his place. Senior cornerback Bo Nagahi will also see action at safety in certain nickel and dime situations . . . Saturday's game at Arizona will be broadcast live on KJZZ, Ch. 14, at 8 p.m.


E-mail: dirk@desnews.com