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College football on CSTV sophomoric

The powers that be at the Mountain West Conference and its television partners would like us to believe that games televised on CSTV are national telecasts, which, of course, they are not.

When a channel is available in fewer than one in five homes in America, it's really hard to make a believable argument out of that contention.

But CSTV is not The mtn., at least, and chances are that Ute and Cougar fans across the country can find their team on CSTV — even if they have to go to their computers.

But, leaving all that aside, what kind of job does CSTV do when it telecasts Mountain West games?

Adequate, for the most part. With some moments of astonishing stupidity.

During last week's BYU-at-New Mexico game, for example, CSTV updated the score of, um, 15th-ranked Sam Houston State's game against Oklahoma State for hours. Really.

Wasn't anybody at CSTV watching their own telecast? Or weren't they paying any attention to the annoying graphics that clutter up too much of the screen?

Honestly, it's hard to complain too much about any Mountain West Conference game that makes it on TV. Providing, of course, you can see it.

But, at the same time, the production values on CSTV aren't as good as those on ESPN. Heck, they aren't as good as those on the Big Ten Network.

(They're better than what we see on The mtn., but then so are the production values on KJZZ's coverage of high school football.)

Part of this is budget, obviously. You get what you pay for. And, during the BYU-New Mexico game, CSTV wasn't even paying for that graphic yellow line that indicates the first-down yardage.

(We've become so accustomed to that thing that it's instantly noticeable if it's not there.)

And CSTV isn't paying for first-string broadcast talent, either. Tom Hart and Trev Alberts were, at best, adequate during the Cougars- Lobos game. And sometimes less than that.

There were times when it hardly seemed that Hart was even paying attention to what was happening on the field. In the space of less than three minutes of game time, he first told viewers that BYU punter C.J. Santiago had gotten off a 91-yard punt, which was clearly impossible (given that the line of scrimmage was BYU's 20-yard line).

Then, minutes after Santiago's punt was picked up at New Mexico's 5 and returned to the 8, he punted again and kicked it into the end zone, Hart told viewers, "Two punts tonight, two touchbacks."

There were a number of other head-scratching moments that detracted from the telecast, but Hart and Trev Alberts made the biggest mistake sportscasters can make — we care about the game, we don't care about you. And all your chit-chat about yourselves was not only annoying, it got in the way of what was going on on the field at times.

Um, we couldn't possibly have cared less about a soda pop can with Alberts' picture on it.

There's no quick fix to that, but there is a fix to one other problem — too many graphics cluttering the screen. We don't need both the top of the screen and the bottom graphic-ed up during the entire game.

We particularly don't need a graphic at the bottom of the screen distractingly flashing about "breaking news" every few minutes. Particularly when nobody at CSTV seems to understand what either "news" or "breaking" are.

The arrest of a former Arkansas quarterback (1996-99) for drunken driving is barely news anywhere outside of Fayetteville and Little Rock. A high school player verbally committing to Michigan is barely news even in Ann Arbor.

And, when the same "breaking news" flashes on the bottom of the screen time after time, hour after hour, it's NOT breaking news. "Breaking" indicates something that has just happened (or at least something you've just learned about).

Sigh.

Ah, well. At least it wasn't on The mtn.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com