Notice something different when watching the Broncos take on the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday night? Lack of blue? Check. A member of the WAC dregs as an opponent? Check two. Shoddy camerawork, low-grade announcers and a switcher just hired out of Stevens Henager? Check, check, and... check. Ordinarily for Bronco fans, this would indicate the beginning of KTVB's annual "We May Not Be ESPN, But We're All You Got" Tour, but that annoying red "7" was notoriously absent and was replaced by a pseudo-professional-looking WSN logo. Welcome to the WAC sports network, you may check your sanity at the door.
Bronco fans must be thankful that we only have to put up with this tomfoolery through this season, because I don't know how my brain could put up with this over an extended period of time. As much as we here complain over the MWC's current television contract, we must keep perspective and wonder if having the love of ESPN now is worth being stuck with Dick Tomey in the down years. Granted, he may have outlasted the dinosaurs, but the body will eventually shut him up for us. We hope.
Senility aside, the entire production seemed to be the Mickiest of Mickey Mouse operations. Having entered the Crescent Bar & Grill (my weekly tribute to the Gods of Streaks and Superstitions) a little late and seeing the Broncos stopped on 3rd and 4, I had no idea of the mess to come. It was actually 2nd and 8, so the situation was not nearly as bad as I believed, but it did help set a running theme I like to call "WSN Follies".
All here believe that KTVB does a fairly crap job as far as game production is concerned, but WSN blew their worst moments out of the water. While KTVB may not have sharp cameramen, they have shown the ability to be able to follow the ball, even on good play-action calls. In this, the Bronco debut on WSN, the camera operator responsible for the on-field action (about 80-85 per cent of the broadcast) found himself victim to the play-action as though it just made its debut. I nearly felt like calling the WAC offices to demand they allow the Moore-Efaw pass to be replayed in its entirety so I could actually see the play develop as though a professional was handling the camera.
Production department, we have a problem. I love HD video. It's crisp, beautiful, and it allows you to see every blade of grass. Last I saw, ESPN/ABC televises its programming in this wonderfully innovative format. So why did it look as though the stock footage WSN went with look as though it was recorded by my circa-1998 Toshiba 4-head VCR? I had to look in my closet to make sure nobody from the WSN broke into my house and stole it. I was afraid that my collection of "Twin Peaks" episodes I recorded back in the day would be gone as well. News flash to the WAC: if you sign a multi-million dollar deal with Learfield Sports to broadcast your games, make sure you make it look nice at the very least. I could forgive a couple flubs, but paying bottom-dollar for highlights is weak.
The second production related problems came from recently-graduated Centennial High School Video Technology student assigned to direct the game. Congratulations, your announcing team wandered around and became distracted by highlight packages when a game was on and you failed to tell the switchboard operator to cut to the live camera when any meaningful action occurred. Even the guys at KTVB know to cut to the action while the teams are lining up, much less getting to the live feed in time to see the ball get snapped.
Yes, the WAC Sports Network is in its infancy and will be going through many growing pains, but the way the game was produced was a shocking abuse of television pixels. Instead of a wrap party, this crew needs to be put through the postmortem from hell. Nothing in this broadcast was worth celebrating and somebody in the WAC offices has to notice that much. Plus, we had to put up with the ramblings of Dick Tomey attempting to cheerlead New Mexico State to an upset when they were down 31-0. It just goes to show you, senility is only funny when it doesn't personally affect you.