Who’s Televising Syracuse @ UNLV?

One of the Mountain West’s biggest games of the year does not have a broadcast partner. However, the Mountain West could use this to their advantage.

Unlike most of the Mountain West’s regular season slate, Syracuse @ UNLV does not have a broadcast partner.
Source: UNLV Athletics

On May 30th, Christmas came early for several college football fans. Every FBS conference released kickoff times and network assignments for the season's first four weeks. Some conferences, particularly the Mountain West and Conference USA, released most of their network assignments on May 30th.

Multiple marquee Mountain West games received the network TV spotlight, including Stanford-San Jose State, which received a Black Friday appearance on CBS, and Hawaii-UCLA, CBS' nightcap on Labor Day Saturday.

The conference did leave one marquee Power FIve game off its 2024 broadcast schedule release. The October 5th clash between Syracuse and UNLV remains without a network designation. Games with much less importance received network designations, so the lack of clarity for Syracuse-UNLV is surprising.

At the surface, the game appears destined for local production and telecast by UNLV's local broadcast partner, the Silver State Sports Network. Surprisingly, the Silver State Sports Network has televised six UNLV home games over the past two seasons. Four games came last year in UNLV's best season since the 1980s.

It may seem surprising that a game with the significance of Syracuse-UNLV gets marooned to local television. However, the Silver State Sports Network televised UNLV's regular-season finale against San Jose State, which had Mountain West Championship Game implications.

Still, the Mountain West cannot be dumb enough to deprive a national audience of a rare game against an eastern ACC school that can improve the conference's national perception. Here is where the outside-the-box possibility comes in.

CBS Sports or Fox could sublicense the rights to televise UNLV-Syracuse to the CW. CBS Sports Network will likely not have a late-night game on October 5th since they air Hawaii @ San Diego State at 8 PM ET. The CW only has Colorado State @ Washington State scheduled for 6:30 PM ET, allowing room for a 10 PM ET kickoff for Syracuse @ UNLV.

Despite their mediocrity lately, Syracuse provides a solid draw for The CW due to their large alumni base in the New York City metro. Even though it would be a late kickoff, Syracuse-UNLV would be the only game of interest in the nation's largest media market, a significant opportunity for The CW. The CW is no stranger to receiving sublicense deals, receiving sublicense rights from NBC for NASCAR races this year. Furthermore, the network expressed a desire to sublicense more sports earlier this year.

One of the more overlooked mysteries of the offseason is the television partner for one of the Mountain West's most nationally pertinent games of the year. While conventional thinking makes it appear that common sense will not prevail, some outside-the-box thinking could allow the Mountain West to increase its network TV footprint.