Time to say farewell to the much-maligned Mtn. Sports Network

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There was no shortage of opinions when it came to The Mtn. Sports Network, which came about due to the Mountain West’s quest for greater exposure for its member schools.

While many (myself included) joked about things such as the lack of high-definition broadcasts, The Mtn. was something that few conferences had considered doing in the past.

Now we’ve got the Big Ten Network (in operation since 2007), and the Pac-12 will unveil its new network in August. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if other conferences came up with regional network models of their own in the future.

But while those networks either have or should have staying power, The Mtn. will be no more on June 1.

The decision was announced officially in April, with realignment being one reason why the Mountain West had to pull the plug on the network.

With Utah (Pac-12), BYU (independence in football, WCC in other sports), TCU (Big East and then ultimately the Big 12), Boise State (Big East in football, WAC (Big West?) in other sports) and San Diego State (Big East in football, Big West in other sports) all moving on and the possibility of a Mountain West/Conference USA union considered the network became a casualty.

The Mtn. was operated jointly by CBS Sports Network and NBC Universal, so some of the product that will need a home should land somewhere.

That’s likely good news for fans of UNLV, who is absolutely loaded and likely won’t have much trouble placing games on television.

But what about the smaller schools in the Mountain West? That’s a question that remains to be answered in the days leading up to the start of the 2012-13 sports season.

And while many were also upset about the lack of national availability, The Mtn.’s primary reason for existence was to provide a network for member schools within the league’s geographic footprint.

Here are some memorable games that took place on the network’s airwaves since it’s inception in 2006:

The final buzzer-beater: Jamaal Franklin beats Boise State (March 8, 2012)
Franklin, the Mountain West’s Player of the Year, drained a three as time expired to give San Diego State the 65-62 victory. None of the other three quarterfinals had a margin of less than eight points.

“Jimmer Moments”: 47 points against Utah (January 11, 2011) and the surreal post-game scene after the SDSU game (January 26, 2011)
The first one was just another display of how explosive Fredette was as a scorer during his time in Provo. The latter, which was captured by Buffalo Bills linebacker (and SDSU alum) Kirk Morrison, showed how much of an impact Fredette had on the BYU fan base.

Another thriller at “The Pit”: New Mexico 88, San Diego State 86 (OT) (February 6, 2010)
A pair of Darrington Hobson free throws with less than three seconds remaining in OT determined the outcome, but personally the insane amount of noise (YouTube does this no justice, unfortunately) during D.J. Gay’s three free throws in the final seconds of regulation sticks out. Down 78-76, Gay managed to make two to send the game to OT.

Colorado State knocks off in-state rival: Dorian Green’s layup hands Colorado a loss (November 30, 2011)
Not really sure if either fan base was able to picture what would happen to both the Rams and Buffaloes as the season wore on. Both would reach the NCAA tournament, with Colorado State making their first appearance since 2003.

Utah’s final Mountain West title: Lawrence Borha saves Utah (March 12, 2009)
The Utes’ run to what would be their final Mountain West tournament title was nearly derailed in the quarterfinals against TCU. But Borha’s three with eight tenths of a second remaining gave the Utes the 61-58 victory, and they’d beat San Diego State two days later in the title game.

The first game: UNLV 73, Hawai’i 59 (November 10, 2006)
This was the first men’s basketball game broadcast by The Mtn., with Wink Adams (16 points) and Joe Darger (13 off the bench) leading the way for the Runnin’ Rebels.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.