July 22, 2014
Las Vegas, Nev.----- Take a look at the 2014 San José State University football schedule on www.sjsuspartans.com and you'll see 11 of the 12 regular-season game designated with the TV icon. With the likelihood that the September 20 game at Minnesota will land on television, this season will be the first in school history more than 10 regular-season games will be broadcast by a national entity.
In the Spartans' first year as a Mountain West Conference member, the Spartans made three appearances on the CBS Sports Network and four appearances on the ESPN family of stations. This season, the Spartans are on the CBS Sports Network five times and have five more games on different ESPN platforms.
Mountain West assistant commissioner Jaime Hixson shared some of insights on how the conference's football broadcast package comes together for all 12 schools.
1.) How does the Mountain West compose the television portion of the football schedule?
After the base schedule is built which is generally completed in the February time frame, we move on to the next step that is the television selection process. We work with our national partners first - CBS Sports Network and ESPN. They rotate through. CBS Sports Network gets the first seven selections. Then, it is a true rotation to get to the total of 22 games each.
After that, Oceanic (Time-Warner Cable) gets involved with the Hawaii games, ROOT Sports and the Mountain West Network get involved in the next level of selections.
Once they are through with all their selections, then the next step is ESPN and CBS Sports Network get four selections at the end and they alternate those last four.
2.) Does a program's past performance have anything to do with the selection process?
It depends on who is selecting. A lot of times it has to do with windows that are available especially when it comes to the non-Saturday games. Some of the networks try to project who is going to be good and who has whom coming back.
For example, last year (2013) with whom San José State had coming back and after the 11-2 season the year before, San José State was looked at as an attractive school to have on because they were looked at as winning a bunch of games and having (quarterback) David Fales. So, that does factor in the whole selection process.
3.) How do game times get assigned?
It is an ever-evolving process. There is a preference sheet we gather from the institutions each year that has exactly what they want to do ideally. `This is when we want to kick on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday' and it varies depending on time of year for some institutions.
For the cold weather schools, earlier in the year, they'll kick at 4:00, 5:00 or 6:00 whereas in November and December, they'll want to slide that up to midday for daylight and weather purposes. We have all that information and it is communicated all to the television networks up front.
Then, we work back and forth, because they want to slot a bunch of television games. CBS Sports Network only has one channel to put games on. They have to piece it together with what they have going on with the American Conference, Navy, Army, Conference USA and us all together.
We try to get as close to those preferred times as we can and understand there is going to be some deviation because of (TV) scheduling.
4.) As an example, the October 4 Homecoming Game with UNLV does not have a game time yet. What can Spartan fans look forward to as far as when the game time will be assigned?
That's a 12-day pick (meaning game time will be announced no later than September 22). They (ESPN) have the option for some six-day picks. It depends on what the outlet is. It (the ESPN Channel assignment) really factors into what platform it ends up on when it comes to ESPN as well as the window availability.
For example, if San Jose State and UNLV go on a tear and are both undefeated when we get to that time, then maybe you are looking at an ABC (TV) instead of an ESPN3 opportunity. The time of day will depend on what outlet it goes on. ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU are all over the board; and ESPN News is an outlet, too. If it is ESPN3, institutions call the game time and kick whenever they want.
5.) What satisfaction does the conference office get piecing together the TV schedule?
Our deputy commissioner Bret Gilliland oversees football. He's been doing this since the beginning of the league. I got to be involved starting in 2005. Each year is a little bit of a different challenge. It's very satisfying when the whole thing is done. The idea when you are putting the base schedule together is we always say, `We want everybody to be kind of okay with their schedule.' That means we don't have a bunch of teams that are very happy with their schedule and a bunch of teams very upset with their schedule. If everyone is somewhere in the middle, then we've done a good job balancing the league schedule which is our priority. It's a challenging process; becomes a rewarding process and always a unique process.
6.) What does San Jose State's presence in the Bay Area market have to do in the scheduling process?
Overall, I think it comes down to winning games and performance more than anything. That's what makes you attractive. Windows make you attractive. Being in the Pacific Time Zone with our new set up, with our divisional format. So all those things factor into it game times, days and windows.
It's good to have a presence in the Bay Area. It's great to have three schools in the state of California, because everybody likes to go to California for recruiting. It's nice for fans having the opportunity to drive more so now. There are more schools within striking distance for a day trip than at any time in the Mountain West.
Season tickets featuring the $299 (four reserved tickets & four Bill Walsh bobbleheads) plan for the Spartans' five games in Spartan Stadium are available and are on sale. Call 408-924-SJTX or visit www.sjsuspartans.com or click here to order your tickets.