Boise State got what it wanted from Mountain West: ESPN

Chris Petersen covets the exposure ESPN brings to his program. "Our guys have always played well when we've been on there," he says. Boise State football's biggest player isn't a student athlete. It's ESPN.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comOctober 1, 2013 

0925 online gameday

Behind the set at ESPN’s popular College GameDay show Sept. 24, 2010, at Bronco Stadium.


Boise State President Bob Kustra completed a complex deal with the Mountain West on New Year's Eve to ensure that the Broncos stayed in the conference for 2013 and beyond.

Only one of the many details mattered to football coach Chris Petersen. "The only thing that we've always been all about is being on ESPN," he says.

He got his wish - and a couple of other perks - when Boise State decided to scrap its plans to join the Big East (now the American Athletic Conference).

Most of the key deal points were on display Sept. 13 when the Broncos opened conference play against Air Force at Bronco Stadium.

The game was on ESPN - just the second time in three years that a Broncos home game aired on the Worldwide Leader.

The Broncos wore all blue - a uniform combination forbidden as part of their original membership agreement with the conference.

And Boise State earned its first national TV bonus - worth $300,000.

"The new agreement," Kustra said in January, "recognizes the value of Boise State by providing a path to enhanced exposure and revenues for Boise State football while keeping us true conference partners in every sense."

Because Boise State was in limbo between two conferences, the Mountain West was able to exempt the Broncos' home games from its existing TV contract and sell them separately on the open market.

It was a unique solution to one of the Mountain West's biggest problems: how to get the Broncos back on ESPN.

"We didn't like going to the Mountain West the first time, being off ESPN," Petersen says. "That was the big negative - probably the only negative."

The Mountain West, with Boise State's participation, sold the Broncos' six annual home games to ESPN. The money goes to the conference.

The result: Boise State is playing seven regular-season games on an ESPN entity this season - at least four on ESPN/ESPN2 and no more than two on Web-based ESPN3.

They played three regular-season games on ESPN in 2011 and two in 2012. That ended a streak of four straight years with at least five regular-season appearances.

And most of the games are originating from Bronco Stadium - home of the trademark blue turf.

"You just show the field and you know who it is," Petersen says.

Players who have spent most of the past two years on lesser-known channels like Versus/NBC Sports Network, CBS Sports Network and the defunct Mtn. have been eager to display their talent on the ubiquitous ESPN.

"Being a business major, I get it," senior quarterback Joe Southwick says. "You want to get your brand out there. ... We're hoping to represent it well and hopefully get a lot of eyes on Boise."

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398

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