Expect some Fresno State football games back on ESPN. Maybe a few Fresno State men’s basketball games on ESPN as well.
The Mountain West Conference and ESPN are finalizing a seven-year media rights deal for the sports network to televise up to 22 football games, as well as 25 men’s basketball games annually, according to ESPN.com
Fresno State fans can expect some Bulldogs football games to be televised on an ESPN channel again, most likely games against Boise State.
And that means more potential exposure and money for Fresno State.
The deal with ESPN brings the Mountain West’s media rights deal up to $116 million through 2019-2020, roughly $18 million per year. The conference still is negotiating the rights to the Mountain West championship football game, which would generate more revenue.
Fresno State had played some of its football games on ESPN’s stable of channels while the school was in the Western Athletic Conference.
But that type of national exposure went away at the start of this current school year when Fresno State joined the Mountain West. Since the Mountain West didn’t have any agreement with ESPN or ABC, most of its top football games were televised on the NBC Sports Network.
There appears to be some caveats with the pending deal, however, and it favors Boise State more than any other program in the conference. That was to be expected as part of the Boise State’s agreement to stay in the Mountain West rather than join the Big East in football.
Of the 22 football games to be televised on ESPN, all six of Boise State’s home games will be included, and much of the monies with the ESPN deal are tied to games involving the Broncos.
At the least, Fresno State fans can anticipate the football game against Boise State to shown on an ESPN network, based on past history. Each time the Bulldogs and Broncos faced each other while in the WAC, ESPN televised the game.
But the return to ESPN also will likely mean playing games on non-Saturdays again as Fresno State often did at the network’s request while in the WAC.
Fresno State’s schedule last season was the first time in more than 10 years that the Bulldogs played all of their regular-season games on Saturdays.
CBS and CBS Sports Network remains the primary holder for Mountain West games and still gets first pick of the best games.
Joey Xavier, playing for Fresno State, scurries back to first base on a pickoff attempt by San Diego State in this undated Bee file photo. The former Selma High star played for the Bulldogs from 1982-85.
Lloyd Allen (baseball), Joey Xavier (baseball/football), Anthony Mosely (football/track and field), Gary Quintana (wrestling) and Selma High’s undefeated 1964 football team will be inducted into the Selma Athletic Hall of Fame on April 4.
Allen went on to play professional baseball for the California Angels, while Xavier, Mosley and Quintana all starred at Fresno State. The 1964 football team, coached by Bob Patterson, outscored opponents 278-82.
The induction banquet will be held at Selma’s Spike N Rail restaurant.
Fresno State faces a big challenge this week trying to slow down Nevada and an offense that is averaging 260.6 rushing yards and 262.7 passing yards per game and ranks eighth in the bowl subdivision in total offense. A big part of that is running back Stefphon Jefferson, the Visalia El Diamante High product, who is leading the nation in rushing with 149 yards per game.
DeRuyter opens part 2 of his weekly press conference discussing Jefferson and the difficulties he presents to the Bulldogs’ defense.
A week ago at New Mexico, Tyeler Davision, the Fresno State Bulldogs’ sophomore, played a ton of snaps at nose guard. He didn’t have to deal with double-teams as he has much of the season when defending the Lobos’ triple-option offense, but he likely will see more than a few on Saturday when the Bulldogs take on Hawaii in a Mountain West Conference game.
Still, defensive coordinator Nick Toth, short options across the line with Anthony Williams out for the season following foot surgery and Andy Jennings questionable with an ankle injury, has no doubt Davison will be able to shoulder a heavy load.
He might not have to – Hawaii has struggled to do much on offense, ranking 97th of 120 bowl subdivision teams in scoring, 103rd in rushing and 114th in total offense.
But Davison definitely is capable of playing a high number of snaps.
‘’He’s playing 80 to 85 percent of the snaps right now. That was different when Andy played – Andy didn’t play this past week,’’ said Toth, who has helped turn around the Bulldogs’ defense. ‘’But we’ll play Tyeler all day. He’s in great shape. We’ll play him all day and he wants to play.
‘’He hasn’t had any issues at all. He’s better in the fourth quarter. We dominated that second half (at New Mexico) and he was at his best in the second half. I feel totally comfortable with that kid playing all day long.’’
Hawaii will be playing a back-to-back road game on Saturday at Fresno State, and the Warriors’ record in those scheduling situations has never been very good.
Already this season, they lost at San Diego State 52-14 in the second of consecutive road games. Last year, they lost at Nevada-Las Vegas 40-20 the week after losing at Washington. In 2010, they lost at Colorado 31-13 the week after a road win at Army.
They have not won the second of back-to-back road games since beating a New Mexico State team in 2008 that went 3-9.
But it is even more challenging this year for Coach Norm Chow – Hawaii, unlike an overwhelming majority of college football teams, is taking commercial rather than charter flights. The Warriors travel itinerary this week starts after practice and meetings on Thursday, when they fly to Los Angeles. They will spend Thursday night in a hotel there, before taking buses on Friday over the Grapevine and up 99 to Fresno. After the game on Saturday they will bus back to Los Angeles and again spend the night in a hotel before catching a flight home on Sunday morning.
They had the same schedule, but more travel, last week when playing at Colorado State.
‘’The tough part is, it’s a commercial flight,’’ Chow said. ‘’When we’re on commercial flights, we’re sitting next to a family that’s going to Disneyland for the weekend, that kind of deal. The big guys sit back in coach and it’s just tough. But we’re used to it. Our guys, we don’t make excuses. Our guys are used to it and they handle themselves properly. We just have to do it that way.’’
The Warriors’ coach isn’t making excuses, but the travel does take a toll.
‘’I think it takes a tremendous toll,’’ Chow said. ‘’Again, no excuses. But it’s five hours, and we spent a lot of time talking to some people, sleep psychologists, over the summer and they claim that for every time zone you cross it takes a day to recover and we go across three time zones before we even land, and then we go to another one when we went to Fort Collins, Colo.’’
Andy Jennings made it through only a couple of plays at New Mexico before reinjuring a right foot that kept him off the practice field the through the middle of last week.
But the junior defensive end intends to be a go again on Saturday when Fresno State plays Hawaii at Bulldog Stadium, and there is no thought to holding him back with a game at Nevada and against the Air Force to close out the season – Hawaii is 1-6 and 0-4 in the conference while the Wolf Pack is 6-3 and 3-2 and the Falcons are 5-3 and at 4-1 in the MWC tied for second with the Bulldogs and San Diego State.
“We’re planning on Andy playing and Andy told me (Monday), ‘I’m planning on playing, coach.’ And I told him, ‘We’re planning on playing you,’ ” defensive coordinator Nick Toth said. ”We’re not worried about the opponent. If he can play, he’ll play.
”We’re not going to save him for anything- you don’t get enough opportunities. The kid works 12 months a year for these (games). If he is 70 percent and he can go, he’s going to go. I’m not going to save anybody. Unless he tells me, ‘I can’t go,’ he’s going to play. There’s no thought of saving him for the next week.’’
The Fresno State Bulldogs made some personnel changes in their offensive line last week, leading in to a 49-32 victory at New Mexico. Freshman Alex Fifita went in at the right guard, while Cody Wichmann moved inside to the right guard from tackle.
After a slow start, the Bulldogs ended up churning out 600 yards of offense and Coach Tim DeRuyter said they are likely to use the same lineup this week in a Mountain West Conference match up against Hawaii.
Left tackle Austin Wentworth discussed the changes and the Bulldogs’ line play at their weekly press conference.