BYU Sports Nation born from friendship

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This is the first of a three-part series detailing BYU Sports Nation, a daily sports show on BYUtv and BYU Radio. 

Spencer Linton speaks in his office in the BYU broadcasting building. Linton is a co-host of BYU Sports Nation with Jarom Jordan. (Maddi Driggs)
Spencer Linton speaks in his office in the BYU broadcasting building. Linton is a co-host of BYU Sports Nation with Jarom Jordan. (Maddi Driggs)

“Drake called it.”

Jarom Jordan laughed as he compared the career path he and his friend Spencer Linton have taken to the iconic line by hip-hop star Drake, “Started from the bottom, now we’re here.”

The two friends have been on a decade-long journey that started by running a local cable sports show. Now, they’re reaching millions of homes every day.

Linton, the show’s host, was working toward the completion of his degree in broadcast journalism in 2005 when he took a sports broadcasting class. He was introduced to Jordan, a classmate who hadn’t even been accepted into the program yet.

Little did they know that a decade later, they would be the face of BYU sports to fans all around the country.

BYU Sports Nation (BYUSN) is an hour-long sports program on BYUtv that runs on weekdays all year. It covers all things BYU sports, from the most recent football game to what a former golf star is doing in the PGA. Think “Mike and Mike” on ESPN, but all about BYU.

It got started in 2006 when Linton was working with iProvo, a local access cable network, as the play-by-play announcer for local high school sports. One night, he needed someone to fill in as a color analyst and called Jordan.

“I went to Jarom, who I knew was very interested and passionate and had a knack for it — I mean, you could just tell some people ‘get it.’ He was working at BYUtv and so I thought, ‘Perfect fit; let’s do this,'” Linton said. “So we kind of fostered our relationship there at this local access cable station.”

Things went well.

“We did that game together,” Jordan said. “The producer at iProvo said, ‘Hey, you did a pretty good job. Do you want to be involved in this stuff?’ and I said, ‘Totally. Absolutely.’ So then I was an analyst with Spencer on some high school events.”

Both Linton and Jordan laugh as they described how small iProvo was, especially in comparison to their current show that reaches millions of homes. They both acknowledge, however, that it is what led them to BYUSN.

“I like to think that it was Wayne’s World. We had a local access cable show together. Eventually that turned into BYU Sports Nation later,” Jordan said.

In time, Linton graduated and moved out of state to take jobs in Colorado and California. That left the play-by-play position with iProvo open, and Jordan took it.

The two stayed in touch over the next six years while Linton was away and Jordan finished his degree.

In 2013 Linton’s contract was set to expire, so he reached out to Jordan, who had been busy making a name for himself at BYU Broadcasting.

“I sent Jarom a message and just said, ‘Hey, just so you know, my contract is coming up down here. Is there anything at BYUtv I should know about?’ (I was) not expecting much, to be honest,” Linton said.

Reaching out to Jordan turned out to be the best decision Linton could have made, as it started the whole transition that led to Sports Nation becoming a reality.

“I recruited him back to BYU and luckily he got the job because he’s awesome. And then that turned into, ‘Sweet, we’re working together in the same place,’ … but then it turned out to be, ‘Oh, we work together every day on this TV show,'” Jordan said.

Originally, Linton was working as a sideline reporter and play-by-play announcer while Jordan produced “True Blue,” a magazine sports show that ran for six seasons.

Mikel Minor, the senior coordinating producer of BYU Sports Nation with a background at ESPN, approached Linton about hosting the show. The two struggled to find a co-host to work with Linton, even as the launch date was approaching.

“Mikel observed Jarom and I interacting around the office, our friendship, our camaraderie, our chemistry — just how we interact with one another — and thought, ‘Maybe it’s been sitting in front of me the whole time,'” Linton said. “So he extended the invitation to Jarom to try out as the co-host, and off we went.”

Now the two are busy creating a TV show every single work day — sometimes more. But despite three years of working together and sharing a small office, they have remained friends and created their dream job.