As BYU football makes the jump into independence this year, BYU and ESPN will partner up to put the Cougars in the national spotlight.
BYU signed an eight-year deal with ESPN that will put the Cougars on national television several times each season. The ESPN family of networks will air as many BYU games this season — 10 at current count — as it has in the past five years combined. BYUtv will air the home game against Idaho State and be able to rebroadcast the ESPN games.
“BYUtv, The Home of BYU Sports, will broadcast at least one live football game exclusively each season,” BYU broadcasting student Robbie Bollough posted on the BYUtv blog. “BYUtv will also produce side-by-side broadcasts with its new partner, ESPN, and rebroadcast games the same day.”
The national exposure will put more pressure on the team to perform well against this year’s opponents. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said he was surprised at what potential opponents were willing to do to be on ESPN. That added incentive helped the Cougars schedule some difficult away games this season, including Ole Miss, Texas and TCU.
“I think with ESPN it helps on one hand because they’re going to get more exposure,” former BYU coach LaVell Edwards said. “No question about that, but if you’re a non-BCS school, I don’t care who you are, if you’re in a league or not in a league or whatever else, you can’t afford to lose one game.”
The players said they understand the new attention will bring increased expectations and they are up to the challenge.
“We’re excited for our football team this season to step up and play and show people what we’re capable of and to prove to everybody that we’re a team that should be a household name,” sophomore quarterback Jake Heaps said. “We want to prove to everybody that we should be talked about just as much as anybody in the country.”
The players said they are excited to be on the national stage and anticipate the national buzz will also bring more attention to the school and the program.
“It feels great, we get a chance to play against a lot of great teams,” senior defensive back Corby Eason said. “Getting the opportunity to showcase our talent on ESPN, that’s a wonderful feeling. We can get people interested in BYU, get a lot of great athletes to come here who want to represent the Y.”
The exposure will not only help BYU in recruiting, but it will also help current BYU players get on the radar for a potential professional move.
“As a player, I think, you want to have that opportunity to play on that national stage every week,” former BYU quarterback Ty Detmer said.
“And with ESPN, the partnership there and BYUtv televising all the games, there is going to be the exposure there for the individual player.”
In light of the new agreement with ESPN, BYU has added three ESPN channels to its on-campus cable package.
In addition to ESPNU, which was already on campus cable, students will be able to access ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN News on campus as well.