The Big West was always a nice little conference before, but it had near zero national profile. That began to change when realignment brought in refugees like Hawaii and Boise State, but the volt meter really jumped when San Diego State decided to move its nationally-recognized basketball program, helmed by championship-winning coach Steve Fisher, into the league.
The San Diego Union-Tribune says rival schools have been trying to shake potential SDSU recruits by saying that their visibility will drop to bargain-basement levels when the Aztecs join the Big West. That might have worked last week, but this week things just got a whole lot easier for Fisher and Company.
The Big West just announced a new second-tier TV deal with Fox Sports Networks on Thursday that rivals anything the Aztecs might have seen as members of the Mountain West.
Per the newspaper:
A minimum of 20 sports events will be shown this season across the Fox Sports regional networks and increases to 32 when the Aztecs join the conference in 2013-14, including at least 12 Aztecs men’s basketball games on Prime Ticket, Fox Sports West and Fox Sports San Diego.
And this is technically the league’s “second-tier” TV rights. The Big West is still negotiating the top tier with ESPN, which likely will show the conference tournament and a few regular-season games.
“It is a great day for Fox Sports San Diego and San Diego State and Big West, and for our fans,” Aztecs athletic director Jim Sterk said. “It’s a long-term agreement. People will know where to catch San Diego State events. There’ll be no confusion.
“The minimum coverage is from Northern California to the Mexican border to Hawaii and east to Las Vegas. That’s a great footprint for us, but it can expand as different (Fox regional networks) across the country pick up the games.”
The third tier, or everything left over, reverts to the individual schools and for SDSU could mean even more games on Fox Sports San Diego.
Ironically, the people of San Diego might have the toughest time getting eyes on the hometown team. Local cable networks have various deals that don’t always prioritize SDSU games.