SAN JOSE — The last time San Jose State appeared on a nationally-televised regular season game on CBS, the No. 1 song in America was “Abracadabra” by the Steve Miller Band and the highest grossing movie was “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”
The Spartans play No. 18 Oregon State on Sunday in their first nationally televised regular season game on CBS since 1982.
“It’s our first time being on CBS national in 41 years, so it’s obviously very important for our program and for the visibility for our brand,” said SJSU athletic director Jeff Konya. “We’re all super excited to be featured in a TV window that has no other football going on.”
A worker puts finishing touches on the balcony in this view of the football field from the new San Jose State University Spartans Athletics Center soccer lounge in San Jose, Calif., on Wednesday, July 26, 2023. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
The 12:30 game against Oregon State is the second in a CBS college football doubleheader: Northwestern at Rutgers will begin the broadcast day at 9 a.m.
The unusual Sunday matchups bolster CBS’ programming on the final weekend before the NFL kicks off – and on Labor Day weekend, to boot. But it’s also a tremendous exposure for the schools and their conferences.
ABC also got in on the action and will broadcast No. 5 LSU’s visit to No. 8 Florida State on Sunday evening, just about the time the Spartans and the Beavers are wrapping up their game.
Jack Elway was the head coach of the Spartans the last time they were seen on CBS during the regular season — a 35-31 win over Stanford and Elway’s son, Cardinal quarterback John Elway. (Check out the original CBS broadcast here).
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 14: San Jose State University football coach Jack Elway, left, and his son Stanford quarterback John Elway are photographed together at a football writer’s luncheon in San Francisco, Calif. on September 14, 1981. The two Elways were set to play against one another the coming Saturday. (Leo Cohen/Oakland Tribune)PUB 09/15/1981
San Jose State has played on Sunday before, most recently a 62-7 home loss to Colin Kaepernick and Nevada in 2009. But how did this matchup come together?
SJSU already had a home game against Oregon State scheduled for this season (the Spartans played in Corvallis in 2015), but after talks with Mountain West, there was interest from the CBS programmers to feature two up-and-coming programs as part of the doubleheader.
Last season, the Beavers made back-to-back bowl appearances for the first time since 2012. The Spartans won the Mountain West Championship in 2020 and have made a bowl appearance in two of the last three seasons.
“It’s nice being on CBS because I’m always a big fan of the world seeing San Jose State,” said SJSU left tackle Jaime Navarro. “I want the world to see how beautiful San Jose and CEFCU Stadium is. We don’t get the national spotlight much and it’s great to show how great we are.”
The last time SJSU had a regular season home game televised nationally anywhere was in 2005 on ABC against Nevada.
That game was the fourth of the Dick Tomey era, and was a significant step in putting SJSU back on the college football map and reviving fan interest.
SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS PHOTOGRAPH BY GARY REYES–August 25, 2005 San Jose State Head Coach, Dick Tomey, addresses his team following football practice in San Jose, CA on August 25, 2005. The San Jose State football team begins its regimen of 7 am practices for the 2005 season. (San Jose Mercury News/ Gary Reyes)
Head coach Brent Brennan was a wide receivers coach on that team. He understands how the screen exposure will help the program, but also hopes Sunday’s game can help bring more fans to Spartan Stadium.
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“I think it’s cool on national TV, and I really hope that everybody outside the state of California tunes in to watch the game, but I hope that everybody in the Bay Area actually comes to the game,” Brennan said Tuesday. “I want people to see this cool facility and see the upgrades on South Campus in the last seven years and see all the really cool things that are happening at San Jose State.”
It will be a tall task for the Spartans on Sunday as Oregon State boasts a team that went 10-3 last season and won the Las Vegas Bowl over the University of Florida in a 30-3 blowout. It will be the second ranked opponent SJSU will face after losing to No. 6 USC 56-28 last week.
“The difficulty is that you’re just playing two really good teams right off the bat and you don’t know who you are as a football team yet,” Brennan said. “I also think it’s an awesome opportunity … This group that’s coming in here this coming weekend is excellent in all three phases. So this is another big challenge for us. We’re hard at work trying to put together a plan that gives us a chance to play good football.”