Twenty years ago this October, Boise State hired Max Corbett away from football rival Stephen F. Austin University to head up media relations for the sports department. That same year, the famous blue turf was installed, and since, the college has seen plenty of firsts: From its first nationally televised football game, to its first ESPN broadcast, to several times hosting the first-round games in the NCAA national basketball championship. A few days after he turned us down for media credentials (it was our fault; we asked on game day!), BW talked with Corbett about the process of hyping what has suddenly become our town's most visible product.
BW: Boise State football games are on ESPN or ESPN2 four times this year. How does a big-time national Broadcast game like that change your job?
Max Corbett: It just jumps up another notch in the things you've got to get done. It's television. They need camera angles, and they need information and access to the stadium. Especially this last group [for the September 7 game against Oregon State], they have so many things that they want to do. They've also got so much power that needs to be generated, we can't meet the demands. They bring in their own power trucks so that they have every thing on one circuit. It's a myriad of things, and when we have the ESPN crew here for the game against Fresno [on November 11], they'll want all different things. Some of it may sound trivial, but the bottom line is helps make the production look great, which is good for the school, which is good for the community
So, after a game, who gets first interview priority: Local press or national?
We try to work it all together. In that situation, they're in a really tight deadline to get off air, so we take them first, because, obviously, the national exposure. But after that, they want to go to the locker room and cool down, and then it's pretty standard after that. We don't want to play favorites, and we want to give access to everybody all the time.
What's the highest number of media credentials you've issued for a Boise State event?
For football, this could have been the largest we've ever done, because ESPN had a crew of over 100 people. That's their crew alone. Oregon state probably had 12 or 15 media members, and then our local group. Usually it's around 60 or 70 for an ESPN broadcast.
Event wise, obviously the NCAA baskeball tournament is by far the biggest. There, not counting television, we've probably credentialed over 350 people. You'd probably throw another 60 or 70 in [for TV]. When UCLA played here, there were at least 50 media people with them alone. They won the national championship that year, and played the first round in Boise.
Where are you during football games?
During the games, I sit in the back of the pressbox. Our press facility is so small, I always just watch the game on television. We get as many people as we can inside there, but a lot of people have to sit outside. We have the top two rows of the stadium there as a kind of overflow area. Pro scouts, radio people, it could be some newspaper people who are on a deadline, but we want to take care of as best we can.
How national-media-savvy are Boise State athletes and coaches?
They're getting better. The coaches for the most part have always been good, but I think everybody seems a little more aware. And we help them out. We've had people come in and talk to the student athletes. Someone will come in and go over the do's and don't, what you can and can't do. They actually have a class for student athletes as they're coming on, where you just walk them through college life in general, and our staff will teach that class one day. We'll do mock interviews, show them what you shouldn't do, show them how to answer a question, especially if it has negative content. It's an important part of just selling the overall program. But some of them are just naturals. Like Ian Johnson [sophomore running back].
As the program's exposure has grown, have the media requests from strange and unexpected locations increased as well?
Definitely--and it's all happened in the last five years, all because of TV. But where we're witnessing a huge influx is in our marketing--our image, our material, our license. Clothing--I have family all over the country, and one of them lives in the Kansas City area, and he told me a year or so ago he went into a sporting goods store, and there was Boise State gear. Ten years ago, nobody carried Boise State. That's all over the country. It's spread now, and it's kind of mind-boggling.