Category Archives: Athletics

Our basketball season is over … now what?

Did your bracket come crashing down — and your season come screaching to an end — when the Aztecs lost to North Carolina State in the 2nd round of the NCAATournament last week? Are you already itching for next season to start? Are you thinking to yourself ‘Now what? What will I do with my Tuesday and Saturday nights, if not watching college basketball at the Madhouse on the Mesa?’

Well, you’re in luck, because, as I learned a few years ago, life does go on after the basketball season and, at SDSU, there are actually plenty of other things to do outside of Viejas Arena.

For instance, a former United States Ambassador to Israel is on campus today, speaking about the Middle East.  If Peace in the Middle East is a little too political for your taste, the School of Music and Dance is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and has something fun and entertaining going on all the time.

And the Farmer’s Market … ohhhh the Farmer’s Market.

But if you just must get your sports fix, there are still lots of spring sports going on, like baseball, softball, golf and tennis.

I guess the point is, sometimes we take for granted all the activities we have going on right under our noses here on campus. Take a minute and check out the events calendar and try an event you’ve never done before. The upcoming Jazz Ensemble at Smith Recital Hall isn’t the same as The Show. But it’ll be a good show none the less.


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Top University Videos of 2011

One of the most powerful forms of media is video. I’ve heard it called the “You’ve got to see this” factor, that transcends language. If a video is fun, funny, unique or moving, people will watch it, share it, comment on it — and it will help get your message across in a powerful way.

As a professional in higher education, I particularly like to see what other universities are doing when it comes to video. So following, in no particular rank or order, are 6 of the best university videos that I found from 2011.

  1. San Diego State University – I’ll start with our own. We’ve gone away from the typical institutional television spot showing faculty members in labs coats and tried to do something a little more fun, that shows both the passion of our alumni, and the reach we have into the community. Our institutional spot focused on a chant that the student section does before every home basketball game – “I Believe.” The commercial features several prominent alumni, including the founder of the Rubio’s Fresh Mexican food chain, Ralph Rubio, and the mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders. But the best part is what we did after the commercial debuted. We were able to get Mayor Sanders to join the student section before a game to lead them in the chant. And we captured it on a smart phone (Not all videos need to be professionally produced to have impact). But the video was a hit and shows the excitement and atmosphere at our games.

  2. Boston UniversityBoston Red Sox, Behind the Lens.  We all like to share stories about our successful alumni.  BU does a great job on this feature, shadowing this sports photographer as he shares his experiences taking pictures at historic Fenway Park in Boston. The production value of the video is outstanding, very creative, weaving in still photography, making it look as though it’s moving. And the story is compelling, like something you might see on a network sports show.
  3. University of Toledo#whyUToledo. This is a great example of an integrated approach to new media. It started as a Twitter campaign, asking people why they chose UT. Then they took the images of the actual Tweets and made a video out of it, with voice overs of (supposedly) the students reading their Tweets. Really fun, forward thinking, great way to connect with the generation that is currently looking to go to college.
  4. McMaster UniversityThis Month with the President. While this is a very simple concept, execution is not always as easy. McMaster sits down, in a different location, each month with the president of their university and has him discuss a particular topic. It’s not scripted, there’s no teleprompter. It’s just him sharing his thoughts. It’s a great way to personalize someone who, often times, people on campus don’t get to interact with.
  5. University of OregonCall me a Duck. I’m a sucker for Hip Hop songs being used in non-traditional places. And this one is outstanding. It’s actually sung by an a Capella group from UO that went on a national television singing competition show. It’s an amazingly well produced music video that shows school pride, passion and creativity.
  6. Bowling Green UniversityStroh Center Rap. One of the challenges in the Advancement and Development world is educating people – particularly students – about the importance of philanthropy to a university. The typical introduction of a newly built and/or named building is a press release and a ribbon cutting ceremony with a photo opp. The opening of Bowling Green’s new basketball arena, The Stroh Center, was anything but typical, thanks to this video. The rap talks about the people who made the building possible, including how much money they gave. — “He will melt your face with his philanthropy” — And the video features those donors. The production value of the video is excellent. But for my money, getting the donors to participate in the video is well worth the watch.

What great university videos did you produce or see this past year?


Filed under Admissions, Alumni, Athletics, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

10 Things I’m Thankful for As SDSU’s Chief Communications Officer

As the SDSU community closes out the year, I’d like to reflect on some of the things I’m most thankful for.  I know – it seems like we are inundated with lists this time of year – but my team tells me lists get lots of hits, so here goes…Student Services

10. Stephen Weber – for 15 years, President Weber was the identity of our campus – and our most effective storyteller.  He transformed SDSU and left us with incredible momentum.

9. Elliot Hirshman – SDSU could not have found a better president.  He has brought new energy, passion, humor and a laser focus on student success.

8. Steve Fisher, Beth Burns, Rocky Long, Tony Gwynn and all SDSU’s outstanding coaches – SDSU would be a great university without a great Athletics program but now we’re on the verge of having both.  Beyond building successful programs, these incredible people work daily to shape outstanding citizens.

7. 69,000+ applicants – I guess we’re doing something right!  Seriously, California has many talented young people filled of hope and enthusiasm for the future – let’s not let them down by closing the door on their dreams of a university education!

6. SDSU’s incredible faculty – they continue to bring accolades for their outstanding work and $150 million in research that has elevated SDSU to be among the top public research universities in the U.S.  On the downside, I have to go to work knowing I’ll never be the smartest person in the room!

5. Our students – they are why we are here!  A lot has been written about the current generation’s short-comings – don’t believe it.  From what I’ve seen, our future is in good hands. I’m especially impressed by the accomplishments of our student leaders in the areas of sustainability and social justice.

4. SDSU’s donors who have enriched SDSU with $280 million to The Campaign for SDSU. SDSU would be a far different place with their investments in our talented people, nationally ranked programs and beautiful facilities.  Thank you 280 million times!

3. Our hard-working staff – they look after our students, fix our computers, protect the campus and keep it looking amazing.  While the jobs vary, they share a belief in the power of a university to change lives.

2. My team – through their efforts, the MarComm team is helping transform the image of 114-year old university and engaging more people in powerful new ways.

1. My family – for putting up with the 3 a.m. phone calls (which are never good) and generally supporting me through all the adventures that come with the job.  It helps that my wife Lucita is an Aztec alumna!

I’m tempted to add that I’m thankful for the delicious cookies baked by Aztec Shops – which have got me through many long meetings.  Instead, I’ll close by thanking our troops for keeping our country safe and allowing us all to live our lives in freedom.  Peace to all!

Jack Beresford is Chief Communications Officer at San Diego State University

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Filed under Admissions, Alumni, Athletics, College Community, Greater Good, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

What’s your story?

This artist's concept illustrates Kepler-16b, the first planet known to definitely orbit two stars.

The top part of the SDSU homepage features the terrific efforts of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

When I catch up with family or longtime friends, I’m often asked, “What’s new at San Diego State?”

It’s a tough question to answer, if only because the people here do so many interesting things and I don’t want to unfairly pigeonhole the university with a clumsy response.

Thankfully, my job requires me to identify SDSU’s best stories and retell them on the homepage.

The top part of the page is dedicated to the terrific efforts of our faculty, staff, alumni and students – especially students.

And we’re always looking for  more good stories to tell.

Here’s a quick rundown of current stories being featured:

Tatooine in Real Life — SDSU professors Jerome Orosz and Bill Welsh discover the first planet to have two sun-like orbiting stars.

Better, Faster, Stronger
— SDSU engineers work to invent brain-controlled bionics.

The Gift of Sight — SOLO Eyewear, a company started by SDSU students, uses revenues to provide eye surgeries and prescription glasses to people in need.

Worldly View — Eric McDermott investigates Huntington’s disease in Bangalore, India, at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences.  He’s part of SDSU’s surge in Fulbright scholars.

American Indian Inspiration — Generations of local American Indian leaders celebrate the 35th anniversary of one of the first academic departments dedicated to the study of their history and culture as means to create a better future for their people.

Share your story

If you’ve got a great story, please drop me a line at

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Filed under Alumni, Athletics, College Community, Events, New Media, Prospective Students, Students, University News

Another Aztec in the Making


My future Aztec decked out in Red and Black.

It’s the end of another summer and time to head back to school. But, unlike all previous summers I’ve spent working at SDSU, this one was different.  This time around I wasn’t on campus at all since I had a beautiful baby boy to take care of.

Our first child, Lucio, was born on May 17, the week before commencement. When you look into the face of a newborn, you don’t really know who they are or who they are going to be.

But, I knew two things that morning – my son was going to be named after his great-great-grandfather from Sicily, and he was going to be an Aztec.

You see, in my family, there’s really no other option – I was the third generation to head to Montezuma Mesa as a student, following the footsteps of my grandfather and my parents. I also had an aunt who was once a faculty member, an uncle who graduated from here and one of my cousins is currently a student. So many of my relatives know that familiar tune that ends with “Aztecs fight!” that I’m surprised I don’t hear it at family parties, too.

And did I mention that between my husband and I, we have three degrees bearing the university’s seal?

As you can see, my family really bleeds Red and Black, whether it’s following basketball and football, or my mom excitedly telling me that the then-president of her professional association was also the dean of the College of Sciences. For Lucio, it’ll be easy – he’s already got plenty of Aztec gear thanks to some on-campus colleagues and he “heard” the Aztecs run to the Sweet 16 in utero.

Regardless, I’m sure Lucio will learn about his Aztec family soon enough. But, I wonder: how long will it take him to learn the fight song?


Filed under Alumni, Athletics

Marshall Faulk in the NFL Hall of Fame

Jim Herrick is the Executive Director of SDSU’s Alumni Association. This post was originally published in his blog Directly Speaking.

This month Marshall is entering the NFL Hall of Fame as a first ballot unanimous pick which gives us all, his fellow Aztecs, a chance to feel some pride in his amazing life.

On September 14, 1991 I was at Jack Murphy Stadium, but my various responsibilities precluded me from paying too much attention to the game.  I was aware that we were playing Pacific and that we were annihilating them.  I was aware that our top runner, T. C. Wright, had gotten injured.  I was aware that we were scoring a lot of touchdowns.

It wasn’t until much later that night after the boosters had vanished, the corporate sideline placards were dismantled and stored, and the gear stowed that I caught the tail end of the post-game wrap-up on 760 AM.  Some rookie named Marshall Faulk had rushed for 386 yards and had scored all 7 touchdowns!

It was no fluke.

Subsequently, along with every other Aztec fan—or any true football fan, actually – I was transfixed by his sheer talent and completely mesmerized and awed by his larger-than-life presence and skill.

For 15 years I devoured every game or clip I could because, well, transcendent athletic art is compelling.  I never tire of his highlight reel—and it is a heckuva long movie.

Some of Marshall’s attributes are just part of an overall amazing package:  Speed (obviously), ability to change directions (superb), coordination (duh!), jumping ability (definitely), ability to catch the ball and his aversion to fumbling are the basic ingredients.  But the thing I marvel at the most when watching these clips is his ability to read the best paths to optimize his yardage every play.  The speed his eyeballs and his brain processed and reacted to the circumstances, I think, is what made him the best combination of receiver and running back the game has ever known.

And it nearly didn’t happen.

Many know the story of how Marshall, as a prep player growing up in the dangerous Desiree projects of New Orleans, actually dodged bullets figuratively and literally (Well, dodging bullets probably doesn’t qualify as a literal term, but with Marshall, maybe).  The SEC schools were highly aware of his speed and he was pegged by several schools as a cannot-miss defensive back.  But Marshall wanted to play halfback and then-coach Al Luginbill and receivers coach Curtis Johnson promised him he could run at San Diego State, so here we are.

So a few days after his remarkable freshman year, I remember our sports information department got in some hot water for failing to anticipate the fact that Marshall was named all-America.

Marshall’s second year was more of the same with a lot of fans jumping on the band-wagon. As the director of the Aztec Athletic Foundation, I had the honor of dealing with Marshall on a few things including a project where local sports artist Gene Locklear made 100 poster-sized prints that Marshall signed and we sold for scholarship monies.  The NCAA rules were intrusive, but following them essential, so I was allowed to provide him a Big Mac, fries and a coke during the 90 minutes he was signing.  Subsequently I tried to arrange special parking at the Murph for Marshall and recall that it was impossible to strike a rational balance between providing for Marshall’s safety and abiding by the NCAA laws.  But I did get to deal with him on these matters and what I discovered was that Marshall’s ability to communicate is powerful.

So now let’s fast forward through his pro career, which will be better covered by others this week, and arrive back a couple of years ago when Marshall retired and moved here full time.  What has this remarkable Aztec done since then?  Between his jobs as analyst for the NFL Network, he has demonstrated that he is a true fan and has attended many football and basketball games.  He started the Marshall Faulk Foundation which steers inner city youth down better roads. He has been a big donor to our athletic department.  He was elected to the board of directors of the Campanile Foundation. He has an annual event in the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center on the eve of homecoming which draws in hundreds of Aztec and Marshall fans and friends and raises money for us, the Jackie Robinson YMCA and the Marshall Faulk Foundation.  It is called the Aztec for Life event.

Oh yeah, one more thing (Wait, that was Peter Falk, not Marshall Faulk). Marshall coined the term “Aztec for Life” which just happens to be the San Diego State University Alumni Association mantra.

Marshall Faulk, we are proud of your NFL Hall of Fame election.  And we are even prouder of everything else you have done.

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Spending Time With Rocky Long

Jim Herrick is Director of SDSU’s Alumni Association. This post first appeared in his blog, Directly Speaking.

I had the honor of spending some quality time recently with our new head football coach, Rocky Long. Just as a

SDSU Head Football Coach Rocky Long

SDSU Head Football Coach Rocky Long

review for those of you who may not have noticed: Coach Long was New Mexico’s coach for 11 years where he went to 7 bowl games, racked up the second most wins of any Mountain West coach ever, and regularly beat us, including the infamous 2008 70-7 stomping.

Rocky was a huge hit with our friends and fans (at the Aztec Caravans in) Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose. People seem to really appreciate his disarming candor and his easy-going style. But, like our fans, I was eager to understand the coach beneath the demeanor. What I learned during some of the down and travel times was that Coach Long is a believer in toughness. More than any other singular attribute, he has recruited toughness for two years and will continue that trend. The theory is that in the end of close games in the sport of football, the quality enables one side to draw a bit deeper into their reserves of physical endurance and mental resolve, thereby yielding the difference we covet.

Rocky also talked a lot about how he and his staff are keenly aware of players’ ability to change direction on the field. As a fan and more than casual observer of the sport, this makes a lot of sense to me. This ability leads me to believe our team will be comprised of big, strong, fast and tough guys who can stop on a dime and explode on a new vector.

Finally, Rocky is a genuinely good guy. Despite an authentic resume of proven success as a Division One head coach, he is even keeled, without monstrous ego, and fun to be around. I see this working out well for everyone except our opponents.

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