HUNTINGTON - When Marshall University's football television package came out in late May, there was not a contest being broadcast on the NFL Network.
That didn't keep Marshall Athletic Director Mike Hamrick from being excited about the league's newest broadcast partner, however.
Hamrick thinks Conference USA Commissioner Judy McLeod found a gem with the addition of the NFL Network. He sees it as a big step forward as the conference looks to improve its television imprint.
"That's huge because they haven't done this with any other conference," Hamrick said. "It's absolutely one of the greatest things that ever happened to Conference USA in recent history. It's a great accomplishment for the conference office and for Judy, who negotiated it."
The NFL Network adds a unique flavor to Conference USA's scheduling - one that no other conference can boast of.
The agreement is for a 10-game schedule with NFL Network showing one game each Saturday afternoon for 10 weeks in the regular season, starting in 2019. The contract with the NFL Network is for four years.
"While exploring new media options for football, NFL Network stood out as an excellent opportunity for national exposure," MacLeod said in a release at the time of announcement. "We look forward to showcasing our conference through their tremendous platform and reach."
Hamrick shed some light on the Herd's lack of inclusion in the initial 10-game package.
As the current Conference USA contract goes, CBS Sports is first in the C-USA television pecking order, followed by Stadium. NFL Network, the newest partner, is third.
With Marshall being one of the league's premier teams and one that generally gets solid ratings, CBS Sports and Stadium snagged each of Marshall's seven home contests for network broadcasts and for their Facebook streams.
All 12 of Marshall's games were chosen for broadcast with six available through Stadium, five available through CBS Sports Network and one - the Sept. 6 primetime game at Boise State - appearing on ESPN2.
Of Stadium's six games, four will be streamed through their Facebook channel while two of CBS Sports Network's five contests will be streamed through its Facebook channel.
With all 12 games already chosen for broadcast, there were none left over once NFL Network came into the picture.
"We didn't have any games left," Hamrick said. "CBS and Stadium picked all of our games. We don't have any third-tier games, except for VMI, and Stadium picked that up, too."
Hamrick added that the most interesting aspect is going to take place once the contracts with CBS Sports and Stadium expire.
"NFL Network signed the contract for four years, knowing they would have the third-tier picks, so, how that evolves as our CBS contract and Stadium contract are up is unknown," Hamrick said. "Once it's all renegotiated, then maybe we have to determine who gets the first tier. If the NFL Network gets the first tier, we'd be on it."
On the surface, it appears that NFL Network is committed to being an integral part of Conference USA's future, according to Hans Schroeder, chief operating officer of NFL Media.
"Our fans crave live football, and partnering with Conference USA - a conference which boasts several Hall of Fame players - provides us with an excellent opportunity to do so," Schroeder said in a release.
C-USA football on NFL Network in 2019:
Sept. 7: Grambling vs. Louisiana Tech, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 14: Army vs. UTSA, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 21: South Alabama vs. UAB, 3:30 p.m.
Sept. 28: Florida Atlantic vs. Charlotte, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 19: Southern Miss vs. Louisiana Tech, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 26: FIU vs. Middle Tennessee, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 2: UTEP vs. North Texas, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 9: UAB vs. Southern Miss, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 23: North Texas vs. Rice, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 30: Southern Miss vs. Florida Atlantic, 3:30 p.m.