Matt "MT" Hamilton Reflects On SJSU Football

As a San Jose State University student in the mid 1970s, Matt "MT" Hamilton saw some of the finest football teams and players of the glory years of Spartan football. He was a spotter for 15 seasons for San Jose State football radio broadcasts, and talks about some of the greatest games in SJSU history.

Long time radio listeners to San Jose State football broadcasts will recognize the name Matt "MT" Hamilton. For 15 seasons Hamilton played the role of spotter as part of the broadcasting crew. Working alongside play-by-play announcers Ken Korach and John Schrader, and analyst Dave Ellis, Hamilton was a witness to some of the greatest games in San Jose State history. As an SJSU student in the mid 1970's, Hamilton developed a love for Spartans' football that continues to this day. Inside Sparta recently caught up with Hamilton, now an educator in Southern California, and asked him to reflect on his time covering San Jose State Football.

InsideSparta: Give us a little background about yourself and how you came to attend San Jose State?
Hamilton: "I transferred to San Jose State after getting my AA degree from College of Marin. I wanted to be a sports journalist and figured I'd get a great journalism education at SJSU. I graduated from SJSU in 1976. I took an extra semester to graduate so I could take in one more football season."

InisdeSparta: What sparked your initial interest and ultimate passion for Spartan Football?
Hamilton: "I remember when I was a student; we had a ritual for the Saturday night Spartan games. My roommate Duke Meyer, Larry Cicatta, and I used to go out to the Monterey Steak House, wolf down steak and fries, and then head out to the stadium. We had really good teams under Coach Darryl Rogers during my three years at San Jose. The Spartans were 8-3-1 in '74 and 9-2 in '75. Rogers left and Lynn Stiles become head coach and they were 7-4 that year. The talent on some of those teams was unreal, including guys like Kim Bokamper, Carl Ekern, and Wilson Faumina, all guys who had long careers in the NFL. A friend of mine from Marin County and a guy I roomed with one summer was outside linebacker Larry Kerr, who coached for Jack Elway at SJSU and Stanford and now coaches for Colorado State. Knowing some of the players and going to some great Saturday night games at Spartan Stadium and of course the annual game over at Stanford hooked me on Spartan football forever. I'll make the two-hour drive from the desert to watch the Spartans play USC in September and then fly up the next week for the Utah game."

InsideSparta: How did you come about working as a spotter on the San Jose State broadcasts with John Schrader and Dave Ellis?
Hamilton: "I was originally a spotter for Ken Korach. "Rack," as his friends call him, was announcing radio for the Class A baseball team in Rohnert Park and I was a sports reporter for the Petaluma Argus-Courier, covering the team. We became friends at that time. Rack used to also announce the Sonoma State football games for radio. He's a guy who has worked very hard in his trade to get where he is today. He knew how much I loved SJSU football and offered me the spotter position when he was hired by San Jose State. When Rack moved on to do A's baseball and UNLV hoops, Schrader took his place. I have to tell you that Shrader is one of the nicest people you'll ever meet in or out of sports. It was nothing but fun working with him and Dave Ellis. There were two stories to every game; one was the one you heard on the air, and the other was the sideshow in the booth. If we were winning, there were silent high fives all around the booth; if we were losing, you would have thought someone had shot our dog. Still, on the air, both these guys were professional and knowledgeable."

InsideSparta: What was the time period that you were in this role?
Hamilton: "I worked as a spotter from 1986 to 2000."

InsideSparta: Is there one particular game or moment that stands out in your memories?
Hamilton: "Anytime we beat Stanford or Fresno State was a great day in my book. It still is. A game I remember vividly is the night game against TCU. They came to Spartan Stadium undefeated with the great LaDainian Tomlinson. The game was broadcast on ESPN and we came out on top, 27-24. My kids and I were in the end zone. They hopped over the fence and joined the rest of the fans who tore down the goalpost and carried it out of the stadium. I thought maybe that scene was going to be re-enacted this year against Boise State."

InsideSparta: Who was the greatest Spartan player you saw during your time covering the program?
Hamilton: "There were a lot of great players. Quarterback Mike Perez, who was as tough as he was talented, who willed his team to victory game after game and threw three touchdowns in the Spartans 37-7 win over Miami (Ohio) in the 1986 California Bowl. Quarterback Jeff Garcia, another warrior, who threw for over 300 yards and ran for over 100 yards against Stanford one year. The late Guy Liggins was an amazing receiver. I'll never forget running back Kenny Jackson running over a Stanford linebacker on his way to the end zone. Tailback Sheldon Canley scoring five times in the Raisin Bowl win against Central Michigan."

InsideSparta: What was your favorite road city to visit?
Hamilton: "I didn't go on the road very often, because it was too expensive. Once, Rack gave me his air miles, and I was able to fly to Gainesville to watch my Spartans play Florida. What a scene that was. I caught a red-eye after school Friday night and flew to somewhere in North Carolina, where I slept for an hour in the airport before I got on another plane and flew to Gainesville. My favorite road city to visit: Fresno, anytime we beat the Bulldogs in their hometown. Is there anything sweeter than that?"

InsideSparta: Are there any special, funny, or touching moments you'd like to share?
Hamilton: "Once, after a game at UNLV, Ellis and I headed down to the locker room for the post game show. Dave wasn't exactly an electrical engineer, and he's walking around with a microphone and some electrical gear, trying to figure out where he's supposed to plug in this wire for his microphone. He tried several plugs, none of which matched the xlr cable on his mic. He plugged in into anything he could find that remotely looked like an outlet, including a water faucet and several things were obviously not electrical outlets. He (started) laughing and I (started) laughing, and finally he plugged the thing into his ear and said, "Maybe this will work." He eventually ended up just recording an interview, and I ran up to the booth where Rack was stalling for time, and gave it to our engineer to play on the air for the post game show."

InsideSparta: What are you up to these days?
Hamilton: "I teach audio and video production at Cathedral City High School. I've been a high school teacher for 20 years, the last eight at CCHS. Cathedral City is located between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage."

InsideSparta: What do you miss most about being around San Jose State football?
Hamilton: "I love to watch our team play at Spartan Stadium. There's not a better place to watch a game. I flew back for the Boise State game and had a great time, even though we didn't run the ball enough. My emotions run high every time I walk into that stadium. My kids, Jordan and Colin, who are now 27 and 23, spent a lot of Saturdays in the end zone when I was up in the booth, and they have many memories of those games. Once, when Colin was around nine or ten, San Jose State scored, and he went over in front of the Air Force band and started doing push-ups. There were a lot of characters in the end zone, and my boys got to know all of them."

InsideSparta: Any special Spartan players, coaches, or fans you'd like to give a shout out to?
Hamilton: "Certainly all the people I worked with: Shrader, Shrader's wife Tina, Rack, Ellis, Rob the stat guy. And a special shout out to the best SID in the business, Lawrence "Super" Fan, the Hall of Fame SID who always makes me feel like I'm part of the Spartan Football Family."




Mike Morgan is Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at mike@insidesparta.com


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