Posted: February 21st, 2010 | Author: Brian Mortensen | Filed under: Industry | Tags: abc, cbscollegesports.com, espn, sports producing | 1 Comment »
I was prowling around on CBSCollegesports.com and checked out their “blog” page, and scrolled down to find this article, titled “So you think you can produce?” I read it, and honestly, it didn’t sound very difficult. The preparation and buildup to covering one game sounds quite reasonable, interesting, and doable. The challenge appears to be one’s skill on gameday – THAT’S where these producers make the big bucks. I’m sure it’s insanely stressful to manage graphics creation mid-game, video replays from tons of different angles, network promos, cut-in updates from studio, etc. I quote from the blog post:
“REHEARSE OPEN / REHEARSE CLOSE / REHEARSE ALL PROMOS / TAPE OPEN OR GO LIVE / BROADCAST THE GAME / WEAVE NOT ONLY GAME STORIES BUT GLOBAL ELEMENTS AS WELL”
This sounds like a very simple way of saying it’s incredibly hectic – the guys at CBS, ESPN, ABC, etc. who produce are very experienced and definitely know what they’re doing. This sounds like a really cool job in the sense it sounds like riding a bike – once you get the hang of producing a game broadcast on the fly like that, it probably comes naturally. Everything else in the buildup – from calling coaches, communicating with the broadcasters, watching tape – sounds really straightforward, interesting, and fun. I’d really love to learn more about this type of work!
Posted: January 3rd, 2010 | Author: Brian Mortensen | Filed under: Industry, NCAA football | Tags: adam james, brian mortensen, craig james, espn, mike leach, NCAA football, texas tech | 2 Comments »
I was chatting with a friend and colleague yesterday about the whole Mike Leach vs. Texas Tech saga. Let me preface my summary/commentary on our discussion by mentioning I’m a huge Mike Leach fan. I think his whole act – the pirate stuff, the bizarre personality, Friday Night Lights cameo, hilarious press conferences - is terrific for college football. I’ve become transfixed with bowl season and college football in general because of the uniqueness of each school and football team, and Leach’s persona only helped make the game more fun for the average fan in an era where big donors, high rollers and wealthy alums are the only people catered to by coaches.
He’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime type of coach who you’ll reminisce about 5-10 years from now when Texas Tech is relegated to obscurity and say “THAT was fun” – much in the same way longtime college football fans now reminisce of Bear Bryant, Jimmy Johnson, and Lou Holtz.
So it’s with this I wonder whether ESPN has been fair in its coverage of the whole ordeal. I haven’t sat through any of their production meetings, chatted with Craig James or his family, or tried to contact Mike Leach myself, but from the limited viewing I’ve had on TV and online I’m a bit perturbed by James’ access. I think Rece Davis has done a good job trying to balance both sides during cut-ins and studio updates from bowl games. But, it seems for every counterargument Leach or his supporters float out there, James (or his supporters – including Texas Tech and the team’s physician and trainer) seemingly has a quick response on camera or in a written statement – including Saturday’s swiftly-released affidavits condemning Adam James’ confinement. I don’t think this would be the case with most other parents of D-1 athletes – parents with no immediate access (no cell phone number of the executive producers) to “The Worldwide Leader” and its millions of ready eyeballs – While ESPN tried to lessen the appearance of bias by taking Craig James off of calling the Alamo Bowl, he’s still had the ability to speak out on the matter – both publicly and certainly privately within the annals of ESPN.
My colleague mentioned that Davis’ “exclusive” interview with Leach ran roughly 38 minutes, but where is the rest of it? About 8 minutes and 30 seconds of its scintillating material is online, and the H&R Block Halftime Show ran bits and pieces of it. Maybe I haven’t been paying enough attention – but where is the rest of it? Is ESPN planning on running more in an Outside the Lines story? I would hope ESPN has tried to keep the time devoted to James and Leach somewhat equal, but I just haven’t watched enough to really say one way or the other.
So while ESPN has every right and ability to report on this story, I do think there is an appearance of minor bias through James’ influence and position. I do not think it has been an intentional bias – if anything, Leach has always seemed amiable, friendly, and open with the media – but an unfortunate, everyday type of bias that comes from working around public figures involved in a very public dispute.
Update: As I finished writing this, I found this months-old video of Leach cursing out Adam James for an apparent poor attitude in practice.