30 September 2012

Fun with nicknames

Cajun Field prior to kickoff.
We had some fun with nicknames on our ESPN3 college football broadcast Saturday night, as I covered Louisiana-Lafayette against FIU, teamed with my first repeat partner of the football season, one Mr. Forrest Conoly. We used nicknames or variations for several players on the broadcast, but it actually all started earlier in the day.

Before every game, the analyst provides ‘Keys to the Game,’ one of those segments you see on just about every broadcast. To keep it from being too straightforward and clichéd, the production staff often tries to use puns or wordplay in the on-screen graphic, counting on the announcer to explain its meaning.

For this game, Forrest and I met with our producer in the afternoon at one of the hotels. It had poured the night before, was raining again, and the forecast called for scattered thunderstorms throughout the night. We figured throwing the ball could be tough, so the ground game would be important, and Louisiana-Lafayette uses a two-back system, rotating a bigger back (Alonzo Harris) with a quicker back (Effrem Reed). We didn’t want to put ‘run the ball’ on the graphic, so we looked out the window, and quickly arrived at a(n admittedly clichéd) moniker: ‘Thunder and Lightning.’ This has been used for countless running back duos, so it is not at all original, but we liked the double entendre referencing both their running styles and the weather.

Once the game began, Forrest of course explained his keys to the game – “That’s Alonzo Harris and his ability to be a powerful runner, as well as Effrem Reed and his scatback ability to get to the outside and get those corners” and later elaborated further – but I don’t know if fans got the second meaning, given that there was no literal rain, thunder, or lightning during the game. At any rate, we had fun with it, and Forrest would occasionally call them simply ‘Thunder’ or ‘Lightning’ while analyzing a replay. I, the straight man, used their names while calling play-by-play.

But I had to have some fun when the Ragin’ Cajuns went to seldom-used wide receiver Bradley Brown, a transfer from Northwestern State in his first year at the FBS level. While doing research for my first Louisiana-Lafayette game, I had learned that his high school nickname was ‘Downtown,’ courtesy of an article at theGaiterView.com. This developed in my head into a rhythmic ‘Downtown Bradley Brown,’ vaguely reminiscent of the Jim Croce song ‘Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.’

So when Brown got into the game late in the first quarter and made a big catch, I couldn’t resist saying, “Bradley Brown – they call him ‘Downtown Bradley Brown’ –with the first-down catch.” I figured that was all I would get out of it. But two plays later, Cajuns quarterback Blaine Gautier found Brown in a lot of space, and I had my chance to use it live: “Catch is made by Brown, and he’s going downtown!” He couldn't quite finish the play, as two FIU defensive backs were able to pull him down inside the 20-yard line, but it was definitely a fun one to call. If that nickname ever started to wear off, hopefully this helps him bring it back!

I also made a few puns with UL quarterback Terrance Broadway, the unquestioned star of the game after passing for 228 yards and one touchdown and running for 28 yards and two more scores. I don’t think I’m the first to make a ‘Broadway’ joke, and I’m sure I won’t be the last (especially with the unfortunate news that starting QB Blaine Gautier will be out at least four weeks with broken bones in his throwing hand.)

Anyway, those are some of the nicknames we dropped on the broadcast, the last one we have scheduled with ESPN3 at the moment. We’re a bit of a size mismatch for on-camera portions of the broadcast (Forrest is 6-foot-7, I’m somewhere in the 5-11/6-0 range), but I think we complement each other well in most other aspects and, most importantly, we enjoy working together. Hopefully we get the chance to do some more games this year, maybe even involving Louisiana-Lafayette. After all, the Cajuns are 2-0 when we call the shots.

1 comment:

  1. The broadcast would have been better if you had stuck with Louisiana.