02 December 2012

Enjoying a different type of football

Home fans and their distinctive orange at
Bowers Stadium in Huntsville, Texas
I’m kind of a niche-sport guy. Always have been and maybe always will be. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy some of the big ones – Major League Baseball, college football, the NFL, the Stanley Cup playoffs – but I really get a kick out of covering sports I like that don’t get all that many headlines. College baseball, high school ice hockey, and – of course – Major League Soccer.

So when assigned an FCS college football playoff game last weekend, I was psyched. I watch these games on TV every year and really enjoy the football division formerly known as Division I-AA.

I got the matchup between Sam Houston State, last year’s runner-up, and Cal Poly. Oddly enough, I had already been to both teams’ home stadiums, but neither for a college football game. Throw in a reasonable, three-hour drive from Shreveport to Huntsville, Texas, and my trusty broadcast partner, Forrest Conoly, and I was anticipating a fun afternoon on Saturday.

The broadcast itself had a few more elements than we have had in our other games, including on-camera reporting at halftime, coach interviews, regular promotional reads for other ESPN broadcasts, and more. It sounds like par for the course for a lot of the broadcasts you see, but it is not the norm for us. That takes some getting used to, but it was pretty similar to a lot of the soccer broadcasts I’ve done, so I didn’t feel like we were overwhelmed by some of the moving parts.

We had a great production crew, from the guys in the truck to those manning cameras to the stage managers in the booth with us. While we’re used to working with solid crews, this was probably the best top-to-bottom group we’ve worked with on a football game this year, and it included a few friendly faces I know from Houston.

Our open aired while it was still light out.
I got to voice-over the most elaborate tease we’ve had this year – including video of the giant Sam Houston statue – and I thought we did well in the open. The game itself was a little disjointed, and it took us time to get in a rhythm. Both teams came in with great offensive reputations, but they struggled to reach the end zone. The first score of the game was a blocked punt that went for a safety, and that actually ended up being the difference. We did see a cool double-reverse touchdown pass from Cal Poly in the final minutes, but the Mustangs’ onside kick was recovered by Sam Houston State, and the Bearkats are on to the quarterfinals against Montana State.

It may not have been the perfect game or the perfect broadcast, but I really enjoy covering teams and sports that you don’t hear about on every sports talk show. Plus I think it’s great to cover playoff football at the college level, and Saturday’s game definitely had some of that desperate intensity that the playoffs can produce. I’m looking to more of the same next week, in what will probably be my final broadcast of the 2012 calendar year, so stay tuned.

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