COLUMBUS, OH -- As the Schottenstein Center bustles with increasing activity a couple hours before Tuesday night’s Top 25 matchup between eternal rivals Michigan and Ohio State, ESPN’s Mike Tirico has already put in a full day of work. He left his home in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the early morning and made the 3.5 hour drive to Columbus in time to make the afternoon shootaround and begin gameday preparation for the 9 PM ET telecast on ESPN. In what may come as a surprise, broadcasting a major sporting event isn’t something that begins and ends within the confines of your television’s program guide.
“Even the guy I saw in the elevator today leaving my room said, ‘oh, you goin' out to dinner?’” Tirico related. “And I said, no, I’m going to the game. He said, Well what the heck are you going to the game so early for?’”
In truth, it takes a crew of about 40 people, some arriving at the arena a full 11 hours before tip, to make this ESPN Super Tuesday broadcast possible. Many of them are on a plane every other day to get from one college town to the next. Some make lengthy commutes from their midwestern homes. Some work 3 games a week and only get to spend Sundays with family. Pretty much all of them have to multitask - analyst Dan Dakich did his daily WNFI radio show in Indianapolis from Columbus in the afternoon before making his way to the arena floor to talk with coaches Thad Matta and John Beilein.
The idea of preparation takes on many different forms for the Super Tuesday Big Ten crew. For the operations staff, preparing for a game broadcast means a seemingly infinite series of checks and tests that will go completely unseen and unnoticed by the millions watching at home. Operations producer Jason Hedgcock and his crew must perform each necessary one so that the broadcast can go off without a hitch. For an “A” level broadcast like this, that means a minimum of 8 cameras including the 2 above each rim. The brutal winter across the midwest has brought an added element of difficulty each week in just bringing the production truck to its minimum working temperature of 55 degrees. “A lot of this is planning and execution,” Hedgcock said. “There are a lot of standards in place that helps everyone have good plans to ensure success.”no comments