If you happened to see the ESPN2 version of the Southern Cal and Virginia Tech kickoff classic game you got to see what I deal with when I work as a TV Coordinator.
The SEC has an official assigned to all TV games who is the TV Coordinator and he does just that. He coordinates the game with the television broadcast so all will run as smooth as glass. We wear a headset that is linked to either the producer or an assistant producer out in the TV trucks and we communicate with the referee via signals when it is time for a protected break for the television commercials.
On ESPN2 you could see behind the scenes what goes on to get a game out for TV while the game was going out on ESPN.
I know most all of those who make up the ESPN crew for their Saturday night games and I thought it was interesting they went along with being interviewed and allowed cameras in the truck. Most of the time the tension is a foot thick in there and they don’t like to be interrupted for anything.
I can tell you from experience they had to really watch the language because if you ever watch me on the field there will be times when I start grinning for apparently no reason. It’s just what happens when I hear engineers or directors scream words or phrases that you pray don’t get out on the air.
I’m sorry but it’s funny and I can’t help it. Not too sure about their new sideline person or "talent" in their language, who made a comment that she wasn’t too sure if she liked her new job. All I know is the one they used to have, Adrian Carston, used to scare me.
He would come up behind me on the sidelines and shout a question about some call or something and scare me to death. He’s about six foot six inches tall so that didn’t help either. They can’t hear too well because of the fitted earpieces they have to hear the producer and everyone else, including me, talking back and forth.
It always amazes me how the play-by-play people can carry on their interpretation of the game with a producer in their ear telling them what to talk about or where to take their train of thought they have going at any one time. Like anything, it takes tons of practice and just plain getting used to.
Not unlike making penalty announcements with a microphone and hearing your own voice echoing back a second or so after you said it. You just have to work at it is all.
The more experienced producers and those who have been working with the same announcers for a while are more relaxed and it gets to be a smooth flow through the game.
The producer will "steer" the announcer to different items to be covered or maybe something in the game that happens. But then some of these guys just seem to grate the heck out of the announcers they are working with.
Some have made my short list of those I hope I never see again. I did just what I was supposed to do but they just had a terrible attitude no matter what was happening. It always seemed that they didn’t like what they were doing. But those are a small minority for sure.
I guess I had better tell exactly how a TV Coordinator does his job. For one thing, he is typically cussed more than the guys in stripes on the field are.
I always try to explain to the complainers that during a break is a great time to hit the restrooms or food stands without missing anything.
The networks that carry SEC games have a contracted format that we follow during a game. ESPN, Jefferson Pilot, Fox Sports Network and CBS all carry SEC football to the world and each has a different format for the length of the breaks, how many breaks and when they may use them. The most common time is after a punt or score.
Then there are charged timeouts or injury timeouts and the television coordinator has to be paying attention so he can let the referee know immediately that TV wants to take the break at that point. We are to time each break and record when it was taken and let TV know if they went over their allotted time.
I usually do some other things such as time the dead ball intervals from when the play is over until the next ready-for-play whistle. To keep the game moving in a good tempo this interval is supposed to be between 12 to 14 seconds. I’ll write these down during the first half and give them to the referee at halftime so he can adjust if necessary.
I just can’t say it too much: Get out and see some football! There are football-starved people in other parts of the country who would kill to have what we do down here in prime football country. Location, location, location. See you next week.