Buffs under the spotlight; Media coverage of a football game

October 5, 2012

With the ever-expanding coverage of college football and the addition of conference TV partners and networks, there are very few opportunities for the entire college football-watching world to be focused on one game.

ESPN's Thursday Night Football will bring that singular moment to the University of Colorado Boulder campus on Thursday, Oct. 11.

As the rest of campus prepares traffic plans, student events and classroom and building logistics, Athletics’ media relations and sports information staff is going into high gear to ready CU-Boulder for the national spotlight.

Preparations begin the moment the last down is played of the previous game.

First, the sports information office produces more than 150 pages of background material for the media: game notes, updated individual notes and statistics. Then to assist radio and TV broadcasters’ on-air production, the office also compiles another 200-plus pages of press clippings and notes on the CU program, our players and coaches.

Starting with the Monday lunch hour and going through Wednesday night’s practice, there are six distinct media opportunities for players and coaches each week.

Tuesdays are a long haul for Coach Embree and the sports information crew. The day begins with CU football head coach Jon Embree going on-air early in the morning with KOA’s Mark Johnson.

The next stop is the weekly media luncheon, where Coach Embree will speak and answer questions from the media (and fans) lasting anywhere from 30-45 minutes. One or two team members will also be available for these events, which sometimes can be difficult to arrange, as a player will never miss a class to fulfill a media obligation. 

Tuesday’s media obligations continue with an evening radio appearance by coach Embree, one assistant coach and one player. Broadcasting from the West End Tavern from 7 - 8 p.m. each week, they talk football with Mark Johnson, Larry Zimmer and the KOA Buffaloes Primetime Radio Show crew.

These scheduled appearances happen in the context of 50 -100 media requests from other local, national and even international television, radio and newspaper outlets.

On Thursday (or this week on Wednesday after interviews are cutoff for the week) the media relations staff begins the support work for the television crews that start arriving on campus. The average ESPN telecast of a game includes more than 100 credentialed personnel, everything from production assistants and crew members to the on-air talent. Reece Davis and Samantha Steele will be part of the broadcast team for the CU/ASU matchup.

The television production will consist of at least 10 camera angles, and more than two miles of cable will be strung in and around Folsom Field. The broadcast compound includes a production truck, cargo truck, satellite uplink truck and a back-up generator. ESPN also brings in their Skycam system, which can prove to be the toughest piece of equipment to deploy. In the past, multiple cranes have been placed around Folsom Field, and more than an additional mile of cabling is necessary to operate the camera that takes television viewers directly into the field of play.

Television crews have special access with Coach Embree and coordinators Eric Bieniemy and Greg Brown. The crew, including the director, producer and on-air talent, get this extra time to make the production as smooth as possible and to plan the broadcast logistics, including details like which coach will be interviewed at halftime and if the crew can film in the locker room.

On gameday, the focus switches back to the other media covering the game, which can range between 350-500 credentialed personnel each week, including television, radio and newspaper outlets. Folsom Field’s notoriously narrow sidelines make for tight quarters – and the more than 50 on-field media end up sharing space with cheerleaders, Ralphie’s Runners and or course the two teams and all of their personnel.

During the game, the sports information office produces game statistics, both for official postgame purposes and live in-game facts. They also continue to answer media inquiries, research notes and gather quotes. 

After the game, there are two official press conferences – one for each team. The Colorado Buffaloes will present coach Embree and 3-4 players in the official post-game format, and then reporters are able to request other players and coaches time as available.

The Athletics sports information staff is proud to be part of a campus-wide team that helps the University of Colorado Boulder shine in the national spotlight. From the world-class faculty, the amazing students, the spectacular setting, and our team members with indomitable heart, we have a lot of great things to share about CU. We look forward to seeing all of our fans for the Thursday night matchup against ASU. Arrive early, cheer loudly, and Go Buffs!

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