University of Utah

Inside The Pac-12

by Scott Funk (@scottfunk0)

Week one of the college football season is in the books, and just like the off-season, we’re still left with unanswered questions. But lets be honest here; week one is a warmup. Yes there were big games, but even in those games every coach will admit that you really don’t know who your team is, or who the other team is until at least the middle of the season.

However, the Pac-12 team did everything they could to know every little detail about every team, without seeing them play. They didn’t want to leave you with unanswered questions. They treat each game like it’s the big one, and do it in a way as if everyone in the country is watching. They bring the games to your home, and make you feel like you’re there.

The Pac-12 crew was in town for Utah’s opener against North Dakota and to start the college football season, I, along with other University of Utah students, had the opportunity to learn from and shadow Pac-12 analyst Yogi Roth, and see the ins-and-outs of broadcasting a Pac-12 football game.

Inside the Classroom

He started out with a question and answer session on Wednesday. The first thing that Roth pointed out, is that he wanted us to know that the entire crew was there for us. He said the Pac-12 is all about getting the next generation started. He wanted to answer all our questions, give us a tour of the truck and let us see the broadcast booth. He wanted us to know what it was like to be a part of the Pac-12 family; and that’s exactly what he did.

The biggest tips, in my opinion, that he gave were: know you’re always telling a story; treat every game like the national championship; listen to everything involved in the game like your life depended on it; have a theme and be yourself.

The next day he sat down again with staff from The Daily Utah Chronicle to answer more questions. He gave advise on starting a podcast and volunteered his number and email to help students get it going. He calls today’s generation “The Future”, and Roth, with the Pac-12, are using all their resources to get them going.

Inside the Truck

On gameday I had the chance to go inside the Pac-12 truck with Roth and discover the details of the broadcast. He took me through his process.

First he went over to the highlight reel team. We saw player, coaches and team packages. He told the team his ideas of when he wanted them played, and also gave them a heads up for what he would be looking for in the game so they could be prepared of what highlights to play.

Next we went over to the graphics team. They couldn’t show us all the graphics they could in the time that we had, but the ones we did see showed the work that they put in. During that time, Roth pointed out changes that he would like made, and worked together with his team so that they would have the best graphics available come game time.

Lastly, I saw the meeting with the referee. When I say that the Pac-12 team prepares, I mean they go down to every detail. Out of his bag, Roth pulled out a bundle of papers with questions that he had about the rules of the game. He, with Pac-12 play-by-play announcer Guy Haberman, had questions that went down to the smallest of detail so they could be best prepared for the fans.

Inside the Game

Over the course of the game students were also given opportunities to work side-by-side with the broadcast team. Throughout the game one Utah student, Payton Saltmarsh, had the chance to shadow Pac-12 sideline reporter, Jill Savage.

“Working with her was incredible,” said Saltmarsh. “She got us involved and answered all of our questions. Everything she did, she would then tell us why she was doing it. She made sure she explained the who, what, when, where, why and how of every aspect of her job. She showed us how they work as a team. Everything she found out, she would tell the producer who would then get it to Yogi. They worked as a team, and none of them cared where I was, they just wanted to help me learn.”

While Savage was working with students on the field, I had the opportunity to see the broadcast booth and see how the game is called. I always imagined that there was some secret way that the play-by-announcer knew who had the ball immediately. The secret: binoculars and a giant board with every player’s name on it. That’s it. It’s that simple.  It’s the preparation that goes into making the board, and studying the team that makes it seem so effortless.

All-in-all it was a week to remember. The best part though, is the opportunity to do it again. Roth mentioned that the Pac-12 is always open to letting students learn and grow in their field. They support everyone who wants to learn, just as a family would. They act as a family, and they want everyone to be a part of it.


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