I thought it might be interesting to some of you to hear what happens in preparation for the airing of the selection show.
Selection Monday is one of my favorite days of the year. This year’s edition was different than before though, and the beauties of live television reared their heads this past weekend.
I was due to broadcast the SEC Championship game from Hoover and had a blast doing it. The venue a good one and the crowds, especially when Auburn or Alabama were playing, were pretty impressive. The amount of RV’s was sick, there had to be over 150 of them parked side by side with flags flying high. The plan was to do the game at 1:00, then head to the airport afterwards for a 6:45 flight to Hartford. I was to land about midnight, make the trek to Bristol the next morning and post up ready to read the bracket by about 9 on Memorial Day. Sounds like plenty of time…unless it rained.
When we started on time I thought I was home free, but a rain delay in the 5th inning was the first hiccup. We were back underway at about 3:30, and to the 9th inning by 4:45…still looking good. Then came the lighting, and with it my chances for making the last flight that would get me to Hartford in time for the show the following day. ESPN Regional Television has studios in Charlotte, so I booked a flight for the following morning and we would then do the show from two different sites. Of course my bags were gone, why wouldn’t they be, and with the missing bags was my suit. The hits just keep on coming. The good folks at Delta ran down the bag in about an hour, and I was to the studio at about 10:15 with just over two hours to go before air.
We usually get the brackets at about 9 AM Eastern time on Monday, and we had them a little earlier this year. I had the bracket in hand while still at the airport, and then banged away when I got the studio to get ready for the show. The show itself is just ½ hour, but the leadup takes a lot longer than that. I had been in touch with my producer Paul Palmer for the past few weeks, discussing story lines and working together to make sure that the supporting video was pulled together. On the morning of the show, we go over the exact breakdown of the show and the format is scheduled to the minute. The reality is that I end up talking too much and Paul’s best laid plans are revised mid show. Ryan Burr was the play by play guy and we went through the brackets as well mid Monday morning. After a few hours of prep and one rehearsal we were off.
The toughest thing about the show is the time…it is tough to really break things down. I will say this about the committee; I think they nailed it this year. They have a very tough job. Try comparing the resumes of the last 5 teams in, and the last 5 teams out this year. In reality, many played themselves out of the tourney in the past few weeks. I also thought that the national seeds were well put together as well. Many have talked about Coastal getting a higher national seed than UVA. I agree, but it really does not make any difference at all. That is the same with 2 and 3 seeds. In essence, they are the same. My only two issues are with TCU missing out on a national seed and the continued regionalization of the Super Regionals.
My argument for TCU revolves around the RPI, which I think is a crutch sometimes in the selection process. TCU was severely penalized for two losses to Air Force, games that they should have absolutely won. Air Force had an RPI near 250 and those two losses literally cost the Frogs a shot at a national seed. I just don’t think that two games should overshadow an entire year. They were the only team to go the distance without losing a weekend series. They also took 2 of 3 at Fullerton and were 7-3 against the Big 12. I think that should overshadow the two bad losses. This is one piece of the selection process that deserves another look.
The second piece is the Super Regional matchups. It is time to seed the top 16 teams and let the tournament play the rest out. The game has grown to that point. I understand wanting to keep teams within a regional closer to home, I don’t think that we will get past that for a long time. We do need to get past the next step though, and I hope that is one change that happens over the next few years.
A few quick plugs. I attended the premiere of a documentary on Rosenblatt Stadium tonight in Omaha called The Long Home Run. The NCAA and Creative Street Studios have combined to make a film that really captures the essence of the stadium and its journey over the past 60 years. I am a little biased as my son made his film debut, but the project was outstanding and will appear tomorrow night on ESPNU as we lead into the postseason. Lastly, I am fired up to welcome Eric Byrnes to ESPN this weekend as we head to Miami to call the regionals. It will be a blast working with a guy that I really respected as a player. His take on the game will be refreshing and it should be a really good listen.
Enjoy the weekend, I will check in sometime throughout to update the action. The Road to Omaha officially begins on Friday at noon eastern on ESPNU…have a blast.