At one point, we were trying to Skype directly with the SpiderCam on ESPN3. Send tweets through our remote control to Cheryl Hines, suggesting she to curb her enthusiastically vapid chit-chat on ESPN2. Even handwrite a letter to Lou Holtz.
As confused as we may have been at some moments, wondering if our head might explode trying to keep pace with all involved in Monday night’s ESPN “Megacast” of the Florida State-Auburn national championship game from the Rose Bowl, we feel we actually got our head around this whole thing in a timely manner.
And heads up – with some refinement, expect to see some copy cats from other networks with usable cable channels to dream up their own versions as more big-time sporting events pop up in the future.
Our game plan going into this meant dividing the house into seven media zones, utilizing nine pieces of vital equipment.
The living room flatscreen was best suited for the ESPN “traditional” game coverage. The speakers were tweaked to handle the scope of any Brent Musburger hyperbole – starting with confusing himself with partner Kirk Herbstreit. The man can dream, can’t he?
The bedroom flatscreen was set up to accommodate the ESPN Classic “Sounds of the Game,” but a problem quickly came up, as if often the case in bedrooms. The concept was excellent — no play-by-play, just natural audio, perfect for the bedroom acoustics – but the channel isn’t in HD. It was like looking at a 1973 title game play out on old standard definition. We’re spoiled at this point.
Over in guest room I, we decided the small old TV on its last legs seemed best suited for ESPNEWS’ “Film Room,” where ESPN analysts Matt Millen, Chris Speilman and Tom Luginbill huddled up back in Bristol, Conn., with coaches Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M, Paul Cryst of Pitt and Steve Addazio of Boston College and talked their way through every play.
That position changed quickly. These coaches were definitely in their element — respectful, insightful and manageable in the ways they could foresee plays and formations. Maybe they weren’t auditioning for studio jobs should ESPN have openings someday and they’re out of work, but this approach really worked well as an entertaining and informative dynamic.
The highlight was when Sumlin and Addazio predicted the fake Florida State punt in the second quarter, which kept the drive alive and led to the Seminoles’ first touchdown. If only Auburn’s coaching staff was plugged in.
Chryst almight, this was far too good to ignore. We found ourselves much more in tune to this channel.
Especially when compared to the attention we thought we’d be paying to flatscreen in the office, which was dedicated to the ESPN2’s “Title Talk” concept. That became the place to go if watching the game was secondary to hearing yourself yack incessantly.
“If you’re not watching ‘Title Talk’ on ESPN2, you’re doin’ it wrong,” claimed co-host Michael Smith.
At one point, Jesse Palmer simply slipped out, possibly to get a better seat for the debut of “The Bachelor.”
Things got back on track when USC coach Steve Sarkisian popped in. Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel (an unpaid contributor) dominated things for halftime and the start of the third quarter – in a good way – until John Legend came in and the star-struck co-hosts slobbered him up, making the two Heisman winners not so legendary any longer.
UCLA quarterback Brent Hundley even stopped by for the fourth quarter without adding much except keeping himself buried in his phone texting.
Add to that the desktop computer in guest room II, another laptop was on the dining room counter and a second laptop in one of the bathrooms all taking in the ESPN3 activities. We admit getting caught up in the dizzy spins of the overhead SpiderCam – especially during the trophy ceremony presentation as it floated above the onfield podium.
The master bathroom – a perfect spot for the ESPN Radio coverage. Except at one point when we flushed a toilet, and Mike Tirico’s call seemed to get hotter.
The stunner: We didn’t revert back to the main game coverage on ESPN until there was about five minutes left, as Auburn took a 24-20 lead on a field goal.
Without that, we’d have missed Musburger’s call of Kermit Whitfield’s kickoff return — “Whitfield’s coming out (of the end zone) … great return man … 30, 40, daylight! … green ahead! … headed for the end zone … touchdown Florida State! A 100-yard return and Auburn is stung by its own medicine!”
If those who are project this will be Musburger’s final game calling an ESPN title game, he matched the play on the field. No matter who he thought he was.
We’ll give the last word to Burke Magnus, ESPN’s head of college sports programming who simply tweeted out: “Thank you college football.”