Athens, GA (Dec 5, 2008) - Fourteen and a half years ago, I moved to Athens, Georgia. One of the first people I introduced myself to was Claude Felton, who is by far at the top of any legendary sports information directors list. He hooked me up with the folks at Jefferson Pilot Sports. This introduction has led to 14 years of working for JP/Lincoln Financial/RAYCOM whenever they came to the University of Georgia, as well as other locations.
Back in 2002, I started working as their stage manager for the annual SEC Championship Pre-Game show in Atlanta. Tomorrow will be the last time I work this event for them. As ESPN takes over next year, this will be my last SEC football event with Raycom and the three Daves (Dave Neal, Dave Archer, and Dave "Buzz" Baker). In fact, except for the early years when Bob Kessling was doing the play-by-play, it has always been a three Dave show on SEC football.
For me, it is going to be a bittersweet day as many friendships have been formed over the years with the folks at Raycom, many of them with behind the scenes people most people have never heard of. For this reason, I wanted to give these fine people a shout out.
First and foremost, the productions could not happen without the hard work of Mona Flowers and Lynn Covington. These two have been the crewing coordinators that never failed to make sure people got their work assignments and got paid. Two awesome ladies who always had a smile in their voice.
Rob Reichley has been producing the games over the years, working alongside directors like Gary Clem and Lonnie Dale. Robin Russo has been a longtime AD with the crew. Nothing beats a sense of familiarity when you walk into a truck and/or booth and work with familiar faces and personalities.
Pre-Game Show, with Raycom Executive Jimmy Rayburn in 2007.
On the talent side, it really has been a pleasure getting to know Dave Neal over the years, watching as we both aged, and as he became a father. How he still gets to find time for golf is truly a puzzler. The past couple of years, former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Dave Archer has been the color analyst. I have worked with many former players over the past 27 years, but by far, Archer is one of the most gracious, humble, and nicest guys you could ever want to meet or work with.
What's The Buzz?: Dave "Buzz" Baker, long-time Raycom sideline reporter for SEC Coverage
There was no doubt when he was in the room.
One of the most profound conversations I have had with someone in TV was earlier this season, when Dave and I talked about his brush with death that took him away for Raycom broadcasting. One time I asked him if I could take a picture of his Super Bowl ring, he said sure. he he said "Why don't you put it on and i will take a picture of you wearing it!". That is just the kind of guy he is.
Because of UGA's success since the arrival of Mark Richt, Raycom has only been in town a few times over the past couple of years for football. In fact, they only made it once this year. So tomorrow, I will get to see this football family one more time. And I will miss them, because it really does feel like a family with them, dysfunctions, warts, laughs and all.
Photographs Copyright 2006-2008 by Eye on Sports Media/The Cayuga Ggroup, LLC. All Rights Reserved.