Athens, GA (Jan 9, 2009) - Prior to the kick-off of the 2008 SEC Championship Game this past December, I had an engaging conversation with a TV Sportscaster from Atlanta. The topic? Diversity in college coaching and in the broadcast booth. He asked if I felt that Charles Davis should be in the same seat as Gary Danielson. I said a simple "No"and he asked why.
The answer was simple: Compared to other talent, he is not good enough. Watching the pre-game show last night, it seemed like he had greatly improved, hopefully validating what FOX Sports president Ed Goren said in 2007:
"Even though he was an accomplished broadcaster, I thought he was under the radar doing SEC for Turner," says Fox Sports president Ed Goren (pictured left). "For people who saw him on the BCS on Fox last year, it was probably the first time they saw him." (source: Richard Deitsch)
"Thom and Charles performed terrifically during last year's Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and BCS National Championship Game," said Goren. "This season they picked up right where they left off with a full season slate of games on the Big Ten Network where their chemistry got better and better each week."..."FOX Sports is proud to bring together this very talented and capable group of announcers," added Goren. (Source: Fox Sports)
Then there is this excerpt from a Teddy Greenstein piece in the Chicago Tribune in January 2008:
Staffers are compiling production tapes when President Ed Goren walks into a meeting and announces: "We've got our guy: Charles Davis."
"All of a sudden," recalled Dan Bell, Fox's vice president of communications, "we have 10 people saying, `Who, the running back from USC?' "
No, not Charles White. Davis, a former defensive back at Tennessee and an assistant
athletics director at Stanford. Goren had heard him announcing college football games for TBS and was more than impressed.
Fox Chief Executive Officer David Hill then popped in a tape and quickly emerged with a one-word review: "Terrific."
Here is the rub. Davis (pictured left) did an excellent job in the pre-game show. But that was a rehearsed, for the most part scripted, segment. Where Davis seems to fall down is in the live game itself. There is no doubt he is incredibly knowledgeable and well-prepared. But because he is so hesitant, and because he seems lacks the ability to smoothly segue between thoughts and with his Big Ten Network partner Thom Brennaman, the performance is hard to measure as a success by any standard.
Fox Sports found itself between a rock and a hard place when it landed the BCS Contract. They had no recognized talent to bring in with experience and college football. They work for other networks. With their investment stake in the Big Ten Network, it may have made perfect sense to bring in Brennaman and Davis. But for a game of this magnitude (and I use the term loosely because only true playoffs have true magnitude), do you really go to a regional network to grab talent?
But who do you blame? Does the fault fall to Ed Goren and Dave Hill? Do you blame the production team of coordinating producer Mike Burks and director Rich Russo? Is it a case of Burks, who has been widely known for his ungodly call times on game days, once again had his crew too tired to deliver their A-game?
Things Fox Should Have Left in Production Meetings
Nobody cares to see a clock saying how much time has elapsed between plays. College football fans are smart enough to know how to interpret a play clock.
Who designed their graphics header(s) and starting lineups? Could anybody tell what the bowl logos in the top bar were? Could anybody read the incredibly small fonts on starting lineups as they scrolled (very quickly) across the bottom of the screen?
Whose idea was the quad screen shots on the live broadcast? They made no sense whatsoever and made it very difficult to follow the flow of the game.
And the live streaming? Whoever came up with their train wreck of an approach needs to go to Web 2.0 school. You can read more thoughts on that in last night's post.