College Football Preview 2014: CBS Sports Builds on Last Season’s SEC Success
With two of the most memorable finishes in college football occurring just last season — on CBS, no less — it’s no surprise the CBS Sports crew can’t wait to get this season under way.
“I don’t think there was a greater year in college football and specifically on CBS with our SEC coverage,” says Steve Karasik, VP, remote production, CBS Sports. “We have two of the greatest games in recent memory with the Georgia-Auburn game [on Nov. 16] and then the miraculous ending of the Alabama-Auburn game in the Iron Bowl [on Nov. 30] — both which were finishes that’ll probably be talked about for the next 50 years.”
Both games — Auburn’s last-minute 73-yard TD pass in the former and improbable 103-yard field-goal return in the latter — were part of CBS Sports’ flagship SEC on CBS coverage. CBS Sports kicks off its 14th consecutive year of SEC coverage on Sept. 13, with Georgia vs. South Carolina, and will feature a total of 16 games throughout the network’s 14-week season.
“The crown jewel of our college-football package is the SEC,” says Karasik. “Our slogan this year is, ‘The best game every week from the best conference in college football.’ So, obviously, we pour a lot of resources into that.”
Equipment levels will depend on the matchup, but Karasik estimates that approximately 20 cameras will be deployed for each SEC on CBS game: hard cameras, handhelds, robotics, Skycam, and, for marquee games, a smattering of high-speed and super-slo-mo units and possibly even 4K at some point. CBS Sports will deploy F&F’s brand-new GTX-17 mobile-production unit to cover its main SEC game each week and add F&F GTX-16 in the event of an SEC doubleheader.
Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson, with Allie LaForce reporting, will serve as CBS Sports’ lead college-football announce team. Craig Silver will serve as coordinating producer; Steve Milton, as lead director. VP, Production, Harold Bryant returns as executive producer.
“You can have all the tools you want,” says Karasik, “but, in the end, production sensibilities and the way our talent covers the game are what defines it.”
CBS Sports will continue to extend those production sensibilities to cable offering CBS Sports Network. This Saturday, CBS Sports Network will broadcast Ohio State vs. Navy from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, with CBS Sports’ lead talent and production team handling the game.
“That kind of speaks to how important we think this game is for CBS Sports as a whole,” says Karasik. “That game will probably have more resources than we’ve ever used before on a cable game. … We’re really excited about having a team like Ohio State on our air and playing a team like Navy, so, facilities-wise, that’s going to be probably as big as we get for cable.”
Of course, CBS Sports’ college-football coverage extends well beyond the SEC. The network will broadcast two games from Yankee Stadium — Army vs. UCONN and the 150th meeting in the Lehigh-Lafayette rivalry — as well as a selection of games from the Mountain West Conference, the American Athletic Conference, Army football, Navy football, Conference USA, and the Patriot League. Those games will each have a baseline of six to nine cameras, with the possibility of additional gear for marquee matchups or unique shots (for example, a jib to capture the Army cadets or Navy midshipmen).
“It’s very easy for networks to throw a lot of equipment at a game, but we put equipment on games to be used in the right way and in a way that effectively tells the story of the game,” says Karasik. “Our producers, directors, and production teams put a lot of thought into where our cameras are and how we cover the games. I think that’s something that we do better than anyone else in the business.
“It’s hard to top last year,” he continues, “but I think that, with the talent and the people we have in place, we’re confident we can do that.”