A Little Elbow Grease, PleaseWednesday, January 4th, 2012
A few more emails than usual this morning in my inbox. Headers like, “OMG–have you seen this???” and “Bet THIS looks familiar!” One click on this link took me to Holly Rowe’s rather impressive stiffarm en route to her ESPN post-Sugar Bowl interview with Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
Now, when I say I literally Laughed Out Loud, please know I’m not insensitive. Swear! I appreciate that the woman with the tape recorder whom Holly Heismaned out-of-frame had a job to do, too. That said, while post-game looks (and feels) like a complete unmitigated free-for-all, there is actually a standard protocol: the sideline reporter for the TV broadcast rightsholder gets first dibs on the head coach or the star of the game; the radio broadcast reporter– ESPN Radio’s Quint Kessenich, in this case– is next in line. It’s one of ESPN’s perks, if you will, for forking out $125 million a year for the BCS and this courtesy is customarily extended to ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX or any broadcast entity that pays a rights fee to put an event on its air. In a perfect world, someone from the Michigan sports information department or a Sugar Bowl media rep (or both) is helping Holly round-up Hoke and keeping other reporters briefly at bay. But, inevitably, there are breakdowns amidst the madness and I vividly recall times where I’ve pleaded, “WE’RE… STILL… LIVE!!” in a desperate attempt to hold off the Microphone Mob long enough to get my interview in the can. It really does require an orchestrated team effort!
I’ll never forget my finding-a-needle-in-a-haystack panic attack after the 2006 “Game of the Century” between top-ranked Ohio State and #2 Michigan, when both were 11-0. After Ted Ginn, Jr., recovered Michigan’s onside kick in the game’s closing minutes to secure OSU’s 42-39 victory, the fans at The Shoe flooded the field. Before I knew it, I was swimming upstream in a sea of red, trying to find scarlet-vested Buckeyes coach, Jim Tressel. I had my producer screaming in my ear… crazed fans pummeling me… I nearly face-planted tripping over camera cables getting slung into position for reaction inside Ohio State’s locker room. I must have thrown at least four left hooks and twice as many uppercuts getting to Coach, and once I did, I think I may have cut a reporter off mid-question to start my interview.
After 14 years of gymnastics, one of the few replacements I’ve found for the adrenaline rush of competition is post-game mayhem. People are relying on you to do your job and no one’s interested in excuses if you can’t. Holly is the best college sideline reporter in the biz because her hits feature human interest nuggets and valuable insight for the football-savvy, all with a commanding, conversational flair. But just like the athletes, we reporters sometimes get caught up in the heat of the moment, too. No malicious intent. Or sense of entitlement. Just under the gun to get the goods. Mission accomplie, Mademoiselle Rowe.