Rarely do hyped match ups live up to the advanced billing. Most of the time they wind up in a blowout which ruins everything for the network covering it and its announcers. That wasn’t the case last Saturday when LSU faced Alabama in Tuscaloosa. CBS had its “A-Team” on the call, Brad Nessler on play-by-play and Gary Danielson handling color commentary.
I went back and watched the game, to focus on the actual broadcast and not the outcome. Here are my thoughts.
The broadcast open concentrated on the 2011 meeting between the two teams billed as “The Game of the Century”, which wound up in a 9-6 overtime win for LSU. CBS created good drama, using music and graphics to set the stage for this big moment, billed as “The Game of the Year”.
It was good to see that both Nessler and Danielson seemed be loose for calling such a big game in their on camera open. Sometimes broadcasters fall victim to over enthusiasm when it comes to calling huge games. These guys seemed relaxed and ready for what was to come that afternoon.
The open featured most of the obvious angles, concentrating on the two QBs and of course mentioning the injury to Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa. They went deeper to include an injury on defense to LSU’s safety Grant Delpit. Both were dealing with ankle injuries.
Nessler brought in Jamie Erdahl, the sideline reporter for the game, first with an interview of Alabama coach Nick Saban who confirmed what we already knew that Tagovailoa would start the game. After a brief toss back to the booth, Erdahl caught up with LSU coach Ed Orgeron who mentions that he told his team all week, “you are the better team”. Pretty good stuff here.
Back to the booth now and Nessler is going over a graphic illustrating that Alabama has an 8-game win streak in the series vs. LSU. It’s followed by a good graphic showing what these two teams have done over the course of the rivalry. Good illustration for those that may be new to the game.
The open segment wraps up with something that I had to rewind to make sure I heard correctly. Nessler exclaimed, “football fans around the world have circled November 9TH”, really? The world? Seems a bit much to me here. I get what he’s trying to say but that seemed a bit over the top.
There is good energy in the stadium for the opening kick. LSU won the toss and deferred. I liked the energy from the guys in the booth too as Alabama gained two first downs on its first two plays from scrimmage. The announcing crew didn’t get caught up in the crowd noise from the over 102-thousand fans in attendance.
To me, Danielson was very sharp early. He noticed six offensive lineman in game for Alabama on one offensive set, then four wides (receivers) on the next. I liked how he explained why Alabama had to call a timeout in the red zone on the first Tide drive. It all made sense and was easy to understand, even for the uninformed casual fan.
Danielson continued to shine as Tagovailoa fumbled trying to scramble. The crew showed the replay and it was obvious there was some rust on the QB who had ankle surgery 21 days earlier and missed some game time. “You can’t simulate game action. You can test it (the ankle) all you want, now you have to instinctively make moves. Can’t blame that one (fumble) on a bad ankle”.
LSU would take over and a lot of the focus turned to Joe Burrow the QB for the Tigers. He led the team right down the field for a score following the fumble to give LSU a lead. I thought Nessler did a great job of “laying out” after LSU touchdown. Even though the game was in Tuscaloosa, there were a lot of Tigers fans in the crowd, they were heard from after the score.
Coming back from a break CBS posted a great graphic illustrating it was LSU’s first lead over Alabama since the 2017 game in the 3rd quarter. Nessler acknowledges it after the graphic is gone because he let Danielson make a point, which a good play-by-play guy should do.
Now with Alabama on offense a poignant graphic popped up, stating that the 7-0 deficit was tied for the largest of the season for the Tide.
In an effort to show both sides, the producer popped up a graphic, a comparison of the two team’s wide receiver corps. Nessler leads to it, showing how eerily similar the numbers are – Nessler pays it off saying, “despite all that ask if there’s a better group (of receivers) than Alabama, here you go.”
The booth sends things to Erdahl after returning from a break. She has a very in depth look at the surgery Tagovailoa went through on his ankle complete with animated graphics. Nessler highlighting the detailed look with, “Jamie did so much research on that ankle thing we thought she could perform the surgery on us.”
The first quarter ends after a 77-yard punt return for a touchdown by Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, making the score LSU 10, Alabama 7.
As the 2nd quarter begins with LSU on offense, I noticed that the CBS crew cut off a few of the replays before they were finished, because of the pace of the LSU offense. I found it really distracting and maybe they should consider waiting until the Tigers go into a huddle?
LSU continued its offensive prowess with another scoring drive. Nessler with a good call of the Burrow to Marshall touchdown. Danielson points out how the Alabama defense got schooled big time, saying “it’s just embarrassing for the Alabama defense”.
The criticism wasn’t reserved for just the Tide defense. Danielson, the former NFL QB had a point with the slow start for Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense. “Right now he is not in sync at all in this game. He does not have the feel of complete high level competition so far.” Also so far I’ve noticed that Nessler is having a bit of an issue with the name Tagovailoa. Not that I can blame him, but it’s been coming out a few different ways.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. Maybe it was just great timing, as Nessler and Danielson had a conversation about the ‘Bama wideouts from Jerry Jeudy’s perspective. He told the crew that Devante Smith just “caught everything”, just then Tagovailoa threw a 64-yard score to…Smith. How did he get so open? The producer showed us on replay, that several LSU defenders looking to the bench for a change in coverages as the touchdown pass developed.
CBS shined during a disputed play in the 2nd quarter. LSU receiver Thaddeus Moss made a catch near the sideline, it was very close, but called a catch on the field. “Pylon cam” showed Moss’ left foot out of bounds then re-established in the field of play to make the catch. This produced some good discussion between Danielson and rules analyst Gene Steratore about the legality of the catch. Was it illegal touching? No flag was thrown for it. Eventually after a lengthy delay, the call is confirmed. More on this situation pops up later in the broadcast.
As the first half ends, Danielson says this about Tua, “he just seems rusty to me, more than just his ankle is bothering him, just seems out of sorts.” Followed by Nessler throwing to a break, “I don’t believe I’m saying this, LSU by 20.”
The first half ends with LSU up 33-13.
To open things up, Steratore had a terrific follow up of the ruling of the completed pass controversy in the 2nd quarter. He stated that all the information wasn’t initially given about the play. He said that the official near the sideline ruled the receiver was pushed out of bounds and did not go out on his own, that would make it a legal catch rather than illegal touching. It is a strong follow up from one of the best rules analysts in the business.
The struggles continued for Alabama, with Waddle calling for fair catch inside the 10…Danielson “that’s a mistake, you’re not supposed to back up behind the 10. Usually it’s Alabama forcing their opponent into bad plays like this, today it’s different.” Strong and correct commentary.
Even after the previous statement the sentiment in the booth is that Tua is going to get hot at some point. Again, lucky or just great timing, Tagovailoa obliges and validates the thought with a touchdown pass to his RB Najee Harris.
As the quarter comes to an end, Nessler says, “If you’ve ever in your life thought about doing something now instead of watching the fourth quarter – reconsider. 33-20 LSU after 3…”
The game still felt in doubt as the final quarter began. Alabama went right to work with the Tide scoring an early 4th quarter touchdown. Right after the play, again Nessler lays out for crowd reaction, which was a beautiful thing.
After the Alabama score, the narrative switched to the pressure being on the LSU offense now which hasn’t scored since the 2nd quarter. Of course, more fortuitous timing, because a TD drive would ensue.
Nessler put on his SEC hat and seemed to go on a rant which based on Twitter reaction wasn’t received all that well. The producer put up the College Football Playoff graphic, with LSU as #2 and Alabama as #3, leading him to say, “I don’t care if Ohio State (the #1 Buckeyes) won by 100 points (73-14 actually over Maryland), if LSU beats Alabama their number one next week.” The Clemson and Oregon fan bases were the most critical of this comment of all.
The announcing crew shined in some cases as the game’s momentum swung from one side to the other toward the end.
Danielson reacted to a pass that was batted down at the line, with a possibility of him running in the picture. Danielson thought that for the first time in the game, Tagovailoa may have been affected by his ankle injury in his decision making. The analyst still wasn’t off the bandwagon, thinking there would be a moment for the Tide quarterback. The payoff came after a huge 4th down conversion resulting in a touchdown throw by Tagovailoa. It’s a 5-point game, LSU 39, Alabama 34.
Now it was Burrow’s time to shine. He led a 7 play, 75-yard drive and in the process picked up a huge first down late in the drive and quarter. Nessler pointed out, “might be a Heisman moment there.” The drive continued and wound up in a 7-yard score for running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
As quickly as the crew commented on the LSU score after the kickoff, the Tide would strike on its first play from scrimmage. The game would come to an end after a failed on-sides kick to give LSU the win in Tuscaloosa.
It didn’t seem like the moment was too big for a veteran broadcast crew, and I never really suspected it would be. I felt like Danielson was very pointed in his commentary and on both sides. He had criticisms for each of the teams and all seemed extremely warranted at the time of the commentary.
Nessler did his normal solid job with a couple of exceptions. The pronunciation of Tagovailoa’s name changed a few times and he didn’t seem to see some of the things that looked obvious on screen, especially when plays would be called back by penalty. Just a little nitpicking on my part here.
The broadcast never seemed too over the top which can be a tendency when some networks cover big games. CBS stuck to the script and to the storylines of the game itself. Nice job all around.
Sam Mayes Got A Raw Deal But Tyler Media Made The Right Call
“You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.”
I do not envy whoever at Tyler Media had to make a decision about Sam Mayes’s future with the company after audio of a private conversation in 2016 was leaked to the media. Mayes and now-former co-worker Cara Rice made a few racist jokes at the expense of Native Americans.
The recording, according to Mayes, was made without his knowledge and leaked illegally. He says in a recorded statement that he should have been given the opportunity to address the recording on air and make amends.
Maybe that is true, maybe it isn’t. I hate for Sam to lose his job as the result of an illegal recording of a private conversation, but the fact is, that conversation isn’t private anymore. Tyler Media didn’t really have an option here. Sam Mayes had to go.
Someone had an illegal recording of the conversation and created an anonymous email account to send it to people in the Oklahoma City media. I was shown a copy of the email. The author states clearly that their goal is to see Mayes and Rice out of a job. There is nothing fair or just about that person getting exactly what they want. It feels slimy. I can’t say that it feels like it wasn’t the right call though.
We have debated whether or not someone should lose their job over comments made in a private conversation many times before. It happens in every field. It wasn’t long ago at all that we were having this same debate about Jon Gruden. His emails to Bruce Allen and others were sent in private. Is it fair he had to go when they were made public? No matter what horrible things were in there, they were said with the understanding that it would stay between friends.
I am going to say the same thing about Sam Mayes that I did about Gruden when that story first broke. You are being naive if you think a company should stand behind an employee that has put themselves in this situation.
You read that right. The circumstances of how the conversations in these examples came to light are absolutely unfair, but the conversations came to light. How it happened is irrelevant. Any sponsor or boss that stands behind Sam Mayes or Jon Gruden would be endorsing the language they used, either inadvertently or very much on purpose. Try explaining that to a sponsor.
People at Tyler Media may know Sam Mayes’s heart. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy. The fact of the matter is, once the audio became public, their hands were tied. There is no mistaking what was said or who said it.
How can any seller or manager take Mayes to advertisers now? How can they put him in front of the Lucky Star Casino, one of the station’s biggest advertisers? They can ask for an audience to let Sam explain himself and try to make amends. The Cheyenne and Arapahoe Tribes, who own the casino, are under no obligation to forgive or even listen.
Maybe the day will come where Sam Mayes bounces back. I hope it does. I hope he gets the chance to address his comments with members of Oklahoma’s Native American community and listen to what they have to say in response. I do think it sucks that this is how his time at The Franchise comes to an end, but I get it.
If I have to explain to you why not to say dumb, racist shit, then I don’t think we have much to talk about. But, it is worth noting that the recording of Mayes and Rice’s conversation is proof that privacy is always an assumption, not always a fact.
In his audio statement, Mayes admits it is his voice on the recording. He also says that he was uncomfortable with Rice’s comments and he tried to end their conversation. I’ll take him at his word, but I will also point out that before he tried to end the conversation, he joined in on the jokes. Maybe when someone says that Native Americans are “too drunk to organize” it isn’t a great idea to respond. All it leads to is proof of you saying something dumb and racist.
Again, I’ll reiterate that how these comments came to light is unfair, but they did come to light. That is Sam Mayes’s voice on the recording. He is joining in on the jokes about Native Americans being drunks and addicts. At the end of the day, the only thing that was done to him was the audio being released. He fully and willingly committed the firable offense.
What is the response to a client or potential client when they bring that up? All Tyler Media can do is try to recover and move forward. The company cannot do that with Mayes on the payroll.
Stop Prospecting, Start Strategizing!
“You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days.”
Struggling to get new business appointments? Dreading making prospecting calls? Having trouble writing creative emails that seemingly never get a response?
Generating responses to new business outreach is easier than you think. Just make sure you do your homework first and keep it “Simple Stupid”.
To do that, start with asking yourself these (3) simple questions:
#1: Did I do my home work on the business itself, their competition and those I plan on reaching out to?
#2: If I were on the other end of the phone and/or email with myself would I want to engage in conversation and/or reply to that email?
#3: Am I prepared to make a one call close given the opportunity to?
If the answer to any of these is “No”… do NOT pick up the phone and by all means do NOT hit the send button on that initial outreach email! Doing so will all but ensure you fall flat on your face. On the off chance you do happen to get the decision maker on the phone you won’t make that great first impression that sometimes can be so crucial. First impressions are always important… ALWAYS!
Skipping over these critical steps is a sure-fire way to ensure your email is completely ignored and will not generate the engagement from the prospect you’d hope for. Successful prospecting is all about the front end digging and research. Do your homework first then strategize a plan of attack for your call and/or email. Taking these extra measures on the front end is absolutely “Mission Critical” and will set you up for much more success with your prospecting endeavors.
Now once you’ve answered “Yes” to all of the above, you’re ready to attack with the knowledge and confidence that should set you a part from your competition. It’s all about the Game Plan, and if you don’t have one, you’re destined for failure time and time again. Incorporate these (5) things into your prospecting Game Plan for your next call/email and watch your results dramatically improve:
#1: MAKE IT PERSONAL & CASUAL – Be informal, find out something interesting about them.
#2: MAKE IT SHORT & CONCISE – Be straight forward and to the point, people are busy.
#3: MAKE IT TIMELY & RELEVANT TO THEM AND/OR THEIR BUSINESS – Give them a good Valid Business Reason.
#4: MAKE IT INTERESTING, COMPELLING & INFORMATIVE – Be the expert they’re missing.
#5: MAKE IT FUN – Fun people are easy to do business with and make it less like “work”.
Lastly, and most importantly, Be Yourself! You cannot put a price tag on authenticity. It’s very rare and hard to find these days. When clients do find it trust me, they value it and appreciate it way more than you’ll ever know!
Good Producers Can Teach The World A Lot About Christmas
“A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition.”
Who is Carl Christmas in your house? Who is the one that makes sure everyone that needs to get a card does? Who comes up with the plan for the lights? Who takes the reins on the shopping?
Every home needs one and in my house, that’s me. December (including the last week of November) is my time to shine, baby!
One thing I have tried to impress upon my mom and wife this year is that shipping and supply chain delays are real. So, if you are planning on procrastinating on your online shopping this year (you know, like usual) someone (me) is going to have no presents under the tree.
Veteran producers are used to operate this way. Young producers, listen up. Your job involves the most delicate balance of any in sports radio. You have to help bring your host’s and PD’s visions to life. That means you have to be able to take their direction. But you also have to keep the host on target. That means you cannot be afraid to be forceful and lead when the moment demands it.
There’s no value to being an unrepentant asshole to people, but you do have to hold them accountable. Look at that Christmas shopping example again. If you want to get what you want, you need to keep on task the people you know aren’t paying attention to the potential roadblocks. It isn’t selfish. It is making sure everyone gets the holiday W they are expecting. Sure, you would be disappointed if your gift doesn’t arrive on time, but so will the gift giver.
Being a stickler for the clock or moving a host off of a topic that has no value is the same thing. Of course there is something in it for you, but you are also helping the host do his or her job better. They may get annoyed with you now, but if you save them from an ass-chewing from the bosses or slipping ratings, then they have reaped the benefits.
I guess the unfortunate difference here is that there may be no acknowledgment of what you did or helped them to avoid. Oh well. Every producer has to expect a certain level of thanklessness.
Producers have to take on that Carl Christmas role in dealing with sales too. Remember, just because the producer’s name isn’t on the show doesn’t mean that isn’t every bit his or her show that it is the hosts’.
It’s like decorating your house for the holidays. You may have a certain design in mind. Maybe you have a traditional look you stick to every year. If your spouse or your kid comes home with a giant, inflatable Santa Claus in a military helicopter that they want on the lawn, you have a decision to make. Are you going to say no and suggest an alternative that aligns more with your goal or are you going to let your plan get run over?
Sales has a job to do. It is to make sure their clients’ messages are heard and to make money for the station. Both can be accomplished without sacrificing your show’s quality.
If a seller comes to you and says he wants his client to come in for five minutes and talk about now being the time to book an appointment to have your garage floors redone, you have to speak up. You have an obligation to make sure that the seller knows that even five minutes of that will hurt the show and have listeners diving for the preset buttons on their car stereo. That isn’t good for the station or his client.
Instead, offer to work with the seller and the client to come up with a piece of content that the client can put his name on and a 20-second ad read behind. Will the audience stick around to listen to some dude named Jerry talk about garage floors or will more people listen to you talk about the NFL playoff picture in a creative way and then still be there to hear Jerry’s message about garage floors? The answer seems obvious.
A lot has to be accomplished in the lead-up to Christmas. So much of it happens in the background without much recognition. If the background work wasn’t done though, the problems would be right out on the front lawn for everyone to see.
“Gatekeeper” is a term I really hate. It implies that someone is telling others what they are and are not allowed to enjoy. It is a necessary term though to properly describe what it is that a great producer and a great Carl Christmas do.
We don’t shut people out from being able to enjoy or be a part of what it is we are creating. We set or are handed down expectations and we block anything that can get in the way of achieving them. Sometimes, that is more thankless work than it should be. It is necessary though.
As my home’s self-appointed Carl Christmas and a former producer, let me give my countrymen the thanks others forget. We are the ones that make it possible for everyone else to be mindless. Wear it as a badge of honor. We may not get the kind of recognition we deserve everyday, but when plans go off without a hitch, we are usually the first to be recognized for making it happen.
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