Week in review (3/13): Producing the Big East championship

wesBo Garrett is currently a producer at ESPN where he has produced some of the hallmark moments in recent Big East Tournament history. Garrett was on hand for Syracuse’s six overtime victory over Connecticut in 2009, as well as Gerry McNamara’s run in the 2006 tournament as Syracuse captured the Big East championship. He recently spoke to me about his experiences as an ESPN producer.

The Juice: Take me through a typical broadcast:

Bo Garrett: As a producer, I look at it as being the head coach of the broadcast. You got a lot of moving parts, a lot of players and really what is is organizing it and then creating a a game plan based on discussions with the announcers, discussions with your production personnel on about what key video elements, what key graphics, what are the storylines int he game, and then create a little game plan and react accordingly as the game unfolds. Really, ultimately what it really is is my decision what are we going to do? A play happens are we going to show a replay? aAe we going to show a flashback to a previous game? Are we going to show a graphic, tell a story. I’m in constant communication with the announcers about that.

TJ:Is it hard to get in all the stories you want during a broadcast?

BG: Basically one of the things especially is when you work on a conference all year you get to a week like this, you could have too many things. So part of my job is to go through it, what is a priority? The reality is, is the game that going to be played is the story that’s going to unfold. So it’s nice to be able to enhance that, but ultimately our job is to document it. So some games you go in you say there are 2, 3 things that I really want to get in. If you get them in? Great. What’s even better is great compelling action on the floor that you document.

TJ: Is there such thing as a ‘Perfect game’ in broadcasting?

BG: Sadly, I don’t think there ever is one. I produced the six-overtime game, Uconn/Syracuse, and quite frankly, being part of a production team that did an exceptional job, with the whole Devendorf end of regulation, I don’t think if that game wouldn’t unfolded like it did if we hadn’t produced and documented the end of the regulation as we did. That being said, that is an epic game, may be one of the game in college basketball history, there’s a bunch of things I wish I had done differently.

TJ: How much do you talk to the broadcasters during the game?

BG: It’s balance. You really want to be always get ahead with them to know what’s coming up. Talking to them about stories, maybe there’s something that unfolds. Why is so-and-so guarding so-and-so? What about that mismatch? They make a statement, West Virginia is going to the 1-3-1 zone, why? So I try to listen to it like the viewer, but I also keep them ahead. But you can’t stay in their ear the whole time, because i don’t know about you, but I have a hard time talking and walking let alone talking and listening. So you have to really be cognizant about play by play is talking.

TJ: Do you have meetings to discuss the game plan?

BG: That’s what I’m going to run and do right now. We take a lot of time. Here’s what we’re looking to document. Camera 5, you’re going to iso Rick Jackson down int he post, we’re going to look for weak side rebounding, 1-3-1 zone, 2-3 zone, here’s where we’re going to look to attack that to the camera man as well as the tape operator that are recording it. They understand the game plan going in, what to look for, here are the keys, and that’s all after talking to the analysts, the experts, and our job is to be the conduit to the production and technical teams.

TJ: Do you root for particular outcomes?

BG: I’ll say this, in 2006, we had Connecticut the No. 1 team in the nation. We had Villanova as the No. 2 team in the nation. If they won their brackets, the Big East Championship is the 1-2. You don’t get that too often. And obviously, Gerry McNamara went on the run and it became a better story so I’ve learned to go in, sure it would be nice to have the big teams with the big draws, but you never know what stories are going to evolve and that’s the fun part. Right now, it’s the Kemba Walker story.

That’s all for this week, folks. See you at the same time, same place next week.


Wesley Cheng
Editor in Chief

Avatar photo
About Wes Cheng 2907 Articles
Wes has worked for Rivals.com covering the New York Knicks, as well as for Scout.com covering Syracuse athletics. Wes has also been a contributing writer for the South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), for SportsNet New York (SNY) as a news desk writer covering all of New York professional sports, and reported on the NBA and MLB for the New York Sportscene. A native of Long Island, New York, Wes graduated from Syracuse University in 2005 with a degree in journalism. Contact him at wes[at]sujuiceonline.com.