SBD/February 6, 2013/Media

ESPNU Plans 11.5 Hours Of Coverage Dedicated To National Signing Day

Today is National Signing Day in college football, and it "essentially is ESPNU's draft day," as the net will have 11.5 hours of coverage, according to Jonathan Jones of the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER. Former Tennessee coach Derek Dooley and former Auburn coach Gene Chizik are appearing in studio, while ESPNU has put reporters "at 13 colleges to get reactions from some of the nation's top coaches." The net originally planned to start its coverage at 9:00am ET and have a 10-hour special, but execs "decided to bump the special up by 90 minutes to fit in the nation’s top recruit, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche." ESPNU began its coverage today with Nkemdiche announcing he will attend Ole Miss. ESPN national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said that he "is not surprised by the growth." Luginbill: "The medium now to where everyone has access to that information, we’re essentially a byproduct of that. ... You can’t run from it, you can’t hide from it because it’s everywhere. It’s something people want to know more about because they’re fascinated." Jones noted ESPNU is "not aware of the athlete’s college choice until he announces it." Producers work with high school administrators and coaches "to arrange the logistics," but the "big decision rests with whomever the athlete tells beforehand." ESPNU Senior Coordinating Producer Shawn Murphy said that he "usually sets parameters and works in concert with school officials to make sure a recruit doesn’t disrespect a potential suitor." ESPNU will show "six announcements, hoping to fit all inside narrow time frames" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/5). Meanwhile, Fox Sports' National Signing Day coverage will be featured on both Scout.com and its FSN regional networks. Scout.com will have a team of 35 recruiting reporters offering live coverage throughout the day from schools such as Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State and UCLA. Scout.com recruiting experts also will participate in live televised specials and end-of-day recaps produced by several RSNs, including FS Southwest, FS South, FS West and FS Arizona (Fox).

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: In Indianapolis, Mark Ambrogi noted Notre Dame today will have "seven hours of programming," starting at 7:00am ET at UND.com. Last year's webcast "drew more than 48,000 page views and the goal is to top 50,000 on Wednesday." Notre Dame has "added a digital media studio to direct the coverage from remotes at the football center as well as collecting social media chatter on Twitter and Facebook." Fighting Irish Digital Media Associate Producer Ryan Camden will host the show and basketball radio play-by-play broadcaster Jack Nolan will "conduct interviews with coach Brian Kelly and the assistants." A noon press conference also was scheduled to be "streamed live." The goal is to have "more programming when the flow of letters of intent slows and have significantly less time off the air" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 2/5).

SOMEBODY'S MISSING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman writes under the header, "Signing Day Loses Its Voice." For the first time in more than 25 years, Alabama-based college football talk-show host Paul Finebaum will have "no show on the biggest off-season day of the year, which he described as 'different.'" Finebaum has been "off the air since Jan. 21, when his contract expired" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/6).

NOT FOR EVERYONE: In Miami, Michelle Kaufman notes through the recruiting process, some players "get wrapped up in the hype." Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said, "Some kids flip schools three or four times, or hold out until the last minute even if they know where they're going because they love the attention from the media and recruiting websites. The Internet makes money off uncommitted kids because they're creating news and drama about their announcements" (MIAMI HERALD, 2/6). USA TODAY's Mike Lopresti wrote National Signing Day is about boosters and media "obsessed with the hourly whims of teenagers." It involves "bright lights and center stage that seem so early." Or the "hyper-hype, which is like chocolate." Too much of it "can't be good for kids." This is "not to deny the day is often interesting, occasionally fascinating and invariably necessary." The phenomenon "only grows more torrid each February with social media now the booster rocket." It is big-time college football "in all its many tones; lively, loud -- and sometimes overheated" (USA TODAY, 2/5).

HAVING SOME FUN: The beginning of today's “The Dan Patrick Show” broadcast featured host Dan Patrick seated at a desk with a Georgia, Notre Dame and Dayton football helmet in front of him, while the “Danettes,” his production crew, were standing behind him in spoof of National Signing Day. Patrick said, “I want to thank everybody for coming out today. It’s a big day, big moment for me. I did not happen upon this decision overnight. I’d like to first thank my teachers for allowing me to be average. I’d like to thank my teammates for being below average to make me look even better. I’d like to thank my parents, my drama teacher, debate, my math teacher so I could count up my stats during the game. And I’d like to thank the big man for making this all possible. I narrowed this down to three.” Patrick became emotional and announced he “was taking my talent” to Dayton because the Notre Dame and Georgia helmets would not fit his head (“The Dan Patrick Show,” 2/6).
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