CBS Sports' Allie LaForce Talks Busy Schedule, Reporting On NCAA Tourney In Q&A
It has been a whirlwind few years for CBS' Allie LaForce. Since graduating from Ohio Univ. in '11, the 25-year-old has become the full-time co-host of "Lead Off" on CBS Sports Network with Doug Gottlieb, worked for CBS as a sideline reporter for NFL games last season, and this weekend will work alongside Bill Raftery and Verne Lundquist as the courtside reporter for CBS' NCAA tournament games at MSG. The former Miss Teen USA caught up with THE DAILY this week to discuss her busy schedule, what she gleans from working with Raftery and Lundquist, and how her basketball playing career translates to the broadcast.
Q: You have only been out of school for a few years now and your plate is pretty full. Would you say it has been a seamless transition?
LaForce: In college I played basketball, I graduated in three years, I wrote an undergraduate thesis and I was broadcasting on top of that. Definitely a seamless transition in terms of the schedule. In terms of the daily show, it’s just Doug and I for an hour talking sports. I’ve learned a lot from Doug and his sports knowledge, the show has come a long way. I think that was the biggest adjustment, just going from doing live hits at games to hosting an hour-long show every night. There was a lot for me to learn in a short amount of time.
Q: What are some of the challenges of hosting Lead Off, which begins at midnight on the east coast?
LaForce: I think the challenges are just that a lot of games are going on at one time and our show is going on immediately after most games end. That’s one of the greatest parts about our show -- that we can be the first ones to talk about the games when they end, which is fantastic. What’s difficult is trying to balance watching all of the games. So we’re following box scores, Twitter, following on our phones. We’re breaking down these games, we’re talking about future implications for these teams. I would say just trying to be on top of things, but that’s not necessarily unique just to our show.
Q: You worked with Ian Eagle and Jim Spanarkel in the NCAA Tournament last year and are with Verne Lunquist and Bill Raftery this year. What are some of the differences between the two crews and what do you learn from working with Bill and Verne?
LaForce: Ian looks up to Verne and Bill very much. He advised me to soak up as much advice as possible from those guys because it’s not easy in this business to last as long as they have. Both crews were extremely fun, extremely helpful, gave a lot of advice and trusted my knowledge of the game. Ian is so hilarious. He has this dry, sarcastic humor that keeps you on your toes constantly. Jim is great, too. Bill and Verne just had me laughing for four days straight (last week) with stories, big smiles. I think the number one thing I was most impressed with is that they’re just great people, they treat everyone the right way from the runner to the producer to the obnoxious fans that come up, hits them on the back of the shoulder and snaps a photo. Whoever approaches them, they’re great to them and treat them with respect. It makes it a lot easier to see how they’ve lasted so long in the business. It makes me want to model the way I handle things after them.
Q: You were Miss Teen USA back in '05. Have you had issues with people questioning your credibility, saying you only got to where you are because of previous notoriety?
LaForce: I haven’t really faced anything with that when it comes to the pageant. I think all women face a similar challenge in a lot of people thinking that you just got a job because of your looks. That’s extremely common. It really helped that I played college basketball. That is where people stop questioning my credibility, because that’s where I started in the business, actually calling basketball games. I just got done playing, so I have some credibility. All you can do is go out there and be a good broadcaster, a good journalist. I wrote an undergraduate thesis on the objectification of women in sports, so I’m very well-versed on where it comes from and why people have those thoughts.
Q: How did your playing career at Ohio translate to broadcasting?
LaForce: It’s everything. I played AAU growing up and was a four-year varsity letter winner and thought I knew the game until I played in college. College takes it to a whole other level, you’re watching film every day, you’re breaking it down. I also had two different coaching staffs at Ohio U. It’s absolutely invaluable experience -- I can watch a play and break it down and tell you what happens because I played college basketball. I can relate to the different personalities and how they make up a team and how to approach them at halftime or after the game. Different coaching styles and approaches and how that affects the team in the game. I could go on forever -- it’s invaluable to my broadcasting.
Q: You were widely discussed on social media last weekend for your interview with St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli’s grandson. How do you go about handling that type of interview as opposed to just talking with a coach or player?
LaForce: You just hope that you can talk to them before you go live. I talked to him the day before, and he just had me laughing and cracking up the entire time. You do your research and know that he has been on a lot of national networks -- he’s handled himself well on the national scale. I didn’t think there would be stage-fright. It’s just a matter of feeling it out.