Weekend Plans: NBC Sports' Liam McHugh In South Bend, Philly
NBC Sports' LIAM MCHUGH will be pulling double duty this weekend with Florida State-Notre Dame on Saturday followed by a quick turnaround for Cowboys-Eagles on "SNF," and the veteran host has dutifully prepared for each game despite having to balance the joys (and challenges) of fatherhood throughout the week. McHugh earlier this week said, "We have a soon-to-be 4-year-old, a 5-and-a-half-year old and a 5 month old. Plus my wife has been a little under the weather ... so it’s like Thunderdome in here right now." McHugh still found time to take THE DAILY through his hectic weekend, from hoping ND coach BRIAN KELLY is amiable enough in Saturday's postgame interview, to chewing the fat with AL MICHAELS and CRIS COLLINSWORTH in the makeup chair. McHugh: "I can tell you right now, both those guys without makeup? Not bad. They’re taking care of themselves. Then again, neither one of them is chasing around a 5-year old at home."
EARLY START: Friday around 4:30am the alarm goes off, and I’ll quickly head from our Long Island home to the airport and fly to South Bend. Then as soon as I get there I’ll drop my bags and head over to the football offices. Our production crew, including MIKE TIRICO, DOUG FLUTIE and CHRIS SIMMS, we’ll sit in on a meeting with coach Kelly and his coordinators to pick their brains. Then we’ll talk to a group of players. For myself and Chris, it’s a big moment where we can get some real information, because during our pregame show we really want to brings fans something they didn’t hear on the radio or read online that week. We'll catch the team walk-throughs. Then that night, because it is our final game in South Bend this year, we’ll have a dinner with everyone who works with us on these broadcasts. It’s a really cool night where we get to talk about everything other than work.
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: The next morning we’ll start with breakfast and a production meeting, then there’s a lot of time until the night game, which is nice. I’ll watch “COLLEGE GAMEDAY,” catch some afternoon games, then around 4:30 or 5:00pm, Simms and I head over to the stadium. We’ll sit in the greenroom that has a direct feed for our game but also has all the other games on there as well. It’s a laid back atmosphere, Chris and I are good friends. Then we do a rehearsal, get warm and then we’re on at 7:00 for the pregame show. We’ll do a little fist-bump, I’ll remind Chris not to curse on air and we’re off and running. Postgame is loose, we really don’t want to format too much, more just react to what we’ve seen out on the field. If Notre Dame wins, we get Kelly on set. The nice thing is, they’ve been winning this year, and he’s been in a good mood.
SUNDAY FUNDAY: We'll finish on Saturday night at about 11:30. My producer and I will hop in a car and drive straight to Chicago right after the game. We’ll get there about 3 hours later, check into the airport hotel, get about 3 -and-a-half hours of sleep, then fly to Philly to just catch the end of our production meeting for "FOOTBALL NIGHT IN AMERICA" and “SNF.” The meeting is mainly about the game itself, but I tend to get a ton out of it. It’s fun to be a fly on the wall listening to Collinsworth and Michaels get ready for a broadcast. Then I’ll get back to my room, maybe get a quick workout in, watch the pregame shows, watch the first half of the 1:00pm game then get over to the stadium and sit with our researcher to make sure we’re on the same page.
SPRINT TO THE FINISH: I’ll usually do a few walk-in interviews with the coaches. It’ll be interesting to hear what JASON GARRETT has to say after this week. Then after that we do affiliate hits, then it’s up to the booth where I get the treat of watching Michaels and Collinsworth get makeup before I do. Then we go back to the set and get off and running. One thing I really like about “FNIA” is we’re only on that set for one segment. After that, we move around the stadium. We want to show you what’s unique about the atmosphere. If I’m going to be in the stadium, there’s no reason for me to just be tethered to this desk. Then after my postgame hits I change out of my suit, go down to the car, drive back to New York, sleep for two hours and then take my boys to kindergarten and pre-school.
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