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Volume 26 No. 25
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Weekend Plans With "SEC On CBS" Sideline Reporter Jamie Erdahl

Erdahl's husband and infant daughter will be able to travel with her to some SEC games this season
Photo: JAMIE ERDAHL

CBS Sports’ JAMIE ERDAHL will have plenty to navigate as sideline reporter for Saturday’s Notre Dame-Georgia game in Athens: from asking pertinent questions in pressure-packed moments to locating her interview subject in the potential chaos of postgame. On top of that, she recently returned to work after the birth of her daughter, BROOKE, in July. Erdahl, who also does studio work for CBS Sports’ college basketball coverage, spoke to THE DAILY about balancing her career with motherhood (Fox' SARA WALSH also is dealing with that scenario), the pleasure of working with the “SEC on CBS” crew and how to capture the emotion of big-time college football.

RETURNING TO THE FIELD: I'm on a little bit of a roller coaster of excitement to get back around my team and my guys, coupled with a little bit of guilt: Should I be excited to be away from my child? And then there’s nervousness, because it feels like I haven’t worked in a year, even though it was only since the NCAA Tournament. A lot of women in our roles pride ourselves on being these competent, confident, competitive people. That’s what makes us good as sideline reporters. So it’s weird to acknowledge these real feelings. It kind of flies in the face of what I feel like has gotten me to my position, which is nose to the grindstone, put on a brave face. What I keep saying to myself is, “The baby will be fine. It’s going to be harder on me.”

FAMILY IN TOW: Brooke is going to come with my husband (SAM BUCKMAN) to the game. We will probably do that every other weekend or every third weekend, mostly to the campuses where it’s not going to entail a second flight or a really long drive from our home in Minneapolis. I want everyone to see her, because this is such an intimate work environment, and we really fell invested in each other. BRAD NESSLER and GARY DANIELSON are just chomping at the bit to meet her and hold her.

LOCAL FLAVOR: There are some cities that you go a lot, so you know your haunts. But there are some schools I haven’t even been to yet, so I want to get out and explore when I’m in those places. But I also haven’t experienced this much sleep deprivation, so I don’t know what I will feel when I get to a hotel room by myself. My exploring might take a bit of a dive.

SIDELINE VS. STUDIO: The nature of the preparation is different, and the questions I get to ask. With sideline work, you have to be well-read on everything, just in case anything happens. It’s so much more about in-the-moment reactions. That’s the mark of a good sideline reporter, taking that question down to what you’re living right in that split second. Whereas in studio, it’s a little more about big-picture reaction, and you’re with your CBS colleagues. With sideline work, I shake a coach’s hand on a Thursday, then I’m thrust in his face Saturday with a microphone. That’s not a lot of time to establish a rapport.

END-OF-GAME CHAOS: The beauty of a big game on TV is, they do have those flyover cameras. Even if your camera loses you in the melee, I know my director will find me from above. Now, the next job is to get to the coach. In the SEC, every coach has an assigned police officer. I always introduce myself to those gentlemen. Those are little tricks of the trade. The SIDs do a great job of corralling everybody. But you definitely have to throw an elbow or two.

FAVORITE SEC VENUE: LSU is pretty special, with all the pomp and circumstance for the Alabama game last year. And we were there when they upset Georgia, which was pretty awesome. But I feel the same way about Gainesville when Florida beat LSU. We were on hand for a lot of really good games, and that always lights the stadium up. I cannot wait to see what Athens looks like this Saturday. I have an idea, but it’s probably going to be at another level.