Steelers-Ravens: The most heated rivalry in the NFL during the last decade. On any given Sunday, the traditional storylines already exist between these two NFL franchises. However, on the first Sunday in November, it was nothing but traditional as a select group of West Liberty University students participated in an all-access tour of NBC’s Sunday Night Football in America.
West Liberty University sports producer and adjunct professor, Chuck Scatterday, took the WLU students inside the inner production areas of the NBC compound. Scatterday, a former co-worker and longtime friend of NBC game producer, Fred Gaudelli, worked on ESPN’s Sunday Night Football and collaborated on other projects for ABC Sports.
Part of the all-access tour with Gaudelli was peering behind the doors of the five, 53-foot, expandable, state-of-the-art NBC mobile remote production units parked at Heinz Field.
Todd Ullom, WLU broadcasting student said, “Seeing up close, how large the NBC production trucks were compared to WLU’s truck was impressive.”
A team of 85-production members comprises the NBC crew that travels from city to city to cover Sunday Night Football. The WLU students watched all of rehearsal, which included reviewing show production elements and sales components. WLU student, Josh Benyo was “impressed with how much coordination goes into the event and how humble Mr. Gaudelli was with us.” Gaudelli told the students, “You don’t just start at the top; you have to work your way up and what your doing now at the WLU is a great place to start.”
The biggest change in sports television in the last 10 years, according to Gaudelli has been the advancement and implementation of computers. Gaudelli said, “It’s great you are getting an experience to be around Chuck and learn the basics of 4 and 5 camera sports. We’ve all been there at one point in our careers. Now you have an advantage, because you work with powerful computers every day of your life. I did have that when I started in TV.”
The highlight of the visit was when Dick Ebersol, Senior adviser for NBC Universal Sports, bumped into the WLU students, as the group exited the main truck to attend the highly intense pre-game production meeting.
The WLU students were front and center as Gaudelli and game director, Drew Esocof reviewed final game notes, late breaking storylines and team specific content that would likely make air during the NBC telecast.
Gaudelli reminded all camera personnel “this would be a harder hitting game than usual and cameras will need to watch for cut blocking from the first play, and it’s going to be a defensive game all night. We are calling it ‘4-Quarters of Fury’ for the telecast,” he added.
Esocof reminded camera operators to “look for all the Terrible Towels waving in the open of the show; it might look awesome from the blimp. The place will be loud, and it will be an intense crowd throughout the night; hold your replays one more second for that money shot.”
Nate Johnson, WLU student, said, “It was really cool how similar the NBC production meeting was compared to our class production meetings for WLU-TV productions. It’s not that much different from NBC, they just have more information and access – it’s unbelievable.”
The West Liberty University students and Scatterday thanked Gaudelli and Esocoff and joined them in a pre-game meal near the NBC compound with the rest of the SNF crew.
“This kind of access and teaching opportunity is exactly where we need to continue to take our sports broadcasting track at WLU,” said Scatterday. “Who knows if the next Bob Costas, Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya or Fred Gaudelli is here at West Liberty University just waiting to be developed into talent.”