Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts on ESPNU's SEC "Preview"

I recorded the show because I was curious to see what the Worldwide Leader thought about teams in the SEC, specifically our beloved Commodores. What a waste. I would understand (I guess) if ESPN or even ESPN2 did this show and only provided cursory analysis to some of the SEC's squads. But this is the U, a station that is almost by definition designed for die-hard, knowledgeable, and passionate fans. The audience has read at least one conference preview and is looking for something more than a show devoted to how great Tim Tebow is, how LSU is "back," how Ole Miss is poised to break into the upper echelon of the conference, how Lane Kiffin had a precocious off-season, and how Nick Saban might as well have invented football.

Imagine my disappointment after watching this "special." In one hour, they managed to provide some insight about Florida, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and Alabama. They interviewed Lane Kiffin and spent almost the entire interview talking about how his father was the defensive coordinator. It reminded me of the skit from Saturday Night Live with Chris Farley and Paul McCartney (Remember when Tim Teabow went on a mission trip? That was pretty nice of him).

The coverage of Vanderbilt consisted of a "Campus Connection" segment (also the only love Arkansas, Mississippi State, and Kentucky got) that was so in-depth that they actually interviewed 2 Vanderbilt students who didn't appear to know anything about the Commodores as opposed to just one. The segment couldn't have lasted longer than 60 seconds, and at no point was ONE PLAYER mentioned, either from this year's team or last. Are you serious? I recognize that not everyone cares about Vanderbilt football, but if ESPNU wants to be taken seriously, they have to provide better analysis and insight than this. This complaint isn't limited to the Commodores either. How is it possible that 4 teams in the best conference in the country warrant no more than a gimicky segment that was produced by a college TV station or someone with a Mac? People tuning into shows like this aren't casual fans. They are looking for some meat, some analysis to team's that they may or may not face.

Where's ESPN.com's Chris Low? Or any of the network's analysts who appear to actually know something about SEC football beyond what has already been written, ad nauseam, in the season previews.

Also, I really resent the fact that the highlight packages they showed for the first 3 teams (Florida, UGA, and UT) were all taken almost exclusively from their match-up with the Commodores last year. Perhaps it's a small thing, but it strikes me as so emblematic of lazy producing: let's just run tape from the Vanderbilt game, there's got to be highlights we can use from that. Screw the U. I was pretty excited when the channel was added by Comcast in Nashville leading up to the season, now I'm beginning to think I was better off without it.

Am I wrong? Am I being too sensitive? You tell me VSLNation, am I asking for too much?

8 comments:

Bob Loblaw said...

I don't think you're wrong, but come on, man, what did you expect? TV exists to sell advertising. Advertising is best sold to the willing and interested viewer. The most willing and interested person watching an SEC football preview is probably a fan of a team who has a chance to win the conference (other than UT). ESPN knows this, and they know that if they want to keep the attention of Florida, Alabama, and Georgia fan, they're going to have to talk about them a whole lot. 60 seconds for the traditional doormats is pretty much par for the course.

F 'em, they'll get their comeuppance during the season, one way or another.

Austen said...

Couldn't agree more Bobby. When Chris Low is writing articles like this: http://espn.go.com/blog/sec/post/_/id/2228/five-things-to-watch-in-the-sec-east there is no reason for for the U to have suck terrible coverage. The Worldwide Leader has those that know the conference well enough to have an insightful and thorough preview. The fact they did not is pathetic.

As for needing to "keep the attention" of some fans from traditionally more dominant programs, I disagree. Though one could easily make a stab at some graduates of those programs attention spans, the bottomline is diehard fans will watch no matter what. You can stroke their egos and also give them, and everyone, a realistic picture of the SEC this year.

Final thought. The bowl prediction list: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/bowlprojection?season=2009&week=0 which has South Carolina and Tennessee making bowls before Vandy gets me heated. How many years in a row have we beaten South Carolina? And how many years has it been since UT really put up a challenge in the SEC East? I'm not saying they don't have the potential, I'm just saying it gets me going.

Tom M said...

The preseason specials on FSN (even the ones focused on Vandy) were also terrible in past years, this isn't anything new. I'd stick with the preseason coverage vucommodores is putting up. At least they have interviews with the players.

Anonymous said...

Bottom Line: One year does not make a program's reputation. Northwestern WON THE BIG TEN in 1995 and 2 years later this was forgotten by the media.

You shouldn't really care what the media says at all, but particularly in the preseason.

If you crave VU to be mentioned with FL, GA and AL, then Vanderbilt needs to go from "always plays you tough" to "knocks off 1 top 10 ranked conference opponent per year" (along with at least 8 wins) for a couple of years in a row.

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