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  • ESPN College Basketball Game Day: A Rare Behind-the-Scenes View



    Lexington, Ky. - ESPN College Basketball Gameday may look exciting and exquisite on television but, do fans really know what goes on behind-the-scenes?

    ESPN College Basketball Gameday, a popular spin-off from ESPN College Football Gameday , has effectively been drawing out a passionate fan base from the most prolific collegiate basketball programs around the country since its inception in 2005. This 120 minute program continues to cover some of the most intense match-ups in recent college basketball history, feeding fans fresh, exciting and lively entertainment.

    But, what looks polished on television holds an extraneous and detailed preparation process behind-the-scenes. “What a lot of people may not know is the amount of preparation that goes into (the show),” Tom Engle, ESPN College Basketball Gameday Producer, said, “It’s an on-going process from the conclusion of the show to when we are on air next week at UCLA, we are already talking about the ideas for it.”

    This process not only includes the very ideas creatively born behind each segment of the show, but the management that allows the program to flow from one school to another and all the detailed technical planning to get the entire team prepped and ready to present the next big thing. “There is a lot of logistics in getting (to Kentucky) and getting wherever,” Engle explains, “The good thing about basketball compared to football is we know where we are going each week; from a producer’s standpoint, it’s trying to cover the biggest storylines of the biggest games and make them enjoyable to watch on television.”

    With each show come challenges and difficult situations that may occur prior, during or after the live show. “From a logistics standpoint, anytime we go to the west coast it’s a challenge,” Engle said, “as far as the show is concerned, the most tense part for me is getting off the air in that last segment, sometimes you get behind schedule and you have to rush off air, so that’s the most hectic time for me.”

    Management and production may contain much of the difficult, dirty work, but other sections of production, such as lighting and audio, are the very foundation that makes the game day show “pretty.”

    Lighting Director Doug Gentile’s job is to try and make the show as “pretty” as possible on television as he explains, “I need to make it snap, crackle and pop so it looks good on TV."

    On the other hand, Audio Director Steve “Disco” Ryczko’s job is to make the fans at home feel as if they are attending the game show in person, “It’s a delicate balance between getting it loud enough for the audience and not getting too loud for television, but ultimately when you listen to it at home, three million people go ‘wow’ that sounds really good, it actually sounds like they are in the arena.”

    The preparation process for this popular show is not the only thing that goes unnoticed, other intangibles like the team-oriented bond the hosts all share with one another is an essential ingredient that sets a great tone.

    In his 9th year on the show, host Rece Davis jovially describes that very close bond he has with the other hosts, Jay Bilas, Digger Phelps and Jalen Rose, although not publically known. “We are a team, we are very close!” Davis exclaims, “We respect each other’s opinions and we can take shots at each other and there’s no jealousy and nothing personal, if you watch our show I think you can tell that we like each other.”

    With the bond between hosts and the extensive work from the production crew, ESPN College Basketball Gameday continues to thrive as one of the most popular college basketball programs on TV. With every step in the process, ESPN College Gameday's producers, staff and hosts work diligently to show you the “polished pretty” of the program without boring its fans with the untold loads of grunt work and extensive hours that go into producing such a big hit.

    Although perfection appears seamless to the views, the behind-the-scenes contains errors and production problems, which are efficiently handled on the back-end. All we ever get to witness is the a live College Gameday show filled with visual, audio and digital amazements. ESPN has a knack for pulling it all together, the back-end logistics and the front-end dynamics; delivering time-and-again top-notch sports segments, which is why Gentile believes they are the best, " (ESPN) has to be entertaining and pretty and that’s why ESPN is the best!”

    Extra Note: Rece Davis would like to say that "it's clear that his pocket square has a lot more swag than Bilas does on twitter."