Major layoffs took place at ESPN last week, paring down the sports media company’s ranks in both on-air personalities and reporters. Caught between cord-cutting consumers and massive existing TV rights deals, the Worldwide Leader In Sports was forced to demonstrate to their corporate parents and stockholders that they could form a leaner, more efficient company.
For the near-term, this means refocusing on added value that can be extracted from their existing deals. Among their more appreciated - if underutilized - innovations in recent memory was “The Coaches’ Film Room”, part of the MegaCast family of broadcasts for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. A collection of current and recent head coaches offered live analysis of the game, giving a level of fresh insight not normally found in televised sports commentary.
And it turns out they signed a year-long retainer. They’ve just been sitting there since the season ended, analyzing things. Today, we go to them as they analyze [looks at notes] me mowing the lawn? What the hell? That doesn’t sound ri-
STEVE ADDAZIO: Lookin’ awful shaggy back there, Mr. Book.
DAVE DOEREN: Shameful length. You really hate to see that.
MIKE MACINTYRE: If I lived next door, I’d be considering a call to the city.
ME: Hey, now, come on, I just laid grass seed, I needed to give it time to sprout.
DINO BABERS: The seeding strategy was entirely off. [starts drawing on telestrator] He focused on zones here, here, and here - which creates an easy blocking opportunity for your local wildlife. What you really want to see is spreading the field, stretching the coverage wide [he circles my entire lawn] to create isolation.
ME: That’s a spread offense joke.
BRET BIELEMA: The only joke here is this sorry-ass lawn, son.
ME: Wait, you weren’t a part of this broadcast.
BIELEMA: There’s craft services and I get to talk trash. I found a way.
ME: Why are you wearing a dramatically-undersized-for-you Baylor windbreaker?
[pounding from inside file cabinet]
BIELEMA: I’m Matt Rhule.
MATT RHULE, from inside cabinet: help
KALANI SITAKE: Windbreaker looks sharp, Matt.
MACINTYRE: Think you’ve lost weight.
DOEREN: Let’s get back to the blogger’s lawn. We’ve got a lot going on here. There’s some bluegrass, some ryegrass. [zooms in] Lots of clover. You hate to see that.
LES MILES: Adds a nice peppery note, though.
ME: Okay, you’re not even coaching currently, and you definitely weren’t a part of this-
MILES: I’m Matt Rhule.
BIELEMA: Looking great, Matt.
MILES: Thanks, Matt.
RHULE: [still inside cabinet] Seriously, can someone let me out?
DOEREN: Now, if we go to the All-22 angle, you see, oh, now that’s great. Look at that. Neighbor’s yard is just solid fescue.
[multiple satisfied low whistles]
ADDAZIO: Ooh, that is sweet.
BABERS: Lush and thick.
SITAKE: Looks like it’d feel nice to walk around barefoot in it.
BIELEMA: I beat a man to death at Wendy’s last week.
DOEREN: Just a great overall lawn. Technically perfect, no weeds, deep green color.
BABERS: You could run a heck of an offense on that.
ADDAZIO: Or a defense, some people prefer defense.
ME: Are we just ignoring what Bret said
MILES: Hate to be shown up like that in your own neighborhood. It’s like the 2012 BCS title game, if it were comparative measures of lawn quality. You’re me in this scenario.
ME: Aren’t you supposed to be Matt Rhule?
MILES: Never heard of him.
BIELEMA: Left his body in a booth.
RHULE: [voice getting weaker] tell my wife I love her
BABERS: Now, son, what kind of equipment are you working with here? What are we looking at?
ME: Uh, it’s, um... gas [leaning in and looking at it] it’s a Poulan, I think? It was the cheapest thing at Home Depot last summer.
DOEREN: Hold on now, son, what on earth are you doing buying a lawnmower in the middle of summer? That’s gonna be a terrible time to make that sort of purchase. No leverage.
ME: Well, I was having a lot of trouble getting through the taller grass with my push-reel, you see, so I-
[laughter all around table]
[laughter from inside file cabinet]
MILES, elbowing Bielema mirthfully: Can you believe this, Matt?
BIELEMA: There was no reason for it. Just finished my nuggets and felt powerful. Felt like it had to be done.
SITAKE: Son, I’m concerned about your strategic planning. You’re telling me you tried to mow grass in the heat of a Kentucky summer using 1950s lawn-mowing technology? That’s just outdated thinking.
ME: He’s the BYU guy. The BYU guy is calling me a dinosaur.
BIELEMA: Now, Dinosaur, there’s some good barbecue. Reminds me of my time coaching at Syracuse before my guy Babers here took over.
ME: hold on
BIELEMA: [wearing too-small Syracuse windbreaker]
SCOTT SHAFER: [from inside file cabinet] Guys I think Matt stopped breathing in here
MILES: Oh no I’m fine, just resting my eyes.