Tuesday, July 15 – 4:10 p.m. ET
Coach Tressel and I left Manhattan at 8:00 a.m. to take the drive from Manhattan to Bristol, CT, and the ESPN campus. Yes, it is truly a campus with multiple buildings and a variety of impressive studios, editing bays, and a techie junkies dream. We were told ESPN had about 5,000 employees, about 3,500 working in Bristol. It’s an impressive place.
I had been to ESPN once before with Deanna Favre last fall. This is Coach Tressel’s first visit. Carol Mayer, an Illinois grad and former U of I golfer, is coordinating his visit. She puts the guest through what is called the “carwash,” which is essentially taking Coach Tressel to a variety of interviews on a number of the ESPN broadcast platforms.
ESPN was a bit short-staffed in Bristol today because of the MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium tonight. Coach Tressel’s first interview was for “First Take,” hosted today by Jessie Palmer, former University of Florida quarterback and participant on “The Bachelor” on ABC. I had forgotten that Jessie had grown up in Canada and didn’t play high school football yet went on to play in the NFL. It was actually Jessie’s first time hosting the show and he did a nice job.
Coach Tressel then did an ESPN Radio interview for “The Herd” with Colin Cowherd, who is a college football junkie. To say that Colin is energetic is an understatement. Coach then had lunch and then did a :30 minute chat for ESPN.com, an interview for “College Football Live” (that actually wasn’t live today as it is going to air next week), an interview for ESPN News, a taped phone interview with David Kaplan of WGN Radio in Chicago, a pre-recorded satellite interview for “Jim Rome is Burning”, and then an interview for Sportscenter. Carol kept Coach Tressel busy, which was exactly what we wanted.
It was a great visit. Carol was a fantastic host and there is a strong Big Ten flavor at ESPN, with so many of the Big Ten schools represented by its employees. The staff is very young and energetic and gives the “campus” a very collegial feel. I think the people who encountered Coach had an even greater respect for him after having some face time with him, and Coach Tressel said that he had a much greater appreciation for the work and planning that goes into the entire ESPN operation. ESPN is even rolling out a new morning Sports Center in August. It will be an incredible undertaking with six new hours of original programming.
We are now leaving Bristol and on our way to BookEnds, a famous bookstore in Ridgewood, NJ. Are there any Buckeyes fans in New Jersey? I guess we’ll find out in about two hours.