Today will see the beginning of the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship with the NCAA First Four on truTV presented by Northwestern Mutual tipping off at 6:40p. The annual collaboration between CBS Sports and Turner Sports will see a number of tweaks this year with Greg Anthony shifting from the studio to the main broadcast team, while Clark Kellogg joins Jim Nantz and Steve Kerr in the studio. Other changes, of course, will see the Final Four semifinal games get the localized treatment via Teamcasts before CBS carries the Final.
Cynopsis Sports spoke with March Madness veteran Harold Bryant, Executive Producer and Vice President, Production CBS Sports, about this year’s lineup, what could go wrong and what we can expect in the weeks ahead.
Bryant on working with Turner Sports: We co-produce the event, with CBS handling about six of the sites and Turner handles two. It’s really a pretty simple process, we look at the sites and figure out which crews we want at the end of the day and assign them. We talk all the time and it’s amazing how well it works and how Turner and CBS become one. Graphics are one, the music is one, it feels like it’s one group during this whole month.
On tweaks: This year we are going to try to be more behind-the-scenes to fill in those gaps of what happens in the locker room or in the tunnel, on the bus, etc. We are trying to expand what we call our “confidential series” where we are in bed with the teams and can get some of that intimate footage. That will be one of the new things we will push this year. The feedback we are getting is that fans want to be as close to the teams and players and coaches as possible. We will also have two full sets this year at the Final Four, one set don’t on the floor in the student section and one on the atrium level and we will bounce back and forth.
On his proudest moment from the tournament: My proudest moment was actually last year. When (Louisville’s) Kevin Ware got injured and broke his leg, we decided that it deserved two replays and that was it. We did not need to show the tight shot or anything that was gruesome. We let the faces of the fans, the players and the coaches tell the story. Let our reporter interview the coach and let that be the story and not the agony that the kid is really going through.
On what keeps him up at night: Things I can’t control: if the technology isn’t working or the location has issues or if the power goes out, a la the Super Bowl. Of course, we are prepared, but it can keep me up at night because things like that happen. We did an event where there was water leaking in the building and we were delayed for an hour. We had a bomb scare at a facility. I’m so confident in the coverage and the storylines as well as our analysts and announcers and what our people can do on both sides. That doesn’t concern me. It’s the stuff that’s out of my control that concerns me.