In my 9 years on campus, I was lucky enough to do some work on various levels for 6 teams that made the NCAA Tournament. Teams I worked with twice advanced to the final game, and 2 others made the Sweet 16. And yet another was one possession away from another Sweet 16.
Depending on your situation, an early exit in the conference tournament can actually be a good thing. You can at least do laundry and get a ahead on work. Needless to say, there’s much to be done. Here’s an overview of what happens from Greg Gumbel to tipoff.
New broadcast formats aside, Selection Sunday remains a holiday. Having a stake in it is an incredible rush and great fun. One of my all-time favorite moments came in 2014, when my team slid into the tournament after a nice run at the end of the season. Someone who supposedly had inside information said we on the wrong side of the bubble.
Weirdly, the NCAA sent an email earlier that day with information regarding tournament travel. I do believe that email was sent in error, but we took it as a good omen. We did end up getting in, and were one bucket short of the round of 32.
Watching these First Four games reminds me how tough that turnaround is. Probably the hardest thing I ever had to execute. I learned the hard way to be ready for everything when the bracket comes out. You find out where you’re going around 6:40 pm, and the bus leaves for the airport the next morning.
Here are some things on the Selection Sunday SID-do list if your team is in the tournament:
- Get something on the website and social media!
- Coordinating media requests for immediate reaction
- Connecting with your site communications host and your opponent counterpart, exchanging files and relevant info
- Trying to figure out who the heck your new opponent is and getting your coaches what they need
- Pulling info for coaches for your potential 2nd round opponents and gathering as much info as you can on those teams
- Oh, and the little task of building your postseason guide. Making a book in one night – fun stuff
Really, finishing your guide and approving media credentials are the 2 pressing tasks. You’re going to be getting emails from every radio producer in the country, and there are different schools of thought on what makes sense for those. I recommend taking care of your local guys and doing any national shows. Tacoma, Washington guy can be told no thank you.
The media approval is time sensitive, and you’ll almost certainly get complaints about hotel confusion. Luckily, you can most likely pass those on to the coordinator on-site. It can be a headache, but it happens enough where there is always a plan. The communications folks this time of year are putting their head down and swimming. After the season, you’ll figure out how far you made it.
If you’re (unlucky enough to be) in the First Four and play on Tuesday, you’re traveling to Dayton and starting the NCAA media protocols and open practice. Dayton’s folks do a great job with this every year, and the people there really support it. There will be some traveling media likely in limbo, waiting to see if your team makes it into the real bracket. I’ve found all media coordinators have shown great flexibility with advancing First Four teams. And the Dayton Kinko’s will do some business on this day.
If you’re in the real bracket, it’s media and finish your guide. After playing in the First Four, having the extra time feels like a breeze. Keep in mind you’re maintaining a constant conversation with the TV folks – whether it be in Dayton or a first-round site.
For 4 teams, it’s gameday. For teams playing Wednesday, it’s media protocol and open practice. Attendance at the First Four pressers can be sparse, but you still have TV and radio obligations on top of that. You’re plenty busy.
If you’re in the real bracket, today is travel day. Once you get on the plane, you’ve done what you can do. Now you’re in the NCAA media machine, and it’s finely-tuned. Everything spelled out to the minute and it’s a relief to have a company line, “We’re happy to talk to you in Wichita.” If that reporter isn’t coming to Wichita, then he’s out of luck. At least that’s the way to stay sane.
If you’re in the real bracket, here’s what’s on your plate:
- open practice and all of the media obligations
- providing coverage of said events on your platforms
- game operations meeting with admin, hosts, participating teams and TV folks
If you played and won Tuesday night, then it’s an early morning meeting and notes and, hopefully, sleep. In 2014, we won the night game in Dayton and caught a 2:30 am flight to Orlando. The hotel was somewhere on the other side of Florida and so we got to bed around 5. Game ops meeting was the next morning at 9. Toughness.
(I ended up sleeping all day – no Florida sunshine for me).
Madness. Best day of the year. Win and keep playing, or go home and get ready for transfer season.
He’s Got Jokes
Davidson vs. Kentucky. Hoping TBS can get John Calipari or Bob McKillop to give this speech: