Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Case for Homer

The evening was late on this special Wednesday. Game seven of the 1992 National League Championship Series. The Braves were at home against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the bottom of the ninth inning and Braves were down by a runs, 2-1. David Justice was at third, Sid Bream was at second base, and Damon Berryhill was at first with two outs. Francisco Cabrera stepped to the plate and fouled a couple of pitches off and the count was two balls and two strikes. Then it happened. Cabrera lined a fastball at the feet of left fielder Barry Bonds. Justice scored easily and Bream chugged around third sliding safely home just ahead of the tag. You may not remember the exact details, but you can hear Skip Caray’s remarkable call like it was yesterday,Sid Bream Slide

 “Swung, line drive left field. One run is in.

Here comes Bream.

Here’s the throw to the plate.

He is – safe!

Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Braves win!”

For me personally, I didn’t hear Skip’s call live. I was watching the game with my older brother, John. When Bream was called safe, we ran screaming around the house and I was so excited I had audible exclusion. I don’t remember Tim McCarver’s call, but once the screaming was done immediately turned on the radio to hear what our announcer Skip Caray was saying. I couldn’t wait to hear how he called it. We had shared so many losing seasons and now I knew his voice rang out with utter joy and relief. We had done it. We, the fans, and we, the Braves baseball team, had done it. Next stop was the World Series for the Braves, and although they lost the series to the Toronto Blue Jays in six games, the sound of Skip Caray’s voice rings home in the ears of Braves fans with the same result as when we first heard it, chills complete with goosebumps. But have those “homer” moments in the broadcasting booth gone by the waist side?

With webcasting platforms like ESPN3 and individual conference networks, such as the Big Ten Network and new SEC Network more broadcasters are being asked to quash the homerism and be more neutral. These networks are great for mid-major programs that don’t get the national spotlight. The fan base can see their teams live where ever they maybe, but without that familiar voice. These platforms bring great exposure to programs and allow for growth of the fan base. But, most of the platforms require a neutral broadcast and absolutely no criticism of the officials.  No homerism allowed. That creates an interesting dilemma. Should these teams also have a “local” broadcast that has a homer?

At Kennesaw State, they do not have a home for athletics on local radio or a flagship station. KSU has relied on a live webcast of their sporting events, which I have been

Screenshot_2014-01-25-22-37-22

ESPN3 Broadcast at Kennesaw State

fortunate to be a part of for several years. In 2013, the Atlantic Sun expanded their ESPN3 coverage and brought the platform to Kennesaw State.  This was a great opportunity to get Kennesaw State national exposure on a well-known platform linked with the Worldwide leader in sports. Again, I was fortunate to be asked to be apart of the ESPN3 team at Kennesaw State. We did 19 ESPN3 games and averaged 2500 viewers per game, according to ESPN. That far exceeded expectation for the ESPN3 games and will allow the marketing department bring in new advertisers for the university. The problem was, if you know me, I am a complete homer for Kennesaw State. I am an Owl through-and-through and bleed black and gold. I couldn’t allow my homerism to seep outduring ESPN3 broadcasts…although I couldn’t contain it 100-percent of the time. I missed verbalizing the passion for my Owls. I missed sharing the highest highs and the lowest lows. I missed it and I heard from many fans who missed it as well.

In a recent article in Sports Illustrated writer Richard Deitsch highlighted the $10.8 paid by CBS Sports and Turner Sports to get broadcasting rights to the NCAA’s national tournament. In an unexpected move, Turner Sports introduced the concept of Teamcast production for the national semifinals on TBS, TNT, and truTV. TBS will provide a neutral broadcast with a standard set of graphics. Screenshot_2013-11-10-19-05-35[1]TNT and truTV will provide team specific broadcasts with team specific graphics. Most importantly, the play-by-play and color commentators as well as the sideline reporters will be encouraged to be a homer for their team. Broadcast teams haven’t been announce, but the regular broadcast voice for each team will be considered. Clearly, Turner Sports recognizes the importance of homerism.

There is no question that the ESPN3 platform was a great benefit for Kennesaw State as a mid-major program. But, I do believe a program like KSU that is continually moving the ball forward in all aspects needs a voice. A homer to draw in Owl Nation and be their link into the hearts and minds of the team. I’d like to know your opinion…

Advertisements

Kennesaw State Basketball Reflection

3961_kennesaw_state_owls-primary-2012It has been a month since Kennesaw State basketball ended and some big changes have already been announced for the program moving forward. Lewis Preston  was bought out of his remaining contract and Jimmy Lallathin was announced as the new head coach for the Owls. I believe this is the right move to make for the future of this program. Aside from the X’s and O’s, which Coach Lallathin clearly has a solid grasp of, there are other factors that make the hire exactly what Kennesaw State needs.

Coach Lallthin’s resume may not have the flashes of a D1 National Championship or several major programs as Coach Preston’s did, but he has one key highlight. Coach Lallthin was hired by Miami (OH) University Head Coach Charlie Coles

Coles and Lallathin 1

Miami (Ohio) Head Coach Charlie Coles with Assistant Coach Jimmy Lallathin and coaching staff

and spent four years under his leadership. Coach Coles retired with 350+ D1 victories while at Central Michigan and Miami, but it was his basketball I.Q. and his overall level of intelligence he was most remembered for in his career. He was also known as a true teacher of basketball and life. Coach Coles was interviewed when Coach Lallathin took the job at Kennesaw State by the Journal News. Here is was what Coach Coles said, ““Jimmy was enthusiastic, a good coach. He did a good job for us,” said Coles.  He also referenced Coach Lallathin as a, “good recruiter, who can help players get better on the court.” I have been around the Kennesaw State basketball for nine years. Not taking anything away from former Coach Tony Ingle or Coach Preston, but Coach Lallathin, in my opinion, has the highest basketball I.Q of any KSU head coach. Additionally, he has the passion, energy and personality of a teacher. If you are near Coach Lallathin for more than 10 second he will be talking basketball and if you don’t listen carefully you’ll be lost. As he speaks it is obvious his mind works on a different level. Another clear aspect of Coach Lallathin is he a true leader. From his interaction with his players to his dealing with media at press conferences, Coach Lallathin knows how to connect with whom ever he is around, which is key for a program he has been around for three season.

Drew McGhee

Drew McGhee

The players at Kennesaw State have Coach Lallathin’s back. One of the most important players is Drew McGhee who will be a leader for this team leading into the off-season and into the 2015-2016 basketball season. McGhee is a coach in waiting and he will continue to build team continuity at Kennesaw State from the locker room into the dorm room. Coach Lallathin was a key reason why the 6’11-forward decided to leave, guess where, Miami (OH) University with one year of eligibility left to pursue his graduate degree and end his collegiate basketball career as an Owl.

Coach Lallathin has had an impact on other players on the KSU roster, but none more important than the Ohio kids. McGhee, Delbert

ohio_flag_map

Coach Jimmy Lallathin, Coach Brian Lawhon, Charlie Byers, Myles Hamilton, Delbert Love, and Drew McGhee all hail from Ohio

Love, Myles Hamilton, and Charlie Byers all hail from Ohio, which links them to Coach Lallathin in a unique way. There is a bond surrounding the coach and his players, which could lead to a more united team, but make no mistake, Coach Lallathin is all-inclusive. The last moment before leaving for a road trip to end the season, I saw Coach Lallathin shooting half court and long three-point shots with Jordan Montgomery (Orlando, Fla). It was clear there was a strong bond there as well. That is another reason why Coach Lallathin was the right choice for Kennesaw State.

Building a team and having them play to their potential is two very different  jobs of a head coach. It is gathering the pieces of a puzzle and then putting the pieces together. An entirely new regime would come in and have to evaluate the pieces that were in place. Some pieces may fit and some may not. That puts pressure on the new regime to recruit the right pieces of the puzzle that would fit an existing puzzle or ride out the current puzzle until he can scrap it and start all over. That could take years to  develop. Kennesaw State as a program that has suffered nine losing season in a row. The last winning season for Kennesaw State was the 2004-2005 season when the Owls finished 24-6 and 13-3 in their conference. That was the Owls final season in Division II and in the Peach Belt Conference. Kennesaw State needs a winning season and soon. With the graduation of Andrew Osemhen, this roster is completely made up of Coach Lallathin/ Coach Preston talent. There is no doubting the talent that is here. It is getting them to play to their potential that most often referred to by fans and critics. Coach Lallathin proved he was able to get more out of the players here than Coach Preston was almost immediately. That level of play continued to improve as the conference schedule played on. Being around the program and the fan base, they liked what they saw out of Coach Lallathin’s squad, which will bring more fan support into the arena.

Scrappy3

Kennesaw State’s mascot Scrappy

There is a concerted effort to build a tradition at Kennesaw State beginning with drawing students to the KSU Convocation Center to establish a fan base. The KSU Athletic Department Operations does a great job in creating a fun environment for each game, however the results on the court matters. Winning is essential in building the kind of tradition that Kennesaw State wants and has the potential to build. Coach Lallathin has a greater chance of winning immediately than bringing in an entirely new coaching staff.

KSU Athletic Director Vaughn Williams made the right decision in keeping Coach Lallathin. The is momentum forward at Kennesaw State since Coach Lallathin was named interim head coach in January. The momentum continues for the right man in the right job and it is all moving in the right direction.