A record number of reporters, photographers and bloggers are in town to cover nearly every possible angle of the Tostitos BCS National Championship game on Monday.
The host committee had issued 1,400 media credentials for the game between Ohio State and Florida, said vice president Shawn Schoeffler.
That’s 200 more than were issued for the 2003 nationaltitle Tostitos Fiesta Bowl between Ohio State and Miami; and 200 more than the 1999 title game between Tennessee and Florida State.
The number of media outlets, though not necessarily the quality of media outlets, is increasing.
“There’s more media. There’s more dot-coms that cover college football regularly,” Schoeffler said. “For last championship, I think there were three or four dot-coms. There’s just more of them now.”
Timing and geography also played into the media surge this year.
The BCS National Championship is a couple of days after the other major bowl games, so media outlets had time to move personnel
Plus, Ohio and Florida have plenty of sizable media markets.
“If Arizona State went to the game, it’d be Phoenix and Tucson and that might be it. With Florida, it’s Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Gainesville, Tallahassee. I mean it’s a lot of big markets. It’s the same thing with Ohio State; it’s Cleveland, Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron, Columbus,” Schoeffler said.
“Die-hard fans need diehard coverage from die-hard media,” he said.
When all the hard-dying media descended on the teams’ coaches and players during back-to-back, 60-minute news conferences Friday at University of Phoenix Stadium, most questions posed to the coaches were variations of a single line of inquiry: Why are you and your players so great?
Here’s a sample of real questions that were asked of Ohio State coach Jim Tressel:
“Coach, why do you think you have been so successful against big names? You have won against Michigan. Your bowl record is tremendous. Is it something where you are successful the first time, so you keep doing it the same way? Or is it something about big games?”
“Coach, why do you believe you are going to win Monday night?”
“Do you think you are better than the Gators?”
And those probing inquiries were among the first eight questions asked.
Here’s a sample of real questions posed to Florida coach Urban Meyer:
“Does the national championship feel different? This is its own separate thing. What’s the emotion for you?”
“Urban, when you are on the stage like this, do you think much about the days when nobody talked to you, nobody knew who you were?”
“Why do you love this game?”
Overall, reporters asked Tressel 95 questions. Reporters squeezed in 117 questions during Meyer’s grilling.
The combined 212 questions also produced a slew of McNews nuggets of somewhat debatable news value.
Consider these information bites:
Meyer, who served as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio State two decades ago, does not carry a buckeye in his pocket for good luck.
Tressel doesn’t know how many sweater vests he owns.
Meyer thinks Ohio State has speedy players.
Tressel thinks Florida has speedy players.
Meyer thinks wide receiver Kenneth Tookes is both the goofiest and funniest player on the team, and linebacker Brandon Spikes is the best dresser.
Tressel has never been threatened to be body-slammed by linebacker James Laurinaitis’ father, a former professional wrestler known as “The Animal,” because he hasn’t started the kid often enough.
The reporters and coaches also spent some time talking about the fact that they were talking to each another.
Twelve questions into Tressel’s news conference, a reporter asked: “If you were one of us asking you questions, what would you ask you?”
After some thought, Tressel replied that he’d ask what adjustments he’s made to his players’ schedules, considering that classes at Florida started Wednesday, and academics are just as important as football.
Naturally, the media’s follow-up question was this: “Jim, how do you prepare for the two quarterbacks against your defense?”
The reporters didn’t even get 12 questions deep into Meyer’s news conference to discuss news conferences.
It was the first question: “How excited are you to finally get on the field and get all this talking over with?”
Meyer replied that it didn’t matter if he was excited about not answering more questions, but his players were.
They certainly aren’t the only ones.