CBS Sports Network To Take Fans Out to the (Foot)Ball Game

Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden famously said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” Ross Molloy, VP of remote production at CBS Sports Network, takes that maxim to heart.

Football at Yankee Stadium poses special challenges for CBS Sports Network.

CBS Sports Network tackles a unique broadcasting challenge this weekend. It will carry the Rutgers-Army football game live from Yankee Stadium beginning at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Although the venue is still brand new and fully capable of top-of-the-line television HD broadcasts, the quirks of a football game in a baseball stadium still must be addressed.

“You put so much emphasis on your walkthroughs,” says Molloy, noting that his team visited Yankee Stadium five separate times. “It’s not just like going to any other football stadium. So there are ways you have to go about preparing.”

Saturday marks the third football game to be played at the new Yankee Stadium — Notre Dame topped Army last November (NBC), and Syracuse took the inaugural edition of the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in December (ESPN) — so the CBS Sports Network team has relied heavily on the experience of the Stadium staff, which has the two broadcasts under its belt.

“I think they’ve learned more than we have,” says Molloy. “We’re obviously the new guys coming in, but they are great at saying, we’ve learned this from the ESPN game and this from the NBC game. So I think we reap a few of the rewards of coming in and they’ve already got it pretty dialed in.”

Corplex’s newest HD mobile unit, Chromium, will be on-site. CBS will use 14 cameras for the broadcast, deploying 12 of its own. The layout outlined by Molloy has cameras positioned at left, center, right across the top of the stadium, right high end zone, right low end zone, left high end zone, and left low end zone. There will also be the cart camera as well as two handhelds, a jib, and a camera aboard WCBS-TV’s helicopter for aerial views.

Yankee Stadium, which will produce its own in-house show for the video boards, has made two of its RF cameras available to CBS Sports Network as well.

“Sometimes, you can say, ‘Oh, wow, I’ve got thousands of cameras,’ but I think it’s more important to have the right cameras for this kind of coverage,” says Molloy.

Getting the on-air talent in position on these types of events also can be a challenge. Gary Thorne and analyst Randy Cross will handle the call, and a play-by-play broadcast booth has been constructed out-of-bounds above the 50-yard line. Part of the network’s coverage includes former Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand, paralyzed from the neck down during a game over a year ago, who will join Thorne and Cross in the booth as a guest analyst during the third quarter. At a recent walkthrough, CBS and Yankee Stadium teamed up to build a safe ramp that will allow for LeGrand to reach the broadcast team in the booth.

“It’s a collaboration,” says Molloy. “I think the [Yankee Stadium staff] has gained a lot of experience from having the two games there. We feel really ready and really good going into this weekend.”

CBS Sports Network’s coverage of the game will begin with a live pregame show at 3 p.m. Molloy says the coverage, while focused heavily on the game, will also take fans behind the scenes of the experience. The network plans to carry the National Anthem live and also will feature segments spotlighting player preparations in the locker room and a look at how the field was constructed.

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