Xtra Points

Local sports talk with the Gazette sports staff

Xtra Points: Jameis, ESPN send BCS out in style

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Eric Schmoldt
January 7, 2014

When I settled in Monday night for the BCS National Championship, I was expecting to see the SEC win another title while watching the typical ESPN broadcast.

Despite all the hoopla surrounding Jameis Winston and Florida State, and despite all of the four-letter network's advertising of their "Megacast," I was ready for business as usual.

I'm glad I got just the opposite.

First, the game: Fitting, no?, that after clamoring for a playoff--and don't get me wrong, I'm as excited for that as anyone else--that the BCS goes out with one of the most memorable title games of its history.

This one had it all, from the double-digit underdog dominating the first half to an unbelievable special teams play hat gave Florida State the lead, and later to Winston, the Heisman Trophy winner, needing to lead a last-minute drive to win the crystal trophy.

The way that ESPN allowed me to watch it made the experience that much better.

At the prompting of a friend on Twitter (shameless plug to follow @ericschmoldt), I flipped from the general broadcast with Brent Musberger (or is his name Kirk Herbstreit, heck, even he doesn't know) to other channels in ESPN's Megacast.

I checked in on ESPN2, where the network had Title Talk, a roundtable of its own personalities, rather random celebrities and even Johnny Football roll through to chat about the game. Interesting in its randomness, but not particularly beneficial in keeping tabs on the game.

On ESPNews, they had BCS Film Room, and I barely left that channel once I arrived. As a football fan, perhaps even nerd, this format was gold. It featured ESPN analysts Chris Spielman, Tom Luginbill and Matt Miller, along with football coaches Paul Chryst (Pittsburgh, formerly Wisconsin's offensive coordinator), Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M) and Steve Addazio (Boston College).

They broke down the plays as they happened, giving insight into the coverages, formations and play calls. When Florida State got its offense rolling with its bunch formations, the coaches noted those formations typically send defenses into zone coverage. Bingo. They were also quick to point out the differences in NFL and college rules when Auburn downed a punt at the 1-yard line, and they were instantly on it when an Auburn player on the kickoff coverage team pulled up lame while running down the field, helping to open the hole on the Seminoles' big kickoff return.

It was also interesting listening to the coaches discuss their different philosophies for certain situations. Would they take a shot downfield in a particular situation or stick to their gameplan?

Essentially, you were put in the film room with really interesting minds, but usually the film room is reserved for the hours and days after the game. This was real time. Hopefully it's the sign of things to come, even if it's just for one game here or there.

If you didn't get a chance to see it, they'll be re-airing it on ESPNU and you can find it on ESPN3 if you've got such capabilities. It wasn't for everyone, but the MegaCast had something for everyone, even if that meant sticking to the traditional.

All in all, a fun Monday night and a heckuva way to send out the BCS, even if we're not really gonna miss it all that much.

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