Paul Myerberg, USA Today Sports
PASADENA, Calif. - For ESPN, airing Monday's BCS National Championship Game will involve 16 trucks, 63 cameras, a four-engine generator and as many as 200 employees, only a small fraction of whom will spend time in front of the camera, not behind the scenes.
An already involved production will include an added twist: ESPN will use the championship game to debut its "Megacast," a programming platform meant to augment the normal game broadcast with additional viewing options on ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN3.
Each additional program will demand resources beyond ESPN's normal blueprint for a major sporting event.
ESPN2, for example, will show "BCS Title Talk," a program featuring several of the network's analysts in addition to a number of guests - coaches, current and former players, ESPN personalities and celebrities.
Among the scheduled guests are Vanderbilt coach James Franklin, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, Tajh Boyd of Clemson and former Florida quarterback - and soon-to-be ESPN college football analyst - Tim Tebow. The show, filmed in a room located one floor above the press box at the Rose Bowl, will rotate the nearly dozen coaches and guests into the mix along with on-screen game updates.
Of the 63 cameras in use by ESPN, four will be devoted to "Title Talk." Two will be aimed on the head coaches, Florida State's Jimbo Fisher and Auburn's Gus Malzahn; another two will be set on each team's premier player, like FSU quarterback Jameis Winston or Auburn running back Tre Mason.
A similar visual approach will be taken on ESPN3, an online service, which will use the home radio calls from both Florida State and Auburn along with two different camera angles: one of each team's coach and another of its offensive or defensive coordinator, depending on which team has the ball.
"BCS Film Room," on ESPNEWS, will provide play-by-play breakdowns - who went where, why a play worked or didn't - from a trio of scheduled guest coaches: Temple's Steve Addazio, Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin and Charlie Strong. To replicate the film-room aspect of the broadcast, ESPN will give the coaches use of Pittsburgh-based DV Sport Software's Quad Replay system, the newest piece in replay hardware.
The replay system will allow coaches use of four camera angles in breaking down each play: the program feed, the view seen on the ESPN broadcast; the SkyCam, which runs from two points atop the stadium, perpendicular to game play; the high end-zone camera, which shows action along the line of scrimmage; and an all-22 camera, which shows all 22 players on the field for a single play - 11 on offense, 11 on defense - in a single frame.
Coaches will then be given use of a remote to control what fans seen on the screen - rewinding, playing, pausing, fast-forwarding through a play to break down what occurred.
ESPN Classic will feature "Sounds of the BCS," a program that eliminates the normal play-by-play call in favor of the ambient sounds heard inside the stadium - cheers, boos, hits and the public-address announcer, for example. To give this sort of access, ESPN will place 72 microphones throughout the stadium, 30 more than is typically used in a normal telecast.
The BCS National Championship Game will also mark the college football debut of a tool in ESPN's arsenal: the "FlyCam." While the network has been using the SkyCam for years, the FlyCam is far more flexible, allowing it to track down the field along with the play rather than remaining in a static position.