An Old Dominion-Texas State clock error. An Old Dominion-Texas State clock error. (Mid-Major Madness on Twitter/X.)

There’s been a rise in remote broadcasts over the past decade, but those broadcasts still come with problems. One of those was on display in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference men’s basketball tournament Tuesday night. There, with the Old Dominion Monarchs tied with the Texas State Bobcats at 74 late in the game, ODU’s Chaunce Jenkins launched a half-court shot.

That shot perplexed ESPN+ announcers Matt Stewart and Nate Ross, as that came with more than five seconds left on the clock as displayed on the broadcast scorebug. But it came as the buzzer went off in the building. That saw Stewart call it “Jenkins down the floor, oh baby!” Then, as players started running on the court and celebrating, Stewart said “There will be time put on the clock, I believe, though. He shot it with about six seconds.” However, the actual ruling was that time had expired before Jenkins’ shot, as shown on the in-building clock. The teams went to overtime, and Texas State won 92-83.

The largest mistake here is how the on-broadcast clock wound up with such a large discrepancy from the official game clock. And it’s not clear how that happened. But that mistake set up the announcer confusion about this ending. However, it does seem likely that in-building announcers might have identified the difference between the clocks, either before this crucial moment (where they could have perhaps got the production team working to fix it) or as this moment happened, and come up with a call that more accurately reflected what was going on.

We don’t have first-hand knowledge these announcers (who are calling the whole Sun Belt Tournament for ESPN+) were working remotely. But it certainly seems to fit why they were unaware of the in-arena clock and the buzzer. And many cited remote broadcasting as an issue here (and some even before the ending.)

[Update:ย AA has confirmed these announcers were calling the game remotely. The Sun Belt has also promoted their remote broadcasting capabilities from their studio in their conference headquarters in the Superdome in New Orleans, on many occasions, including at the SVG College Video summit last summer. And LiveU, which works with the conference on that, has written it up as a case study, saying “Centralizing productions eliminated the need to find locations to produce content or hire third party production companies for neutral site championships. With a higher production quality and the ability to cover more ground for less, Sun Belt is certainly seeing the ROI in their tech investment.”]

It also seems strange that remote announcers would be used for a conference tournament. Many of the arguments for remote announcers from the networks’ sides have been about the inefficiencies around paying for announcer flights for individual games. But that wouldn’t be the case here, with Stewart and Ross scheduled to call this entire tournament.

And that’s before you get into the increased attention paid to and viewership for conference tournaments relative to regular-season games. There seemingly would be a lot of logic to sending announcers to a conference tournament and having them provide insight into what’s going on in the building.

At any rate, it’s brutal that the broadcast got the clock so wrong here. And it’s unfortunate that that led to the announcers not being able to get off a better call of what was actually happening. And remote broadcasting certainly may have played a part in that.

While criticism of remote broadcasting seems likely to continue, that (in most cases) hasn’t stopped networks from widely adopting the practice. And remote broadcasting is unlikely to go away any time soon. But this is far from the first case where remote broadcasting has led to on-air mistakes. And it likely won’t be the last.

[Mid-Major Madness on Twitter/X]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.