Innovative use of live mics was a bit of a pattern this past week or so. Last Friday, CBS had eventual tournament winner Max Homa give running commentary as he played a par 5 at Torrey Pines, a production choice that worked splendidly.
Fox, meanwhile, offered viewers some insight into college basketball officiating during Saturday night’s Ohio State-Indiana contest. Longtime ref D.J. Carstensen was mic’d up throughout, and at various points across both halves Fox gave viewers a pre-cut package of audio featuring Carstensen discussing calls with his fellow officials and talking to coaches from both benches.
Here are the clips from the first half:
Having never sat courtside for any college or pro basketball, even just getting that fairly mundane bit of conversation between officials about how it was hard to see through the backboard to contact at the rim on a foul call or non-call was fascinating. It was also interesting to see their fairly conversational tone; these guys call games all the time (arguably too often, according to some people frustrated with Big Ten and other league officiating) and not every chat on the court is going to be riveting.
That’s honestly the kind of thing I crave, though, as a fan; give me access to moments like this one that I wouldn’t otherwise have. (There are actually some strong ManningCast parallels here, where learning things like how teams signal officials as to which hashmark they want to start on is the kind of detail I’d never gotten from a traditional broadcast despite watching NFL games my entire life.)
On a similar note: the phrase “working the refs” is often thrown around, and while Fox almost certainly cut plenty of audio that wasn’t suitable for network television, one exchange gave viewers an example from both benches.
Let’s pause for a second to note OSU assistant Jack Owens trying to be sneaky subtle here with that “he’s an elite shot-blocker” line, as though that’s fooling anyone at all.
Indiana head coach Mike Woodson, meanwhile, is exactly what I’d expect: fed-up and frustrated not only with whistles but with the officials inability to even get on the same page with the play he’s talking about. Woodson has a constant put-upon sitcom dad energy which really shines through in this setting.
In the second half, we got a bit more of Carstensen interacting with players, including a nice little moment where he tells Indiana All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis that there are times he just can’t see contact, and therefore can’t call it.
In all, this was an excellent feature, and the kind of broadcast hook that made me snap to attention from whatever Twitter scrolling or texting I was doing in during breaks in the on-court action.