The past weekend (Week 9) in college football included plenty of highlights including Texas upsetting No. 6 Oklahoma State, Michigan State beating No. 13 Michigan, a brawl between Florida and Missouri players, No. 3 Ohio State handling No. 18 (and now unranked) Penn State, and No. 1 Clemson, without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, rallying from a 15-point deficit to overtake Boston College.
One notable play from that Boston College-Clemson game occurred in the second quarter when the Eagles quickly moved from a field goal formation into a conventional set on fourth down. That tricked the Tigers into thinking B.C. would go for the first down rather than kick, inducing them into an offsides penalty.
But what made the play special was that the player who went from placekick holder to quarterback for the trick play was redshirt sophomore John Tessitore. Calling the telecast was John’s father, ESPN’s Joe Tessitore, who kept his cool on play-by-play as if any other player who wasn’t his son was involved.
Joe Tessitore calling his own son moving the sticks for BC on 4th down against top ranked Clemson is one of the coolest damn things we’ve seen. pic.twitter.com/tlQL8S5Zb6
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) October 31, 2020
Tessitore is a professional, so there was no reason to expect that he wouldn’t have handled the play normally and made it about himself or his son. But viewers and media noticed the father-son connection in that moment and celebrated it, creating an internet sensation.
The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch spoke to Tessitore after the game and the broadcaster admitted some uncertainty about working a telecast involving his son as a player. But Tessitore became more comfortable with that scenario while calling Boston College’s game versus North Carolina on Oct. 3. John Tessitore lined up at quarterback in the shotgun for a trick play on a two-point conversion.
“What that one single second told me was that I was capable of broadcasting a game with my son in it. I was capable of being put in the position of simply calling him ‘Tessitore’ and treating him like any other player who would be on the field. If it wasn’t for that moment against North Carolina, I don’t know how I would have handled him running a trick play against the No. 1 team in the country on ABC this past week.”
Tessitore went on to explain that his son helped inform the entire crew on what could be a trick play based on what John said Boston College often did in practice.
“It wasn’t a perfect call by me, but it was an authentic call,” said Tessitore. “The thing I was happiest about with the call is that whenever you’re preparing to do a game and especially a game with the No. 1 team and the No. 1 team potentially being upset, you want to be really hyper-attentive to every little thing happening. I don’t care if it was my son or anybody else, I was right on it. “
Deitsch’s entire piece is worth reading, including the responses Tessitore received from friends and colleagues after the game, analyst Greg McElroy’s own experience in trying to keep his composure on the play, and the communication with coaches in addressing any possible concerns over a conflict of interest.