There was a lot of Twitter chatter on Saturday about ESPN sideline reporter Todd McShay asking then-Central Florida football coach Scott Frost about the Nebraska football job in the immediate aftermath of Central Florida’s victory over Memphis in double overtime to win the American Athletic Conference championship game.
There was a lot of Twitter chatter on Saturday about ESPN sideline reporter Todd McShay asking then-Central Florida football coach Scott Frost about the Nebraska football job in the immediate aftermath of Central Florida’s victory over Memphis in double overtime to win the American Athletic Conference championship game. The video is here.
While many fans will always be upset at the timing of such a question, if McShay does not ask this question, he should honestly not be in his on-air position on the field. That’s the same with his producer doing the game. It's an emotional time for Frost but he's a news-making CFB coach and such questions come with the territory and Frost’s choices. (He took the job.) Keep in mind: ESPN/Fox/CBS pays millions in rights fees for these games, which helps pay Frost’s salary. The networks don't care about whether this question gets asked in a news conference after the game. They want their reporters to ask because 1. It's on their airwaves 2. They use that clip re: news.
On Sunday I spoke to the ESPN producer of the UCF-Memphis game, Josh Hoffman, about how he saw it from the booth. Hoffman has worked in college football at ESPN for 25 years and is been a game producer since 2000. Hoffman said asking Frost about his coaching situation was a discussion the production group had all week.
“I wasn’t convinced that you had to ask him but if there was any news about the [Nebraska] job during the course of the day, then you had to ask him to react to the news,” Hoffman said. “Todd and I were in complete agreement on that. This was like any decision I made during the course of a game whether it is a replay, graphics or a camera shot. You make a decision about the person sitting at home. What do I want to see? What do I want to hear? If I am sitting at home watching that game, what do I want to ask Scott Frost. Given that we had just said he had reportedly accepted the job at Nebraska, we felt like it seemed like an obvious thing to ask. It was not a difficult decision from my standpoint. What would be your reason for not asking it?
How did Hoffman see McShay’s asking of it? “I don’t think there was any moment that he did not want to ask the question. But I get it. We were in the office with Scott Frost the day before and he seemed very conflicted about which way he was going to go with this decision. It seemed like a very difficult decision for him and I am sure Todd was being sensitive to it in some way by saying the statement of “I have to ask.” But he was in no means every conflicted of asking the question and we knew Frost would handle the question of whatever way he decided to.”
Hoffman did offer one interesting final note. Had Memphis won the game, the likelihood is that ESPN would not have been able to interview Frost on the field given they would have been obligated to interview Memphis coach Mike Norvell. “The reality is I doubt that Frost is going to agree to an interview on the field if they lost and it is really hard to get teams to discuss contingencies about what they might do in a loss before the game—and that news did not even exist before the game,” Hoffman said. “We would have tried to get him but I don’t know that we would have been successful.”