A month ago, the 2 p.m. ET SportsCenter dedicated the majority of its 60 minutes to Tim Tebow.
Some scoffed at the notion. Others realized — rightfully — that SC was meeting the demands of sports fans’ insatiable appetite for all things Tebow.
Well, let the scoffers scoff and let the fans rejoice: Today’s 11 a.m. ET SportsCenter on ESPN again will be mostly dedicated to Tebow and his Broncos as they get ready for a Saturday night playoff match-up with the New England Patriots in Foxboro, Mass. (Viewers and Twitter users can use the hashtag #SCTebow.)
Barring any breaking news — and addressing on-going news with in-show updates — the hour is scheduled to include a look at Tebow’s play; what the Broncos need to do to win; what the Patriots need to do to stop them; and Tebow’s impact on business, religion, politics, and pop culture.
Anchors Kevin Negandhi and Robert Flores will steer the good ship #SCTebow.
“I think the difference is the planning for a show like this,” said Negandhi. “It won’t be a ‘breaking news’ show, so we can have some more creativity and developed topics.”
Senior coordinating producer Craig Bengston also acknowledged the differences in putting together a show of this type.
“Our biggest challenge on daily topics like Tim Tebow — with SportsCenter being live most of the day — is to constantly come up with fresh angles on the story, new questions, and different perspectives,” Bengston said.
There are other challenges as well, according to Negandhi, namely remaining both “objective and informative” on the topic.
“In a team sport, especially one like football where helmets are worn, its important that we stress that while Tebow is leading this impressive Broncos turnaround, there are several other key players making an impact for Denver, like Von Miller, Elvis Dumervil, Champ Bailey, Willis McGahee, Demaryius Thomas and Matt Prater.
“But we all know quarterbacks are measured by their wins. No one else on the field is measured that way and ultimately during the 60 minutes, we have to make sure the content grabs the viewer and keeps them entertained and informed.”
Negandhi and his cohorts are also aware of the likelihood that #SCTebow will face criticism from observers.
“If you’re not a fan of Tebow, the Broncos or football, I can see it,” Negandhi said.
“I hear it sometimes, too, and I understand that perception. My best answer would be for anyone to look at the ratings of the last Broncos game. Granted, the [Pittsburgh] Steelers were playing and they’re one of the more popular teams in sports, but clearly interest is there beyond just a score and this has crossed over from just a sports story.
“Check out Twitter – over 9,000 tweets per second during the game…His jersey is among the top 5 in sales and he wasn’t even a starter until October. There was a recent feature on Sunday’s final play on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer and Good Morning America.
“He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. My mother-in-law, who doesn’t watch the NFL, has his jersey and talks about him all the time. Love him or hate him, he’s being discussed from dinner tables to bars to coffee houses to water coolers.”
And this morning, beginning at 11 a.m., he will be discussed for most of the 60 minutes during #SCTebow.
11 a.m. SportsCenter Rundown (subject to change):
*Reporter George Smith live from Denver.
*Broncos/Patriots Week 15 highlight.
*Tebowing across the nation.
*Analyst Mel Kiper on Tim Tebow.
*Examining other manias: Beatlemania, Fernandomania, Hulkamania, Tebowmania.
*Sounds of Tim Tebow’s season.
*The business of Tim Tebow.
*Flashback to Tim Tebow’s hilarious College Basketball GameDay pep talk.
*Charles Barkley on Tim Tebow.
*Tim Tebow roundtable examining what makes Tebow so popular and polarizing. (Featuring commentator Mike Greenberg, and analysts Herm Edwards, Hugh Douglas, Trevor Matich)
*You Don’t Know Tim Tebow Game Show.