Jeff Goodman joined ESPN as a national college basketball reporter for ESPN.com last June, with television assignments part of the deal. He was hired because he knows the sport so well – not because of his on-camera TV skills. He had none. But that has changed, and Front Row spoke with him recently at the Bristol Café in between SportsCenter hits to discuss his first season on the job.
How did you prep for your first ESPN television appearance?
I hadn’t done a lot of TV; that was the biggest thing I was concerned about. ESPN took a leap of faith with me. I have been a writer my whole life and wasn’t worried about that aspect of my new job at all. The opportunity to report on TV is one of the reasons I came here; it intrigued me. To prep, I’d watch as much as I could. I had never paid attention to the details before. For instance, where they put their hands while talking at the desk or standing up. Where and how they stand. Details such as those.
How was that first appearance on TV?
The first time was less than two weeks after I got here. Then-Butler coach Brad Stevens took the [Boston] Celtics job. Next thing you know, I’m on the 9 a.m. ET SportsCenter on July 5 discussing the move with [ESPN reporter] Jeanine Edwards. And I’m nervous. She was awesome. I had told her I was not experienced in TV work. People have made it easy for me as long as you tell them you need help.
You have worked more than 25 games this season as a sideline reporter. What’s that experience been like?
It is hard. It takes work. I have so much respect for [ESPN sideline reporters] Holly Rowe, Shannon Spake and others who do this full time. It is tough to get information, get it quickly and deliver it precisely, and then to have to ask tough questions of the coaches who are running to the locker room.
What has surprised you most about working at ESPN?
I am surprised at how many layers there are. How big it is. I still don’t know all the buildings. It’s still surreal for me when I drive up here. It sounds corny but I still wonder “How did this happen?”
What is your favorite thing about being on campus?
One of the coolest things about being here is being in the green room before SportsCenter. [ESPN analysts] George Karl, Tedy Bruschi, they’ll just be hanging out in there and we all shoot the breeze.
Look ahead to the NCAA Tournament.
Michigan State. If they get healthy, I still think they’re the team to beat. Florida, obviously, is really good, too. I just think MSU has a couple of first-round picks, a couple of pros.
Dave Nagle contributed to this post.
Editor’s note: ESPN’s 2014 Championship Week Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will showcase 92 men’s college basketball conference tournament games from 23 different conferences across ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 from Friday, March 7 to Sunday, March 16. ESPN’s 2014 Championship Week Presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods will feature a record 93 women’s college basketball games Friday, March 7, to Sunday, March 16, across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3 and ESPN FULL COURT.