Behind The Scenes

From the selection room to the green room, Greg Shaheen shares thoughts on his bracket journey to ESPN

Greg Shaheen was a familiar face on ESPN this past weekend.
Greg Shaheen was a familiar face on ESPN this past weekend.

Former NCAA Senior Vice President Greg Shaheen, who was the organizer of the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship for 12 years, spent this past weekend in Bristol, Conn. serving as a “selection committee expert.”

Shaheen’s unique perspective was widely praised across social media, as these Tweets confirm:

Front Row caught up with an exhausted – but still comical – Shaheen on Monday afternoon to get his thoughts on being part of ESPN’s Bracketology team:

Where would you seed your own performance and why?
I’d like to think I would be considered for a First Four appearance. At the same time, I had a young team, but thought we improved through the weekend – I’m open to an NIT bid to get us going for next season!

What was your biggest takeaway from the weekend at ESPN?
This was my first selection weekend since 1990 that I wasn’t working directly on the tournament, so against that backdrop, Bristol – both on- and off-campus – was a veritable Times Square. The experience with the ESPN staff all weekend long – across the board, was great.

My biggest takeaway? The basement is known as Floor 1 and Floor 2 of one building appears to be Floor 3 of the next. Oh, and a question: Where are cars towed when they park illegally? Not saying I need to know – just wondering.

Best Digger Phelps moment?
After the Bracketology Show, when he took me to the ESPN Cafe and taught me how to knit. It was insightful. Disturbing, but insightful.

People are talking about an exchange we had Sunday morning, but I don’t seem to remember that. Ahem…

Anyone give you particularly good advice during the weekend? Or particularly bad?
Coordinating Producer Brett Austin, who was somehow assigned to deal with me throughout my visit, politely declined having me stay for the live Sunday 1 a.m. SportsCenter after 16 hours on campus. “Trust me,” he said. He was right. The next morning came quickly.

Any other anecdotes you’d like to share from the weekend?
I learned:
• Survey the offerings at the Cafe before deciding the strategic choice for that meal.
• The passion of everyone around here is incredible.
• In what I suppose is a budget and/or water savings measure, ESPN’s bathrooms are mysteriously located – only full-time employees know where they are.
• Since I wear make-up everyday, I was able to arrive right at airtime for each commitment.
Rece Davis had to have been an air traffic controller in a past life – Jay Williams, Jay Bilas, Joe Lunardi, Dick Vitale, Seth Greenberg, Bruce Pearl and Shaheen? One program? Only six hours to fit all those opinions into? Impressive.
Seth Greenberg doesn’t hold a grudge. Quite a memory, but doesn’t hold a grudge.

Lastly, I hope to be back often and I’d like to thank ESPN for the chance to be here.

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