Programming Note: Today’s Outside the Lines (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2), looks into “Dunk City” and Florida Gulf Coast’s coach, Andy Enfield, who have truly put the madness in March.
At 10:30 p.m. ET Sunday night, ESPN reporter Tom Rinaldi expected to wake up on Monday and cover Tiger Woods’ attempts at eagles in the weather-delayed final round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando, Fla.
But by 10:45, Rinaldi was researching the Eagles who he’d instead be covering Monday, 200 miles away in Fort Myers at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
“There are obvious reasons to be at both stories,” Rinaldi said of the late-night change of assignment. “We’re turning away from maybe the most famous athlete on earth, perhaps re-claiming the No. 1 ranking for the first time in two-and-a-half years. But, this is a team which just made history within the confines of the NCAA Tournament by becoming the first 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16.”
While Rinaldi has become a mainstay on the PGA/Tiger tour, he says, “I really love the NCAA Tournament but the last time I got to cover it was with George Mason (when it reached the Final Four in 2006).”
Rinaldi was on-site at FGCU this morning to report live during the 9 a.m. SportsCenter. Then, while Tiger was indeed reclaiming his No. 1 status by winning at Bayhill, Rinaldi was preparing to provide updates from campus throughout the day, and arranging one-on-one interviews with coach Andy Enfield and key players.
Of his four-hours sleep and four-hour early morning drive, Rinaldi said, “It’s all part of the job. We cover news. Something unforeseen happens, and we’re there. I’ve been pulled away before – the Joe Paterno story is an obvious example. The wonderful thing today is that it’s something positive – in this case, it’s a joyous sports story.”
What he calls his own ‘Florida Swing’ began last week in Palm Beach where he rented a car before driving to Port St. Lucie for an E:60 Mets report, then onto Orlando and Fort Myers. “My Florida geography is improving rapidly,” he laughed.