SportsCenter anchor Steve Levy makes it a point to call a few events on the road every year. Tonight he’s in Columbia, Mo., for the SEC duel featuring Tennessee at No. 9 Missouri (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET), his first college football assignment of the season. He’ll be joined in Memorial Stadium by analyst Brian Griese and sideline reporter Tom Luginbill.
Levy is no stranger to college football booths: From 1999-2002, he was the play-by-play voice for games on ESPN2. He spoke to Front Row about the lure of describing live action.
What draws you to continue to work play-by-play on a few events each year?
I really enjoy play-by-play. I love the feel of the energy from the crowds and being in a part of the country that I might not have seen before. I love being in the middle of the action where I can continue to keep my perspective of how difficult it is to play these sports. Play-by-play and anchoring are on such opposite ends of the spectrum. I’m going to do a three-and-a-half-hour telecast and totally invest my energy into these two teams that will end up being about 90-seconds on SportsCenter. I firmly believe getting on the road once or twice a year helps me be a better SportsCenter anchor.
— Tennessee Football (@Vol_Football) November 1, 2013
What is the best part of doing SportsCenter to you?
You get to cover everything – every sport, all of the time – to the entire country. SportsCenter has a wide array of fans who are interested in all sports whereas a game might be to a particular audience. That gets back to the highlight package. It is our job to deliver information that tells the best story of that game to a large audience in 90 seconds.
Is there anything you learn from one job that you take to the other?
Absolutely. The level of the game looks easy on TV. You can see the speed of the game, how easy the players make it seem and feel the pressure on them when you are in the stadium. That can’t happen from the studio. Doing SportsCenter helps me deliver the in-game highlights better – to pick and choose the important facts for the fans.
What other sports would you like to work?
I’ve done a couple of MLB games over the years, and that is a privilege. I would love to do an NFL game. I’d really like to do an NBA game on radio. That would be amazing because of the proximity of the booth to the court. That is absolutely on my bucket list.
How much time do you put into preparing to call a game?
Insane amounts of time. I never put more time into a telecast than when I worked college football. I could have three weeks to prepare and still not feel like I went through every document.
By Mike Humes
ICYMI: Highlights from the past week on Front Row
• Dr. Mark Adickes, a former NFL lineman, joined ESPN’s roster of sports medicine experts.
• Jimmy Connors’ son, Brett Connors, provided his personal perspective on his dad’s surprising run at the 1991 US Open. Those two weeks are the focus of ESPN Films’ 30 for 30, This is What They Want.
• Kenny Mayne was at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, to shoot a feature that will air on ESPN’s telecast of the Nov. 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.
• Meet 10 faces behind the scenes who helped ESPN deliver comprehensive, on-site coverage of the World Series to baseball fans.
Row of Four
Our favorites from across ESPN over the past week
• From ESPN The Magazine’s Elena Bergeron: His NBA future is a given, but Andrew Wiggins isn’t wasting his time in Lawrence
• From Rick Reilly: A Hand for Scott Wells
• From espnW: The personal stories behind the 2013 New York City Marathon
• Enjoy an array of photos from the ESPN Images’ Images of the Week