News producer Jonathan Whyley is having a busy end to the college football season. Front Row caught up with him as he hurried to a flight from Orlando, Fla., site of last night’s Home Depot College Football Awards, to New York City for Saturday’s Heisman Trophy Presentation (8 p.m. ET, ESPN).
In a 17-year career that’s spanned production stints with the likes of The Tonight Show and Fox Sports, Whyley arrived at ESPN in 2008, and has found his favorite job thus far liaising between SportsCenter and ESPN’s college football studio programs. He is based in Charlotte, N.C., and travels the country each week with GameDay and/or the DIRECTV bus.
You began at ESPN as a senior assignment editor. How did you come by your current role?
My second year on the desk I began assigning stories for college football. In 2010, I became a periphery guy for College GameDay after I was asked to run the DirecTV bus project. I crossed paths with GameDay as the bus crossed the country. Lee Fitting, senior coordinating producer for college sports studio shows, then brought me on for some pre- and post-production work for GameDay. I now travel most weeks with the show.
Describe a typical week.
I do most of my work for GameDay during the week, facilitating shoots for our reporters with the schools and interview subjects. I’ll line up six to seven live hits at a given location, set up all-access pieces and get GameDay features sound. On site for GameDay, in addition to coordinating “live to tape” with guests, I work with [reporters] Samantha Ponder and Tom Rinaldi to secure their interviews. Later that night, I arrange all post-game content for SportsCenter.
What are you working on now?
I outlined all BCS scenarios coverage for SportsCenter. Then, I helped produce in and around the College Football Awards. And I just set up a master list with Fitting of everywhere we will go to shoot for our BCS Bowls coverage. I will work out a comprehensive schedule with the schools that allows us to gather all the elements for each bowl. Also, I’ll facilitate the DirectTV bus sites for live talk backs. For Heisman, I will get all the finalists on SportsCenter today and tomorrow from the bus, and the winner on Sunday.
What’s your favorite part of working with College GameDay?
We are truly friends. Being an ex-athlete [Whyley was a fifth string fullback for a year at North Carolina], there is always that void of being on a team. But when you’re on GameDay, you’re on a team. And we’re very competitive; everywhere we go, we have competitions.