Forward/Rewind: College Sports

ESPN_RW_FF LOGOEDITOR’S NOTE: With this multi-week series — the Front Row Forward/Rewind, 2016/2015 — ESPN’s Communications Department takes the pulse of content executives throughout ESPN for their views on what’s ahead across ESPN for 2016 and some of what transpired in 2015. The snapshots provide a look at where ESPN has been, where it’s going and how it plans on getting there.


Ilan Ben-Hanan
Ilan Ben-Hanan

Ilan Ben-Hanan, Vice President, College Sports Programming
What was the best example of your division’s teamwork in 2015?
Bringing the College Football Playoff: Top 25 reveal to the annual State Farm Champions Classic basketball event, this year in Chicago, took coordination from many college football and basketball stakeholders, plus the ESPN Events group, making for a special night on our networks.

State Farm Championship Classic in Chicago.
The College GameDay football and basketball crews work together at the State Farm Championship Classic in Chicago.
Rosalyn Durant
Rosalyn Durant

Rosalyn Durant, Senior Vice President, College Networks, Programming
There were many great examples of teamwork in the College Networks division, including witnessing firsthand the integration of the SEC Network and ESPNU teams for SEC basketball media days in Charlotte. They seamlessly coordinated with and fed content to Bristol and to, our Communications team managed the various media buzzing around the office and the SECN Marketing team helped get word out across platforms by constantly pushing content out socially. We are one team aligned behind a singular mission, and we operated as such.

What was the most “social” moment of 2015?
IBH: The “one-of-a-kind” plays that people will remember for years come to mind. There were a few in college football this season, but because of the impact on the title chase, the last play in Michigan State’s road victory over Michigan ranks as the most social moment of the year in college sports.

It led to two GameDay features – recapping the end of the game and talking about the agony of defeat (see below). [EDITOR’S NOTE: If the video below does not play on your device, click here.]

RD: A few standout, but the top ones have to be ESPNU’s “Little Experts” across ESPN and Disney networks and the SEC Nation crew trick-or-treating on Kentucky’s campus.

The Little Experts is one of the cutest things you’ll see thanks to producers Baron Miller and Josh Parcell. It is one example of the creativity that this team constantly delivers and the social media word loved it.

We also had a lot of fun this Halloween with our SEC Nation team trick-or-treating on campus, and [assistant editor] Vance McCullough made sure the social-sphere knew all about it.

What excites you most about 2016?
IBH: 2016 will mark the third season of the College Football Playoff, with the semifinals falling on Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016. Also, opening weekend is as loaded a weekend of big college football matchups as we have seen in recent memory. Enthusiasm will reach a fever pitch as Labor Day Weekend approaches.

RD: The College Sports Networks teams are in a good groove, and our businesses are strong and the team is fired up for another year. I can hardly wait to see what this group comes up with next!

Gracie Blackburn contributed to this post.

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