For most college graduates, securing an internship or an entry-level job out of school is the goal – get a foot in the door while embarking on a new career. That’s what makes Jac Collinsworth’s situation so unique.
ESPN announced today that the University of Notre Dame graduate is the newest addition to Sunday NFL Countdown. Beginning this fall, he will contribute regular features to ESPN’s weekly NFL pregame show. It’s a dream job for Collinsworth, who has been preparing for this opportunity for years.
The son of NBC Sunday Night Football analyst and former NFL player Cris Collinsworth, the younger Collinsworth has an impressive resume that includes creating, producing and hosting a weekly digital series at Notre Dame, filing weekly player features for a nationally-syndicated television show, working as a sideline reporter on national TV broadcasts, and covering the Summer Olympic Games, to name just a few highlights.
Collinsworth discusses his new role with ESPN and how he’s approaching the job.
How did the opportunity to work for ESPN come about?
[ESPN senior coordinating producer] Seth Markman watched some of my clips from NBC and Notre Dame and invited me to ESPN. It took about five minutes of talking about how we each got into production and discussing ideas in Seth’s office before ESPN began to feel like home.
– Jac Collinsworth
What appealed to you most about working at ESPN?
Everything. I grew up watching ESPN before I left for school and again after I got home from practice. From live sports, to the studio, to features, to social, and the web, the level of detail stands out. I can’t wait to join the talent in front of and behind the camera in Bristol, Conn. I just want to help build this brand and continue to connect it to my generation in any way I can.
How long have you wanted to go into broadcasting?
I took a course called “Introduction to Filmmaking” my freshman year of high school. I became a cameraman, switchboard operator, editor, teleprompter operator, and so on before I finally started producing content. I loved every one of those jobs. Eventually I was put on camera. It was kind of crazy at first, but over the past eight years it has just become what I love to do.
What advice has your dad given you about the sports media industry?
I have asked him so many questions I would run out of ink trying to transcribe them for you. Honestly, watching him prepare is what I remember best. Undeniably, he is a talented broadcaster, but I have never seen anybody work and study harder. That’s what I’ve always tried to emulate most.
Of the many work experiences you’ve already had, what did you enjoy most?
Being a part of the Olympics. Interviewing girls and guys my age, who happened to be the greatest athletes in the world, was special.
What do your college friends think of you joining ESPN?
As sports junkies, we watched ESPN every day after class, so I think the opportunity stunned some of my buddies, as it did me. They were behind the curtain and saw the day-to-day work, and I always took their critiques and opinions to heart. So, they have a unique perspective on me joining ESPN, but they were just as fired up as I was.
What kinds of stories do you look forward to telling on Sunday NFL Countdown?
I want to tell stories that my friends and I would want to watch. Young people think differently, they interact differently, and they consume content differently. Now I get to work for a company that shares that vision. Most NFL stars are still just guys in their 20s. We’re going to tell real stories and have fun.
How well do you know ESPN’s other ND alums – i.e., Hannah Storm, Mike Golic and Golic Jr.?
I have met both Mike Jr. and Hannah briefly at Notre Dame. Hannah’s position at ESPN and as an ambassador for the University of Notre Dame speaks for itself. Mike brings great humor and a positive energy to ESPN Radio. His sister, Sydney, is a good friend of mine. And Hannah’s husband, Dan Hicks [of NBC Sports], is one of my favorite people in this business. He’s been great to me.
Rich Arden and Bill Hofheimer produced the video above.