Week after week, Tom Rinaldi tells impactful, tear-jerking stories on College GameDay (Saturdays, 9 a.m. ET, ESPN) that leave fans reaching for their tissues. This weekend’s feature may be no different, as Rinaldi sits down with Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to discuss what “Ohana” means to him.
Meghan Robinson, an ESPN features producer who worked with Rinaldi on the piece, said there is never pressure to create something emotional, but that the goal is always to put the best piece on television.
“With Tom, what you see is what you get,” Robinson said. “The way he writes his stories is the same way he writes in a text message or speaks with you on the phone. He is just as thoughtful in everyday conversation as he is in telling a story. He is an incredibly talented writer and reporter. The way he paints pictures with his words might naturally make a piece more emotional, but he is not writing with those intentions. That’s just who he is.”
The feature, which will air during GameDay’s visit to Atlanta ahead of the SEC Championship Game, explains how one single word – Ohana – is both Tagovailoa’s inspiration and his way of life.
“There are so many people that have had an impact on Tua and his football career,” Robinson said. “We learned so much about his upbringing and his culture, and I was fascinated. His family is so welcoming, have such a pride in where they come from and are so proud of Tua, and you can see that on their faces when they talk about him.”
It’s a pride that extends to Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban.
“It is always interesting to hear a coach’s perspective on a player,” Robinson said. “But the one thing that struck a chord with Coach is the respect Tua has for his family and culture, and that was definitely conveyed in our interview with Coach.”