I’m not here to blame one person. A failure this grand couldn’t be the responsibility of one person. I’m only here to describe what happened, given the game couldn’t show us what happened for large stretches.
Baylor just beat Texas State on ESPN+. I have watched several hundred and possibly thousands of college football games. None tops this abomination.
What I list can’t capture what happened because there were more faults than a collapsing tennis sever. Here are a few moments I can remember.
The camera couldn’t rotate or find the receivers. This may seem like an exaggeration. It’s not. Baylor or Texas State would catch a pass. We’d find out later who caught something. The camera missed nearly every completion near the sidelines or downfield. I don’t know why ESPN didn’t just switch to a wide camera and not adjust it. I don’t know why ESPN did a lot of things tonight.
The game never had first down markers. We were at the mercy of the announcer ascertaining where the markers were. Often the broadcast didn’t list the correct down. Maybe all downs are arbitrary and this was a philosophical statement that football and life are arbitrary. But I don’t think ESPN cares enough about the Big 12 to make an existential statement like that. Maybe that kind of apathy on ESPN’s part beats the time they may have colluded to end a league its contractually obligated to support.
When JT Woods produced a pick six, we didn’t see it until much later. Again, having a camera capture the action in a football game proved too difficult. I’ve never seen a camera fail to find a pick six. The broadcast had plenty of time to find him before he scored. Time was only a punishment watching this game, as each second was a reminder that things could only get worse.
When Josh Fleeks apparently actually caught a touchdown pass, we got one replay and no dialogue about whether he actually got his foot down. Any politician can only hope to one day achieve the ability ESPN had to sidestep the central question.
The scoreboard couldn’t change on the screen when Texas State went up 10-7. We were told that there was an issue with something inside the stadium. I’m unsure how graphics are dependent on the stadium. I’m unsure how ESPN can’t just sever the graphics from the stadium experience.
The microphones were horrendously off. Each statement started loudly and ended softly. Anyone trying to find the correct volume would have found that the broadcast couldn’t do it, so why should you?
In a fitting ending, ESPN+ prepared to interview Dave Aranda after the victory. They had no audio. But we did have the audio of the broadcast director. We could hear him shouting, “We don’t have it, get us off.” As the announcer ended the broadcast, we heard the other ramblings of the director.
I’m not trying to be mean. I’m only here to say this was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I fail miserably all the time. That happens. But this is a new standard in futility. I implore us all to aim high in everything. No matter how poorly our forays go, they can’t go this badly.
This was the apex of broadcasting catastrophe. I’m not calling for anyone to lose their job. I’m calling for more people to gain jobs to fix this.
In a few years, we won’t remember much about Baylor beating Texas State. But we’ll remember where we were when we couldn’t see the elements necessary to remember the game. With the Big 12 looking likely to survive as an expanded 12, may another league bid for the television contract. And if not, then may we all find radios.