Football Writers Association of America March 3, 2006
Contact: Steve Richardson
Media weighs in on season's bowl operations

The following is the FWAA Bowl Media Survey Report for post-season bowls of the 2005 season. It was compiled by FWAA second vice-president, Ron Higgins of the Memphis Commercial Appeal with help of the Football Bowl Association (FBA). There are 12 bowls covered, including the four Bowl Championship Series bowls. These bowls had a representative sampling of surveys. Thanks to everyone who participated.


The good: Strong on the hospitality, with all the basics needed on game day, such as wireless internet, and an almost-flawless press box and interview area operation.

The bad: Having two media hotels, as well as an uncooperative Ohio State team that didn't follow post-game interview rules that calls for the dressing room to be open for 30 minutes while the Ohio State press conference takes place in the interview area. Ohio State's press conference ended after 14 minutes and the Buckeyes immediately closed the dressing room, which is typical of the always-uncooperative Big 10. Writers were forced to catch players for interviews by the team buses.


The good: Rated high in almost every area, especially the expected game-day basics such as pre-game information.

The bad: Stats were delivered to seats way late after each quarter and the post-game quotes were nowhere quick enough to get to writers banging on deadline. There was also a complaint that there weren't enough Texas players at Media Day.


The good: Excellent on game night in most areas, especially getting post-game quotes quickly into the hands of writers.

The bad: Waited until Jan. 1 to use roundtables for press conference breakouts. This should have done this much earlier. Also, the media center often didn't have a current schedule of the week's events. Finally, the post-game shuttle schedule wasn't adjusted to later departures after the game went three overtimes.


The good: Despite being in Atlanta, it went off without a hitch.

The bad: The only complaint was the press box was a little crowded.


The good: Everything ran smoothly. Access was great during the week and game day went smoothly, with plenty of phones and electricity and quick post-game quotes.

The bad: None.


The good: The media hotel rated high in quality, price and location.

The bad: Plenty. The media center failed to provide media conference transcripts and practice notes in a timely fashion. On game day, one writer complained his seat was so bad that he couldn't see all off the field or clearly hear the press box public address announcer.


The good: They know what the media needs to do their jobs, while making them feel like welcomed guests. This year, Cotton Bowl PR director Charlie Fiss even chartered a bus for Alabama writers to go to Norman, Okla., to cover the Tide's basketball game. As one writer put on his survey, "Every worker, staff or volunteer at every bowl, should be required to intern at the Cotton Bowl."

The bad: Are you kidding?


The good: It's Hawaii.

The bad: Everything associated with the game. There was one scheduled press conference all week. There were no post-game quotes from either sports information director or the bowl, and nothing was posted online. The post-game press conference began without the bowl sports information director being ready. The four high-speed lines in the press box were for bowl folks and the sports information directors. The game ended on deadline, and quickie stats took 20 minutes to reach the writers.


The good: Nothing. This was an absolute disaster.

The bad: The media center was always locked, so writers couldn't get basic information like practice times, times for a media shuttle, quotes, etc. Access to coaches and players was lousy. There was one press conference the day before the game, with only two head coaches. Writers were not told by bowl personnel that there was a coaches' luncheon that the TV media people attended.

During the game, the stats were incorrect. The bowl charged for some of its press box food and the press box ran out of drinks. One writer said that when he left the press box for good 90 minutes after the game, he still hadn't seen any post-game quotes sheets. The same writer said that it was by far his "worst postseason bowl experience ever." He noted that the bowl's media director is also the bowl's parade director.


The good: Excellent hospitality and a fairly sharp game-night operation, especially considering they had to play the bowl in Lafayette instead of New Orleans. Access to both teams was fine, and both coaches had press conferences after practices in a trailer outside the stadium.

The bad: While the winning team was on the field for a post-game celebration, the losing team took too long to get to the interview area. Also, there was no media hotel as planned, but that was to be expected because Hurricane Katrina evacuees were still being housed.


The good: Vastly improved post-game setup, with a real, honest-to-goodness, spacious, accessible interview area. But if this game goes to night next year, it needs the press conference piped into the press box P.A. The media hotel was excellent, but somebody needed to provide press conference quotes. If there were any, writers didn't see them.

The bad: Only two press conferences during the week, and a handful of players. More players and the coordinators of each team would be nice. Also, both coaches gleefully cut off access to their teams one day after arrival. This is simply inexcusable. The bowl needs to spell out the scheduled media obligations to the invited coaches and sports information directors, and make them stick to them.


The good: Helpful, friendly bowl staff handled everything well that was in their control. Writers gave high marks to the work area, the high-speed ethernet and the press box food.

The bad: Biggest problem was too many non-media members on the sidelines during the game blocking working photographers, and the same problem in the post-game media interview area. Working media only. Get rid of the freeloaders and friends of the bowl. Also, post-game quote sheets took too long. They also needed one last shuttle for writers who finished late.