Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Super Bowl for recruiting junkies

If you’re a college football recruiting junkie, the Super Bowl comes four days early this week. Wednesday is signing day, meaning that the best high-school football talent in America is going to be divvied up.

Monitoring the pulse of this strange and newsy day will be ESPNU. The cable channel concentrates on college sports, is based in Charlotte and beams out to 73 million homes.

“This is truly our Super Bowl,” said Shawn Murphy, who will be the coordinating producer for 10 straight hours of ESPNU coverage of signing day Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. “In terms of what we do in Charlotte at ESPNU, it doesn’t get any bigger.”

Sounds pretty cool, right? I’ll know for sure by Wednesday night, as I’ll be following ESPNU’s coverage from its studio for a behind-the-scenes column that will appear in Thursday’s Charlotte Observer and online. I will also be blogging regularly today as signing news breaks, so check out this same blog for that.

ESPNU’s coverage will include former head coaches Urban Meyer (Florida) and Randy Shannon (Miami) in the studio. Eight of the top 100 players in America who have yet to make their college decision are scheduled to announce their choices live on the show.

The biggest prize of all – Rock Hill South Pointe defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, the No.1 prospect in the country – is also scheduled to appear on ESPNU at around 4 p.m. but not to announce his decision. Clowney has indicated he will make up his mind later this month.

ESPNU also plans to interview more than 20 major-college coaches live during its coverage – some live on camera and some by phone. South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier is tentatively scheduled for 3:10 p.m. and North Carolina’s Butch Davis at 4:18 p.m.

Things always change on live television, of course – especially when you’re planning a 10-hour TV show. So watch for my blogs Wednesday and my column Thursday to see how, exactly, ESPNU tries to pull off this mammoth undertaking.

P.S. -- On another note, my column for Wednesday's newspaper is on the state of Charlotte 49ers basketball, based in part on interviews with coach Alan Major and athletic director Judy Rose. Watch for that.

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