Way back in 1996 – when gas cost less than two dollars a gallon – CBS signed a contract with the SEC to be the exclusive national television home for in-conference games. It was impossible for the network to know what the SEC would become in 2013, but the pairing with the Southeastern Conference has turned into quite the lucrative deal for both parties.
CBS and their crew of Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson and sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson travel throughout the SEC, covering what they deem to be the SEC’s “Game of the Week.”
Last week at SEC Media Days, Gatorcountry.com got the chance to sit down with Tracy Wolfson, who is going on her tenth season covering the SEC for CBS. We got to talk with Tracy about the Florida Gators, what visiting Gainesville is like, and what it’s like trying to grab “Coach Boom” as he comes off the field before halftime and at the end of games.
GC: How has Florida changed under Will Muschamp?
TW: Yeah, I’ve had Florida a couple of times. I’ve had Florida for the last nine years that I’ve been doing games. It’s different. To me it’s actually a little more laid back. With Urban, we all know he is very tight lipped and it was always coaches speak when it came to interviews. I never wanted to interview him because I knew I would get nothing. Behind closed doors he was very different, but once it came to halftime or a post game interview, I knew I would get nothing. When it comes to Will, you never know what you’re going to get. I love it when he’s all fired up, that’s the best time to stick a microphone in his face because you never know what he’ll say, he’s “Coach Boom” right? I think it’s loose, it’s a lot of fun, he’s really approachable and that’s what I love about Will Muschamp and seeing him at Florida now.
GC: You say he’s laid back with the media and gives you the persona of a quotable coach, that makes your job easier, doesn’t it?
TW: We have a lot of those quotable coaches when it comes to the SEC, so having Will there right along with them is great for my job.
GC: How does Gainesville compare, as far as playing host to you and your crew, to the other schools in the SEC?
TW: It’s great. One of the best things about traveling through the SEC is really seeing the traditions. I love being able to go out at night, checking out the hotspots, and just going to Ballyhoo’s, which is always a spot of ours. And then doing the tailgating a little bit. Walking around and taking it in, like I said, i’ve been doing Florida games for nine years now and I just discovered the downtown area of Gainesville. I don’t know why I just discovered it now, but it’s actually really nice, we went to a great steak house. I love Florida, I think the noise factor is really difficult when it comes to me, and those fences down on the field, I keep telling Jeremy Foley that he’s got to get rid of those because it makes my job really difficult. It’s a great place to do a game, it really is. It’s impossible to hear, but a great place.
GC: What is it about the Swamp that makes it so loud? It’s not the biggest stadium in the SEC, but it is often referred to as one of the loudest.
TW: I think it’s a mixture of everything. We always get the No. 1 game of the week, so if we’re in Gainesville for a game, it’s a really big game. We always usually start out with that Florida/Tennessee rivalry right out off the bat. It’s so loud because it is the 3:30 factor and the fans are on top of you. I mean the stands are really close to the field. I walk behind that fence and I’m getting pats on the back. They’re screaming, they’re loud and like I said, it’s always a big game.
GC: Do you guys know what games you will be covering this year?
TW: Well I do know that we kickoff the year with Texas A&M vs. Alabama, so you can’t really go wrong with that one, the rematch. So we’re really looking forward to that, that’s really an amazing game to open with and really set our season. And then there’s a chance we’ll be in Gainesville for Florida/Tennessee, we don’t really know for sure. We go week by week according to how the early season goes, but that’s definitely a possibility.
GC: What are Gary Danielson and Vern Lundquist like to work with?
TW: They’re the best. Vern, to me, is like a friend. I always joke that he’s like my grandpa and we always joke that he spills stuff on his tie and he’s jolly with his laugh. He’s such a good person that we forget how amazing he is as a broadcaster and how historic he is. He is the voice of the SEC, he is the voice of college football and it is a pleasure to work with him week in and week out. Also to be able to hang out with him on the side, it’s actually his birthday tomorrow [July 17], so shout out to Vern; he might be on a cruise somewhere, which he likes to do in the summer. And Gary is really one of the best when it comes to analysts of the game. He can pick out exactly what’s happening before it’s happening. When you listen to those broadcasts afterwards, its like how did he do it? He really has a knack for that and he sees things so well out on the field. He’s a unique guy and we’ve come to learn him and embrace him. I’m very fortunate, it makes coming to work so easy.