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Q & A with ESPN's Thomas Morrissey

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Thomas Morrissey, a graduate of Fredonia High School and UB where he was a history major, now works in production for ESPN where he’s been employed for nearly 10 years. Morrissey, pictured above with his family, is working graphics for tonight’s Sugar Bowl matchup against Ohio State and Arkansas and spoke to Campus Watch about his job and UB football.

How did you get your start in broadcasting?

I went to grad school at Arizona State with the hopes of going into sports television. An instructor at ASU knew people at ESPN and helped me navigate the way through in terms of getting a job. My first job [with ESPN] in 2001 was on college football and that’s always sort of been my favorite sport. My job back then was helping the crews get to the site so I would pack the bins and get video clips that they needed. You learn the ropes and then sort of progress along the ranks. Going out on the road is sort of the ultimate goal in terms of production.     

What’s your job description?

I’m an associate producer and I gather research in terms of schools. Everyone has media relations and has game notes, and I take those notes search for more information internally, read newspapers clippings and take all that information and try to take what we think is the relevant stuff. I talk to my producer about what he would want and I also talk to the announcers because they have recommendations about what they want to talk about. Then we prep it, prepare it, and go to the trucks and sit down with our computer system and build graphics. That’s what you see during the game. Numbers like how a guy hasn’t thrown an interception in 300 pass attempts and stuff like that.

What are your in-game responsibilities?

Listen to what the announcers are talking about and sort of what my producer is talking about. If the announcers are talking about something it’s helpful to support what they are saying. The key is listening during the actual game. For instance we did the Oregon vs. Oregon State game and Todd Blackledge was talking about how Oregon was good on third down. We talked about that during the production meetings and then build the graphics. We visually provide the information on what he is referring to.

What are your thoughts on UB football?

My senior year they went 8-3 (1996) which was more wins than the three previous years. [Former UB offensive tackle] Ed Ellis lived on the same floor as me in my senior year and it was pretty cool knowing someone on the team and the team having some moderate success. The transition years [to FBS] was rough and when they won the MAC championship three years ago, that was pretty cool. I’m fortunate enough to say I’m not a Bills fan, I’m a Steelers fan and I thank my older brother for that influence (laughing). Now my son’s a Bills fan and I’m a Sabres fan so I completely understand what it is to be a Buffalo fan which is to invariably have your heart broken in the end. So for UB to win that championship … I thought UB would have gone to an NCAA Tournament well before the football team won a conference championship so that was real exciting sitting at home watching the game that night. I have a UB championship T-shirt and a UB championship hat so it was a proud moment that showed Buffalo in a positive light.

---Rodney McKissic

(www.twitter.com/rodneyjmckissic)

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