TUSACALOOSA, Ala. – SEC Nation arrived in Tuscaloosa Thursday to prepare for their weekly Saturday production prior to the Alabama-Florida football game. The crew arrived with six tractor-trailers and their trademark bus. This is what it takes to move a set and crew around the country every week.
Bob Rauscher, SEC Network’s vice president of production, said, “Our philosophy with the show is to come to where things are happening, so we’ve chosen locations where things are already going on.” The tailgating atmosphere around the Quad at The University of Alabama appealed to the show’s producers. “There are fans mingling and hanging out before the games, and we’re basically just saying we’re going to be one of them,” Rauscher said.
Operations producer Joe Carcione said the show was hoping to achieve an “organic feel on the air. We want to be in the midst of the people who are tailgating.” However, the fans’ close proximity to the set and the production equipment often presents challenges for the crew as they set up. “It’s kind of an interesting balance because you want to be in the middle of everything, but you don’t want to take away what people have already claimed,” Carcione said. He tried to wait and be flexible with the footprint so that fans would still be able to easily come in and claim tailgating spots.
The production teams arrive on Wednesday nights and begin constructing the stage, set, and jumbotron on Thursday. “We know we have a long day [Friday] and an early day [Saturday]. I don’t want people getting burned out so we do a ten-hour day on Thursdays,” he said.
While breaking down the set goes much more quickly than setting up, Carcione said it often takes between three and six hours depending on how many fans are around. “We don’t want to tell them to stop enjoying tailgating, so we can move things,” he said.
“We bring a TV screen and a bus with us and a whole TV compound, but yet the impression you want to leave with the fans at home and on-site is SEC Nation is just one of the tailgaters,” Rauscher said. “We think we’re starting to feel that connection with the viewers.”