Bumped. Fun story to read on a Sunday night in case you missed it earlier in the week. GO BRUINS. -N
According to this story on Deadspin, UCLA and Tennessee made college football history 35 years ago when the Bruins traveled to Knoxville.
Jim Lampley became the first ever sideline reporter for a televised football game, college or pro.
In 1974, Lampley was in graduate school at North Carolina, and Tollefson was an undergrad at Stanford. Both found themselves among 432 contestants for some vague ABC Sports job that lay enticingly at the other end of a gimmicky talent search, led by Dick Ebersol himself. "The idea," Lampley says, "was to have a new person on a college football telecast, someone who'd provide program material that would help differentiate college football from pro football, illuminate the unique lore and social interaction of college football."
At the time, Lampley was studying mass communications in Chapel Hill and had worked radio broadcasts of UNC football and basketball games. "I was screened out at first," he says. "They were looking for someone with zero on-air experience, someone who was definitely not a broadcast type."
Lampley nevertheless got the job, and that fall he and Tollefson were thrown immediately into the mix. "Sept. 7, 1974," Lampley says. "Tennessee-UCLA in Knoxville. "Don was all over the telecast. I was on 11 times. I think he was on even more."
He goes on: "I can tell you exactly the first time they threw to me during action. It was early in the game." The day before, he'd had a lengthy interview with Tennessee quarterback Condredge Holloway. Afterward, Holloway pulled Lampley aside and guaranteed that, the following day, he would throw for a touchdown on the Volunteers' first play from scrimmage. Says Lampley: "I'm like, 'Pardon me?' He said, 'Trust me. We spent all summer studying film. We know exactly how they bit. This is play-action to Stanley Morgan, and we'll score on the first play from scrimmage.'" On Saturday, Tennessee won the coin toss. Got the ball on the 20. Play-action to Stanley Morgan. Eighty yards. Touchdown.
"I had told the producer about it," Lampley says, "and he remembered, and amid all the hoopla, Keith [Jackson] threw to me on the sideline. I said, 'Keith, at our sitdown interview, Condredge told me he'd throw a touchdown pass on the first play of the game, etc., etc.' That was the first thing I did on camera. You don't get lucky that often.
Overall, it's an interesting story. Lampley has some strong feelings about the necessity of sideline reporters and whether or not they add anything to the game. Worth a look if you have a few minutes.