5 keys to landing a major college play-by-play job

college football crimson tide

There is one question I get asked nearly every day: How do I get a major college play-by-play job?

If you ask 10 guys how they landed their major college broadcasting gigs, you’ll get 10 different answers. However, there are some commonalities. Before I get to them, though, I want to emphasize one critical point:

You have to accept that the process is largely out of your control.

Landing a prime time college gig is overwhelmingly about luck and relationships. If you are willing to accept this reality, then keep reading. You can increase the chance that Lady Luck will smile upon you by controlling these five variables in your career.

Develop your skills

Always be improving. Consistently critique your own work, ask other industry professionals for feedback and study other broadcasters.

Develop your reputation

Work beyond your job description, never say no to opportunity, and treat people with kindness and respect. They’ll want to help you in return.

Build relationships

Play-by-play success is more about who you know than what you know. Build relationships with sports broadcasting executives and talent at local radio stations, TV stations and universities. You’ll want their support when a local opportunity opens.

Be patient

You don’t go from doing high school games in Broken Arrow to being the Voice of the Sooners. There is usually at least one intermediate step at a smaller college or university.

Take a shortcut

Well, there are no guaranteed short cuts but there is one possible short cut. Get an NCAA Division I women’s basketball job. They’re easier to get despite youth and relative inexperience. In those positions, you are still getting to know the same people who can open doors for you as you would if you were doing football and men’s basketball at that school.

Here are three other facts to understand:
1. Alumni of the school with the opening have a decided advantage. It’s an easy sell to the local fan base.

2. Major universities consider how the press release announcing their new hire is going to look. The 20-something in Broken Arrow might be an outstanding broadcaster, but the press release doesn’t sell when it says the next Voice of the Sooners is coming from the high school ranks.

3. Realize that major college play-by-play gigs are overwhelmingly part-time. You’re going to have to find something else to supplement your income.

Photo credit: James Willamor via photopin cc

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