Every year, CBS produces “The Road to the Final Four,” the network’s annual coverage of the NCAA Basketball tournament. It’s no small undertaking, as CBS puts on every game through every round of the tourney, culminating in the Final Four.
Now, imagine doing that for 52 straight days — and counting.
That’s what Director of Remote Operations Larry Lafave says the Pac-12 Networks have been doing since they launched on August 15. Lafave should know. Before coming to the Pac-12 Networks, he was the Vice President of Remote Operations for CBS, where he oversaw all of the mobile units that produced the NCAA tournament every year..
Friday night at Stanford, the Pac-12 Networks will put on their 100th live event in the 52 days since the launch. Lafave says that’s a pace that has never been done before.
“It’s amazing,” Lafave said. “People don’t realize that even though you don’t have 20 cameras or a crew of 150, just as much work goes into setting up a generator and trailer and getting a crew organized. That’s true if you have six cameras or 600 cameras.”
Lafave also compared the Pac-12 Networks’ ambitious undertaking to putting on the Olympics, on a lesser scale. Some of the challenges include finding enough freelance production workers to fill out all the crews, keeping costs down and figuring out how to produce broadcasts for sports and at venues that typically are not on television.
Before the networks launched, Lafave joined Senior Vice President of Production and Operations Leon Schweir, Vice President of University Relations Bob Keyser, Pac-12 Associate Commissioner Duane Lindberg and other consultants on a tour of all 12 campuses in the conference. The mission was to examine the infrastructure of all the facilities that would be the home of live events to determine what work needed to be done before games could be aired.
The result was a report for Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott that consisted of over 1,000 pages.
“It was done venue by venue and sport by sport,” Lafave said. “We evaluated every venue to figure what we would need to do to make it more broadcast friendly.”
With help from the individual schools, the necessary upgrades and improvements got done, allowing the networks to provide the onslaught of games they have produced so far, and will continue to put on into the future.
The first 100 broadcasts have produced a slew of memorable moments. Including:
- Arizona’s breathtaking 59-38 win over No. 18 Oklahoma State during the second week of the football season. The victory helped the Wildcats break into the top 25 and showcased running back Ka’Deem Carey, who scored four touchdowns.
- Showcasing Oregon State’s return to the national elite. In back-to-back weeks, the Beavers knocked off UCLA and Arizona on the Pac-12 Networks as Oregon State moved to 3-0 and a No. 14 national ranking.
- Two Oregon games, allowing fans to see the No. 2 team in the country and its usual prolific offense.
- The re-opening of two renovated football stadiums — Memorial Stadium at Cal and Martin Stadium at Washington State.
- One of the best volleyball matches in the nation this season — No. 5 Washington’s epic five-set victory over No. 4 UCLA, 22-25, 30-28, 19-25, 28-26, 16-14. It included a sensational performance by Huskies sophomore Krista Vansant, who had 31 kills.
- The 500th career victory for Oregon volleyball coach Jim Moore, who reached the milestone when the Ducks beat Utah on Sept. 28.
- Oregon State’s thrilling 1-0 double overtime win over UC Irvine in men’s soccer.
- And, of course, the first live event ever produced by the networks — Stanford’s 6-1 win over Santa Clara in women’s soccer on Aug. 17.
Here are five of the best as selected by our production team. Vote on the No. 1 memorable moment of our first hundred events below.