Tony Britt Spotter Charts began out of necessity in 2005. As a talent statistician with ESPN since 1986, Tony offered to create spotter charts for PxP Pam Ward, who was tired of hand-written, mistake-filled charts provided on Wednesday or Thursday of each week. Six college football seasons later, we provide charts for:
- BRENT MUSBURGER – Stanford@Oregon, ABC, Nov17
- TODD BLACKLEDGE – Florida@FloridaState, ABC/ESPN2, Nov24
- DESMOND HOWARD – BallState@Toledo, ESPN2, Nov.6
- DAVID POLLACK – TCU@Texas, ESPN, Nov22 – CUSTOM
- DANNY KANELL – Northwestern@MichiganState, ESPN2, Nov17 – CUSTOM
- BILL ROSINSKI – USC@UCLA, ESPN Radio, Nov17 – 2-sheets
- DAVID NORRIE – USC@UCLA , ESPN Radio, Nov17 – 1-sheet
- ANDRE WARE – Kentucky@Tennessee, SEC Network, Nov24 – CUSTOM
- MIKE MORGAN – Utah@Colorado, FX, Nov23
- TODD HARRIS – OldDominion@JamesMadison, NBC Sports Network, Nov17
- EAMON McANANEY – Rutgers@Cincinnati, BigEast Network, Nov17
- DAVID DIAZ-INFANTE – Rutgers@Cincinnati, BigEast Network, Nov17 – CUSTOM
- PAUL CARCATERRA – Illinois@OhioState, ESPN, Nov2
- WARRICK DUNN – WesternKentucky@FloridaInternational, ESPN3, Oct27
- MIKE BELOTTI – Arizona@Oregon, ESPN, Sept22
Until now, I purposely have not sought additional announcers in order maintain high quality. Now, with the help of an IT professor and recent graduates from James Madison University, we have automated much of the process, thus improving the quality and allowing us to solicit new business for the 2013 season.
- THE CHART - Best used when printed on 11×17 cardstock, front and back, head to toe. Use it as your own, personal cheat sheet. Can be tweaked to individual preferences, including phonetic spellings, and duplicated for your spotter.
- DELIVERY – As early as Tuesday afternoon preceding a Saturday game, I send a PDF file to a local copy center of your choice. If you are on the road, I research the FedEx Office or UPS Store closest to your hotel, and confirm pick-up with you. Some announcers prefer take their phone with the PDF file attached to a copy center on their own. Print instructions are fairly simple. You pay for the single copy at pick-up, usually under $5.
- BILLING - Covered completely by ESPN’s Ed Placey and FOX’s Brittany Bideaux. To date, working on CBS & NBC to keep expense out of announcers’ pockets. Set rate for first chart, additional charge for altered versions (e.g., more players included for PxP, more blank space for Color) and duplicate copies.
- QUALITY - Nothing is perfect, but your credibility on-air is our top priority. We do everything we can to create perfect charts, but we urge you to double-check any and all information you may use on-air. Unlike some services, I take personal responsibility for every chart. The devil is in the detail.
- SOURCES - Our information comes directly from NCAA & ESPN statistics, school websites and SIDs.
- NOTES - Receivers listed together on one side for convenient, quick reference. Players with a pink background indicate true freshmen; a gray background is a key player out (e.g., injury). Team stats in green are top 20 in nation, in pink are bottom 20. Individual stats: L=last game, S=season, C=career. We try hard to avoid duplicating players, so a player listed at second string at two positions may only be listed once, and a third-stringer moved up. On defense, a third player listed who is not on a school’s two-deep but may see playing time is placed where space allows, either at DB, LB or DL, not necessarily at the specific position (e.g., FS, SS, CB, DT, DE, MLB, SLB, WLB, etc.)
1. Page Size
- 11×17 on one sheet, front and back – Folds down to 8½x11 for traveling, or Todd Harris prefers to pick-up his charts in the event city to avoid a crease in the sheet. This size is currently chosen by all but one of our announcers, most of whom use reading glasses anyway.
- 22×17 on two 11×17 sheets front and back – For the vision-impaired like myself and Christian Fauria, who gets credit for inspiring us to create this option. Font size is significantly bigger. Each sheet still folds down to 8½x11 for traveling. We advise using strong, clear packing tape to attach the two sheets, top to bottom, as you enter the booth.
2. PxP or Analyst
- PxP – Includes all specialists from school’s two-deep. As space allows, we can add third-stringers who may see action.
- Color Analyst – Typically includes only key specialists, or none at all. For example, optional starters to include: placekicker, punter, top returners.
3. Blank Space or Lined Boxes
- Danny Kanell and David Norrie prefer open spaces to write in; David Diaz-Infante and Christian Fauria prefer lined boxes.
4. Layout – OFFENSE
- Traditional – On all charts, WRs are placed together on the far right so they’re together in one place, not split on either side of the O-line. On rare occasions, space allows for Inside Receivers and Outside Receivers each to get their own column. TEs are located on the far left, opposite of the WRs. In the traditional format, used by most announcers, the QB is in the middle with the FB on his left and the RB/TB on his right.
- TEs Right – David Diaz-Infante was the first to request TEs lined up on the right, and WRs on the left.
- All Right – Rob Stone and Danny Kanell requested both TEs and WRs to the far right, moving the entire O-Line and backfield left.
- QBs Left – Rob also requested the QB moved to the far left, with as many lines as space allows for him, the top RB and the top WR. Also, he requested that a third-string QB always be included, or at least an empty box for one.
- Specialists – Always crammed in the lower corner, or along the bottom.
- Coaches – Wherever there’s space, as consistently as possible. In addition to HC & Coordinators, Danny Kanell likes position coaches included.
- Order – QBs, O-line and defenders have starters closest to the line of scrimmage, but most announcers prefer all other position players in numerical order for quicker reference, so we stick with that.
- Traditional – Defense on top, offense on bottom, but soon we will be able to switch that, as Ray Bentley requested.
- CBs Up Front – David Pollack requested CBs be stacked immediately atop WRs.
- Small – For maximum readability, most charts take up 100% of the available space, minus a ¼-inch border on each side.
- Large – In late 2008, Pam Ward wanted bigger margins for more writing space. No problem. We simply reduced the chart to 85% of its original size. Eventually, she settled on 90%. Rob likes his shot at 95%. Christian likes wide margins on the left and right only.
6. Alpha or Phonetic
- Either/or, it doesn’t matter. David Diaz-Infante was the first to request alpha spelling with phonetic, too.
7. Delivery – HOW
- Directly to your phone, and/or…
- Directly to a print/copy center on your behalf, on an agreed upon schedule, alerting you when it’s ready for pick-up.
- Sunday PM –Tuesday AM: NCAA releases updated statistical rankings around noon on Sunday. By using the previous week’s depth chart, we get a jump on the next game. We scan post-game notes and watch news reports for injuries, suspensions, etc., but receiving the chart early bears the risk that a change in the school’s two-deep may occur. Prior to any team’s first game of the season, no chart will be delivered until release of two-deeps in weekly game notes. Beginning in 2012, we must charge ESPN a minimal premium ($25) to rush delivery prior to 6pm Tuesdays.
- Tuesday PM – Friday AM: Tuesday PM is when most SIDs issue updated two-deeps in weekly game notes.
- Obviously, mid-week games take priority over a Saturday game. But for delivery prior to Sunday PM, NCAA rankings cannot be included.
- Home or Work – Pam Ward is the only announcer who purchased her own, large-format printer, but that’s b/c I’ve been preparing charts for her since 2005. The cheapest 11×17 printer I’ve found on the market is the Epson WorkForce 1100 for $90, but it’s inkjet, not laser, and I don’t know if it accepts cardstock. David Norrie has access to a large-format printer at his day job.
- Hometown Copy Center – Brent Musburger, Todd Blackledge and others have regular shops where I send files directly on regular days most weeks, alerting each when the copy is ready for pickup. Danny takes the file into his shop on his own schedule, simply using his phone or a flash drive.
- On The Road – When you let me know where you will be staying, I simply research FedEx Office and UPS Store locations and alert you when pick-up is ready. Precise directions are always provided, and you often get a name of the person with whom I confirmed your chart is ready. On the rare occasion I cannot provide this service (e.g., Todd and I got our signals crossed once), a digital copy is always sent to your phone, too.
8. Spotter Copy
- A separate copy can be produced solely for your spotter. On it, Team Stats are replaced with an alphabetic Quick Reference list of plays (e.g, Blocked Kick, Good Block, Missed Tackle). Presently, only Rob and Pam get request separate copies for their spotters; other PxP must have spotters look over their shoulders.
- Base – The rate agreed established by ESPN’S Ed Placey since 2009 is (my advisors said keep this private), which ESPN pays; Bethany Bideaux pays the same at FOX. We negotiate rates for announcers who have to pay out of pocket. We hope to establish rates for schools to pay for their announcers in 2013.
- Variations – The same game/same announce team that requires alterations (e.g., PxP, Color, Spotter) is only (a little) more.
- Duplicates – The same game/same announce that requires no changes is (a little) more.
- Cancellations – When assignments change late, ESPN has always been good about compensating me for work already performed. For example, recently I had prepared a little more than ¼ of the a chart when the announcer’s game was changed, so my charge to ESPN was only (a fraction of the standard rate). Another time, I had completed a chart on Sunday, then learned on Monday that the announcer’s game was changed, so ESPN paid the full fee, and I passed the chart along to the announcer who as re-assigned to cover the initial game; whether the announcer used it or not, I do not know, but he was appreciative.
- There is no contract, and no obligation to continue beyond the week you’ve requested. I only ask that if there’s a problem, you give me the opportunity to resolve it.
- Over the years, here are examples of the problems we have encountered, and how I have attempted to resolve them.
- In 2007, Eric Collins used a few of my charts early on, then decided not to; I never learned why.
- In 2008, I prepared several charts for Ray Bentley as Pam Ward’s analyst while I was traveling with Pam as her statistician. Ray preferred the offense on the top and the defense on the bottom. I was unable to resolve this issue b/c it was just too time-consuming, so Ray went back to doing it himself, which helped him prepare anyway. Today, I think we can handle that request, and I will be contacting Ray again soon.
- For a 2010 season opener, LSU vs. UNC, I rushed out a chart too early. When UNC began suspending players due to an NCAA investigation, I rushed out an update, but suspensions were still occurring. The result was, I overlooked a D-Line position, and it was omitted completely, causing much consternation and embarrassment for both the announcer (David Norrie) and me. As a result, I don’t rush charts out before initial two-deeps are created, and I don’t try to make changes to charts already prepared.
- In 2011, we tried automation and found it difficult to keep up with demand. All requests were fulfilled, but a few were delivered as late as Thursday or Friday, so we returned to manual production. By week 10, we tried automation again, and made too many errors. Again, we reverted to manual production as needed, slowly returning to automation as our ability improved. We pitched Brian Griese, and I think he tried one chart, but I never heard back from him, so I guess he didn’t like it.
- The only rejections I hear are from folk who prefer using their own system, mainly b/c writing it out helps them commit it to memory, which I understanding completely.
- Otherwise, we have never missed a deadline, and we have not lost any client other than Collins & Bentley. As shown by the options above, whenever somebody suggests a change, we listen and adapt.