BYU Wins Holy War

BYU Wins Holy War
George, like Collie and Harline before him, is now still open!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mark's Thoughts: James Bates the Best of the Mtn.

The Mtn has a problem now that the deal with Direct TV is in place. What is this problem? People will actually SEE the network. How is that a problem? Have you seen the Mtn? The production value and current use of talent is horrific. The additional viewership will increase the outrage the viewers have felt but has yet to voice due to the networks obscurity. With the new deal in place and the television audience increased, what is the Mtn to do? Relaunch. They should view the start up date with Direct TV as a new beginning. They should distance themselves from the negative perceptions the Mountain West fanbase has of the network. They should put a new face on the network. Who is that? James Bates.

James Bates is the best thing to date that has come out of the Mtn television deal for the Mountain West. Here is the back ground information of the network savior.

James Bates - Football, Men's Basketball, Baseball Play-by-Play; Studio Host James was an All-Southeastern Conference linebacker at the University of Florida and captain of the Gators’ 1996 national championship football team.He has a wide range of sports broadcasting experience on OLN, SPIKE, SUN SPORTS, ESPN, TNN, Speed, and CSTV, hosting and providing play-by-play and color commentary. In addition, James produced and hosted The James Bates Show, which CSTV aired nationally over the past two years. (Source: )

James Bates is the only stand out talent on the Mtn. It is like watching a young Chris Berman, Dan Patrick, Linda Cohn or Kenny Mayne. You can see the talent he has whether he is doing a pregame prep rally or commentating the biggest football game of the year.

In interviews he has conducted with Mountain West Conference personas, he has carried the interviews by making them not only watchable, but interesting as well. His interview with Ardie McInelly, head coach of Air Force women's basketball, is a great example. He made the interview interesting and informative. He took an interesting person and told her story. Making the interviewee the focus of the program is what made it great. He has that Dan Patrick quality around him of putting his stamp on the interview without becoming bigger than the interview. I haven't seen another member of the Mtn crew with this ability.

He is a superb play-by-play broadcaster. His work in the most recent BYU - Utah basketball game showcased his talents. He single handily saved the broadcast. He took terrible comments from his color analyst and made them relevant. He did an in-game interview with Shawn Bradley interesting while not taking away from the flow of the game. The awkwardness of in-game interviews is a problem that affects not only every other Mtn. broadcast team, but major network broadcasts (ESPN) as well. He knows the exact level of enthusiasm to use during key plays. He also focused on the game at hand instead of drifting around and talking about every subject under the sun. (That is something that Craig Bolerjack should take notes on.)

The other characteristic that he demonstrated in the BYU - Utah broadcast was his ability to interact with fans. He doesn't come off appearing full of himself, which is a commonality among any network talent, and generally looks to enjoy his work. He will go into student sections to do segments. He gives off a vibe of not wanting to be put on a platform, but wants to appear to be one of the fans. This Lee Corso/Dick Vitale attribute also makes him unique compared to his Mtn co-workers.

James Bates is able to do big games. His calls of the BYU-Utah football games, the biggest Mountain West Conference sporting contest of the year, haven't been good. THEY HAVE BEEN AMAZING! Just listen to the calls he makes during the end of the 2006 game or the 2007 game...

BYU vs. Utah 2006

BYU vs. Utah 2007

He brings great knowledge and intensity to the rivalry. He brings the right amount of respect. He is also able to express, in words, the amazing and to do so on the fly.

During those game he takes Todd Christensen and Blaine Fowler, two men that have talent but are not stars, and elevates their performances. In sports, in business, or in television the ability to make those around you better, in big situations, is a talent prized more than any other. You can't teach that type of leadership, and James Bates has it.

The Mtn has an opportunity. With the new deal in place and national exposure coming in the fall they can put a new face to their faltering network. The face of the network should be James Bates. He should be the star, the focus, and the jack of all trades. He should be on every show he can possibly be on. He should do every big game. When fans think about the network, James Bates should be the first thing to come to their minds. If the heads of the network don't follow this course, BYU, the flagship school of the conference, should demand that he be their exclusive television voice.

James Bates has the talent. The network has the opportunity. The time is now to make the changes they need. I hope that the Mtn. has a long term contract with James Bates, because frankly right now he is better than the network he is on.


Anonymous said...

What a great article on a great guy! I don't know as much about sportscasting as I do about people, but I can tell you that James is about as great of a person as you will ever meet. Thanks for recognizing his talent and covering his work in such a complimentary way.

Anonymous said...

We, too, are amazed at his youthful, upbeat, interesting way of broadcasting that keeps viewers listening. Check out ESPN--he's better than most of those guys. Our best to James Bates as he continues his promising career.