If you’re a football fan, then you have probably checked out the new spring league broadcasts on FOX and NBC over the last couple of weeks, featuring the new revamped USFL season. If you haven’t yet, I recommend that you do. Football fans have been exposed to all sorts of new broadcast technology. The broadcasts have had multiple players and coaches hot-micced throughout games, being able to listen to play calls, and all-sideline access reminiscent of the XFL broadcasts in 2020.
The sideline reporter that has stood out between the networks? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard, who works the FOX broadcasts.
Huard is a former college football star quarterback who was a 3rd round pick in the 1999 NFL Draft out of Washington. Between 1996 and 1998, he tossed 5742 passing yards and 51 touchdowns while leading the Huskies to three Bowl game appearances. Huard appeared in eight NFL games, only attempting 107 passes in NFL games. However, his savvy for the game and his understanding of his role as a sideline reporter in the USFL has stood out despite outstanding broadcasts of the games from both networks.
Brock Huard is walking over five miles per game between the two sidelines
The first thing that you notice on the FOX broadcasts is the background where Brock Huard is constantly present. Whether he’s walking to the other sideline, standing by a player or a coach, Huard is constantly involved and in the background throughout the games. In fact, he replied to an inquiry on Twitter that on Saturday, April 23rd, he walked over ten miles while covering two games.
Between the broadcasts on FOX and NBC, the FOX presentations stand out as superior products. It’s not only the fact that Joel Klatt, arguably the best color-commentator in the college football market, is commenting throughout the game. The sideline work from Brock Huard is unique, crafted to his own professional style.
Huard’s passion for the game is clear every time he speaks on the broadcast. His interviews with players and coaches aren’t intrusive, nor does he ask irrelevant questions. Part of his style is using his experience to identify good times to approach players and coaches on the sideline without being intruding – and the results are incredible clips and soundbites.
The access that the USFL allows the broadcast teams is astounding
Has Huard’s job ever been easier than it is in the USFL? The level of access that the media has throughout the game is incredibly ground-breaking. But – this is where Huard’s expertise and understanding of the game comes into play. He is asking quarterbacks to break down big plays on the sideline shortly after the big play while they review the tape on their tablets.
This is the genius of his work – he’s not intruding on the players. He’s speaking as though he is one of the guys on the sideline, a part of the team – because he has been there before.
One of the big mistakes that television broadcasters make after their time in the show business is developing a “show voice.” It is an overly manufactured voice that is traditional to the industry – think of the halftime presenters that you grew up with who spoke in a “larger-than-life” style with an overly inflexed voice and almost yelling at you through the TV. It’s a very fake and inauthentic style – but it’s what show business has run on for decades.
I absolutely do not intend to disrespect anyone on the NBC broadcast, as they have produced a good television product as well with the league. That being said, their sideline reporter, Corey Robinson, is much more of a traditional sideline reporter. While he is also a former Notre Dame wide receiver, Robinson’s television style isn’t like Huard’s. The uniqueness of Huard’s style is his ability to present himself with a natural voice while not presenting anyone anything. It creates a personable impression, putting players and coaches at ease while also appearing genuine and authentic to viewers.
Oftentimes, we don’t appreciate talents like Brock Huard
Entertainment is a rough and cutthroat industry. Many professionals can tell you stories all about it. The industry makes it difficult to present a strong chemistry on the screen and create a personal and relatable product. When you find that chemistry, you have to keep it.
Brock Huard is an important part of the FOX Sports broadcast team, no matter what level of football he is covering. His very personal style is the key to his success. Professional, personal, and consistent. His work on the sidelines of the USFL are helping fans to understand the game better. His work is outstanding.
People like Huard don’t often enter the sports media industry. Keep them around when you find them. FOX has themselves a great one.