In August of 2014, ESPN joined forces with the SEC to start the SEC Network, a brand new channel that has brought more than 1,000 live events to televisions, computers and smartphones all around the world.
The University of Mississippi’s production crew has been making huge strides since the network started when Ole Miss was the first school to have a live event shown on the channel with a soccer game against Tennessee in August of 2014.
David Dillard, who has been working with Ole Miss since 2001 through his company Total Production Services, has helped bring the production side to life for Ole Miss Athletics.
“We were the first live event, and we also had a linear game that was nationally televised where students worked instead of an ESPN crew,” Dillard said.
“Having ESPN involved with Ole Miss has also given students a chance to work events like SEC Nation and College Gameday whenever they come into town.”
Micah Ginn, director of creative services for Ole Miss Athletics, agrees that students have helped out with the production program.
“Guys who have been building a foundation of production have created a stability of what we do here, and the students help,” Ginn said. “Ole Miss Athletics is a testament to the work that we have already done. We have consecutive days where we are working and we never miss a beat.”
Along with the SEC Network, the Forward Together campaign has helped bring the production crew more opportunities to work during the school year.
“We have been in meetings making sure that the Pavilion at Ole Miss will be able to facilitate the way we do productions now and in the future,” said Ginn.
Athletic Director Ross Bjork also agreed that the Forward Together campaign is an integral part for Ole Miss to be prominently featured on the SEC Network.
“There is always a sense of urgency, regardless of the SEC Network, but the sooner we can get these projects completed, the more we can showcase on the network,” says Bjork.
Shane Sanford, manager of creative services for Ole Miss since 2007, believes that bringing students into work for the network has opened doors for students in production and in the workforce.
“We put feelers out for months last year to get students involved in what we do,” said Sanford. “I wish we could still get more kids involved. This is a huge jumping-off point where you get real world experience and will be well nursed and ready when you leave [Ole Miss].”
Dillard, who is an Ole Miss alumnus, loves that students have come in and helped out with the SEC Network and is excited for the opportunities to work with them.
“When I was in school, I would have loved a chance to work behind the scenes and help out with production,” Dillard said. “It would have given me more experience in the production field, but now, I am glad to be working with Ole Miss to bring students into the studio and get them ready for a real working environment.”
Ole Miss’s production crew is considered to be one of the top crews in the SEC, coming out with award-winning shows, such as “The Season” and “Studio 18.” The crew has also come out with multiple vignettes that help highlight all of the players in athletics.
“I could not be more pleased with our production team,” Bjork said. “Our original series, “The Season,” will continue to be our staple program, and we believe our operation of other live events as part of the SEC network will showcase our talents even more.”
The SEC Network has featured Ole Miss Athletics in multiple sports, including football, baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball and softball. Sanford believes the campus has been well represented when the network features Ole Miss.
“College Gameday was here last year,” Sanford said. “SEC Nation has been here three times. We have been featured on SEC Now numerous times, and we will be featured throughout the month of January whenever the Pavilion at Ole Miss opens up.
“Ever since this the network has launched, we have been featured in the New Years Six bowl games two years in a row, our basketball team has made the NCAA tournament, and our soccer and softball teams have had big winning seasons.”
Overall, the SEC Network is still striving to be the next step in college athletics and has helped Ole Miss reach a broader audience across the nation.
“The SEC network will have an unprecedented effect on our program in both branding, exposure and potential revenue,” said Bjork. “The partnership with ESPN has provided the look and feel of top-notch programming that we should expect as part of the SEC.”