10 questions with Longhorn Network's Stephanie Druley
July 19, 2011
Catch us up a little bit. What has filled your time this spring and summer? The majority of the time has been spent hiring people. We had a number of jobs to fill, and the response was overwhelming. I was getting an average of five resumes a day in my email until about Easter. So it was about two months of just being bombarded by people who want to work for the network, which speaks to the popularity of Texas, Austin and the school itself. And once we got everybody in place, it's just been a whirlwind of getting everybody down here, ideas for shows, and what those shows are going to look like. Believe it or not, once we get on the air, it will be a little bit easier. We're looking forward to the 26th of August.
Since this is an unprecedented endeavor for both UT and ESPN, what are the challenges and opportunities in that you have no model? It is challenging, but at the same time it's really exciting because we can do whatever we want. We have a blank slate. Our shows can be however we want them structured. If we have an idea, we can try it. We've built a team that is very, very strong. We have a lot of experience and `ideas people.' We're excited about storytelling, telling stories of the athletes, students and coaches, and telling people stories they wouldn't know unless they watched us.
We've focused the last three months on producing shows that are evergreen to us. We did a roundtable with Mack Brown and his three most successful players -- Colt McCoy, Ricky Williams and Vince Young. Rece Davis hosted for us, and the shoot lasted about three hours. Out of it, we've got a 90-minute show and a half-hour show. As a Texas Football fan, you can't turn away from it. The guys were so open. It really gives you insight into their relationship and what their experience at Texas was like.
We've also got a show that's all about the traditions at Texas, a feature on Bevo and Smokey the Cannon and the (Texas) flag and where the Hook `Em sign originated. As somebody who went to school here, my barometer was, "I need to learn something."
Everybody remembers the 2005 football season. We've taken that entire season from ESPN's perspective - from the first game to postgame of the National Championship, every highlight, every postgame sound, access you haven't seen before. It really takes you through the season, and that three-hour show will air. To relive that season in three hours will be terrific.
What differences do you notice on campus now compared to when you studied at UT in the 1980s? I've been coming back occasionally, every few years, and to see so many kids on campus wearing burnt orange -- when I was in school you just didn't see that. Everybody had something, but you didn't wear it to class. Now, you walk through campus and there's so much pride. It's amazing the popularity of the school.
When I was in school, tailgating was not that big of a deal, and now it's incredible. It's what you think college football should be about. The students today are so fortunate to have that experience. It is a true college football experience, and we are thrilled to be able to document that.
How were you introduced to film, TV and production? I was a journalism student throughout. I knew I wanted to work in sports. There was never any doubt for me. I never looked at business or any other major. I did internships here the whole time I was in school. I enjoyed cutting highlights and going out and shooting things, baseball games. When I graduated, I looked for any opportunity I could get, and the opportunity came from ESPN as an entry level person.
What is it like to grow up, professionally, at a place like ESPN? It's a great experience, because you only know one way, and that's the way to achieve excellence. That's what the bar is. When I first started there, it was smaller, and, you could argue, not as well-known as it is now either. A lot of us grew up together there. If you have an idea, people value it and you get to try it. It really fosters your creativity, and that's the same sort of environment we're going to have here.
You've worked the past 14 Super Bowls for ESPN. Now covering young adult, amateur student-athletes, does your lens have to change at all? I don't think how you look at them will be different, because they are all competing at a very high level, as professional athletes do. So I don't think how we cover them will be different. I think it will be easier to cover them, and the one thing we're really looking forward to is the ability to tell the stories that don't get told. We're going to really delve into everything. I think every day is going to be a learning experience for everybody because there are things we haven't done before.
How do your choices for Longhorn Network's on-air team fit the vision for the network? Lowell Galindo, first and foremost, is known by the ESPN viewers as someone who is incredibly knowledgeable about collegiate sports. I was unaware that he's an enormous Texas fan. He grew up in San Antonio, and when he wanted to come work (for Longhorn Network) it was a win for us. He has such a good knowledge of Texas sports, not just the history but the current stuff. He follows it.
Samantha Steele, who will be our reporter primarily, comes across so credible on camera. She is knowledgeable, and she comes from an athletic family. Her father was a coach. You meet with her and you just get the feeling that she's going to be a star someday. So, let's make her a star here.
Kevin Dunn is from Austin and had a radio show here. What got him in the door was his tapes, the way he did highlights, and the way he carries himself on camera. He's got an encyclopedic knowledge of Texas Baseball. Loves it, lives it.
It's a good group, a group that's thrilled to be here and is going to work really hard.
Patience is a virtue. Does that hold true with this network? I keep telling everybody that I want to be in September of 2012, because we'll have learned so much. We'll have made mistakes and learned from them, and we'll have new ideas. We're very anxious to get on TV. I think the potential is limitless in terms of what we're going to be able to do. We've had enough packing, unpacking and planning. We're ready.
What makes The University of Texas important? The fans make it important. Athletically, it's achieved excellence. Academically, it's achieved excellence. At Texas, you have athletes who have achieved highly at every sport. Across the board, they're very high performers. I think that combined with the passion of Texas fans is important. I was trying to explain to a group about how Texas fans are crazy. My nephew is named after Earl Campbell. His name is Campbell, and he'll attend his first Texas Football game this fall. It's in your blood.
What is your favorite Texas tradition? I love Bevo. I think he's cool. There are so many others. We were just in the stadium, and every time I go in there I don't have any regret about taking this job, because you just feel it. You know how special it is.