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|| News Item: Posted 2007-01-30

Covering the BCS Championship Game - From the Ohio State Perspective
By Matthew Hashiguchi, Ohio State University

Photo by Matthew Hashiguchi

Photo by Matthew Hashiguchi

The media hotel. Sundown at the Camelback Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.
It was Friday morning, 9AM. Four hours earlier we were boarding a rickety Southwest Airliner that stunk of whiskey and occasionally echoed the letters spelling out Ohio. Four hours before that we were finishing the layout for the next days Lantern. We were now in Phoenix, Arizona and late for media day.

This was a big trip for us four college journalists. Two photographers, two writers, four days, a national championship and a budget from Ohio State that could have afforded three months rent in Glendale, AZ.

We all had high hopes of the Buckeye's in Arizona. I think everyone did. The football team had an incredible year. There was constant action by Antonio Pittman, Ted Ginn and Troy Smith. Those three players alone probably made the job of every photographer on the field easier. They gave us so much to work with, so many chances for a great shot. As a photographer for the Ohio State student newspaper, I was expecting to see something good in Glendale.

We stayed at the Camelback Resort in Scottsdale. It's an incredible place, resembling a village more than a resort. On more than one occasion, I found myself portraying the role of the local idiot, lost and walking in circles while trying to find my room.

The resort is lodged between mountains and hills resembling the head and hump of a camel. One night we even saw a helicopter hovering above the mountains. Its searchlight was beaming down into the trees, searching for lost hikers. I was told by a local man in a cowboy outfit that it's not unusual to see these helicopters searching for lost people.

I was amazed at the service we received at the Camelback Resort. I'm used to living in Columbus, Ohio where I sleep on a futon and eat sausage soup everyday. I wake up in the mornings to the sight of my own warm breath mixing with the cold air. My water stays heated for only twenty minutes. My bathroom sink doesn't drain. And I don't have room service.

Photo by Matthew Hashiguchi

Photo by Matthew Hashiguchi

Troy Smith attempts to avoid a sack by Jarred Fayson of the Florida Gators in the BCS National Championship.
Camelback was self-cleansing, supplied free Internet, breakfast, transportation, warm water, heat and a real bed. The bed was so comfortable I fell asleep multiple nights lying above the covers wearing nothing but a robe.

The days leading up to the game were grueling, but fun. We were working on little sleep, Domino's Pizza and Tostitos Chips. We went out everyday to find pictures and people to help tell our story. Everything in Arizona was so spread out we had to take a 30 minute drive in a taxi or media shuttle just to get to an event.

I enjoyed the festivities leading up to the game the most. Going out into the community allowed me to meet many local people and eat the local food. It was from these community events that I took my best photographs. They reveal what was going on. This trip wasn't just about a football game. It was a weekend long celebration filled with pep rallies, block parties, music and late nights.

Nighttime was downtime for most of the media. There was a hospitality suite that had all the Budweiser, liquor and chips one could want. It was usually packed with sports writers and photographers from around the United States. It seemed to be more of a reunion; everyone knew everyone and the conversations never ended. Two Sporting News photographers told me that the sports media is more of a family. I definitely saw it. Everyone is there is help each other. There may be some healthy competition but there is no bad blood or evil intention. I see it as more of a traveling circus. The close bonds and friendships are there, but they know how to have fun and not take themselves too seriously. It's a great environment to be in and I hope to be part of it someday.

Then came game day. It was bittersweet. I wanted the weekend to last forever. Flying back to freezing Columbus on a cramped airplane was the last thing I wanted to do. But I was lucky just to be here. Ohio State was fortunate enough to have an amazing football team and I was fortunate enough to be working for Ohio State's newspaper, The Lantern. We were four rookie journalists who were able to work alongside professional photographers and writers. We were able to see how these events are carried out and how the top dogs get the job done. I learned a lot.

Photo by Matthew Hashiguchi

Photo by Matthew Hashiguchi

National Championship MVP Chris Leak celebrates after the Florida Gators defeated the Ohio State Buckeyes in the BCS National Championship in Glendale, AZ.
The game was a total disappointment, both as an Ohio State fan and a photographer. My most powerful lens is a 70-200mm. We aren't given a whole lot to work with at The Lantern. I was in the corner of the Florida Gator end zone and had a range of about thirty yards. The only action I saw was Troy Smith fumbling the ball and getting sacked.

There was one shot that I was determined to get. I wanted a victory shot of the coach (preferably Jim Tressel) or a player (preferably Troy Smith) holding the championship trophy. For about a month before the game I was figuring out my strategy for getting the picture. When the final seconds counted down I was torn between being a bummed out Ohio State fan and a photographer. I felt too disappointed to work. Instinctively, I kicked my own ass and ran onto the field as an impartial photographer. I tried to get a mix of both Ohio State players and Florida players. It was a rush being on the field and I got the victory shot I had wanted, only it was the wrong team.

Even though Ohio State lost, it was a great weekend. I captured many great moments with my camera, on and off the field. I met a man who went by the name "Wolfman" and demanded that I chest bump him. I met many photographers and many kind local people. I threw hatchets at bails of hay, met a cowboy and met a woman who continuously yelled "Yee-Haw!" after handing out shots of tequila.

All four of us Lantern employees worked very hard. At times when we didn't know what to do, we followed the example of the pros. It was an incredible learning experience and I think we told a great story of Glendale. All the other media people treated us as equals. Sometimes as a student, you can't help but think of yourself as being inferior to the professionals. Regardless of rank, I believe I worked just as hard as any other photographer. My goal was to tell a story of the whole weekend, not just of the game. And I believe I did so.

(Matthew Hashiguchi is a student at Ohio State University and is the assistant photo editor of The Lantern. You can see a sampling of his photography at his member page:

Related Links:
Matthew's member page

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