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Aug. 29, 2014

“`SEC Nation’ is taking the party to Williams-Brice Stadium,” said host Joe Tessitore as the SEC Network went on the air for its inaugural football broadcast on Thursday.

“SEC Nation” was introduced to Gamecock Country as the network’s pregame show debuted two hours prior to the game with Tessitore and analysts Tim Tebow, Paul Finebaum and Marcus Spears helping the network create its own brand of pregame hype and information. South Carolina coaches, administrators, student-athletes and fans were excited to play a part in history, and SEC Network officials came away with a good impression for the first football broadcast.

“We were very pleased with the first show,” said Bob Rauscher, vice president for productions. “There was a great crowd there at Gamecock Park, and the passion of the fans out there and inside the stadium was off the charts. The crowd was out there early and they brought the energy.”

Fans packed around the `SEC Nation’ set at Gamecock Park across the street from the stadium during the broadcast from to 4 until 5:30 p.m. Then the group hustled inside the stadium to another set on the field where they continued the show leading up to kick-off. Coordination between the network and the university made all of the logistics work out.
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“The passion of the fans out there and inside the stadium was off the charts.”
Bob Rauscher

“South Carolina was a good spot for us,” Rauscher said. “We worked with the university to carve a good location for us. We had the security and worked with law enforcement, so everyone was well prepared.”

Most of the broadcast crew had experienced Gamecock Country previously as a broadcaster, journalist, or as a student-athlete, and they all agreed that South Carolina fans, as well as the team on the field, make it a thrilling environment to get things started for the SEC Network.

“This is one of the great atmospheres in college football pregame,” Tessitore said. “From 5:55 to 6:05 (Thursday night) there’s no place you’d rather be on earth with this place rocking with `Sandstorm’ and (`2001) A Space Odyssey.'”

Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner from Florida, had the opportunity to play in Williams-Brice Stadium during his career, and he loved the atmosphere even then.

“This place does get rowdy,” Tebow said. “To me that’s one of the most exciting things about doing this. I get fired up and emotional and that’s what college football is all about.”

Broadcasters and production staff are excited about being at all of the SEC school’s throughout the year, to show fans around the country what Gamecock fans already know.

“There’s nothing like SEC football,” Tessitore said. “Game day in the SEC is an event with the tailgating, pageantry, the energy and the fans. We’re going to put a big mirror up to that, and reflect that to the rest of the country. We want you to have that bucket list experience. If you watch this show, you should feel like you went to an SEC game.”

Rauscher echoed those feelings, noting that they are trying to create a sense of envy to the fans who aren’t at an SEC football game.

“On a weekly basis, wherever we are, we want the people at home to say `that looks like fun, I wish I was there,'” said Rauscher. “We want to give the people at home a sense of what it feels like to be on campus on the day of a game for SEC football.”