Bolerjack's job not as easy as it looks

New Jazz play-by-play man often on road and takes preparation seriously

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 2 2005 12:00 a.m. MST

Craig Bolerjack, the guy with The Dimple and the golden baritone who gets paid to talk about ballgames on TV for a living, has heard it before.

You call this a job!?

From August to April, he flies from his home in Sandy to cities around America to call the play by play for professional and college football and basketball games for CBS Sports.

But he does have summers off.

Where do I sign up, you're asking?

"Yeah, I hear that all the time," says Bolerjack, sitting in the basement of his home.

Name an NFL or major college football or basketball team, and he's probably sat in their press box — Notre Dame, Miami, Syracuse, Florida, Stanford, Tennessee, LSU, Alabama, North Carolina, UCLA, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan — plus most NFL teams. Sometimes he'll even double dip — a college game one weekend, an NFL game the next. Poor guy.

Bolerjack, 47, did all this while co-hosting a daily local radio sports gab show until a new assignment forced him to resign. This winter, in addition to his CBS commitments, he will take over the TV play-by-play duties for the Utah Jazz, replacing the legendary Hot Rod Hundley, the only play-by-play man the franchise has ever had.

"CBS and the Jazz are working to make it work," says Bolerjack. "I will miss some Jazz games."

Bottom line: Bolerjack has a front-row seat to many of sports' biggest games. This is a job you could get used to. He was watching one of his son's ballgames recently when here it came: "Gosh, I wish I had your job," said a stranger.

Not that he's asking for sympathy, but it's not as easy as it looks. Just try talking to millions of people for 3 1/2 hours without a script. "People think all I do is show up and talk about the game," says Bolerjack.

His game preparation begins on Tuesday. He watches the teams' previous games on videotape, taking notes on the line play, quarterback mobility, weaknesses, strengths, etc. Because jersey numbers aren't always immediately seeable from the booth, he looks for visual cues to help him identify players quickly — posture, running style, sweatbands on the arm, whatever.

Throughout the week, packages of notes are delivered to his home from CBS and the universities about the upcoming game. He surfs the Web for "any nugget about a player."

He also begins building the game-day chart he will use — a large crib sheet on poster board that provides quick information on each player and team. He writes it out by hand, noting jersey number, size, weight, hometown and bullet points. During the week he continues to add notes to the chart.

That same day he participates in a conference call with producers, directors, the color analyst, coaches and his assistant to review depth charts, strategies and any issues that might be topical that week. Then they spend another 30 minutes on the phone with players.

On Wednesday, three days before the game, he flies to the site of the game. He spends much of Thursday visiting with coaches, watching videotape of previous games in their office. That night he attends a production meeting over dinner to discuss what they want to do for this game — what stories and issues they want to discuss, what points they want to make, the flavor and tone of the game they want to establish, what players will be highlighted. This enables the production staff to coordinate graphics and video clips.

Bolerjack hates nights spent in hotel rooms. "Too lonely," he says. "It's a void." So this is when he does much of his work, staying up into the wee hours, but always with the TV on to keep him company. He continues to work in his room the next morning, and then attends more meetings. On Friday night he attends a production meeting.

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