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Pick Six: Talking Big Ten Football With Charissa Thompson

Tim Cary

It's time for another edition of Pick Six, where FBT interviews a nationally recognized Big Ten writer, broadcaster, or football expert to chat about a half-dozen topics.  Today's guest is Charissa Thompson of the Big Ten Network. 

Charissa checked in with FBT from the injured list, as she's currently recovering from a broken foot and ankle.  When healthy, her weekly college football duties include hosting Big Ten's Best, contributing to Friday Night Tailgate, and, of course, reporting from the sideline each Saturday for Big Ten football games.   
New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons

With the introductions out of the way, let's jump right into the questions.

1.  What are some of your favorite Big Ten football coaches or players to interview (maybe a top three) and why?  What makes a great interviewee?

Thompson: Joe Paterno.  How can you not love Joe?  Even if half the time, you know he doesn't want to answer any questions.  (Especially at halftime!)  Bret Bielema will always give you a good answer and is straightforward; he doesn't sugarcoat.  Daryll Clark: I like to say "he gets it".  Sometimes athletes don't; he does.
NCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Press ConferenceWisconsin Badgers v Tennessee VolunteersNCAA Football: Rose Bowl-Penn State vs. Southern California

2.  As of today, who do you think will win the Big Ten championship and why?

Thompson: I'm not saying.  I say that 'cause in the world of college football, who knows?  And also, I end up at all these schools!  I'm a reporter, not an analyst, so I don't have to make predictions.  I'll end up with hate mail if I do!

3.  Describe your weekend routine when you're covering a Big Ten game.  How much preparation time is involved, what your favorite part of the process is, and just take us behind the scenes of a Big Ten football telecast from the sideline reporter's point of view.

Thompson: My weekend when doing a college football game starts at the beginning of the week.  I get packets of information delivered to my home usually Monday: media clippings, media guides, etc.  I look through all of those, find the interesting stories, and do extended research on the interesting storylines.  Coach changes or quarterback changes, injuries, etc.

Then I usually have a conference call on Tuesday or Wednesday with the visiting team- a chance to ask coaches (offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, always the head coach) questions. 

I leave my home in Los Angeles on Thursday night to arrive in the town I'm doing the game in...usually pick up my rental car and drive to the hotel.  I wake up Friday morning and head over to the football facility to meet with the coaches of the home team.  From there, back to the hotel, do more research, and start to narrow down storylines for Saturday's game.

Friday night, I tape the Friday Night Tailgate show, head back to the hotel, and wake up early Saturday morning-have to meet the guys in the lobby around 8:00 for a 1 o'clock game.  Head over to the field, battle with the security for a few minutes, and tell them we're the "announcers" doing the game-sometimes they let us park by the trucks!!! Ha!!  Other times, we're walking 100 miles.  Ahhhh-glamorous!

Then I head to the press box, pick up any last minute notes, check in with my producer, and then head down to the field.  I see if I can talk to any guys for any last-minute updates on things...usually I interview the "home" coach for the pregame show and then soon enough the game is starting!!!  Good times...I love what I do and I hope I can do it for a long time.

4.  You host a show called Big Ten's Best.  What would you say is the Big Ten's best city to travel to, best fight song, best gameday environment, and best fan base?

Thompson: I hope no one gets offended, but my favorite school to visit and do a game at is Wisconsin.  The town, Camp Randall, the fans...all of it.  I love Badger football games.
CFB: Illinois vs Wisconsin OCT 25

5.  In your opinion, what current Big Ten player is most likely to be an NFL Hall of Famer when his career ends and why?

Thompson: Brandon Graham from Michigan will not only play on Sundays, but I think after talking to him and watching him play, he has all the tools.  Skill, media savvy, nice kid: a lot more than just X's and O's intelligence...which honestly is overlooked but sooooo important.
Western Michigan v Michigan

6. For the last question, it's the one everybody wants to know.  After your injury and surgery, when do you expect to be back on the sidelines reporting for BTN?

Thompson: Ahhh...when will I be back.  I wish it was yesterday.  I had surgery two weeks ago and the doctor is saying that I have to be on crutches until November 1st.  I haven't been able to put any weight on my left foot (foot and ankle I broke), but I'm obeying doctor's orders...icing and elevating...everyday...really over it actually.  This is the longest I've had to sit still and I have a whole new respect for the "injured".  I want to work again so bad.  I miss it everyday and in the world of "everything happens for a reason", I hope this unfortunate accident will be a harsh reminder of how lucky I am to do what I love, because once it's taken away you realize how lucky you are.

Many thanks to Charissa Thompson for taking the time to stop by FBT!  Don't forget, if you're on Twitter, you can follow Charissa at @CharissaT and keep up with FBT at @FirstandBigTen. Let us know who you'd like to see in the next edition of Pick Six!



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