NetWorks Spotlight Interview with Charles Davis

NetWorks Spotlight Interview withCharles Davis, Sports Analyst, Fox Sports & NFL Network

By Tracey Savell Reavis

Charles Davis

The voice you hear when Charles Davis calls football games on TV sounds equally energetic when you speak with him one-on-one. The 13-year veteran announcer has covered college football, basketball and baseball, the NFL, NBA, PGA, Arena Football and has worked on both radio and TV. And he’s just been partnered with Gus Johnson, as the two become the lead team for Fox Sports College Football games this coming season.

Charles grew up in the small town of New Paltz, New York, but his roots are anchored in Tennessee. Partly because he was born there, and partly because it’s where both of his parents are from, he’d always wanted to return to college in the Volunteer State. Back when he was eight-years old he saw Condredge Holloway, the first African American quarterback to start at an SEC school, playing in a University of Tennessee game, and knew from that moment exactly where he wanted to play football. After four years as defensive back for the Vols, Charles left Knoxville armed with an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Masters in History.

Since football season hasn’t started yet, you can’t tune in to hear the sportscaster’s voice. But you can read the story of how he achieved success, in his own words. It will have to do for now, while we all wait for the first Saturday in September.

In your career, you’ve had a number of different sports-related jobs. How did you end up in broadcasting?
I found out a friend told a TV exec that he thought I’d be good on TV. I never knew he’d had this conversation. Then two years later the TV exec called me, asked me to try out and I got my first assignment as an analyst with Fox Sports South.

Do you remember the first game you covered, and what the experience like?
Yes, it was August 1997, Memphis State at Mississippi State. I may have been awful, but I remember I had a lot of fun and that I thought I wanted to do more of it. Now I’m working on the craft.

What was the transition like for you going from playing college sports to not being able to play as a professional athlete?
My goal was always to be in the NFL. Fortunately to prepare for life after football, I did have a Plan B. I started grad school in my red-shirt year. Then I thought about politics, I thought about law school. But I knew I wanted to stay in sports. Sports has always had its tug on me.

What would you say to people who think it’s a given that a former athlete would be able to get a job in sports broadcasting?
Yeah, I say it takes 20 years to become an overnight success. It’s like that with actors. Someone will have a breakout movie and people will think they are new and say, ‘Where did they come from?’ When they’ve been there all the time, putting in
10, 15 years, getting better. And it happens not just in movies, but in all walks of life. If it were a given, I would have started right after school. I fought my you-know-what off to prove that I am capable. I’d say very few people will outwork me. And I’ve never taken it for granted that I’ve arrived.

Can you give us an idea how much preparation and work you put into a game week? Or is it just a 3-hour game broadcast and you’re done?
Wouldn’t that be nice? I don’t typically count the number of hours I prepare, but it depends on the game. I know the teams, but there’s extensive research. The number one thing is to know the players’ names and numbers. And I look at game tape to watch for a teams’ strength, for nuances, and to learn things about players. We’re looking to tell interesting stories. We’re ‘Taking off the helmet’ figuratively of the players, to tell you something different.

What kind of career advice would you offer to anyone wanting to get into the sports industry?
I’d say be prepared. Everyone always wants the answer that eliminates the hard work. But it’s the work that keeps you there. And probably not to take no for an answer. If one company doesn’t want you, try others. Go through the stages – anger, grief – then move on. Opportunity could be at the supermarket, or on the seat next to you on a plane. It could be anywhere. If something is your passion, figure out how to make it happen. There are other ways to get through, get over and get by it. Be a fighter.

Let’s talk about your new assignment and partner at FOX Sports. Are you friends with Gus Johnson, and are you looking forward to working with him?
No, we’ve never met. But we’ve already spoken on the phone a little before the announcement and chatted after as well. It is exciting and I am looking forward to it.

Do you think this is historic or worth mentioning the pairing of two African-American broadcasters calling a Division I College Football game?
I think it would be disingenuous not to notice. But it’s not the principle focus. We’ve both worked hard to get to where we are, and we’ve gotten there because we’ve merited it. The bottom line is it’s the work.

Do you think there will ever be a College Football playoff system with a championship game?
I don’t know. I don’t think it would necessarily be good or bad. I think the bowl experience is great for many kids who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Each one that I went to was distinctive. I don’t think you can put bowl games into a playoff system. I’d say if we ever go with a championship game, to know what you’re giving up – it could change everything.

Get to Know Charles

Sport he’d love to broadcast but hasn’t yet: Hockey

Favorite sport after football: Basketball

On his nightstand: The latest Harlan Coben thriller

All-time favorite film: Say Anything

Most influential book: The Autobiography of Malcolm X

In his music library: Old school, sounds of Motown

Tune in to FOX and the NFL Network as Charles offers his expert analysis on college football and the NFL.

Follow Charles on Twitter @CFD22 and find out more about him at

Industry News – Pac-12 Media Deal

Impact of New Pac-12 Media Contract
Written by Angela Taylor

While we still don’t realize the long-term implications on the collegiate athletics landscape, a week ago today, Pac-10/Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott stood before an audience of media members, coaches, and athletic administrators gathered in a ballroom at the Arizona Biltmore and shared the nuances of a new 12-year/$3 Billion media deal between the Pac-12 and Fox & ESPN.

The press conference lasted for less than 22 minutes but has captivated the attention of sports executives around the world.  One senses that Larry Scott, through his innovative leadership, is setting the Pac-12 Conference up to challenge what many consider to be the elite conferences in college sports (the SEC and the Big XII).  Watch the press conference here.

Yesterday, the Pac-12 announced their inaugural early TV Schedule for games that will be televised on ABC/ESPN during the 2011 football season.  The schedule, which includes 20 games televised on either Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, pales in comparison to the extensive coverage Pac-12 football & men’s basketball will receive under the new deal.  Fans, however, will have to wait until 2012-13 to enjoy this widespread coverage.

Some highlights of the Pac-12 Media Contract

  • Twelve year, $3 Billion contract from 2012-13 to 2023-24
  • Pac-12 schools have agreed upon an equal revenue share model, so annual revenue will be distributed equally to all 12 schools on an annual basis
  • There is an annual escalator throughout the life of the contract, but schools will average $20+ million per school year over the 12-year period
  • Pac-12 also created Pac-12 Media Enterprises, which will own the Pac-12 Network, Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Enterprises
  • Forty-four regular season football games & 68 regular season men’s basketball games will be broadcast across ESPN or FOX national broadcast networks or national cable networks.  For more on the read the press release.

One of the more interesting aspects of the deal is that Scott was savvy enough to convince UCLA & USC to share the wealth equally.  USC, a program that many consider to have as strong a brand as the University of Texas while residing in the 2nd largest media market in the United States, probably had enough clout to hold out for a larger share.  Nonetheless, each of the teams in the newly formed Pac-12 conference, will benefit greatly from Scott’s aggressive & innovative negotiations over the long-term.

The Pac-12 owns a plethora of content (academic & athletic) to distribute across the different channels and intends to do so when its Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Digital Network come to fruition.  As the Big Ten can attest, getting to the point where the network is profitable may be quite a chore.  A task that can be made easier if Scott can find a way to negotiate a relationship with a cable provider to ensure that the new channel is available in households across the country.

So while the long-term verdict is still out, Scott & the Pac-12 get two thumbs up for the monumental shift of the college landscape that we all witnessed one week ago.