Edmond Memorial High School graduate Brad Buchanan has experienced the popularity of college football in helping produce ESPN’s “College Football Live” for seven years. Now Buchanan is getting another taste of it as a studio producer for the new SEC Network, which launches Aug. 14.
Buchanan will help produce the “SEC Now” daily news show and “SEC Scoreboard” show on Saturdays, working with another Oklahoman, network host Dari Nowkhah, an OU grad from Tulsa Union High School. The network, based in Charlotte, N.C., will be carried by Cox Communications.
“It’s kind of interesting that we have two Oklahoma guys working on the SEC shows out of Charlotte,” Buchanan said recently in a phone interview.
Buchanan competed on the Edmond Memorial basketball, cross country and track teams. He gave up basketball as a senior to concentrate on the debate team.
“I was a much more successful debater than basketball player,” he said. “I was able to get to state in debate.”
After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis as an English major in December 2000, Buchanan was fortunate to get hired by ESPN right out of college. ESPN quickly got him up to speed on the television business.
“The on-the-job experience is invaluable,” he said. “People that come in from college who have a lot of TV experience can’t believed how fast-paced ESPN is, just the amount of content that is always produced. It’s kind of its own little world at ESPN — a lot of buildings, a lot of different shows, multiple networks. It was fun learning everything from scratch.”
Buchanan worked his way up through the ranks, helping to launch “College Football Live” in August 2007. Back then, ESPN was unsure if a daily college football show would survive, and it wasn’t always easy to book guests.
“By the time I left, it seemed like if we made a call, we had a pretty good success rate of getting people to come to the show, get interviewed,” he said. “It was one of the shows I was most proud of that I was able to do.”
Buchanan also was the integrating producer for the popular “College GameDay” show, making sure from the studios in Bristol, Conn., that the content reached remote sites. As an associate producer with the show in 2007, he said he enjoyed traveling to several game sites, including Tuscaloosa, Ala, and Eugene, Ore.
When the idea of a SEC Network was being formulated, Buchanan said he hounded his bosses for an opportunity to join the new network. He said he is excited about the new production team, which is busy formulating plans for the launch about two weeks away. “We have a countdown clock in our building, so people are getting excited for when we launch.”
After growing up in the college football hotbed of Oklahoma, he is confident the SEC Network also will be a hit, highlighted by the competitiveness of the NCAA’s top football conference.
“Growing up in Oklahoma, the fans are very, very passionate. Sooner fans or Cowboy fans are diehards. SEC fans are a whole conference of that, even if the teams aren’t necessarily having a successful season.”
Buchanan also is proud that he has a tie to former OU quarterback Jack Mildren, who played in the 1971 “Game of the Century” against Nebraska. Last September, he married Mildren’s daughter, Lauren, whom he met while they attended Washington University.
“Fourteen years later, we kind of rekindled the friendship and now I am married to another Oklahoman.”