Florida at LSU: A few minutes with CBS Sports reporter Tracy Wolfson

Tracy Wolfson is in her 10th season as sideline reporter for CBS Sports’ college football broadcasts. She spoke to The Advocate on Friday afternoon at the CBS production compound outside Tiger Stadium as she got ready for Saturday’s LSU-Florida game.

How much of your job is preparation and how much is reacting to what happens during the game?

The whole week is preparation, focusing on both teams, the keys going in, talking to coaches and players. But once they kick off, it’s injuries, listening in on the huddles, seeing what a referee does and the interviews at halftime and postgame. You can’t script that. It’s just reacting to what happens on the field and reporting that right away.

The coaches you’re interviewing can be experiencing a wide range of emotions. How does that influence your questions and the way you ask them?

I’ve been doing this for 10 years, and fortunately I cover one conference. I have relationships with these coaches, and they trust me enough to know I’m going to ask the tough question, the question that needs to be asked. But I’m not going to throw them under the bus, either. There is a balance there, but I’m never going to shy away from the controversy.

Describe the intensity of working in live television.

We cover the SEC, so you’ve got 100,000-plus fans screaming at the top of their lungs. It’s intense because the environment is loud, you’re trying to do your job at the same time and you have people talking in your ear while you’re broadcasting to millions of people across the country. But I’m just so comfortable now having done it for so many years. You’re just excited to be part of it.

You’re a Michigan grad like LSU coach Les Miles. Did that help you develop a rapport with him early on?

Oh, definitely. We formed a relationship right away because of that. I actually covered him when he was at Oklahoma State. It was his first bowl (the 2002 Houston Bowl against Southern Miss) and it was my first bowl when I was at ESPN for a year. We met up again at LSU and right away we formed a bond.

What do you like about games at LSU?

Sometimes the fans get a bad rap because they’re drinking all day long and they want those night games and they’re all rowdy. But they’re extremely nice to me. I love this scene; I love the tradition, the history. I love game day walking up to the stadium, Mike the Tiger. I love everything about being here at LSU. It’s one of the best venues we have.

What are your thoughts on the game?

I think we’re going to see another tight one. It’s interesting that we’re focusing on LSU’s offense against Florida’s defense. If this was last year or the year before, it would be a defensive battle. It’s one of the biggest tests Florida will have going against Zach Mettenberger and this offense. Their defense has done great so far, but this is going to be a different level. And you know, this is a John Chavis-led defense (at LSU). They’re going to come around. They’re just young.

You have three boys ages 7, 4 and 2. Do any of them think mom has a cool job?

Of course (laughing). My 7-year-old is starting to get it. I take him on the road at least once a season. I think my middle guy might be the next reporter, though. He comes home with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and he’s doing replays: “Watch the replay, mom.”

Scott Rabalais