Recently, FTRS reached out to Sean Bedford about doing a season preview Q&A, a request which he graciously accepted. You'll remember that Bedford was originally a walk-on who became a two-time All-ACC center (2009 & 2010) and recently was named the replacement for Roddy Jones in the radio booth alongside Brandon Gaudin. Check it out!
For those unaware, what have you been up to since graduating from Georgia Tech?
I've been keeping busy. I figured out that I was interested in patent law and applied to a number of law schools while I was at Tech. But after the ill-fated Independence Bowl, I found myself with a lot of time to kill before the start of law classes in August. Rather than try my luck with the NFL, I signed with the Osos Rivas, an American football team in Madrid, Spain, where I played and coached for a season. After our season wrapped up, I spent some time meandering about Europe and then returned home to attend law school at the University of Florida. I started co-hosting the Yellow Jacket Countdown pregame show with Randy Waters during my last year of law school in 2013, and I've continued working with the Georgia Tech IMG Radio Network team since that time. I graduated with my J.D. last May, spent the summer in Guatemala studying for the Bar, took the Bar and moved to Atlanta at the end of last summer, and my wife and I just got married this past July. I'm currently working as an intellectual property attorney in Atlanta.
When did you first think you'd be interested in doing sports broadcasting, and how did you get into broadcasting at Georgia Tech?
I wasn't one of those guys who planned all along to transition into sports media when my playing days were up—I just assumed I would spend my fall Saturdays tailgating and sitting in the stands. But, back in the summer of 2013, I got a call out of the blue from Dean Buchan (the Assistant AD for Media Relations at the time), asking me if I would be interested in co-hosting Yellow Jacket Countdown. It was simply too good of an opportunity to pass up.
I know you and Roddy Jones were teammates and continue to be good friends. Has he given you any advice, tips or tricks for color commentary?
Roddy was my first call after I initially spoke with Brandon, and it's an honor to take the pitch from him, so to speak. He's provided valuable insight on how to prepare for the broadcast, how to analyze the game from a skill position perspective, and insider details specific to radio. We've spent a couple of afternoons breaking down the ACC and trading notes on reads, blocking schemes, and coverages. I would also be remiss if I failed to mention Wes Durham, who has been very generous with his time and advice. Wes is one of the best in the business, and it's been fun having a chance to learn from a legend.
How does broadcasting fit into your daily life, now that you're married and working full-time? Is it a major time commitment, or closer to a 'weekend hobby'?
I'd say it's somewhere in between. Law is a time-intensive profession, but I enjoy putting in the hours prepping for each week's game. It helps that Tech football is my main interest outside of family and work—I already spend a bunch of my week doing things that help prepare me for the broadcast, from reading FTRS to breaking down game film. I'm also extremely fortunate that my wife has been so encouraging and supportive.
As you look forward to this season, what are your expectations of the offense in Year 2 under Justin Thomas? Does the loss of so much experience around him worry you?
The offense is going to be a lot of fun to watch. Justin's best football is still ahead of him, and I think this is the year he begins to showcase full-fledged mastery of Coach Johnson's system. The offensive line might take a step back without Shaq Mason, who was probably the best lineman Coach Johnson has ever had, but the four returning starters have shown they can push defenders around. This year's collection of B-backs needs to demonstrate consistency, but Marcus Marshall and Marcus Allen should add a level of explosiveness that was missing for most of last year. It's going to be tough to replace two NFL caliber receivers, but there's a lot to be excited about in Michael Summers, Brad Stewart, and Ricky Jeune. Ultimately, the real test will be perimeter blocking against elite competition. If the A-backs and receivers can block effectively against the likes of Notre Dame, Clemson, and FSU, this unit is going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Is it reasonable to think that this year's defense could be the best it's ever been under Paul Johnson? What are your expectations for that unit?
I'd be surprised if this year's defense can make a big enough leap from last year to match the 2008 team, which was loaded with NFL talent, but this year's defense is the most talented in years. The secondary has a slew of playmakers in D.J. White, Jamal Golden, and Chris Milton and some quality depth behind them. P.J. Davis is a tackling machine at linebacker and I think Tyler Marcordes is primed to have a breakout season. We all expect the defensive line to be better, but we still need to see them shut down running lanes and generate pressure consistently without blitzing. The defense should be better as a whole, but its performance is going to hinge on whether the D-line can improve in those areas.
As you look at the 2015 schedule, which game sticks out to you as Georgia Tech's best chance at a big-time win? Which game worries you the most?
The Notre Dame game will be a great chance for Tech to score an early high profile win. It's well documented that the Irish have struggled against Navy, which certainly bodes well for the Jackets. It also helps that Notre Dame has to play Texas and Virginia to start the season, and they likely haven't had much extra time to prepare for Tech in the preseason. I also suspect that Coach Johnson will have a few things drawn up for his old friend Brian VanGorder.
Clemson is another prime candidate for a big win. A lot of people are picking them to win the conference, but even with Deshaun Watson, it's going to be really tough to replace that many defensive starters and offensive linemen.
On the other end of the spectrum, Pitt looks like a real trap game to me. That game is sandwiched between Clemson and FSU, and the triple threat of James Conner, Tyler Boyd, and Chad Voytik, coupled with an experienced offensive line and a Pat Narduzzi defense makes the Panthers a dangerous team. Last year's game would have been a much closer contest if not for the five first-quarter turnovers.
It's easy to get excited for the big games against top-10 teams, but championship teams have to show up every single week. It's trendy for commentators to bash the ACC—especially the Coastal—but the middle of the conference is deeper than it's been in a while. Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Pitt are all going to be tough outs this year.
Other than Bobby Dodd Stadium, what was your favorite stadium to play in? Where are you most excited to go this fall as a broadcaster?
I'd give Death Valley a slight edge over Lane Stadium, but it's really close. The gameday atmosphere at Clemson is one of the best in college football. It's festive, loud, full of tradition, and you're always in for a good, hard-fought game when you play there. For pure noise and intensity, though, a night game in Lane Stadium is about as good as it gets. I grew up going to games in the Swamp, and I can't recall a game as loud as the 2010 Virginia Tech game.
As someone who loves the history and tradition of college football, I'm really looking forward to the Notre Dame game. I didn't make the trip when we beat them up there in 2007, but I'd definitely be happy with a similar result this year.
What are you most excited about with regards to this fall?
I'm most excited to get to know this team. I loved watching last year's team develop, mature, and overcome adversity over the course of the season, from the close calls against Georgia Southern and Tulane to physically dominating top-10 teams at the end. Every team has its own personality, and I'm excited to see this team grow and hopefully reach its potential. This team has so many questions to answer: Can the D-Line live up to the hype? Is Broderick Snoddy fully recovered and ready to be an elite home run threat? Who will be the next great receiver on the Flats? And what will the next chapter in the legend of Justin Thomas look like? We get to start finding out the answers to those questions in just a few days and I can't wait.
Oh, and, of course, the chance to celebrate a long-overdue home win over that team from Athens.
Thanks so much to Sean for taking the time to put together these answers! We wish him luck in the booth this fall and hope to catch up with him again sometime down the line!