Todd's "Taste Of The Town" Is Gaining Some Regular Viewers

Monday, November 10, 2008

When Todd Blackledge first starting doing his "Taste of the Town" segment during games he called with Mike Patrick, I thought the gimmick had been done so many times on air that people would just tune the spots out. Well it looks as if it's had just the opposite effect, and people across the country have been asking me what game he's calling each week so they can tune in. The Boston Globe even got a hold of him for an interview before the BC-Notre Dame game on Saturday, and he seems just as surprised at the response....

He [Blackledge] said he is stunned at the level of interest the segment has generated.

"The restaurant thing was an idea I had last summer," he said. "We had a seminar up in Bristol [Conn., at ESPN's headquarters] and they brought everybody in from college football. They were challenging us to come up with new ideas and not be afraid to try something different. I came out of that meeting and I told my producer Bo Garrett that I'd been sitting on it for a few years and it was something I'd like to try.

"I love to eat and I love a lot of these small, college towns I go to. I didn't want to do chain restaurants but some place that is indigenous to the place that I'm at that represents that school and campus. I try to find something with a connection to the university, to the football team, to the reason I'm there in the first place, which is the game.

"We tried it last year. We were in Clemson, S.C., and we did it from a place called Mac's Drive-In and the thing just took off. It was popular. It got to the point to where about midway through last season, everywhere I went, anybody who recognized me, nobody asked me about football anymore. It was, 'Where are you eating this week?' Or, 'The place you ate last week, was it really as good as it looked?' It's really kind of taken on a life of its own."
I'm all for breaking into the game for a few segments, as long as they are relevant to either the Colleges or the teams on the field. Blackledge actually makes the segments pretty fun and has even got some funny one-liners out of Mike Patrick. Something I previously thought to be impossible. If people continue to respond like they have to them....keep them coming.

ESPN analyst has a lot on his plate (Boston Globe)


I am not afraid to admit this: I keep an eye on Blackledge's game for Taste of the Town. It's a fun segment and it captures the important part of college life, that place where everyone on campus knows to go (or go back to when they visit) and it takes like two minutes out of the game. It's better than yet another rehash of the hypothetical BCS scenarios for the fiftieth time that day.

Craig said...
Nov 10, 2008, 11:16:00 AM  

It is a fun little segment and anybody who has either been to college or at least spent one weekend in a college town loves to eat at those types of places. If anything I'd like to see the segment be a tad longer, but it's not possible because it would interfere with the game.

Ted said...
Nov 10, 2008, 11:40:00 AM  

I, too, enjoy those segments very much. They are very interesting. And I agree about Mike Patrick. If there's one thing that Mike Patrick is good for, it's a good laugh. Whether we're laughing with him at the Taste of the Town jokes or laughing at him when he inquires about Britney Spears, or makes some other random comment such as "It's butt-whoopin' and Georgia is supplying the butt", you always know you're going to get something out of him.

JFein said...
Nov 10, 2008, 11:44:00 AM  

I like the segment cause he tries some different stuff and the video crew takes you there. You aren't left watching someone eat food in a booth, I like seeing the local places. Plus it feels like he honestly enjoys doing the segment, not like when they send a reporter out to try Philly cheese steaks, Chicago deep dish or New York whatevers.

FightingPike said...
Nov 10, 2008, 12:27:00 PM  

I agree with the previous posts. Most of the places he goes to are real college towns (Clemson, Penn State, Va. Tech). But the best part is his corny one-liner after he takes a bite.

I wouldn't be surprised if one day ESPN develops this into a full show like "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives" on the Food Network. Or at least feature it on a weekly segment on Gameday where they can devote a few more minutes.

Paul said...
Nov 10, 2008, 12:41:00 PM  

Half the reason I watch the Saturday night game on ESPN is for Todd's Taste of the Town (because a few of the games on ESPN have been terrible). It is a fun segment, plus there's usually a good line or two that comes from Blackledge and Patrick after the segment.

The other half of a reason I watch some of these games is for the Randomness that is Mike Patrick.

matt said...
Nov 10, 2008, 1:36:00 PM  

Blackledge is a very underrated source of entertainment.

GMoney said...
Nov 10, 2008, 1:41:00 PM  

it would be better if they'd put it in a regular spot -- like the first timeout of the second half.
that way you'd know when to watch.
it won't be long until espn has him reviewing the restaurants at disney or its espn zone. corporate decision.

Anonymous said...
Nov 10, 2008, 1:45:00 PM  

Todd Blackledge is the man. I particularly liked his taste of the town during the Oklahoma/Washington game when he said he had "exquisite" food.

Brad James said...
Nov 10, 2008, 2:03:00 PM  

I like the segment as well, but Todd Blackledge would give a positive food review to a bowl of change.

Nov 10, 2008, 2:10:00 PM  

"Blackledge is a very underrated source of entertainment"

Correction: Mike Patrick is a very underrated source of entertainment

JFein said...
Nov 10, 2008, 2:55:00 PM  

ESPN takes a lot of hits on this site, and most of the time deservingly so. But college football is perhaps their best sport, and Todd's Taste is just another instance where they are creative in a good sense. I agree with the prior commenters...I love this segment, and let's give individual kudos to Blackledge as well for its solid execution. I'm not sure all analysts could do that.

Anonymous said...
Nov 10, 2008, 5:15:00 PM  

I know some who works with Todd every week and believe me when I say he has his hand in everything but the editing of the piece. He researches all the local joints that have been suggested to him and personally checks them out with his producer. It's pretty cool.
Put it this way, the crew eats lunch at the place he picks every week and they are the biggest critics.
As for Patrick, my friend says he is one of the coolest guys you will ever meet. The piece shows off their personality which is a good thing with these two. Exquisite!

Anonymous said...
Nov 10, 2008, 10:46:00 PM  

Blackledge is the easiest announcer to listen to in my opinion. His tastes of the town just add to that. I'm glad espn does and its something they have come up with that is acutally worth while. ESPN screws up a lot of stuff but this is good.

Anonymous said...
Nov 10, 2008, 11:02:00 PM  

That tidbit about Mike Patrick being one of the coolest guys going is right on. He is as nice as they come, and extremely willing to go the extra mile for someone like me, who's trying to come up in the field. Mike's personality has made me a fan for life. Even if he's got a couple weird thoughts (see Spears, Brittney).

Anonymous said...
Nov 11, 2008, 10:16:00 AM  

We enjoy your segment, and we are really honored you visited us at THE WAYSIDER in tuscaloosa, alabama, with the #1 college team in the nation. You are a wonderful person, and it meant alot for my husband to get to meet you. thank you Todd, we love you guys, Julie Watkins

julie watkins said...
Nov 14, 2008, 9:39:00 PM  

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