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“Each morning, the CBS College Basketball Road Trip team will stop spooning each other in their Motel Six beds at the crack of noon, grab a couple of NCAA-approved bagels and hit the road in pursuit of their next college basketball destination.”
So began the blog of another day of the dream road trip for Thomas “T.J.” Beisner.
From the obscure, like the campus of Northern Iowa to the college basketball meccas of Lexington, Lawrence, KS., Durham, NC. and Chapel Hill, NC., Beisner and partners visited college arenas all over the midwest and southeast.
Beisner, a 2001 graduate of South Oldham High School, has spent the latter half of the NCAA college basketball season and the tournament as a blogger on the “One Blogging Moment” section of CBSSports.com.
“It’s been one of the great experiences of my life,” Beisner said. “Every college town has something unique about it and you see first hand how fans just love their teams at every level.”
Beisner, who lives in Tampa, Fla., graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with a journalism degree. He now works in marketing for an electronics distributor in Tampa, but since his graduation has been a regular blogger on the KentuckySportsRadio.com, a site started by close college friend Matt Jones.
As the site has steadily grown in popularity, CBS approached Jones, Beisner and fellow blogger Drew Franklin with an offer to travel around the midwest covering the end of the regular season and conference tournaments. Several snowstorms forced the bloggers to move further south, but never stopped the trip.
“They (CBS) gave us a car and per diem, but the snow really messed things up at times,” Beisner said. “For awhile there, we would get up in the morning and they would just tell us to head South.”
The original 11-day road trip was so successful, CBS asked the bloggers to continue writing from their homes through the conclusion of the NCAA tourney.
On the trip, the bloggers visited upstart Northern Iowa who pulled off the big upset of the NCAA tourney over Kansas, Allen Fieldhouse on the Univeristy of Kansas campus, Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke University, the Dean Dome at the University of North Carolina. Stops also included the UK campus, a Morehead/Murray State game and an ACC match between Virginia Tech and Maryland.
At every place, the sights and sounds of college basketball brought something different. it was that uniqueness of each place that CBS asked the bloggers to capture.
“They wanted us to do more human interest profiles, more of an entertainment type thing,” Beisner said. “We got to see all the hole-in-the-wall restaurants and bars that make the campuses what they are.”
Along the way they saw some great games.
“One of the best experiences we had was the Morehead/Murray game,” Beisner said. “Those fans were just as passionate and just as loud and into the game as any place we visited. It was just a great atmosphere.”
At Cameron, Beisner said the crew was amazed at how small it was and at a North Carolina game, they were amazed at how empty the 20,000 plus arena was as the Tarheels suffered through a rare poor season.
“It made you realize one thing about basketball around here, even if the teams are down, the crowds aren’t,” Beisner said.
At the Virginia Tech/Maryland game on the Tech campus, Beisner and his partners endured a six-hour delay after a beer truck struck a fire hydrant and flooded portions of the arena. In the interim they bloggers found a basketball and played HORSE with the Tech cheerleaders in the school’s practice facility.
Beisner said he and the other bloggers would love to do the trip again next season. The original was a “tough sell” to his wife Moniq
ue who stayed at home with their two children, but she ended up as a big supporter.
“Originally we were just supposed to do the trip,” Beisner said. “For some reason they like what we are doing which is kind of amazing to us. We keep waiting for them to say they have had enough of us. If they offer a trip next year I am sure we will do it, we already have some ideas how to improve it.”
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