Eric Loh’s love of sports has taken him from the pitching mound at Greenwich High School to behind the scenes at ESPN. While the venues have changed for Loh since his time with the Cardinals, a lot of the things he’s picked up along the way have stayed the same.
After graduating from Bryant College and coming back to Greenwich to help the Greenwich High School baseball team as a pitching coach, Loh started working at ESPN in March 2011 and has been college football programming coordinator ever since.
“I love it here because I am still close to home and there’s a constant buzz here,” Loh said. “The people that work here are so passionate on what they do and it’s hard to really get down here. Everybody is willing to help. The positive attitude here is second to none. It’s exciting to be here and it’s still fun to see athletes here.”
Loh is part of a four-person team that is in charge of the programming at ESPN. Vice President of Programming Ilan Ben-Hanan, Director of Programming Kurt Dargis and Associate Manager of Programming are the other three members of the team.
Loh keeps an eye on the weekly rating updates that tracks the performance of all the college football games. He’s in constant communication between all the football conferences and also works on talent relations, crew information, play-by-play, analyst information, and with ESPN Radio.
Although Loh is hard at work throughout the year and especially during the college football season, there still are plenty of perks. Loh was at Yankee Stadium, working the Pinstripe Bowl that featured Syracuse and the University of West Virginia. While it was snowing in the Bronx for that game, don’t feel too sorry for Loh.
While most of the country was gearing up to watch the BCS championship game on television, Loh traveled to Miami the first week in January to work the title game that pitted No. 1 Notre Dame against No. 2-ranked Alabama.
“Miami was electric,” Loh said. “Everything leading up to kickoff was an experience. The massive amount of Notre Dame fans that made the trip and the energy of all the Alabama fans was unbelievable. The game turned out to be dominated by Alabama, but the experience leading up to kickoff was something that I will never forget.”
Despite the game’s stellar atmosphere and excitement surrounding the event, there was still work to be done.
“It’s fun, but it’s not all fun and games,” Loh said. “There’s still business to get done and a lot of people to meet and greet. People that you exchange emails with throughout the year, you finally get to see them in person because they are spread out throughout the country. It’s exciting to go to these games, but there still is stress involved and there are things like handling credentials for executives and getting clients tickets. There is running around, and Miami certainly isn’t the easiest city to get around in, especially when there’s a big event.”
The BCS championship game ended a stretch for Loh that was quite busy. After the college football regular season concluded, Loh was preparing for the Heisman Trophy ceremony. From there, he got a chance to breathe for a few weeks until the college football bowl season got under way.
ESPN had 34 bowl games on its network, 33 on the ESPN family of networks, and the Cotton Bowl was broadcast on ESPN Radio. Loh needs to keep track of everything.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year with all the bowl games taking place,” Loh said. “It’s great to have a TV in your cubicle when all the bowl games are going on.”
During bowl season, with all the games going on every day, it might be assumed that things get stressful for Loh. However, Loh said, it’s the regular season that he works his hardest on.
“In the regular season, the college football schedule is fluid and we can follow story lines. No one had Notre Dame in the top 25 and they played for the championship. We can follow their story and put their games in prime time. We pay attention to those kind of stories. The flexibility of the college football season isn’t too stressful, but we definitely need to pay attention to everything. The little guy that’s undefeated needs to get some attention. We pay attention to the ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12, but to the MAC and Sun Belt conferences as well.”
If people think Loh has it easy the rest of the year, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Out of the four individuals who make up the programming team, certain people are responsible for certain things and the offseason that gets delegated.
Then Loh gets fired up for spring football in the beginning of April, and from there things start to fall back into place and start over again.
“So many things come up during the season that we create this massive file during February and March,” Loh said. “So when things settle down and basketball goes into the spotlight, that’s when we go into the file and start delegating responsibilities to the bigger picture items. We really try to maintain a presence about college football 365 days a year, and through the ESPN college football Facebook page and the Twitter handle, we have really tried to maintain a focus on that stuff in the offseason.”
Loh enjoys working with the production team because of the ability to work with other key departments at ESPN.
“We maintain communication with operations so there are people there to do the games, marketing so they could promote the games, finance so we can get the money to produce the games,” Loh said. “Programming is a cool spot because you touch every department of the company. It’s a lot of fun. At the end of the year we do a download, where we spend a day at a meeting with all the departments, talk about everything that took place and share the best practices, so that way we can get off on the right foot in 2013.”
For this past college football season, Loh and his fellow programming team members came up with individual game-by-game hashtags, so that way people who want to get interactive while at home watching college football games can tweet about the games they’re watching.
“This encourages them to use the game hashtag,” Loh said. “That helps us organize the conversation. The idea behind that was so that people hopped on board and that hashtag started to trend. You click on that trend and the ESPN SportsCenter Twitter feed would be the top tweet and provide tune-in information that would help guide people that are on Twitter but not necessarily watching the games.”
While working with the programming group at ESPN, Loh said, he’s taken several approaches that he’s learned, whether on the mound or as the pitching coach, at Greenwich High School.
“Through the coaching aspect, there was a lot of preparation of maintaining each individual player’s routine,” Loh said. “If someone pitched on Monday, he wasn’t throwing at all on Tuesday. If someone pitched on Saturday, he would pitch bullpen on Tuesday or Wednesday. Taking that kind of routine and translating it to what I do during my season here is important. I got my checklist for stuff I’m doing. If Ben is supposed to do something and if Ben can’t do it, he’ll ask for help. I’ll ask for help if I can’t do something. So the team aspect is still playing out now. If I couldn’t make practice at Greenwich High, Mike [Mora] would help out and step in and coach the pitchers.
“After playing sports for a while, you get caught up in the day-to-day aspect of what you do as an athlete,” said Loh. “You’re focused on what you’re doing for that day, whether it’s throwing a bullpen or starting a game or weight training. Now, being removed, you take more of a macro level look at things. There’s scheduling, planning and organizing, and that’s something I’ve had to adjust to. You can’t focus on just one week anymore. I have to worry about who plays who the following week and what they are doing after that game. The perspective has changed for me.”
Loh, who grew up in Greenwich, has moved closer to Bristol since he took the job at ESPN. While he enjoyed his time in Greenwich, Loh is also finding his groove in Bristol.
“I do miss the Greenwich community,” said Loh, who still has family in the area. “It’s still home to me. It’s a welcoming feeling whenever I get to go back to Greenwich. I still keep in touch with Mike Mora at Greenwich High. I miss Greenwich but I also enjoy living around Bristol. It’s great up here.”