From Baton Rouge to Bristol: Inside the making of ESPN The Magazine’s ‘One Day, One Game’ issue

On Nov. 3, then-No. 1 Alabama descended into Death Valley to face then-No. 5 LSU, a rematch of last season’s BCS title game.

It was an instant classic, college football at its best — and ESPN The Magazine captured it all in its “One Day, One Game” issue hitting mailboxes today and on newsstands Friday.

The Mag’s associate editor LaRue Cook takes us through a brief timeline on how this intense undertaking became an issue, beginning with the staff’s arrival in Baton Rouge, La. to its four-day “close” (getting the magazine ready for printing) at ESPN HQ in Bristol, Conn.:

Friday, Oct. 26 – Wednesday, Oct. 30
The Mag had a local photographer at LSU with [Tigers head coach] Les Miles, documenting his moves both on and off the field.

Wednesday, Oct. 30
General editor Rebecca Nordquist and deputy photo editor Jim Surber arrived in Baton Rouge, along with one other photographer.

Thursday, Nov. 1
The rest of The Mag’s 43 staffers for this event including editors, reporters and photographers arrived en masse to begin capturing and reporting stadium prep and hang out with the LSU equipment personnel.

Friday, Nov. 2
A photographer and reporter were at the stadium at sunrise for the painting of the field (Tiger Stadium) and Tiger Eye (the team’s distinctive field logo). We then did a stadium walk-through as a group to familiarize ourselves with specific work areas and assignments. That night we made arrangements to have our reporters and photographers back at the stadium for the team’s motivational video displayed on the stadium’s Jumbotron.

Saturday, Nov. 3.
Nearly every single magazine staffer was out the door of our hotel by 8 a.m., meaning we were in Baton Rouge from around 9 a.m. until after midnight. The “fan photo act” backdrop (where we captured photos of fans throughout the day) was set up at that time and reporters started pulling in fans for the photographer to shoot. We canvassed tailgates, shot concession-stand set up and compiled an online gallery of 120 photos which we continued to update throughout the day and into the night. We stayed up until the last photo was posted — where [The Mag's senior writer] Wright Thompson was a fly on the wall in Miles’ postgame speech to his team. Thompson talks about his story on Miles’ obsession to win and more with The Mag’s Editor in Chief, Chad Millman.

Sunday, Nov. 4
Everyone had scheduled flights back at various times throughout the day to ensure we were all back in Bristol first thing Monday morning to start the “close.”

Monday, Nov. 5 – Thursday, Nov. 8
Any and every able-bodied staffer pitched in to make this tight “close” happen as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

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