By MATT KARPOWITZ
Once a week, Utah sports reporters meet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Salt Lake City for a free meal, while each of the five football coaches from the major universities in Utah address their team’s concerns and questions. They call it the “Big 5 Huddle.”
Why would the DoubleTree Hotel give away this free meal? In exchange for the meal and the room, DoubleTree gets free air time on KFAN-AM, which sponsors the weekly event.
The meeting also gives the media a chance to speak to coaches and players that they would not have a chance to interview under other circumstances.
Freelance broadcaster, Chris Tunis knows that the luncheon offers a great opportunity to local journalists. “The Big 5 Luncheon is a great place to gather information,” Tunis said. “Primarily, it allows us to establish a repore, make contacts and get a feel for what that team is all about.”
The luncheon offers the media a chance to speak to coaches from BYU, the University of Utah, Utah State University, Southern Utah University and Weber State University. Most coaches also bring at least two players for the journalists to speak to as well.
Tunis also appreciates the chance to do interviews earlier in the day, since he would not have a chance to talk to a lot of coaches during practice. “Most of these people are working in that afternoon drive period when the teams usually practice, so this makes it practical for everybody,” he said.
But coaches know the luncheon is good for the schools exposure.
“It’s great for college football to have this in the state,” said BYU coach Lavell Edwards. “It’s good to see people from Southern Utah come up and the Aggies come down and Weber is always here and Utah. I think it’s very good for college football. It helps schools that may not always get somebody to come to their campus.”
It’s not just the exposure and the media opportunities that keep coaches and players coming back. The big incentive is the food.
“The food is good,” said BYU defensive end Ed Kehl. “I don’t mind it at all.”
BYU running back Brian McKenzie agrees. “It was nice. I had some roast beef, some carrots, some broccoli, it was good.”
Tunis understands that the food may be what keeps the media coming back. “We get the contacts here, but, of course we get a free lunch.”