Sunday, June 24, 2018
Events

Interview: Meet Laila Brock, who organizes bands, mascots and more for the College Football Playoff

Ever wonder how mascots and marching bands magically pop up at parties and pep rallies surrounding events like the College Football Playoff? Or how coaches, student athletes and famous alumni navigate the sea of appearances and obligations that accompany a game of this magnitude?

Enter the world of Laila Brock. She's the College Football Playoff's director of operations and logistics, which means she oversees everything from the student athlete experience to public events like the Playoff Play­list Live concerts in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. And in the days leading up to Monday's national championship game between Alabama and Clemson, she's going to be very, very busy.

"I'll be just about everywhere," Brock said with a laugh. "I plan to sleep in mid January."

Brock, 38, arrived in Tampa on Sunday, but has been on the road with the College Football Playoff since Dec. 28. So far, she said, working with the schools, the city of Tampa and all the production groups helping bring the weekend to life has gone smoothly.

"Every city, every state, is a little bit different in the way that they like to produce these types of events," she said. "Everyone's requirements are just a little bit different, so navigating through that is a little bit challenging. But as it pertains to working with the community and working with the folks who have helped us do this, it's been absolutely fantastic. Tampa's a great sports community and a great events community."

Here, she sheds light on how an event like the College Football Playoff comes together.

Do you have any involvement with private or corporate charity events, even insofar as just knowing that they're happening?

We just need to make sure that we keep tabs on them. A lot of the events that are happening surrounding the championship game, similar to what you see for a Super Bowl, we just need to make sure that we're working in concert with everyone to make sure that everything is running smoothly. The Tampa Bay Sports Commission is hosting their yacht village, and we don't have anything to do with that. But we have to work with them to make sure that our fans and their guests have a great experience all around.

Do you shepherd athletes, alumni or even just marching bands to various public events like Playoff Playlist Live?

Absolutely. Everything that touches the institutions, I help manage those things. We'll bring in alumni from the institutions to come and give interviews at Playoff Fan Central, at the interview stage. We'll work with our production companies to invite those guys to come out, and have the fans have access to them during the weekend.

How does that work? Do you have agents or managers saying, "Hey, my client's a Clemson alum; he might be available for this event or this event"?

The great thing about the College Football Playoff is that everyone wants to be involved. So we generally don't have to go through the agents. Because of our contacts in the sports world, we're either able to reach out directly to the former athlete, or we'll reach out to the schools to get access to those athletes. It's an organic relationship. Whether it's alumni from Alabama or alumni from Clemson, we consider them part of the family now.

Is it easier because these same teams were in the championship game last year?

It is, actually. But I would say this: When a school qualifies for the national championship game, they want to do everything they can to help us out, and really even get their brands out there by putting their band and cheerleaders at as many events as possible, and get their alumni excited about everything. It is easier because we know the folks; we consider them old friends because they were in the game last year. But I would say anybody who's in the championship game really wants to help out and lend support where they can.

What kind of involvement does the CFP have with event organizers for a massive concert like Playoff Playlist Live?

We work hand in hand with them. They take our vision and really make it come to life, from the way the stage looks, the way security is planned and managed, the way the show is curated with talent. We see them as an extension of the CFP staff. It starts with a drawing and ends up with what you see going on at the park right now.

Has your planning for Tampa been in the works for years, or did you basically pick it up once last year's game in Arizona ended?

It has been a couple of years in the works. While we do focus on the city that we're in that year, we do try to plan ahead as much as possible to solidify venues and solidify preliminary plans. The plans for Tampa have been in the works since 2013 or 2014. Over the last 12 months, we've been here at the very least once a month, sometimes more than that. I think people are going to see that all of our plans are coming to fruition in a really great way, and it's going to make a great impact on the community.

Contact Jay Cridlin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

 
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