Pac-12 football: Yogi Roth’s vital behind-the-scenes role in a season like no other

Early next week, the Pac-12 will unveil the 2020 all-conference team and award winners across its social and digital channels.
One of the presenters is worthy of an honor himself.
Yogi Roth isn’t a national name in the college football machinery. But he has emerged as the face and voice of Pac-12 football inside the footprint and, especially, within the operation itself.
And in this disjointed season, the longtime Pac-12 Networks personality has played an enhanced behind-the-scenes role in the messaging and strategy.
Where the needs of the networks, the conference office and the teams converge, you’ll find Roth as highly passionate, deeply knowledgeable facilitator.
He’s the Pac-12’s 2020 Glue Guy of the Year.
“I think he’s awesome,’’ Cal coach Justin Wilcox said. “He played football. He was on the staff with Pete Carroll. He knows the inner-workings.
“It’s really good for the Pac-12, the more involved he’s able to be. It’s good for the conference, the teams and the players.”
Roth, 39, who lives in Southern California, doesn’t impact the on-field product and is not part of the ESPN of FOX game broadcasts.
But as a content producer — he does everything from film analysis to documentaries to profiles of players — Roth  influences how Pac-12 football is digested by fans, players and coaches and the media.
He affects how it’s branded by the Pac-12 Networks, the social channels and the conference office.
And because of his campus relationships, Roth has helped the conference maintain its bridge to the football programs following the departure of Dave Hirsch, the longtime associate commissioner for football communications.
“I call it a ‘stretch assignment,’’ Roth said. “It’s like a pandemic pivot.
“We’ve got to be willing to try new things. The voice of the athletes continues to grow.”
An intra-conference email obtained by the Hotline described Roth’s elevated role in this manner:
“(Roth) will take a lead role in our football communications strategy, positioning and message development, and help drive our proactive football communications, including through content development and across social and other media channels. He will also serve as primary communications liaison with coaches, student-athletes and football broadcast talent, along with football student-athlete alumni.” 
The specifics of Roth’s role include:
— Participating in weekly calls between the conference and the College Football Playoff selection committee representatives assigned to monitor the Pac-12.
— Providing scouting material and background information on the teams and players to national media members, including the ESPN and FOX on-air talent.
— Working with new football operations chief Merton Hanks and the football sub-committee that oversees operational strategy.
“It was a no brainer for the conference to bring him into the fold from a communications standpoint,’’ Pac-12 Networks anchor Ashley Adamson said.
“He’s liaison between the conference, the athletic directors, the coaches and the sports information directors because of the relationships he’s built over 15 years.
“He’s a voice in the room for (the networks and the conference office) who understands the football side of things in a way nobody has in the past.”
Roth grew up in Factoryville, a small town in central Pennsylvania. He was walk-on receiver at Pittsburgh, roomed with Larry Fitzgerald and eventually earned a scholarship. (Fitzgerald called him “my guy” in this interview with the Pac-12 Networks.)
Along the way, Roth became interested in broadcasting and worked with ESPN’s content development department, learning how to operate a camera, frame the lighting and tell a story.
He joined Pete Carroll’s staff at USC and co-authored, with Carroll, the book ‘Win Forever.’
Roth considered a career in coaching but instead followed an alternate path — as a broadcaster, author, storyteller, documentarian, podcast host, game commentator, studio analyst and recruiting maven.
Oh, and world traveler, surfer, actor and Entertainment Tonight contributor.
But inevitably, the roads lead back to football.
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Roth’s preferred Twitter hashtag, after all, is #HowGreatIsBall.
He’s the rare college football analyst who tracks recruiting closely enough to explain how a specific signee will fit into the team’s depth chart.
He can talk to current players about game strategy and social media strategy.
He can talk football with the football coaches, broadcasting with the networks staff and communications with the conference office.
This week was Roth at his most versatile, producing content for the ‘Pac-12 After Dark’ site, providing hours of analysis on recruiting — he watches high school film of offensive linemen — and breaking down the playoff rankings and the conference championship matchup.
“He’s not out to further his own agenda,” Wilcox said. “He’s doing what’s best for the conference, and that’s not a given in people you come across, in any conference.
“He’s been on a campus. He understands football people. He just has such a good way about him.
“People are able to trust him.”

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