Math's Sawin In ESPN's NFL Commercial


Math's Sawin In ESPN's NFL Commercial

By Allison McCourt ’13

Three years ago, Tina Cerbone ’98, feature producer for ESPN, reached out to Dr. Stephen Sawin, professor of mathematics when she wanted to do a teaser for the NFL scheduling special.

Cerbone wanted the general theme of the teaser to be a professorial figure becoming overwhelmed by the number of combinations and permutations involved in the NFL scheduling.

Cerbone first needed facts about how many different combinations of games there were in order to pursue her vision and called Fairfield University in search of someone who taught statistics.

Dr. Sawin answered her questions to the best of his ability and in the end explained that the number of possibilities “was most affected by the complex considerations of the NFL rather than things that could be accounted for in a precise mathematical way.”

Although initially acting only as a mathematical consult, Dr. Sawin soon became more involved in the project.

“At some point, I guess when I sounded enough like an overwhelmed professorial type on the phone, she threw out the idea of my performing in that role,” said Dr. Sawin. “I jumped at the chance and showed up at the ESPN campus and they filmed me. I read from a prepared script, and in the end the only function of my mathematical expertise was that I could write convincing mathematical babble on the glass.”

After initially filming in 2011, Dr. Sawin has returned to ESPN the last two years to do new voiceovers for each season.

This year a new “voice” for the voiceover was used — the perils of Showbiz — the teaser will continue to air with Dr. Sawin as the “overwhelmed professor.”

Take a look at this year's teaser in the video feature on the homepage of news@fairfield or go to

Last modified: 04-30-13 11:03 AM


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