Laila Brock Makes the Biggest College Football Game of the Year Even Bigger
Tonight’s College Football Playoff Championship isn’t just one big football game. There are additional elements—things like concerts and fan events—that turn it into one of the year’s biggest sporting events
That’s where Laila Brock ’00, ’02 comes in. Brock is the Director of Operations and Logistics for the College Football Playoff, and it’s her job to turn the sport’s biggest game into something that everyone enjoys.
A former All-Big Ten selection as a member of Penn State’s track team, Brock’s primary job is overseeing the student-athlete experience. This year, she’s making sure that athletes, bands, and cheerleaders from Clemson and Alabama have a great time while they’re in Phoenix by managing things like transportation, hotels, hospitality, and whatever would pop up on game day.
Brock also manages all of the Playoff’s public events, namely its two marquee functions: AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! and the Playoff Fan Central. The latter is an interactive festival with entertainment ranging from pep rallies to appearances by celebrities, while the former is a multi-day concert. Last year, Brock brought in Lenny Kravitz and Sting, while this year’s concert will include John Mellancamp, Ciara, The Band Perry, and Walk The Moon.
Lastly, Brock handles some of the logistical elements of the game. She deals with decorum around the city and at the game, and makes sure that the transportation can accommodate all of the people who come to the city.
“Even if a fan is not going to the game, they have an excuse to come to the national championship just to experience the whole atmosphere,” Brock said.
Brock’s no stranger to working in and around college football’s bowl games: Prior to joining the Playoff, she worked for seven years for the Orange Bowl. After the 2013 national championship game, the Chief Operating Officer of the College Football Playoff offered her a position with the organization.
Now, she is an important part of one of the most complex operations in college sports. Her job requires an astounding amount of advanced planning; Brock said that planning for this year’s game kicked into gear last February, while the planning for the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 games is already underway.
“Most folks think that it’s August through January,” Brock said. “But the planning process is so intricate and so detailed that if we were to start in August, there’s no way that we would be able to pull this thing off.”
It’s an arduous process, and Brock puts in a ton of work to make sure everything runs smoothly. Over the past few weeks, she has been in eight different states doing prep work for Monday’s game, and her first trip to the site of next year’s contest is set for the end of January.
Despite all the hard work, Brock’s passion for her job is apparent. She especially loves working with the student-athletes, saying that the most fun part of her job comes when she sees the reactions when players see things like hospitality suites or special buses with team logos and players’ faces on them.
With all the work Brock puts into planning for the game, you’d think she would have a good sense of whether Clemson or Alabama will win tonight. Well, not quite…
“If I were able to make that prediction, I would not need this job.”
Bill DiFilippo, online editor