On Thursday, ESPN released its assignments for its college football studio and game coverage. There was a fair amount of movement among its announcing teams this season. Some comments:
- The Brad Nessler-Todd Blackledge tandem should be excellent. Blackledge no longer has to worry about trying to decipher various off-the-wall comments by Mike Patrick. Nessler doesn’t have to prop up Bob Griese (who to me has faded badly as an analyst in recent years) or make room for Paul Maguire’s observations. Erin Andrews will roam the sidelines for this team; let’s hope she doesn’t get hit by a ball.
- Speaking of Maguire, according to a column in USA Today he was supposed to have a “reduced role” this season, with “the occasional game” and some studio and radio shows. However, the man who still holds the record for the longest punt in The Citadel’s football history is not listed anywhere on the release (and the release is fairly extensive, listing some “additional” commentators like JC Pearson, Jon Berger, and Shaun King).
- Griese is going to be part of a three-man booth working the noon ESPN game. Dave Pasch gets to referee Griese and Chris Spielman. That strikes me as possibly being a mismatched combo. Griese and Spielman are both Big 10 guys, though. I think Pasch is one of the better play-by-play guys ESPN has on its roster, but he’s probably precluded from drawing primetime assignments due to being the radio voice of the Arizona Cardinals.
- One of my favorite announcers, Sean McDonough, will work ABC games with Matt Millen. Millen was a solid analyst on NFL telecasts before his extremely ill-advised stint as GM of the Lions. I think moving back to broadcasting on the college side is probably a good move for him. Oh, and this team also draws a sideline reporter, Holly Rowe. It’s a shame she isn’t working with Ron Franklin.
- Mike Patrick moves from ESPN Saturday night to one of the regional ABC slots, teamed with Craig James (who will also continue as an analyst on the Thursday night package) and sideline reporter Heather Cox. Britney Spears will not be impressed.
- Carter Blackburn, formerly of CBS College Sports TV, will be calling games on ESPNU. It appears he’ll primarily be working west coast games. His announcing sidekick is listed as “TBD”.
- Pam Ward is back for the noon game on ESPN2, with Ray Bentley back for at least the third year in a row as her analyst. I’m just glad I’m not a fan of, say, a mediocre Big 10 school…
- Todd Harris got a regular play-by-play gig, working Saturday afternoon ESPNU telecasts with Charles Arbuckle (really, it should have been Bentley). I sincerely hope those will be “interactive” broadcasts.
Then there is ESPN’s SEC announcing roster. I wanted to delve into this a little deeper, because I’m curious to see how ESPN approaches its contractual relationship with the conference.
Aside from the SEC primetime games that will air on ESPN (which will mostly be called by Nessler and Blackledge), there will be a regular ESPN game on Saturday night, an occasional afternoon game on ESPNU, and the syndicated regional package put together by ESPN Regional Television. The full list of affiliates for the regional package won’t be announced until the SEC Media Days in a couple of weeks, but it’s anticipated the “footprint” for the broadcast will be significantly larger than what it was under Raycom/JP/Lincoln Financial.
The ESPNU night game will be called by Eric Collins and Brock Huard. Neither of those guys has an SEC background, or even a background in the southeast, which is at least semi-interesting. Huard is a former Washington quarterback who worked games last season with Bob Wischusen. Collins has called college football for ESPN before (working with Shaun King on a semi-regular basis, if I remember correctly), and currently works the TV side of L.A. Dodgers broadcasts for the 38 road games for which Vin Scully doesn’t travel.
The SEC regional broadcast was traditionally the Dave-Dave-Dave show, or Dave Times Three. However, all traditions must end sometime, and thus only one of the Daves was brought into the new ERT package. That would be play-by-play man Dave Neal, the de facto TV face of the SEC. Neal will be working with Andre Ware, not one of my favorite analysts but probably still better than his Dave predecessors (Rowe and Archer). The sideline reporter will be Cara Capuano, who SEC fans will undoubtably identify with completely, since she’s from California and has a degree in cell biology and biochemistry from UC-San Diego. Capuano will double as the host of the new weekly SEC show on ESPNU.
The regional broadcast will also have a studio show hosted by Rob Stone and Matt Stinchcomb, which is convenient, since the ESPNU studio for Saturday afternoons will also be Stone and Stinchcomb. UGA fans will be in Dawg Heaven on the U, since Stinchcomb will be working afternoons in the studio, and appearing in the studio in primetime will be another former UGA man, David Pollack.
I’m just ready for the games to start…
Filed under: Football | Tagged: Andre Ware, Brad Nessler, Brock Huard, Cara Capuano, Carter Blackburn, Chris Spielman, Dave Neal, Dave Pasch, David Pollack, Eric Collins, Erin Andrews, ESPN, ESPN Regional Television, ESPNU, Heather Cox, Holly Rowe, Matt Millen, Matt Stinchcomb, Mike Patrick, Paul Maguire, Rob Stone, Sean McDonough, SEC, Todd Blackledge, Todd Harris |