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ESPN Expands Mack Brown’s Role

Jason Barrett

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Set to begin his second season in the television game Mack Brown already appears to be in the fast lane.

This year, he’ll add booth analyzing Friday night college football around the country for ESPN to studio analyzing Saturday afternoons in Bristol for ABC.

At 64, maybe he’s secretly auditioning to play an avuncular role in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Sequel.

Opening week appears a slam-dunk for Brown, whom you may remember as the coach at the University of Texas where he was afforded the luxury of private jet and charter travel.

After working Baylor at SMU this Friday, he’ll be on a commercial jet headed out of Dallas-Fort Worth at 6:30 a.m. for a 3½-hour flight to Hartford, Conn. Then comes a 40-minute drive to ESPN headquarters, a quick shower, a trip to wardrobe, makeup and voila, Brown will be making studio magic with John Saunders and Mark May by early afternoon.

It may get a little more complicated the next week when Brown is down to work Utah State-Utah, catch a midnight redeye from Salt Lake City to Hartford and hopefully be at ESPN by 1 p.m.

“I hope,” Brown said via telephone the other day with the optimism of a man accustomed to private travel, “the planes are on time.”

Things get a little more complicated when ESPN adds 11 a.m. kickoffs to its Saturday schedule of games on ABC. Take the Texas-Oklahoma game on Oct. 10, which is likely to fill the time slot. Brown and his play-by-play partner, Dave Flemming, are down to work the North Carolina State-Virginia Tech game the night before. Maybe Brown can make it from Blacksburg to Hartford in plenty of time for the Texas-OU studio duty. Maybe ESPN will change its mind and allow Brown a Friday night off.

When the schedule hits full stride, ABC will offer games at 11 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Brown along with studio mates John Saunders and Mark May will be on call all day for halftime and post-game duty. ESPN is willing for Brown to miss some early games, but not Texas-OU.

Danny Kanell did similar Friday night/Saturday duty last season, Some weeks he skipped game duty. Others he was late to the studio.

Brown didn’t have to embrace his new schedule. But when ESPN offered, he didn’t hesitate.

“I can tell you that Mack is not concerned,” said Bill Graff, who oversees production for ESPN’s college studios. “He’s excited.”

Graff mentored Brown through what the ex-coach refers to as his “rookie season.”

They watched plenty of tape together every week to review Brown’s performance. Graff graded. Brown learned.

“By the third or fourth week we were fine tuning,” Graff said. “Mack got it.”

By season’s end, Graff suggested Brown try working a game. Brown was in the booth for University of Louisiana-Nevada Reno in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 20.

Brown’s work off-Broadway earned him a shot at higher profile games on Friday nights.

Brown said he has enjoyed the transition from the sideline in Austin to broadcasting.

“I spent 42 years in coaching, 30 as a head coach, and I still get to talk to coaches, watch video, prep for games,” Brown said.

But he misses the control he had. As coach, he dictated schedules, and had the luxury of others making his hotel reservations as well as travel plans. Then there was matter of police escorts to get him to games on time.

“Not being the boss is different,” Brown said. “Now someone tells me what to do and when to do it.”

Perhaps hardest of all was condensing his thoughts into 12 to 15-second sound bytes that television demands, he said.

“Instead of talking about two or three things I saw, I had to learn to talk about one thing,” Brown said. “All I’m trying to do in the studio and at games is to put some sense into football.”

To read the rest of this article visit the Dallas News where it was originally published

Sports TV News

Scott Hanson Clarifies NFL RedZone Missteps During Raiders/Seahawks

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available on select stations.

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NFL RedZone host Scott Hanson ruffled feathers for many football fans Sunday when he told viewers to switch from the channel to their local CBS affiliates to see the conclusion of the Las Vegas Raiders and Seattle Seahawks game.

Unfortunately, for both viewers and Hanson, the game was only being shown in a small portion of the country, with the rest of the nation’s CBS affiliates already airing 60 Minutes. The game was also available to NFL Sunday Ticket subscribers.

Hanson took to Twitter Sunday evening to explain what happened on the air and to apologize for the miscalculation.

Hanson believed in the moment that CBS was airing the overtime period to a national audience. But due to NFL broadcasting rules, the game was only available to stations in the Las Vegas, Fresno, Sacramento, Reno, Eugene, Portland, Boise, Seattle, and Spokane markets on the west coast. Additionally, the game was available in Chicago, Tampa, Atlanta, and Charlotte.

He apologized for the mistake and said he would have more details at a later date.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Creates ACC/SEC Challenge

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports.

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ESPN, in conjunction with the ACC and SEC, is slated to announce the creation of the ACC/SEC Challenge for men’s and women’s basketball.

The series will begin for the 2023-2024 season, launching with 28 games played between the two sports. That number will grow to 30 contests when the SEC expands for the 2025-2026 season.

Every game in the challenge will be aired on an ESPN platform, with each side hosting the same amount of home games.

The creation of the event comes on the heels of the Big Ten’s new media rights deal with FOX, NBC, and CBS, ending a nearly four-decade relationship with ESPN. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge began in 1999, with the SEC/Big 12 Challenging beginning in 2013. Both events will cease to exist following this season.

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Sports TV News

FOX Sports Sees Record-Setting Ratings Weekend

The World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

Jordan Bondurant

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FOX Sports has been home to a number of record-setting games in terms of viewership over the last several days.

In addition to FOX Sports setting a new mark for a Thanksgiving and regular season NFL audience, the World Cup matchup between the U.S. and England on Black Friday and Michigan/Ohio State on Saturday saw tens of millions of viewers tuning in.

The network reported the U.S./England match in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup averaged 15.377 million. It was the most-watched English-language soccer game in the U.S. ever, topping the 1994 World Cup final between Italy and Brazil.

Viewership of the match was up 11% compared to the second group stage contest for the U.S. team in 2014 against Portugal. The audience peaked at 19.646 million from 3:30-3:45 p.m.

FOX Sports also reported the Michigan/Ohio State game on Saturday drew in 17 million, which made it the most-watched regular season college game on the network ever. That figure was also the highest of any regular season contest since 2011. That game also saw the audience peak at 19.6 million.

Viewership for the game was up 3% compared to last year.

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