On Monday Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reported that ESPN is taking a hard look at both the long and short term futures of Monday Night Football. While Drew Brees remains in the network’s plans for the long-term, ESPN is trying to figure out what to do until he retires.
Marchand reported that several different options have been kicked around for the Monday Night booth in 2020. While Steve Levy, Louis Riddick, and Dan Orlovsky have emerged as the favorites, ESPN brass is considering moving Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit over to the pro game from ABC’s Saturday Night College Football broadcast.
Herbstreit joined Sean Salisbury on Sportstalk 790 in Houston on Tuesday morning and said that he might consider doing Monday Night Football, but he wouldn’t give up any of his current duties to make it happen.
“Let me put it to you this way, if they ever approached me about Monday Night Football, and I’ve told my agent this. It would have to be in addition to what I already do, because I’m not leaving college football. I just can’t.”
It’s fair to say Herbstreit may be the face of college football on ESPN. He has seen his star rise steadily since first joining the College Gameday cast in 1996. He certainly is a bigger star in the broadcasting world than he ever was as quarterback of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Sean Salisbury gave Herbstreit high praise, telling the ESPN star that he has now become as synonymous with college football as Keith Jackson. Salisbury added that he was happy to hear Herbstreit still had enough passion for the sport that leaving the Saturday night booth and postseason broadcasts.
“I grew up as a six year old watching what you watch,” Herbstreit said, clearly acknowledging what a compliment he had just been given. “It was mythical to me to watch college football with the colors and the pageantry and the voices that the game offered.”
Salisbury pointed out a common talking point on social media, that Herbstreit “is college football” to a lot of fans. He also said he knew it would be hard for Herbstreit to walk away from College Gameday and his co-host Lee Corso who now “is family” to Herbstreit.
Herbstreit responded by reiterating that if ESPN were interested in adding Monday Night Football to his workload, that he would listen. He isn’t leaving college football broadcasts though, because right now Herbstreit has his “dream job.”
Amazon Eyeing Pat McAfee For Thursday Night Football Megacast
“No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.’
First the Mannings now McAfee. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports that Pat McAfee could be at the center of an alternate broadcast of Thursday Night Football on Amazon in the 2022 season.
No deal is done yet. A source tells McCarthy that it hinges on McAfee’s very busy schedule, but a Megacast is appealing to the former punter.
Rumors of Amazon’s interest in McAfee began to bubble up last month. While he never directly addressed them, he did make mention on his show that he was “up to something” and insinuated that Amazon wasn’t the only company he was talking to.
Pat McAfee has said on his show in the past that he wants to be part of an NFL broadcast, however, he is firm in that it would not be in the broadcast booth.
“I can’t call games. Not yet,” McAfee said on a show in February. “Have to be done with this show to call games. Because that’s like a 3-day, 4-day thing.”
In addition to his daily show, McAfee is also committed to the WWE. He is on the road for Smackdown every Friday.
There is no word on exactly what a Pat McAfee-centered broadcast would look like. When reports first came out regarding discussions with McAfee, Ryan Glasspiegel of The New York Post reported that moving The Pat McAfee Show to Amazon was on the table. If that happens, it would make sense to use his entire crew on the Thursday Night Football presentation.
ESPN Announces Opening Weekend Slate On Conference Networks
The season is approaching and ESPN took the occasion to announce the opening weeks schedules for their the ACC Network, ACC Network and Longhorn Network.
College football begins in less than 100 days so to celebrate, ESPN announced programming for the beginning of the season for their conference-affiliated networks and the Longhorn Network.
The SEC Network is set to begin it’s ninth season on the air. Just as the network did one year ago, the network will start in Knoxville, Tennessee. Ball State is Tennessee’s opponent on September 1st and the game features a 7 p.m. ET kickoff in Neyland Stadium. The SEC Network also announced a trio of tripleheaders to kickoff 2022. Alabama (v. Utah State), LSU (v. Southern) and Florida (v. South Florida) are the respective host teams in those week’s primetime games.
The ACC Network’s season begins even sooner. Starting on Saturday August 27th, the network will feature Week 0 games for the first time. Florida State will welcome Duquesne at 5 p.m. ET in the first game of an ACC Network doubleheader, followed by Florida A&M travelling to North Carolina which is scheduled to kickoff at 8:15 p.m. ET. The ACC Network will air 14 live football games over the first four weeks of the season. In Week 1, the ACC Network will begin it’s schedule of tripleheaders of 2022 culminating with Louisville and Syracuse battling in the season’s first installment of ACC Network Primetime Football at 8 p.m. on September 3rd.
ESPN’s Longhorn Network announced that Texas will open it’s season on Saturday, September 3rd against Louisiana-Monroe exclusively on LHN at 7 p.m. CT. In addition to the season-opener, the Longhorn Network will be the home of the September 17th game at home against Texas-San Antonio. LHN also mentioned Texas GameDay presented by St. David’s HealthCare will have pre and postgame coverage throughout the season beginning with the season-opener.
This could be the final season for the Longhorn Network as it is currently constructed. Texas’ move to the SEC could mean a large change to their media rights allocation. Texas has reportedly been open to the idea of scrapping the network if necessary.
Lee Fitting: We’re Lucky Bosses Threw Rules Out For ManningCast
“This was the next step in the evolution, and one that gained a lot of recognition because of the crew and Peyton and Eli.”
ESPN’s Lee Fitting made time to talk to Sports Video Group after the ManningCast took home the award for Best Live Series at the Sports Emmys on Tuesday night. He was holding the trophy, but said it took every person that worked on the show to make it worthy of that honor.
“This was the ultimate team effort, you know, for the Monday nights that we did it and, you know, like I said out there, we were just so spoiled to have Peyton and Eli at the center of it,” the network’s SVP of Production said.
He credited the quarterback mindset Peyton and Eli Manning brought to the project, saying that players have to be allowed to make plays. It wasn’t just important that the Manning brothers could do it. The network had to be willing to stay out of the way and let the ManningCast figure out what success looked like.
“We were just super lucky that our bosses just sort of threw the rules out the window with this one,” Fitting said.
While the alternate Monday Night Football broadcast received plenty of rave reviews, Fitting pointed out that he wasn’t really breaking new ground. He was taking a formula that had been proven to work and changing it up a bit.
“The Megacast has been around for a while now, and it continues to evolve. This was the next step in the evolution, and one that gained a lot of recognition because of the crew and Peyton and Eli.”
Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions recently produced a similar alternate broadcast for the PGA Championship. It is contracted to build alternate, conversational broadcasts for UFC events and college football games next.