Jemele Hill was a guest on Jimmy Traina’s Sports Illustrated Media Podcast this week. Traina asked a lot about her past and present relationship at ESPN.
Hill revealed that Colin Kaepernick called her to better understand her side of the story regarding her exit from ESPN. It was something Kaepernick felt like he needed to know before signing the first look deal with Disney last week.
When asked about SC6, the version of SportsCenter hosted by Hill and Michael Smith, Hill said it was not the experience she was expecting.
“Of all the many jobs and roles that I got a chance to have at ESPN, that job is always gonna sit on the side as being the one that was the worst that I had there. Everybody came in well-intentioned. There’s a lot of blame to go around. I certainly accept mine and, I guess, by extension, Mike’s, in the sense that there were definitely things we could’ve personally done better.”
Simply put, Hill says the show was not set up to succeed. She never says that she sensed any malicious intent on the part of ESPN, but she does question a number of decisions made in the pre-production process that got SC6 off to a rocky start.
“If you go back, His and Hers did not end until December, and we were due to be on the air the day after the Super Bowl in February,” Hill said. “Considering the colossal amount of marketing and everything behind it and what they wanted it to be, it made no sense to rush this show on the air. We had less than five rehearsals. We didn’t know what the show was. We weren’t allowed to pick our coordinating producers, which I think was a big mistake.”
ESPN executives used Scott Van Pelt as an example of the success a personality-driven version of SportsCenter could have. Hill points out that Van Pelt was given an extended rehearsal period and was able to handpick his staff. His midnight edition of SportsCenter was not a fair bar to measure SC6 against.
“I think they liked a lot of the things we did on His and Hers,” Hill said in reference to the show she and Smith co-hosted from 2014 to 2017. “The things that made us an attractive fit were not things that necessarily fit SportsCenter.”
Viral videos, sketch comedy, and discussions of movies and music had never been a major part of SportsCenter before. The ad campaign ahead of the debut of SC6 promised that would be the case with Hill and Smith. She says that created a narrative that their version of SportsCenter wouldn’t be about sports.
Joe Buck: ESPN Is Letting Us Set Tone For Monday Night Football
“It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
While Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be calling football games on Monday nights for ESPN instead of Sunday afternoons for FOX this year, fans shouldn’t expect the broadcasts to be that much different, if at all, than what they’ve been used to over the last 20 years.
Buck was recently a guest on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast and said that ESPN knows that he and Aikman have to be comfortable in order for Monday Night Football to be a success.
“I know we are in the honeymoon phase. I’m not dumb. That stuff wears off after a while. They are like ‘however you guys have always done a game, that’s the way we want you to do a game whether it’s with regard to meetings vs. conference calls or when you guys show up, how you like the booth set up. However you want it, we are going to do it your way’ and that’s to their credit. It wasn’t well, you are at ESPN, you have to figure out how we do it.”
Buck and Aikman are obviously already very familiar with each other. Buck said that it will be important not to take that for granted or second guess what they already know.
“I think the one thing Troy and I have to avoid is trying to be different than we’ve been. They hired us based on what we’ve done and who we are and how we relate to each other and the way we see a game,” said Buck.
Mike Tirico, Tom Brady, Manningcast Win Sports Emmys
The annual Sports Emmys were handed out on Tuesday night, and some usual names and new names ended up taking home hardware.
Among the usual names were NBC’s Mike Tirico, who won for Outstanding Personality/Studio Host, and soon-to-be Sunday Night Football broadcast colleague Cris Collinsworth, who was named Outstanding Personality/Sports Event Analyst.
But among the new names as Sports Emmy winners include Tom Brady and both Eli and Peyton Manning.
Brady’s Man in the Arena saga won Outstanding Documentary Series, while the Mannings were rewarded for their work on the Monday Night Football Manningcast, which won Outstanding Live Series.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key Sports Emmy winners:
Here is a full list of winners and nominees for the 2022 ceremony.
Joe Buck Says He Won’t Miss World Series
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game.”
Among the bigger chain reactions set off by Joe Buck leaving FOX for ESPN was the sudden vacancy in FOX’s main MLB broadcast booth.
The 2022 World Series will mark the first time since 1995 that Buck will not be on the microphone.
Speaking to Chris Long on his podcast Green Light, Buck hopes to be in a more exotic location watching World Series games this fall.
“I would like to be in Cabo San Lucas with a margarita in my hand and a half-smoked cigar watching Game 7 of the World Series,” Buck said. “Cheering on Joe Davis and John Smoltz, and Ken Rosenthal, and Tom Verducci, and Pete Macheska and Matt Gangl and right on down the line.”
Buck added he’ll take pleasure in turning the broadcast off if it’s Game 7 and there’s an insurmountable lead. But the broadcasting legend said even on a bigger scale, not calling any baseball games at all this season, let alone the World Series, is a bit surreal after covering the sport for so long.
“This is the first time since I was 18-years-old, and I’m 53, that I’m not doing a baseball game,” he said. “And that’s really weird to me, but I walk away really proud of what I and we did.”
He added that he will not miss the opportunity, because he does not feel like he will “leave any unfinished business” in FOX’s MLB booth.
Buck further praised his FOX colleagues and said it was time for a change. He knows Joe Davis will thrive in the opportunity.