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ESPN Intervenes In Kirk Herbstreit, Dan Orlovsky Tiff Over Justin Fields

“ESPN declined to comment when Jackson reached out.”

Brandon Contes

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Kirk Herbstreit and Dan Orlovsky

Last week, ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky raised controversy after his comments on Justin Fields during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show. One strong critic was Orlovsky’s ESPN colleague, College Gameday analyst Kirk Herbstreit. That caused the network to step in.

According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, ESPN addressed the issue with both analysts, but neither of them will be suspended for the incident. ESPN declined to comment when Jackson reached out. 

After Ohio State topped Clemson in the Sugar Bowl, the draft stock for Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields was rapidly rising. But in recent weeks, Fields dipped to the fourth or fifth best QB in the upcoming NFL draft, without much explanation. Joining Pat McAfee’s SiriusXM radio show earlier this week, Orlovsky was asked why Fields was sliding and the ESPN analyst pointed to doubts about his work ethic.

“I have heard that he is a last-guy-in, first-guy-out type of quarterback. Like, not the maniacal work ethic,” Orlovsky answered, prefacing it by noting the claim was not his opinion. “I’ve even heard it compared to Justin Herbert, where it was like, dude, when Justin Herbert showed up, he was like a psychopath when it came to working and get ready for the draft. Or even at school, like, ‘Give me more, I want to work non-stop.’ And I’ve heard that there are issues with Justin Fields’ work ethic.”

After receiving criticism for the report on Fields’ work ethic, Orlovsky went back and did “more digging.” “It sounds like Justin Fields’ work ethic is fantastic,” Orlovsky later said on Twitter, contradicting what he told McAfee just 24-hours earlier. 

But the reversal didn’t seem to help the situation as Herbstreit, a former Ohio State quarterback himself, wasn’t satisfied with Orlovsky’s clarification. 

“Absolutely ridiculous,” Herbstreit wrote in response to Orlovsky’s clarification video. “Even if YOU aren’t saying it… to pass that along from ‘people in the know’ is reckless and absurd!! Embarrassing!!”

Orlovsky didn’t need to dig that hard to find a direct report on Fields’ dedication, which made his initial claim of questionable work ethic seem egregious. If an analyst is going to publicize a damaging claim on a player, due diligence should be prioritized.  

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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Sports TV News

ESPN Bowl Plans Could Be Altered By NFL Flex Scheduling

“While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN could be forced to adjust its upcoming bowl season schedule if the NFL decides to flex a Las Vegas Raiders game a week before Christmas.

ESPN announced its contingency plans for two bowl contests, the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. The Las Vegas Bowl is currently planned to kick off from Allegiant Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on December 17. The Raiders right now are still planning to play in the Sunday night game the next night against the Patriots.

Should the NFL decide to flex the Raiders out of the SNF window, ESPN will swap kickoff times between the Las Vegas Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl. That would mean the game in sin city will kick off at 11:30 a.m. local time, with the contest in Albuquerque starting at 5:20 p.m. local time that evening.

“The SRS Distribution Las Vegas Bowl and New Mexico Bowl are both owned and operated by ESPN Events, so this change is a solution that will work for all parties,” ESPN Events vice president Clint Overby said. “While this situation poses a challenge, we are accustomed to flexibility and having to maneuver our event schedules. We are more than prepared to move forward with this revised schedule if necessary.”

Kickoff times will be determined well enough ahead that the schools taking part in both games shouldn’t be adversely affected.

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Sports TV News

NFL Thanksgiving Games Set Ratings Records

FOX Sports added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021.

Jordan Bondurant

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NFL

The Thanksgiving slate of NFL games last week brought in the largest audiences ever. Viewership across all three games averaged 33.5 million.

The game with the largest viewership was Giants/Cowboys in the 4:30 p.m. window. FOX Sports reported that 42 million watched Dallas beat New York 28-20. It is the largest regular season audience ever, surpassing the previous leader set 32 years ago.

The network added that viewership was up 49% compared to 2021. FOX carried the Detroit Lions traditional noon Thanksgiving game last year. Compared to the Cowboys turkey day contest on CBS in 2021, viewership was up 3%.

The Bills/Lions game in the early window on CBS averaged 31.627 million, with the audience peaking at 41.981 million. It was the most-watched early Thanksgiving game on record.

Patriots/Vikings on NBC in the nightcap averaged 25.9 million. That figure was up 24% compared to Bills/Saints a year ago, with NBC Sports claiming it’s the second most-watched primetime Thanksgiving game on record. The game was simulcast in Spanish on Telemundo, which averaged 565,000 viewers and made it the most-watched NFL game ever on the network.

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