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Liberty Extends ESPN Deal

Liberty and ESPN reached a deal that gives the flames exclusive rights to the Flames’ football games through 2025.

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In a state dominated by FBS programs Virginia and Virginia Tech, and FCS power James Madison, Liberty University has needed to be aggressive in order to stay relevant. They hired Scott Jackson, the longtime assistant to the legendary Mike Fox at UNC, to coach their baseball program. The Flames also hired Ritchie McKay, Tony Bennett’s top assistant at UVA, to lead their basketball program. Of course, they famously hired ex-Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze to be their head football coach. Now, they have extended their exclusive media rights deal with ESPN through 2025.

The deal will see all of Liberty’s football games available on an ESPN platform, with a guarantee of at least one game available on a linear station and ESPN has the right to choose a non-traditional gameday to air a second linear broadcast. Liberty’s 12-game schedule is highlighted by a pair of road games at Power Five schools: a September 24 date with Syracuse and a pseudo-homecoming of sorts for Freeze against Ole Miss November 6.

“We are pleased to continue to showcase Liberty home football games exclusively on ESPN platforms in the years ahead through this multi-year extension of our rights agreement which began in 2018. The recent success of the Flames has made them one of the more intriguing programs in college football the past few seasons.” said Dan Margulis, senior director of programming and acquisitions, ESPN.

The move comes during a tumultuous time in college football as Oklahoma and Texas are reportedly nearing a deal to join the SEC. Liberty is currently one of just six FBS independents, along with BYU, UMass, Army, Notre Dame, and New Mexico State. That list is a mixed bag of those who are independent by choice and those who are not.

The Flames will embark on just their fourth season in the FBS this fall, and the smoke surrounding the school’s desire to join the AAC is palpable. Gaining favor with the Worldwide Leader is a good first step for a program that’s always focused on putting one in front of the other as of late.

Sports TV News

Louis Riddick Explains How MNF Production Meetings Work

“Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.”

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

The Monday Night Football campaign is in full swing, and The Athletic’s Robert Mays had MNF analyst Louis Riddick on The Athletic Football Show to discuss his weekly routine for putting on a top-notch broadcast.

Riddick dove into the process each week and discussed which coach has impressed him the most during his time in the booth. Tuesdays are a rest and recovery day after traveling home — then the process starts on Wednesday.

“We kinda have a, from a booth perspective, between Steve Levy, Brian Griese, myself, and then Phil Dean the producer and Jimmy Platt, the director. Us five get together and just discuss the previous week’s game and whatever we want to bring up that is positive or negative,” Riddick described to Mays on the show.

The brain trust discusses play breakdowns, production, and situations that popped up during the game. Next up is choosing the important voices for the next game that they want to speak to.

“We give Phil the list of coaches and players that we think are important to talk to,” Riddick said. “He sends that into that team’s PR department, and then usually they say yay or no. Most teams are very, very good with giving us the players that we want because it’s better for them. They know the more we highlight them, the better it is for them.”

Riddick expounded more on the production meetings with coaches, including one with a particular Bay Area play-caller.

“I would say our meeting with [San Francisco 49ers head coach] Kyle Shanahan,” Riddick answered. “Before we did the Bills game down in Arizona because they had to move from Santa Clara because of what was happening was some of the best football conversations I’ve ever had in my life, quite honestly. From team building, coach-player relationships, X’s and O’s, the opponent, what he learned from his father, what he feels specifically that running backs need to have and why… It was fricken incredible, incredible.”

Riddick can be seen on Monday Night Football breaking down all the action throughout the 2021 NFL season. Listen to the full episode here.

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Women in Sports Media Celebrate Kate Scott Joining 76ers

“The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from the women throughout sports media this week.”

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Courtesy: NBC Sports Philadelphia

Kate Scott is breaking new ground, and the sports broadcasting community took notice.

Scott joined Lisa Byington as the only full-time female voices of NBA franchises when the Philadelphia 76ers announced her addition this week. She replaces longtime TV play-by-play voice Marc Zumoff.

“Being the voice of the 76ers is a dream come true,” Scott said to NBC Sports Philadelphia. “As a kid playing hoops alone in my driveway, I actually used to imagine I was Allen Iverson; the clock would wind down in my head, people would scream, ‘You’re too small! You don’t belong!’ But I’d fade away, hit the shot, and the crowd in my mind would go wild.

“To now get the opportunity to be the voice of that team is incredible, and I look forward to earning the respect and trust of the phenomenal city of Philadelphia, and 76ers fans everywhere, one call and one game at a time.”

Scott seemingly busts down barriers every year. She recently became the first woman to call Olympic men’s basketball as part of NBC Sports’ coverage of Tokyo 2020, where she covered both men’s and women’s games.

“Kate’s energy, passion, and tremendous knowledge of the game of basketball made her the ideal candidate to usher in a new era of 76ers basketball on NBC Sports Philadelphia,” Philadelphia 76ers President of Business Operations Chris Heck said. “We’re thrilled that she’ll call our city home and look forward to the lasting connections and memories she’ll make with the best fans in sports. Kate and Alaa [Abdelnaby] are a dynamic broadcast pairing that 76ers fans will enjoy watching on the call this season and beyond.”

The west coast native is heading east to continue pursuing her dreams, and she received a ton of support from women throughout sports media this week.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Taking Sunday NFL Countdown To Foxboro

ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.

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Via Boston Globe

Tom Brady going against his former team the New England Patriots is something that every NFL fan will be front and center next Sunday. It seems that ESPN is no exception, as they have announced that Sunday NFL Countdown show will be live from Gillette Stadium on October 3rd.

Will ESPN bring in some Boston-centric guests? It is possible, although the Sunday NFL Countdown crew already features two former Patriots in Randy Moss and Tedy Bruschi and a former Boston College quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck. Even Rex Ryan is tangentially connected to the Patriots, having coached two of the team’s division rivals.

The dynamic between these charismatic former players and coach in a live show setting should be one that the fans should be very excited for.

For the live show, ESPN is encouraging all fans to come out to watch free of charge starting at 10 a.m EST. For those who come an hour early to the show, there will be a giveaway starting at 9 a.m.

Kickoff for the actual game will be at 8:20 p.m EST on NBC. In that way, this won’t feel entirely different from College GameDay at ESPN, with the show in the morning before all of the kickoffs and the big game not until primetime.

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