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Countdown to Coverage: College Football’s Best TV Booth

“With so much to choose from, it makes sense we waited till the end to unveil our choices for the best TV crews in college football.”

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College football season is nearly here.

Forget last Saturday. It’s called Week 0 for a reason. Do you really want to believe the first game of the 2022 season was 3-9 Northwestern and 3-9 Nebraska playing halfway around the world?

Here at Barrett Sports Media, we are celebrating college football from a media angle. All week long, our editors and resident college football superfans, Arky Shea, Demetri Ravanos and Garrett Searight, will be looking at the best the media has to offer in terms of college football coverage.

The entire schedule is as follows:

MONDAY: Best Local Show

TUESDAY: Best National Radio Show

WEDNESDAY: Best College Football Podcast

THURSDAY: Best TV Show

FRIDAY: Best TV Play-by-Play Booth

This one is the big magilla. With so many games on TV every Saturday, college football offers fans their pick of a variety of talented broadcast crews.

Diversity reigns in college football television. That isn’t just about the way the people on each crew look. It’s about style and presentation.

That’s what happens when there is no single governing body to dictate the tone they want set for their sport. Fans are the winners for that!

With so much to choose from, it makes sense we waited till the end to unveil our choices for the best TV crews in college football. Here they are!

BRAD NESSLER & GARY DANIELSON ON CBS by Arky Shea

No one calls a college football game better than Brad Nessler. Period. In a land of immensely talented play-by-play talents, Nessler sits atop. He has one of the rare voices in college football that comforts you because you know college football is happening and it’s happening on a massive stage. If Nessler is in the booth, it’s a big damn deal. It’s the biggest reason I was so thrilled that he was the guy that replaced Verne Lundquist on the SEC on CBS games. I never wanted Verne to leave but since he retired, Nessler brought the gravitas.

Gary Danielson is way more talented than he his given his just due for and honestly, I have not heard a single reason why he shouldn’t be considered at the top of everyone’s board. He’s smart, well-prepared and was predicting plays before Tony Romo told you all that was a thing. He uses his time on-air wisely and points out the biggest reasons a play did or not work while at the same time, readily admitting when something doesn’t make sense to him if that moment arises. He has been the lead game analyst for the best league’s best game since 2006. If you think that’s an accident, you’ve had one too many Boilermakers.

GUS JOHNSON & JOEL KLATT ON FOX by Demetri Ravanos

Someone long ago decided that sports were not fun and that if they involved amateurs, they were sacred and should sound like church. I don’t know who that someone was, but I hate their guts and hope they roll over in their graves every time Gus Johnson is on the call of Ohio State and Michigan.

College football is a fun sport. Johnson makes it sound fun. Add in Joel Klatt, and the duo form a team that balances excitement with insight. I’m not a fan of FOX’s pregame show, but each Saturday you can bet, no matter who is playing, I will always check out Big Noon Saturday. Johnson and Klatt can make even a 20-point Nebraska loss sound interesting.

CHRIS FOWLER & KIRK HERBSTREIT on ABC by Garrett Searight

I could him-haw around what I think or I can just come out and say it. So it’s option number two. Kirk Herbstreit is the best television sports analyst of all time. His ability to understand the game and put it into terms that John Q. Public understands is unrivaled. Often times while watching a broadcast, I’ll notice something the color commentator doesn’t. I don’t ever have those moments with Herbstreit. He sees everything, and sees it before the instant replay so he can convey what he saw to you. His ability to see the entire field and see everything on the field, plus his ability to diagram plays on the telestrator after seeing it live is a masterclass in football broadcasting. Chris Fowler isn’t the world’s best play-by-play announcer, but he knows his role is to set up Herbie to shine week after week. Mission accomplished.

I gave strong consideration to Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt. I can’t pretend to be unbiased there because, as an Ohio State fan, I see an awful lot of Gus & Joel. Gus yells a bit too much nonsense for my taste, but that’s what he’s best known for. I’m always appreciative of his energy, but the star of the show is Klatt. He teaches me more about the game than any other analyst. He’s fantastic. But he’s not better than Herbstreit.

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Pedro Martinez: ‘Never Imagined’ TV Career

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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