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Spears, Rutledge Get Contract Extensions From ESPN

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One of the stalwarts of ESPN’s SEC football coverage is staying put. Marcus Spears has signed a contract extension with the World Wide Leader.

Details of the new deal were not announced. Spears, a former All-American defensive lineman at LSU, is expected to continue his role on the SEC Network, where he has been a part of the studio show SEC Now and the network’s college football pregame show SEC Nation. He will also make appearances on College Football Live and on ESPN’s flagship show SportsCenter. Spears served as a field analyst for several spring football games. No word if those duties will continue into the regular season.

Tom McCollum, senior coordinating producer at the SEC Network, is happy to have Spears back in the fold. “The passion you see from him on our shows is genuine, and it only adds to his popularity as an analyst. He doesn’t hide his love for SEC football and it’s part of what makes him so fun to watch.”

Laura Rutledge also has a new deal to remain at ESPN. She is the host of SEC Nation and has contributed to ESPN’s event coverage including the ESPYs and the Home Depot College Football Awards Show.

She has also served as a sideline reporter for college football and basketball broadcasts. College football fans may best remember Rutledge for climbing up to the visiting athletic director’s box at Texas A&M in 2016 to ask LSU athletic director Joe Alleva if reports that the school was set to hire Tom Herman as its new head coach were true.

It is likely the new deal will expand Rutledge’s role at ESPN. She has already anchored SportsCenter a few times.

Sports TV News

Matthew Berry: ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ Led to ESPN Exit

“I have an entrepreneurial spirit…I wanted to continue my Fantasy Life stuff. I wanted to be able to keep doing that and building those businesses,” said Berry.

Ricky Keeler

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Matthew Berry

It’s been over a week since renowned fantasy football expert Matthew Berry joined NBC Sports after announcing his intention to leave ESPN after 15 years. It made many to wonder why Berry would switch networks.

Berry was on the Brother from Another show with Michael Smith this week. Smith and Berry will do two fantasy shows in the upcoming weeks. On Wednesday, August 17 at 8 PM ET on Peacock, they will host the RotoWorld Draft Guide Show. During the football season, the duo will host the Fantasy Football Tailgate show from 11 AM-1 PM on Peacock before the day’s NFL action begins.

Before the two of them broke down fantasy football, Berry told Smith that he wasn’t necessarily looking to leave the Worldwide Leader and the money wasn’t exactly that much different.

“I wasn’t looking to leave ESPN. I have nothing bad to say about the place. The reason anyone gives a blank about me is because of those four letters and I’m proud of everything we accomplished there.”

“What I would tell you is that there were two things that were super important to me. Obviously, you want to be paid as much as you can get. We all want to make as much money as possible. It was very comparable in terms of what ESPN offered me to stay. ESPN offered me a 3-year extension, very nice raise. NBC also made a very generous offer, so the money was basically equal.”

With money not being the sole reason for the switch, Berry wanted to keep the Fantasy Life app and FantasyLife.com going, which was something he would not be able to do if he was still at ESPN.

“I have an entrepreneurial spirit…I wanted to continue my Fantasy Life stuff. I wanted to be able to keep doing that and building those businesses,” said Berry.

The other main reason for Berry going to NBC is that he wanted to be a part of the NFL coverage, an opportunity he was told he would have by being on Football Night in America Sunday nights during the season.

“I wanted to be a part of NFL coverage. I’ve always tried to push the ball forward in terms of fantasy analysis. I believe that when you are talking fantasy, you are talking NFL. All it is is you are just talking ball…At ESPN because ESPN is owned by Disney, the entrepreneurial stuff wasn’t going to be allowed and I just wasn’t going to be a part of NFL coverage there. That’s how they’ve set their company up and let’s be clear, they have done really, really well over the years. It’s important for me to be a part of NFL coverage to have fantasy truly be aligned.” 

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Sports TV News

Jenna Wolfe Departs ‘First Things First’

“I’m heading off to some other things,” Wolfe said during her announcement. “I have had an absolute blast here, minus not always knowing what day it was.

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First Things First host Jenna Wolfe announced her departure at the end of this morning’s show. Wolfe has co-hosted the show with Nick Wright and Kevin Wildes since 2017.

“I’m heading off to some other things,” Wolfe said during her announcement. “I have had an absolute blast here, minus not always knowing what day it was.

“What’s important is I will be watching you guys (Wright and Wildes) and I will be rooting for you guys. And for you at home, thank you so much for waking up with us every day. It meant the world to me. I will miss you. I will mis this.”

Wolfe, 48, ended her goodbye by saying “It’s Jordan. It was always Jordan,” in regards to the show’s frequent conversation about whether Michael Jordan or LeBron James is the greatest basketball player of all time.

The former TODAY Show host did not mention what future projects may be in store.

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Sports TV News

CBS Will Work Around New Big Ten, Outgoing SEC Contracts

Dellenger reports the Big Ten’s deal will allow CBS to air their final season of the SEC during the first year of the contract, but said details weren’t provided.

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In a wide-ranging story Thursday, Sports Illustrated‘s Ross Dellenger revealed a college football media nugget that many had questioned.

CBS, who is expected to announce an upcoming deal with the Big Ten, is reportedly “double booked” for their 3:30 ET games in 2023.

The SEC’s deal with CBS, which ends after the 2023 season, is an exclusive game aired at 3:30 ET. The Big Ten’s deal with CBS, which begins for the 2023 season, is an exclusive game aired at 3:30 ET. Dellenger reports the Big Ten’s deal will allow CBS to air their final season of the SEC during the first year of the contract, but said details weren’t provided.

The situation isn’t ideal for the Big Ten or it’s new media partners CBS, NBC, or Fox. NBC is alleged to have secured a primetime Big Ten game, so any workaround involving CBS would likely see the Big Ten featuring two games on network TV simultaneously, with either an additional game at Noon ET competing with Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff or in primetime competing against NBC’s newly acquired rights.

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