Sports TV News
Kirk Herbstreit Open To Giving Up College Football For NFL
“College football remains Herbstreit’s first love. He made that very clear.”
When the subject of Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler becoming the new voices of Monday Night Football on ESPN was first raised, the College GameDay star made it clear that he was not interested in giving up his role as ESPN’s lead college football analyst. Now his tune has changed a bit.
Herbstreit spoke with The Big Lead this week and said that his early season experiences with Monday Night Football left him open to leaving the college game behind to cover the NFL should the opportunity ever present itself again.
“I had an absolute ball calling that game [Steelers-Giants] and it made me reflect a little bit differently toward my future and what I might want to do down the road,” Herbstreit told Brian Giuffra. “Like I said, I hope to always do college football. But if NFL would be in my future, I’m a lot more open to that thought than I was maybe prior to that experience.”
College football remains Herbstreit’s first love. He made that very clear. His family has deep ties to the sport. In addition to being a starting quarterback at Ohio State himself, his father played football there as well and was a team captain, and Herbstreit’s sons play for Dabo Swinney at Clemson.
He also said that he knows his name has become so synonymous with ESPN’s coverage of the sport, that he wondered how he might be received on an NFL broadcast.
“I have to be honest, I was just a little bit, not intimidated, I was just a little bit curious as to how they would handle Chris and Kirk coming in from college to do a Monday night game and they could not have been any more gracious,” He said of the NFL players and coaches. “That part kind of excited me, that they were pumped that we were there to do their game.”
ESPN certainly does not seem to have the future for Monday Night Football set in stone. Steve Levy is calling games this season alongside analysts Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, but ending up with that team after striking out with multiple major names, feels like a band-aid.
It’s not impossible to think Herbstreit could be in ESPN’s future plans for Monday Night Football. It may not be in the company’s best interest though.
Between ABC and the ESPN networks, the company already carries more college football than anyone else. Plus, it just paid $2 billion to take over the primary broadcast rights for the SEC in 2023. Add to that the fact that College GameDay is firmly entrenched as the sport’s go-to pregame show for most fans, and becomes very hard to see the network being willing to give up the credibility and caché Herbstreit brings to its coverage of college football.
Sports TV News
Charles Barkley ‘Was so Mad’ at ESPN Coverage of LeBron James
“We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
When the Denver Nuggets advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, ESPN showed the team’s celebration for all of four seconds. It then quickly switched to a shot of LeBron James, stoic but obviously disappointed, walking through the tunnel back to the Los Angeles Lakers locker room.
Tuesday on ESPN’s First Take, JJ Redick criticized the network’s NBA coverage for highlighting larger markets and a small faction of players considered to be “superstars.” There’s no way to tell if Charles Barkley was watching, but Redick’s point is one he agreed with.
That night on Inside the NBA, Barkley said he was annoyed with the amount of attention put on LeBron James after the game. He wanted to see the reactions of Nuggets stars Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray and head coach Michael Malone to making the NBA Finals. Instead, he and other viewers were inundated with more content centered around the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I was so mad this morning I actually turned the TV off,” Barkley said last night on Inside the NBA, “because the Denver Nuggets sweep and get to the Finals for the first time. We all love LeBron, [but] he didn’t say he was retired yet. It should’ve been all about the Denver Nuggets.”
James, for the record, did not even say that he was seriously considering retiring. In a post-game press conference following the Lakers’ elimination, he said he “had a lot to think about” in the offseason.
The Walt Disney Company has reported its most-watched NBA playoffs on ESPN platforms in the last 11 years, according to data provided by Nielsen Media Research. The games have averaged approximately 5.6 million viewers, a 9% increase from the year prior. Moreover, Game 4 between the Nuggets and Lakers peaked at around 11.5 million viewers from the 11 to 11:15 p.m. EST quarter hour window, and averaged 8.2 million over the duration of the contest.
Sports TV News
ESPN Layoffs Resume, NFL & NBA Talent Likely To See Biggest Cuts
“The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning.”
ESPN will look to slash $30 million in salary as The Walt Disney Company’s layoffs continue, with a majority of it coming from talent covering the NFL and NBA. The network’s goal is to have the layoffs completed by the end of June according to a report by Front Office Sports.
Through it all, Max Kellerman’s afternoon television show This Just In could be canceled in order to slot Pat McAfee’s show into the daily programming lineup. Kellerman’s show airs from 2 to 3 p.m. EST, meaning more moves could be on the way to hold McAfee’s statement that his show will air immediately following First Take, which concludes at noon.
Employee morale at ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol is reportedly quite low, with people questioning why the company chose to pay McAfee and lay off a litany of its dedicated and longtime staffers.
The company is beginning its latest phase of layoffs this week with Vice President of Research, Insights and Analytics Barry Blyn receiving a pink slip Wednesday morning. More names are surely to follow as The Worldwide Leader looks to do its part to contribute to Disney cutting $5.5 billion in costs. The final round is expected to impact 2,500 employees in different areas of the company.
The company expects to report its own earnings for the first time this November, and sources have stated that the numbers will be impressive. Conducting the layoffs in separate rounds and saving on-air talent for last, however, has certainly played a role in public perception of the moves, and this week’s round will largely impact executives and other personnel behind the scenes.
Sports TV News
Eli Manning: ‘People Enjoy’ When ManningCast Has to Apologize for Language
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests.”
The ManningCast on ESPN has become appointment viewing for select Monday Night Football games. Eli Manning loves the fun, laid-back nature of the show he and brother Peyton put on for fans.
But with live TV, sometimes unpredictable things happen, and sometimes people use profanity. Eli, speaking on Tuesday at the 4se sports and entertainment event in New York City, said viewers get a kick out of when the two let occasional profanities slip and have to scramble to say sorry.
“We get a lot of curse words, some from Peyton, some from guests,” he said. “I feel like we’re apologizing for a lot of things on the show, but I guess people enjoy that part.”
Manning has said previously that the goal is for viewers to get the sense that Peyton and Eli are right there with them on their couch watching the game. Eli said it’s been fun getting to show some authenticity now that he’s retired.
“When I was playing, there was a conscious effort; I didn’t want either my fans or coaches to think I had a life outside of football,” he said. “Once I retired, I realized I didn’t have to hold back.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He’s a multimedia journalist and communicator who works at the Virginia State Corporation Commission in Richmond. Jordan also contributes occasional coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly, WRIC-TV 8News and Audacy Richmond. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.