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Tom Rinaldi: I Tell As Many Positive Stories As Sad Ones

“Even though by volume there’s an equality, there is a disproportion of meaning and memorability to those stories.”

Ricky Keeler

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Tom Rinaldi
Sports Illustrated

Tom Rinaldi is one of the better, more captivating storytellers in sports media. One of the many roles that Rinaldi had at ESPN for 19 years was the main voice for features on College GameDay. 

Now, in addition to working the sidelines on big games for FOX, Rinaldi is telling feature stories on their college football pregame show, Big Noon Kickoff, a show that is rising in popularity. This week, Rinaldi was a guest on The Ryen Russillo Podcast to discuss his time at ESPN. 

During the interview, Russillo threw out a theory about College GameDay since he used to host the radio version of the show on ESPN Radio. He said he felt the show has been pushing for longer-form storytelling and that it “veers towards sadness” a lot. He wondered if there was research by programmers that showed people wanted to see more redemption in stories.

“It’s a fascinating theory,” Rinaldi answered. “That was never brought up. Features were brought up. If you actually took a season’s worth of storytelling content, whether it’s Big Noon Kickoff or on Gameday, you would see that there’s a balance of he’s good, she’s good, the lighter story, and the heavier story.

“I would submit that what people perhaps fail to recognize is that it is the heavier story that is more memorable. Even though by volume there’s an equality, there is a disproportion of meaning and memorability to those stories.”

While Rinaldi isn’t on any form of social media, but he does hear what some critics think of the amount of stories that air on a two or three-hour show. That doesn’t mean he is fazed by the criticism.

“I think there is at times a thought that these stories are wrong to tell or there are too many of them or I hear terrible terms suggested to me like tragedy porn or things of that nature. I would just suggest you always have the right not to watch. You always have the right to look away.” 

As for how Big Noon Kickoff is doing, Rinaldi feels that while GameDay is set in stone for what it is, the FOX college football pregame show is still establishing its identity.

When asked to compare the two networks, Rinaldi had nothing but good things to say about both. He said the decision to move on from ESPN was not an easy one to make.

“It’s difficult to leave a place that you love and you’ve been for 19 years. I’ll always love ESPN. I’m grateful for the next. There is so many wonderful things I got to do during my time at ESPN. Now, the chance to do not only Saturdays, but Sundays, the chance to do the World Cup, some features for the World Series, I’m just so grateful and I’ll always love ESPN, but so far, things have been tremendous on FOX.”

Sports TV News

Pat McAfee: Deals With Amazon/ESPN Fell Short Because The Show Comes First

“Energy, time, anything away from this show… we got a lot going on. This is my number one focus and it should remain as such…”

Jordan Bondurant

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Last week, it was announced that Pat McAfee would be hosting his own version of the popular Manning Cast only for college football games.

McAfee, co-host AJ Hawk, and the rest of his cast and crew from The Pat McAfee Show will host an alternate feed for six college football games this season.

McAfee was rumored to be in talks with Amazon about potentially hosting an alternate broadcast for its Thursday NFL games, and the former Colts punter had also reportedly talking with ESPN about potentially being featured on College GameDay.

McAfee said to Andrew Marchand of The New York Post that ultimately the Amazon and GameDay deals didn’t come to fruition because it just didn’t make sense.

“I’ve had great conversations with both companies, we just weren’t able to get to a point where ‘the ask’ and ‘the business’ were where it needed to be to get a deal done on both fronts,” McAfee said.

McAfee on his show on Monday elaborated a bit further, trying to put to bed that he was being courted for Thursday Night Football.

“I’m not 100 percent sure if that’s what we were talking about, by the way,” he said. “I was never really approached for anything for Thursday Night Football. That was never really anything.”

Pat read from the full response to Marchand’s questions, posted under the Post story which appeared on the paper’s site Monday. He reiterated that his daily show and the small business he built around his show, take precedent over anything else.

“Energy, time, anything away from this show, this operation, this crew; we got families being built, we got houses being bought, we got 12 employees, we got a lot going on,” he said. “So this is my number one focus and it should remain as such because I have a brain, and also I care a lot about this operation. I love it, actually.”

Still, McAfee made it clear that just because no deal was signed with ESPN and Amazon for 2022 means the ship has sailed permanently. He’s keeping his doors open.

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ESPN Reportedly To Lose Big Ten Media Rights For the First Time in 40 Years

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Jordan Bondurant

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BIG TEN, CBS, NBC, FOX SPORTS

After several months, it appears the Big Ten is nearing the finish line on a new media rights deal. And despite still reportedly being in negotiations with the conference, ESPN is looking set to lose out on media rights.

According to John Ourand of Sports Business Journal, CBS and NBC are the frontrunners to join with FOX.

The idea is that FOX would have its marquee game kick off at noon, with CBS airing a game at 3:30. NBC reportedly will air games in primetime.

Ourand reported his sources told him ESPN’s deal to keep the Big Ten was not as strong as the one offered by the other two networks.

It would mark the first time in four decades that ESPN didn’t have some involvement in Big Ten sports. But Ourand indicates the worldwide leader could pivot into bundling Big 12 and Pac-12 rights as an alternative. Additionally the network would then pursue keeping its deals with NCAA for championship coverage as well as being the home for the College Football Playoff.

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Fox Officially Unveils NFL Broadcast Teams

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In what has been considered a formality for some time, Fox today officially unveiled Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen, Erin Andrews, and Tom Rinaldi as their number one NFL broadcast team Monday. Burkhardt and Olsen were elevated to Fox’s top booth after the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier this year.

There were some reports that Drew Brees could have been a possibility to join the network, but those discussions fell apart.

The network’s other teams include several familiar faces to football fans:

#2 team: Joe Davis, Daryl “Moose” Johnston, Pam Oliver
#3 team: Adam Amin, Mark Schlereth, Kristina Pink
#4 team: Kenny Albert, Jonathan Vilma, Shannon Spake
#5 team: Kevin Kugler, Mark Sanchez, Laura Okmin
#6 team: Chris Myers, Robert Smith, Jen Hale

Olsen’s jump to the number one team with Burkhardt is a formality until the retirement of Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady. The seven-time Super Bowl winner will ascend to Fox’s number one booth upon his retirement, whenever that may be.

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