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Kirk Herbstreit Didn’t Feel ‘Growing Pains’ During Thursday Night Football

“I didn’t feel like there were growing pains for me personally. Maybe the audience had growing pains…I do think that’s very apparent to me.”

Ricky Keeler

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Al Michaels, Kirk Herbstreit

It has been a busy few months for Kirk Herbstreit with his new role as the analyst on Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime in addition to being on College GameDay and being the lead analyst for college football on ESPN/ABC. It has led to a lot of travel and not a lot of sleep most weeks. However, one addition to College Gameday this year has provided Herbstreit with an extra boost.

Herbstreit was a guest on Pardon My Take this week and he mentioned that the timing couldn’t have been better for Pat McAfee to join College GameDay this season.

“The timing for me personally could not have come at a better time than having Pat McAfee join the show this year. His energy for me personally on the show and even more importantly off the show was huge for me this year as far as kind of keeping my juice going when you are sleeping 2 hours a night or flying wherever you are flying. You know how he has that infectious personality and energy. That was a big win for me this year personally.”

For some who are not normal viewers of college football, Herbstreit was a new voice for people watching the NFL. With that being said, Herbstreit did not feel that he had any growing pains this year and he felt comfortable from the very first game that him and Al Michaels did between the Chiefs and Chargers.

“We started with Mahomes vs. Herbert. I felt like Al and I hit the ground running. Probably the craziest thing when we were done with that game was I think people that communicated with me were like ‘You guys sound like you have been working together for 10-15 years’ just because it was a good game number one and there was comfort there.

“I didn’t feel like there were growing pains for me personally. Maybe the audience had growing pains…I do think that’s very apparent to me.”

When Herbstreit would go to a bigger city to do a TNF football game, he could feel that the audience was not yet used to hearing his voice on an NFL game.

“You get it in New York and a lot of the bigger cities where it’s just NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. They look at college football the way we might look at middle school football, not even high school football. Until the draft comes around, they don’t know anything about it. I don’t know how people live not watching both personally. I don’t know how my life would exist if I didn’t watch both. I can’t imagine having a black hole towards the NFL. There are people that do that.” 

Herbstreit will wrap up his busy schedule when he is on the call along with Chris Fowler for the CFP National Championship Game between TCU and Georgia on Monday (7:30 PM ET, ESPN). Holly Rowe and Molly McGrath will be on the sidelines for the game. 

Sports TV News

Nick Wright: The Best Version of First Things First is What We’re Doing Now

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day.”

Ricky Keeler

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Nick Wright has been a co-host on First Things First on FS1 for the last five-and-a-half years. The show has evolved over the years and according to Wright, he has evolved as a broadcaster from the time he got cut from doing play-by-play at WAER in Syracuse to now.

Wright was a guest on The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week and he said that when he first appeared on television, he wanted the audience to think he had all the answers, but the mindset has changed for him and he said the new version of the show that he does with Kevin Wildes and Chris Broussard every weekday is the most successful version of the show.

“When I got on TV, I think the first year maybe, I thought the job was to always have all the answers. To have the facts exactly right, to never be wrong. I’ve now done the show for five-and-a-half years. By a country mile, the most successful version of the show is the one I’m doing right now — this moment — with Wildes and Broussard. It’s the funniest and that’s why.

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day. Now I approach it as our entire goal is to put on a show that people smile while they are watching and have a good time and that has enough meat to it where it is not all empty calories. There’s got to be the information, there’s got to be the analysis, but there’s also got to be a lot of bells and whistles and funny stuff and guys messing with each other and that’s what works. That took me a while to figure out.”

The only time when Wright didn’t think he had to prove how smart he was when he first appeared on TV was when he would appear on The Herd as Cowherd’s guest and he had a goal in mind whenever he would appear on the show.

“Early in our relationship, I was really, really trying to impress you and I wanted to make you laugh. Every time I came on, I was like ‘It’s successful if I made Colin laugh’. I was too stupid to realize I should just be trying to make the audience laugh, too… That was the best version of me at the time. I felt like you knew I was smart, so I wasn’t trying to prove it to you. I could be the best version of myself.”

While Wright knows he is not a traditional broadcaster, he mentioned to Cowherd that there is one skill set he definitely knows he has.

“The point is I’m not a great broadcaster, like a traditional broadcaster. I can’t read off a teleprompter, but there is a specific thing I can do, which is confidently argue, whether it’s 1-on-1 with my wife or in front of a million people.”

Even though Wright got cut from doing play-by-play at Syracuse, he told Cowherd he was doing talk shows at the station still and it led him to where he is today.

“I was fortunate that I was already working on the talk-show staff. Growing up, I thought I wanted to do play-by-play, but what I wanted to do was color commentary. I would watch the NBA on NBC with Bob Costas, Bill Walton, and Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones and what I wanted to do was the color, but I didn’t realize you can’t do that unless you are a former player or a former coach. They aren’t hiring me to do commentary

“I was crushed, but it made me fully pivot to talk shows. Now at WAER, the talk show studio is named after me and my picture is on the wall. I am a Hall of Famer there. Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Nick Wright, those are the three studios there.”

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Sports TV News

Outside the Lines Won’t Return to ESPN Weekend Schedule

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017.

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ESPN has decided to not return Outside the Lines to its weekend lineup, ending the show’s linear television run.

A report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal claims ESPN told OTL staffers that the show wouldn’t return to the network after the Super Bowl.

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017. Outside the Lines was often regarded as the “moral compass” of ESPN, and was often the source of some of the more investigative reporting employed by the network.

Outside the Lines — which was airing at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings — averaged 303,000 viewers in the timeslot. Meanwhile, SportsCenter: AM has seen an average audience of 572,000 in the same window.

The Outside the Lines brand will continue being utilized during the Noon ET SportsCenter, as well as ESPN digital platforms, including the network’s YouTube page.

Jeremy Schaap will continue to host the Outside the Lines segments during SportsCenter, but will also be the host of a new iteration of The Sports Reporters that will air on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Schaap’s father, Dick, was the host of the ESPN Sunday morning program from 1988 until his death in 2001. The show aired on ESPN from 1988 to 2017.

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Sports TV News

CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’

“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”

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An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.

The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.

CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.

“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand

Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.

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