ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews has signed a multiyear deal with Fox. Andrews will host a new 30-minute college football pregame show on Fox and will contribute to the net's NFL and MLB coverage (Fox). Andrews, whose contract with ESPN expired at the end of June, said, "This was a difficult move but it was the right move because it's allowing me to do so many things that I probably would not have been able to do had I stayed at ESPN." SI.com's Richard Deitsch reported Andrews "would not say what her specific role is on the NFL (Fox has sideline openings) but that announcement is expected to come this week." She said, "The NFL was a huge thing; it's always been a dream. I always wanted to work in the NFL and they are offering me a role in it." Andrews' agents at IMG told ESPN Friday she would not return to the net, and an ESPN statement said, "She did great work for us and we made an aggressive offer to keep her. We wish her the best on her next chapter." Andrews said that ESPN was "very aggressive in trying to keep her, but there was not one job at the network that would have convinced her to stay." Andrews: "This wasn't easy for me at all. ... They wanted me back and a lot of my co-workers thought it was happening. They were expecting I was coming back." She added that she "would not close out the idea of doing sideline reporting on college games for Fox, though hosting the prime-time show is her priority." Meanwhile, the "possibility exists she could be involved in some entertainment option under the Fox umbrella" (SI.com, 7/1). Andrews said of any non-sports elements, "Nothing has been decided with Fox News. We haven't gotten that far. We wanted to deal with sports first. There are other opportunities we're looking at entertainment-wise. I'm not going to lie, after 'GMA' and 'Dancing,' I'm excited to try other things" (USA TODAY, 7/2).
BIG MOVE FOR FOX: In Tampa, Tom Jones writes Fox is "smart to take a gamble" on Andrews, and she is "doing the right thing by making the jump." She otherwise would risk "doing nothing in this business other than sideline reporting." ESPN may have wanted Andrews to stay, but it "might not have been able to offer her anything other than more money." Outside of the "GameDay" hosting gig and several other sideline duties, the net "did not seem to be doing anything to give Andrews a higher profile" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 7/2). In N.Y., Shemar Woods wrote Andrews "would seem to be a perfect fit" with Fox as it "prepares for its first regular-season college football coverage" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/30). YAHOO SPORTS' Graham Watson noted Andrews is "another feather in Fox Sports' cap" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/29). NESN.com's Austin Pollack wrote, "This is a sad day not just for ESPN, but for all of its viewers. College football fans welcomed Andrews into their homes on Saturdays for football coverage because she was, and still is, the best reporter on the sidelines" (NESN.com, 6/30).
WHO'S NEXT FOR ESPN? THE BIG LEAD's Jason McIntyre wrote ESPN's Jenn Brown and Tom Rinaldi are the "early, obvious choices" to replace Andrews. Brown currently is a sideline reporter for the net's college football coverage, while Rinaldi "is already a staple on Gameday and a pro in the field." Sources said that a "darkhorse" is Samantha Steele, who has been on the Longhorn Network and last week was moved to ESPN's Thursday night college football team. McIntyre wrote if ESPN is "looking to make a big splash with a talented fresh face, Steele's the right pick." However, the "early guess" is Rinaldi since whoever is chosen "likely will also inherit Andrews' hosting job on the pre-Gameday show on ESPNU" (THEBIGLEAD.com, 6/30).