A Little Lingerie On The Deck: Bill Raftery Leaves ESPN, Joins Fox Sports 1
Fox Sports on Thursday announced that it has signed commentator Bill Raftery to serve as its lead analyst for Big East basketball games, where he will be working alongside play-by-play man Gus Johnson. Raftery and Johnson will call all Big East regular-season and conference tournament games televised on the forthcoming FS1. Raftery will continue in his role as lead analyst for men's regular-season and NCAA tournament contests on CBS (Fox Sports). AWFUL ANNOUNCING's Joe Lucia wrote of the move, "This is a big blow to ESPN, but not something that will mean the end." Raftery "mainly worked alongside Sean McDonough and Jay Bilas calling Big East games on ESPN, and while the trio was excellent, McDonough and Bilas should be fine on their own." It is "more of a coup for Fox than anything else, and now their basketball schedule has a solid backbone to build off of" (AWFULANNOUNCING.com, 6/27). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth notes the move is "more a function of Raftery wanting to remain with the network that is connected" with the Big East's rights holder than him wanting to leave ESPN, and FS1's plan is to "cover more than 100 games for the conference that will soon undergo major renovation with top-flight schools leaving" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 6/28). SPORTING NEWS' Roger Kuznia wrote, "Johnson and Raftery are known for their gregarious, energetic styles, which should make every Big East game artful entertainment" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 6/27).
OH, GOODBYE CANADA: The NATIONAL POST's Sean Fitz-Gerald notes TSN "SportsCentre" hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole's "final spin through the Canadian highlight reels will take place on Friday" in advance of their move to FS1. They will be in L.A. on July 8, "beginning rehearsals" for their roles as lead anchors of the network's flagship program "Fox Sports Live." O'Toole said, "Jay and I were back and forth between: ‘Yeah, we’re going, no we aren’t; yeah we are.'" Onrait added, "In the end, it was like, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?' We didn’t want to be 75-year-old men saying, 'Why didn’t we just go to L.A. for a couple of years in our 30s? We could have always come back. What the hell were we thinking?'" TSN Senior VP/Production Mark Milliere said that the "door for Onrait and O'Toole to return is 'absolutely' open" (NATIONAL POST, 6/28).