Fowler Taking Musburger's Spot Calling Primetime CFB Games, Staying On "GameDay"
ESPN this morning announced that Chris Fowler has signed a contract extension through ’23 that will now see him become the play-by-play announcer on both ABC's primetime college football coverage as well as the national championship game. Fowler also will continue to host “College GameDay” and will remain a part of ESPN’s coverage of the four tennis Grand Slams (ESPN). SI.com's Richard Deitsch yesterday reported "some in ESPN management" did not want Fowler to host "GameDay" and call a game on the same day. While Kirk Herbstreit serves as an analyst for both "GameDay" and the primetime broadcast, Fowler's "responsibility on GameDay is much more demanding than Herbstreit's." Meanwhile, ESPN analyst Todd Blackledge is the "leading candidate to be an analyst for the non-Herbstreit playoff semifinal" (SI.com, 3/12).
TRANSITION GAME: SI.com's Deitsch reported Musburger's new role as the lead football announcer for the SEC Network "includes 15 regular-season games and a bowl game involving an SEC team that is not tied to the national semifinals." Musburger had the "opportunity to call SEC basketball, too, but he felt a level of comfort with Big 12 basketball, his current producer and director, and partners Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe." He will "remain with that team." Musburger, who received a three-year extension, said that he was "told that he would not call next season's national championship in the press box prior to the BCS title game in January." ESPN President John Skipper and ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Production John Wildhack "delivered the news." Musburger said, "Obviously, I was disappointed I was not going to be doing one of the semifinals and the final. I'm not going to mislead anyone with that and I have told Skipper and Wildhack the same thing. But I also know that was not going to change anything. It was time to take a different challenge and move on." (SI.com, 3/12). Musburger said of not calling the BCS title game, "Certainly if they asked me, I would have liked to have done it. I don't feel hurt by it. There comes a time when a corporation wants to make a change and it's not like they pushed me out on the curb." Asked if he feels like he will need to be a cheerleader for the SEC, Musburger said, "I don't have to cheerlead for them. ... I am not going to shill if things aren't going well and there's going to be some negative stories. I'm not going to dwell on them, but I've never shied away from that" (AL.com, 3/12).
MOVING ON: In Miami, Barry Jackson wrote the move for Musburger is "quite a step down from his previous role" (MIAMIHERALD.com, 3/12). In Atlanta, Andy Johnston wrote Musburger's new broadcast partner, Jesse Palmer, is "growing into his job as an analyst, but tends to dominate conversations by running on and on and on." Palmer might "benefit from a two-man booth, so he won’t have to fight for time with another analyst" (AJC.com, 3/12).