ESPN Exec VP/Programming & Production John Wildhack said that he "became convinced" that Chris Fowler could handle the double duty of "College GameDay" and "Saturday Night Football" after multiple conversations with Fowler and producer Bill Bonnell, according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. Wildhack added that he "never felt" like Fowler, who joined the net in July '86, would "leave ESPN at any point during the negotiations." Fowler will "likely travel from GameDay to an alternate game site in about half the weeks of the college football season." Wildhack: "Knowing Chris as I do and knowing his relationship with Kirk [Herbstreit], I made the decision to move forward. All of our conversations were very candid, constructive and collegial. It wasn't like I'm the management guy and he's the play-by-play guy. It was two guys talking about Chris' future and he knew from the get-go I wanted him to stay with the company for a long time." ESPN's next "contractual domino" to address is Rece Davis, a "standout performer whose contract is coming up." Wildhack said, "Rece is a very important and valued contributor to what we do in the college space. I would like to see him remain in that position for years to come. We want him for a long, long time" (SI.com, 3/13).
END OF AN ERA: SPORTS ON EARTH's Leigh Montville wrote "there is nothing wrong" with ESPN's Brent Musburger moving to the SEC Network. The "poobahs always will shift the chess pieces around the board at will, looking for better demographics, better ratings, ultimately leading to higher revenues, but it will take a bit of adjusting for the viewer." But the big games "will not sound as big any more." For more than 40 years, "the Musburger voice has been an important part of important sports moments" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 3/13). In Boston, Chad Finn writes moving Musburger off of "Saturday Night Football" "feels like the end of an era." Musburger "has a knack for capturing the magnitude of a big event, and so it’s disappointing his new assignment does not include calling any playoff games" (BOSTON GLOBE, 3/14).