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The Triumphant Return of the Et Cetera of Sports Media is a back one as we talk the peeps that are rumored/leaving ESPN.
Mike Tirico Leaving ESPN for NBC
Mike Tirico, one of ESPN’s best known on-air voices, is leaving the network for NBC, according to several sources. Tirico has been a mainstay with ESPN since ’91, and given his many roles at ESPN, he will be an incredibly difficult talent to replace. Tirico has been ESPN’s on-air face of the NFL, serving as the lead play-by-play announcer for “MNF” since ’06. A source says that Sean McDonough, who recently renewed his deal with ESPN, is a leading candidate to replace Tirico on “MNF,” though no decision has been made yet. NBC would not comment on the move, with a spokesperson saying that the net does not comment on people under contract with another outlet.
A versatile broadcaster, Tirico also heads up ESPN’s second NBA broadcast team and will continue to call games through this year’s playoffs, as his current deal ends this summer. He also has called college basketball and football games and led ESPN’s golf and tennis coverage. Tirico is expected to be the lead play-by-play voice on NBC’s new “Thursday Night Football” package of five late-season games. It is unclear what his other roles will be at NBC, where Al Michaels is the lead play-by-play voice for the network’s signature “SNF” package, and Bob Costas is an established Olympics host, having been selected as primetime host for a record 11th Olympics including this summer’s Rio Games.
Michaels has two years left on his NBC contract, which runs through ’17. NBC’s golf portfolio – the network has deals with the PGA Tour and British Open – also are attractive to Tirico, who is known to be a big golf fan. Tirico is repped by Sandy Montag.
Skip Bayless leaving ESPN for Fox Sports
ESPN provocateur-in-chief and First Take co-host Skip Bayless is leaving ESPN, according to a statement released by the company:
Skip Bayless has decided to leave ESPN when his contract expires at the end of August. His final appearance on First Take will be the day after the NBA Finals conclude. We want to thank Skip for his many contributions to ESPN. His hard work and talent have benefited ESPN for 12 years.
According to an industry source, Bayless is expected to join Fox Sports. New Fox Sports head honcho Jamie Horowitz—who worked with Bayless at First Take while at ESPN and is generally credited/blamed for the network’s embarrassing “Embrace Debate” era—has been clear about his desire to remake Fox Sports and Bayless is the biggest name in that game. “Yes, we’re interested in all the superstars,” Horowitz told Sporting News last month. “Of course, I’m interested in Skip.”
According to an ESPN press release, First Take was supposed to broadcast from Chicago starting on Thursday, site of the NFL Draft. An ESPN spokesperson tells me those plans have changed, but declined to elaborate on why. According to a source, it’s because of today’s announcement.
Bayless, whose ESPN contract is up this summer, will presumably be paid an enormous amount of money to leave the network he’s called home for over a decade. According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, ESPN was prepared to offer Bayless around $4 million annually.
Fox Sports and Bayless’s agent didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rumored: Brad Nessler leaving ESPN for CBS
Could SEC Saturdays on CBS be getting ready to change?
Clay Travis of FoxSports.com reported that ESPN’s Brad Nessler will leave for CBS and eventually will replace Verne Lundquist as CBS’ lead play-by-play man on SEC telecasts
Rumored: Trent Dilfer leaving ESPN
Now that we’ve moved past the NFL Draft, the future of ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer has become quite the topic du jour in the football and sports media worlds. Over the weekend it was reported that Dilfer was on his way out at ESPN and preparing to look for more opportunities elsewhere.
On Monday, the website Niners Noise of the Fansided Network reported that Dilfer was finalizing a deal to join the San Francisco 49ers in some mystery capacity, specifically to help coach up the team’s quarterbacks.
Soon thereafter, Dilfer unequivocally shot down that report in a statement to the Mercury News:
Trent Dilfer shot down Internet rumors Monday that he could be joining the 49ers in some capacity upon leaving his role as an ESPN analyst.“I have no intention of joining the 49ers,” Dilfer told this newspaper in an exclusive phone interview. “I have never been talking with the 49ers about this and I’m focused on continuing my broadcasting opportunities.”
So much for that. At least Dilfer has learned from ESPN colleague Jon Gruden on how to effectively shoot down internet rumors that will connect you to every possible job in football.
It’s curious that Dilfer would make no mention of his employment with ESPN, only referring to future “broadcasting opportunities.” If that’s not a sure sign that he’s moving on from Bristol, I don’t know what is. So once again, the questions turn to Dilfer’s future home – at least we’ve crossed one potential landing place off the list.
We will keep you updated to when Dilfer lands.
Robert Smith to FOX/BTN from ESPN
by Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing
When former Ohio State and Minnesota Vikings running back Robert Smith announced he was leaving ESPN as a college football analyst, the next step in his television career seemed rather obvious. On Sunday night, it became a reality.
SI’s Richard Deitsch tweeted that Smith was joining Fox Sports along with Big Ten Network
With an eye towards what’s coming, Smith’s Twitter bio says “pending.”
Smith was a pretty good analyst at ESPN, but never really reached the top of the network – maybe because he didn’t have a particular conference or fanbase to troll.
He’s a perfect fit for the Fox/BTN conglomerate, especially considering Fox Sports just picked up half of the Big Ten rights package. Smith should help fortify a list of studio analysts at Fox including Joel Klatt, Matt Leinart, and Dave Wannstedt. One might expect him to have a similar role as another former Buckeye, Jim Jackson, who traverses back and forth between the networks in a floating role.
Overall, Smith is a very good hire that should help bring some more credibility to Fox’s efforts to build up their college football coverage, especially in the eyes of Big Ten fans.
Rumored: Fox Sports sign one half of the Big Ten TV Rights
by John Ourand & Michael Smith from Sports Business Daily
Fox is close to signing a deal that gives it half of the Big Ten’s available media rights package, according to several sources. Deal terms still are flexible – both in terms of money and rights. However, the two sides have agreed on basic terms that will give Fox the rights to around 25 football games and 50 basketball games that it will carry on both the broadcast channel and FS1 starting in the fall of ’17. The deal runs six years and could cost Fox as much as $250M per year, depending on the amount of rights the Big Ten conference puts in its second package.
The Fox deal essentially is half of the package of games that had been with ESPN (as part of a 10-year, $1B deal that expires next spring) and CBS (as part of a 6-year, $72M basketball-only deal that also expires next spring). The Big Ten will return to the market to solicit bids on the second half of the package. The conference has the flexibility to allow for another network or two to pick up that half. ESPN will be one of several TV networks engaged for the second half of the Big Ten’s package, along with the usual suspects of CBS, NBC and Turner.
The second package also is expected to include around 25 football and 50 basketball games. The package also could include rights to the football championship games every other year, though sources caution that the rights in the second package are flexible and could include more – or less – games.
Hugh Things going on Sports Media & here on BKD TV we will keep you updated, if you want more on some of the changes, listen to Richard Deitsch podcast interview he had with John Ourand from Sports Business Daily from last week below: