ESPN To Premiere FCS Kickoff August 23rd

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The 2014 college football season is still months away.  But ESPN announced this week that it will debut a new college football program this Fall.

Eastern Washington will host Sam Houston State University in the first broadcast of FCS Kickoff for the 2014 college football season.  The game will be broadcast on Saturday, August 23rd at 3:30pm ET on ESPN.  Eastern Washington fell to Sam Houston State 49 – 34 in the 2013 season.  The loss was Eastern Washington’s only loss to an FCS opponent in the 2013 season.  Both teams are expected to be included in the 2014 preseason FCS Coaches Top 25 poll.

The matchup between Sam Houston State and Eastern Washington will be only the first of many more games to come in ESPN’s FCS Kickoff.  AS Brent Colborne, ESPN Director of Programming and Acquisitions noted in an interview, “FCS conferences and member institutions are an important part of the overall fabric of collegiate athletics and ESPN’s programming schedule.  We regularly talk with our league partners on opportunities for increased exposure and expansion of our content offerings. The FCS Kickoff is one result that will further showcase the quality and depth of FCS football to our national audience.”

Updates on ESPN’s FCS broadcast schedule will be available online at http://espn.go.com and http://www.facebook.com/ESPN throughout the year.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Tebow Added To SEC Network, ESPN Staff

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

Former college football standout Tim Tebow had a hard time finding his place in the NFL.  But now, it looks like the former Florida Gator star will be hanging up his cleats in favor of a suit and tie.  That’s because he has been hired by the SEC Network.  Tebow will serve as an analyst for the networks’ pre-game show SEC Nation.  The terms of his deal also include contributions on ESPN’s SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, and ESPN’s annual Heisman Trophy award show coverage.  Tebow will make his ESPN debut on Monday, January 6th.  He will serve as an analyst for ESPN’s pre-game coverage of the 2013 Vizio BCS National Championship.  Audiences can catch his contributions on SportsCenter at 9am, College Football Live at 3pm, and College GameDay Built By The Home Depot at 7pm.

Along with his duties on ESPN, Tebow will also be part of the fledgling SEC Network’s studio coverage of college football’s new College Football Playoffs.  The new playoff system begins with the 2014 college football season.  Tebow is the first college football analyst signed by the new network.  He will be joined Joe Tessitore and Paul Finebaum.  Tessitore is the lead ringside announcer for ESPN’s Friday Night Fights and will be host of SEC Nation.  Finebaum is host of The Paul Finebaum radio show.  The very first edition of SEC Nation will broadcast live Thursday, August 28th from Columbia, South Carolina where the Gamecocks of South Carolina will host the Aggies of Texas A&M University.  The SEC Network will have exclusive coverage of the game.  The weekly pre-game show will make its two-hour Saturday debut on Saturday, August 30 from 10am – noon.  That broadcast will come live from the campus of Auburn, where the Tigers will host the Arkansas Razorbacks.  SEC Nation will air every Saturday throughout the college football season.  It will offer a comprehensive look at all of the biggest of each week’s college football matchups.

More information on Tebow, the SEC Network and SEC Nation is available online at http://www.secdigitalnetwork.com/.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPNU Airing New “Storied” Special Next Week

ESPNU is presenting a very special presentation next Tuesday, September 25th as part of ESPN’s “Storied” series.  The network will premiere the special, “Croom” next Tuesday night at 7pm EST. 

“Croom” focuses on famed Mississippi State University coach Sylvester Croom.  He’s seen some very high and some low points.  Croom was part of three SEC Championship teams as a student athlete at the University of Alabama.  He was also the first ever African American Center on the football team.  Croom moved on to the NFL after his college career, where he served as an assistant coach for seventeen years before being considered for the head football coach of his alma mater.  Ultimately, he would be beaten out by Mike Shula.  It would be a year later when Croom took the helm of the embattled Mississippi State football program.  Three straight winning seasons and back to back wins against the Crimson Tide in ’06 and ’07 along with a Liberty Bowl win and Coach of The Year honors would seemingly secure his place at Mississippi State.  But that wouldn’t be the case, as he was surprisingly asked to step down from his post after the season that followed. 

Croom showed that despite being asked to step down from his coaching position, he wouldn’t let that adversity keep him down.  He returned to the NFL and now serves as part of the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff. 

This powerful story of success over great odds and adversity is perfect for any college football fan.  It airs on ESPNU next Tuesday night at 7pm EST. 

To keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with the latest entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com

ESPNU debuts new special Monday

The 2012 London Summer Olympics are just around the corner.  And just in time to build anticipation for this year’s games, ESPNU will air its newest special, “Lolo.”  “Lolo” airs Monday night at 7pm on ESPNU.

“Lolo” centers on track and field star Lori “Lolo” Jones.  It tells the story of an athlete who started her life with nothing, but through sheer determination and hard work, became one of the greatest names in her sport today.  Director Rory Karpf uses interviews with Jones’ family and friends, and Jones herself to illustrate her story.

Lori “Lolo” Jones’ story starts in Des Moines, Iowa.  She and her siblings grew up hard.  Their father was constantly in and out of the family’s picture.  Their mom struggled to make ends meet.  Jones herself talks about the family’s struggles leading to her having to shoplift food just to make sure she had something to eat and how the family even had to sleep on the floor of a Salvation Army Church because they had nowhere else at one point.  She also recounts how when her father was around, they never had one stable car.  She notes that her dad was always buying cheap cars that broke down quickly.  In the colder months of the year, she would end up having to run from point to point as a result of this.  That, she says, is what started her love of running.  She said of running that, “it [running] was the friend that never left.”

Lolo’s love of running became not just a love, but a genuine talent.  It garnered her a scholarship to LSU.  Jones said of her move to Louisiana that for a girl from Iowa, it was a total culture shock.  As much as it was a culture shock, moving to Louisiana and attending LSU was a turning point for her.  LSU was where she met track and field coach Dennis Shaver.  Shaver would unwittingly become the father figure that Jones needed to nurture her gift.  And he did just that.

Coach Shaver was there for Lolo after she failed to qualify for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.  It was his motivation that kept her going and working her way to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  Her run in the ’08 Olympics was nothing short of miraculous.  It was also one of the most important moments in her life.  When she came up short of the Gold in her final event, Jones started to question herself.  That led her to doubt herself in other competitions.  But the reality was that her problems may not have been her fault after all.  As a matter of fact, it would turn out that Jones had a problem that came as a surprise to everyone including herself that led to her ups and downs since the ’08 Olympics.

When she went to see a doctor about everything she was going through, he discovered that Jones actually had a problem with her spine.  It turned out that a problem with her spine had caused her to lose sensation to her feet.  That explained her legs and feet not moving the way she had wanted.  She finally had an answer.  After a successful procedure and recovery, Lolo Jones made an amazing comeback with a win at the ’08 U.S. Open.  And now, she will try to make it to this year’s London Olympics at next month’s Olympic Trials, hoping that the third time will truly be the charm.  Needless to say that when she tries out next month, there will likely be a lot of people watching on television and at those trials chanting, “Go! Go! Lolo! 

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