Kirk Herbstreit Talks 2016 College Football Season, More In Media Conference Call

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit took part in a conference call Wednesday with members of the press in which he discussed the upcoming college football season.  During the call, Herbstreit talked about College GameDay’s season opening appearance at Lambeau Field, the major matchups for the 2016 season, and a number of other topics.  The transcript of that call is included in whole below.

I’m down here in South Carolina, Deshaun Watson at Clemson looks like he’s poised for a big year. What are the challenges when somebody who may have only tangential been part of it, steps into that glare and spotlight? We saw a few years ago Jadeveon Clowney was supposed to have a big final year, and things didn’t work out as well as he wanted. What are some of the things you have to embrace to excel in that kind of spotlight?

Kirk Herbstreit: I think that’s a great question for a lot of the players that are back this year. Anytime you have a big freshman or sophomore year and you come back for your third year, you hear a lot of people talking about, just don’t get hurt and just get ready for the NFL, your lifelong dream. And while that is a big goal, obviously, and it should be for all these players, to me when you start worrying about things like that, that’s really when you hurt your own cause. Whether it’s going on to the NFL or helping your team win, I think the best thing to do is not forget what got you to that point. It was an attitude and approach that was selfless. It was not worrying about getting hurt.

In fact, Deshaun last year was coming off of an ACL, and probably pushed his rehab just to be able to try to get ready for those first couple games and maybe was a little bit ahead of schedule.

I remember early calling a few of their games, they were kind of protecting him a little bit, but he wanted to be out there. So I would be shocked if he changed his attitude and his approach because I just think that’s his DNA. That’s how he’s wired. I don’t think any agents or anybody’s going to be able to get to him and tell him to take it easy.

But you do see that happen from time to time. I personally think, as long as he focuses on the team goals and what they can accomplish this year, and that’s an important thing, then I think everything else will fall right into place.

I’m focusing on LSU-Wisconsin. One, was part of you hoping you were going to be at that game? And two, where’s LSU right now as a program considering how close Les got to being fired at the end of last season.

Kirk Herbstreit: I’m sorry — on the first part?

Were you hoping you were going to maybe be assigned to that game because it’s probably going to be spectacular?


Kirk Herbstreit: Oh, yeah, Game Day will be there, and I’m looking forward to being there for a couple of days, looking forward to just seeing — I’ve never been to Lambeau, so really looking forward to taking in the atmosphere. I would have loved to be able to stick around for the game, but as you know I’m flying to Dallas for the USC-Alabama game.

I think LSU for many people is kind of a very trendy pick. There are a lot of people with 17 or 18 starters back that feel that LSU is destined to win the SEC and get into the playoff and maybe win the national title.

I think if you look at them on paper, despite all the criticism and despite whatever Les Miles maybe faced a year ago, this team was sitting in a pretty good spot as they got ready for the month of November on their trip down to Tuscaloosa. They were, I think, number four in the country at that time. That kind of tells you what the state of their program was.

They lost to Alabama and they seemed to lose control and they lost three in a row. They bring almost everybody back from a year ago. The one question about them is are they going to be willing to open up their offense and be more balanced and be more multiple? Against many of the teams they play, they run the football with Fournette and that’s good enough and sometimes it’s not, and they have to be willing to kind of get teams off guard a bit with Brandon Harris, a veteran quarterback now and a great group of receivers.

That’s the one question mark people have about them is what will their quarterback do and what will the offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron do with this experienced group? Is he willing to use more of an imagination or will he be fairly conservative? Then of course, Dave Aranda comes over from Wisconsin, which adds a twist, I think, to this game as well.

They’re coming off a really bad year defensively. They gave up 24 a game, which is the worst, I think, since going back to the late ’90s. So they need to improve on that side of the ball too.

I’m covering Kentucky here in Lexington for the AJC, but basically in Lexington. Before Mark Stoops was fired at Kentucky, you were one of the only people to toss around his name as a candidate, even before he was fired. What did you see in him then, and what are realistic expectations for the Kentucky program now heading into its fourth year?

Kirk Herbstreit: Well, going back to, I guess five years ago, I just saw a very talented, experienced coordinator. I think getting away from his brother, Mike, who is at Arizona and he was the defensive coordinator and kind of getting out on his own and he ended up at Florida State and having a great deal of success. I knew what kind of leader he was. I knew what kind of recruiter he could be. I just thought if he finally got an opportunity to be his own guy, he would have a chance to do pretty well.

As we know, trying to get Kentucky to compete and be a consistent winner in the SEC East is very challenging. They’ve made some strides. But I know that that fan base would love to get to a bowl game and love to be more competitive in the SEC.

If you look at the team, I think the change at quarterback with Drew Barker taking over I think will help them. I think they really turn the ball over too much and they just seem to be a little bit out of sorts offensively.

So you have a new scheme, a new quarterback with Barker. They’re loaded in the back field with Kemp and Williams. So there’s a lot, I think, to be excited about offensively with, as I said, the new attack.

Then, this is a young defense. They’re not quite there as far as where they need to be on the defensive line, and they’re going to have to be kind of creative and aggressive.

But I look at their schedule, and if there’s a game that’s going to decide if they go to a bowl game or not, I hate to say it’s the opener, but I think it is. I mean, if they beat Southern Miss, I think that schedule all of a sudden looks a lot more attainable and a bowl becomes more attainable than if they were to lose that game and go to the Swamp in week two.

So I think they need to get off to a good start and hope for the best. But I think you’ll see improvement this year for sure.

I wanted to get your impression of the Sooners and the very ambitious non-conference schedule with Houston and Ohio State in September?

Kirk Herbstreit: I love it. I appreciate Joe and Bob agreeing to play those games. It’s great for us as fans to be able to get excited to watch OU and in two big games before they even get to conference play. One big thing about scheduling that in September is the winter conditioning. The spring football and especially the two-a-days, you get the players attention because they know what’s coming up they know what’s going to be challenged. OU has been able to accomplish that this year with the schedule.

I think everybody knows about Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine

Samaje Perine, the talented back field that they have. I think that’s the obvious thing. The questions are: Where would they be with the offensive line? Who is going to step up and take over for Sterling Shepard? They lost a lot of not just play makers, but leaders on defensive side with Dominique Alexander and Striker and Tapper and Zack Sanchez. They lost kind of the heart and soul of that side of the ball. So who is ready to take over would be big.

I think they’re going to be really good on the back end, but I’m anxious to see their front seven and how they develop. And the schedule of Houston and Ohio State, two of the first three weeks, they’re going to have to be ready to go on the defensive side of the ball, because they do not want to get into shootouts against teams like Houston and Ohio State.

Are you picking them to get to the playoffs?

Kirk Herbstreit: As you know, I did a year ago, and I am looking at the Big 12 at TCU, I think, to kind of surprise people. Now that they went through so many injuries a year ago, I think they’ll be a lot better on that side of the ball. I think Kenny Hill could make them pretty dynamic on offense. So I think TCU could be the team to beat in the Big 12.

Checking in to see why you decided to pick Minnesota to come out of the west? What do you like about them? How do you think Coach Tracy Claeys will do in his first season at Minnesota?

Kirk Herbstreit: I’m excited to see what they can do this year. I think first the Big Ten West is wide open. You can talk to any different analyst and maybe get a different answer on what they think might happen. I think conventional wisdom, I guess, would be the Iowa Hawkeyes because of the year that they had a year ago and having C.J. Beathard back and a lot of great players on the defensive side of the football.

There are some people that like Nebraska. There’s talk about Wisconsin, Northwestern, you name it. The reason I like Minnesota is I think that their front seven defensively is going to be very, very stout. I think they’re going to be physical up there. I know they’re inexperienced on the back end, but I think they have a history of playing outstanding pass defense, and I’m kind of counting on, even though they’re young, I’m counting on them to still be solid in the secondary. And I think a lot of people are really sleeping on their offensive play makers.

You’ve got a veteran in Mitch Leidner who has played a ton of football, and I think he could have a great year. They’ve got some great backs that not a lot of people know much about. They always seem to have a good nucleus on that side of the ball. There are some concerns like every team in that West has. But they don’t play Ohio State. They don’t play Michigan State. They don’t play Michigan. They get Iowa at home.

So if they can beat Oregon State to open the season on Thursday, I think there’s a real shot that they could be sitting there looking at maybe 8-1 when they get ready to go to Nebraska on November 12th. Maybe I’m crazy, but I have kind of a weird feeling about them having a great year.

I think you’re aware there’s been a lot of hype for Michigan this season and a lot of them haven’t been in the playoffs. Do you think that’s too early or do you think it’s a fair assessment going into Harbaugh’s second year?

Kirk Herbstreit: No, I think if you look at what he did in his first year and what they have coming back, there’s obvious reason to be optimistic about what they can accomplish this year. I still would make the argument that the roster that he inherited in these first couple years will be the least talented roster that he coaches while he’s in Ann Arbor because of the way they’re going to recruit, or they do satellite camps or sit in their backyard in Ann Arbor. He’s going to recruit his tail off and he’s going to get very, very high-caliber skill players at receiver, running back and quarterback. I think — I personally think they’re about a year away.

With that being said, it’s pretty obvious that they’re going to be 7-0 getting ready for the big arrival game against Michigan State in East Lansing. They’ve got to go to Iowa, and they’ve got to go to Ohio State. If those three games were in Ann Arbor, I might be saying something a little bit different. But I just have a hard time imagining them going on the road in those three games and being able to win all three of those. Even two of them, I think, would be tough to do.

I think they’re about a year away from being the team that everybody is kind of excited for them to be. But I still think they’re going to be one of the Top 10 best teams in the country.

I wanted to ask you about the games that you’re going to be at next week. First off, do you think it’s more important for Ole Miss to have Chad Kelly have a big season or do you think it’s more important for Chad Kelly to have a big season? And second of all, what do you think of the dynamic of Lane Kiffin facing his old team?

Kirk Herbstreit: As far as my job analyzing these teams and watching teams excel, if Chad Kelly has a big year individually and their team goes 7-5, nobody cares about Ole Miss or Chad Kelly. If Ole Miss knocks off Florida State, they find a way to beat Alabama, week three, all of a sudden, they’re 3-0, ranked in the top 5 in the country, now everybody cares about Ole Miss and Chad Kelly.

So I think it’s much more important for Ole Miss for Chad Kelly to go out and play well and not feel the pressure to live up to the standard that he set a year ago where he was such a great player in his first year of Hugh Freeze’s offense, running and throwing and avoiding the disastrous play for the most part. So as long as he doesn’t feel like he has to push it himself or force himself out there to make plays, then I think he can have another monster year.

As far as Lane Kiffin going against his former team, USC, I think he’ll downplay it to everybody in the media. I think he’ll try to kind of poo-poo it even. Like this is just another game. We’ve got to get ready. We’ve got to find a quarterback. We don’t know what we have. But I do think that deep down there is something a little bit special for him going up against USC. Just to remind the USC folks what they let go. He’s a human. He has a competitive spirit. If anybody ever left one job and got fired to go to and he got hired in another job and you’re going back to play that school that fired you, I think anybody would be crazy to say that it wasn’t a little bit special or there’s a little bit more incentive there.

So it will be there. How it will impact the game, I don’t think it will. But I think privately deep down, I think Lane Kiffin’s incredibly fired up to have an opportunity to coach Alabama offensively against USC.

Saw that you picked Auburn as your sleeper in the SEC. Just wanted to have you expound on that as to why you’re optimistic about Auburn when seemingly most of us in the media, certainly in the SEC media picked him to finish quite low in the SEC West. Why are you optimistic about the Auburn Tigers this year?

Kirk Herbstreit: I think that’s a big part of it. I think that this team just seems to be Jekyll and Hyde over the last four, five years. They’re either really, really good or really, really inconsistent. If you go back and think about where they were, I think it might have been 2013, we actually had a “College Gameday,” I think it was ’13, where they played Mississippi State in Starkville. There were a lot of people excited about that team and what they were going to do. Actually it was 2014. They were at No. 2 in the country and Mississippi State was at No. 3, and they lost that game. It seems like from that game on they have not been able to get back to being the kind of team that they can be.

I think, in fact, in the last two years in conference play, they’re 6-10. Just have struggled.

I think if you look at that and you look at their roster and you look who they have at quarterback, I can see why the media said that this team’s not going to compete, even in the back field with the tailback situation. For me, it’s more of I think the defense is going to be really, really good. I think they’re going to play with a chip on their shoulder. I think they’re going to be mad at the world when they play this year, and I think defensively they’re going to stay in almost every game that they play.

Then it’s just a matter of the head coach, Gus Malzahn and offense finding ways to put enough points on the board to win. But I would be careful just by looking at 8-5 two years ago, 7-6 last year, 6-10 in conference play over the last couple years. I think it’s easy to look at this and say that this thing’s heading into the wrong direction. I just think there’s a little bit more backbone to the program than maybe all of us realize on the outside. And I think it will be led this year by the defense. I think, as I said, I think the defense is going to be one of the best in the SEC.

Obviously, calling from Louisville, I was wanting your thoughts on Louisville and Lamar Jackson and the chances they may have to make some noise with Florida State and Clemson in that division?

Kirk Herbstreit: Well, they’re the sleeper this year in the ACC with all the talk about Florida State and Clemson. There are a lot of people talking about Florida State and Clemson both getting into the playoff. I think this year the ACC is deep as I can remember it. Because, while everybody wants to talk about Florida State and Clemson, there is Louisville who is obviously going to be competitive, Miami, North Carolina. I think Pitt could be better. Virginia Tech has a new coach and a new offense. It’s going to be an interesting run this year.

We know about Lamar Jackson. They’ve got all the skill coming back. I expect James quick to have a big year this year. I really think that they get Florida State at an interesting time. I was at the game two years ago when they played on a Thursday night and they had Florida State on the ropes and it looked like they might win that game. And Papa John Stadium, as you were probably there, it was live and it looked like this was going to be their moment and they just couldn’t hold on. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be another game like that. We’ll see this time if Bobby Petrino’s team can find a way, and then a couple weeks later they’re on the road at Death Valley and Clemson.

So they’re going to know really where they stand within the first five weeks of the season, and whether or not they have what it takes to be competitive enough to be that surprise team and push Florida State or Clemson down. They get a chance to play them both.

So other than those two games, I know they have Houston late in the year. I mean, worst-case scenario, I can’t imagine this team not getting to ten wins this year. So I think they’re going to have a great year, and I think it’s going to come down to how they play against Florida State and how they do on the road against Clemson.

Is there anybody that Lamar Jackson brings to mind that you’ve seen like that?
Kirk Herbstreit: There have just been so many of them in the last few years, the guys that can run and throw. I feel like when I watch him, you better hold your breath when he takes off to run with the football. I think he averaged close to six yards a carry a year ago. What’s ironic is Bobby Petrino’s known over the years of having quarterbacks, whether they’re dual-threat guys or pocket guys, he’s trying to find ways to dissect a defensive secondary to throw the football.

To me, I think Lamar Jackson, if I were coaching him, and I’m sure this is what they’re focused on, it’s really more about consistency. I think at the latter part of the year, we start to see them really figure out his skillset. I think in the last five games they average like 35 points a game. In the first few games it was more like 28 points a game. So I think they have a handle on what he does well. But, no, the kid at Houston this year, Lamar Jackson and Greg Ward are similar in how they attack defenses. But I still want to watch Lamar play more this year to see more of him and to see how he develops as a passer before I really compare him to anybody.

I want to ask you about Saquon Barkley out of Penn State. What traits distinguish him from others in college football? And just in general, what do you consider the potential and pressure points for Penn State this season?

Kirk Herbstreit: He reminds me of some of the great Penn State backs back in the day. He has tremendous balance, kind of low center of gravity; players seem to bounce off of him because of his strength. He’s got great quickness and acceleration. He’s just a guy that’s been blessed with that rare combination of quickness and speed and power. So he’s a handful, and when he gets his momentum started, he’s tough to bring down.

That was in more of a pro-style offense. I’m really looking forward to, of all the players that I’ve talked about today, Saquon Barkley in this new offense where they’re going to be a lot more tempo, a lot more spread, more quarterback run threat, I think he may be the beneficiary of the new system and what Joe Moorhead’s bringing in there. I think he’s going to get the ball in space more, which could be really dangerous, and I expect him to have a really big year.

Not to mention, they’ve got great wide receiver play, so they should be able to have balance. And as teams load up on the running of the quarterback and Barkley, they should be able to make him pay for that with one-on-one opportunities on the outside.

I think if their pressure points to me, the obvious one is the defense save line, after what they lost a year ago, and just lose a group of guys like that and experience and the production, and then a year later just throw anybody out there, no matter what four-star, three-star, five-star, whatever it is, and expect him to live up to what they did a year ago. So that’s the biggest one for me.

I think the back end, the back seven at linebacker and secondary, I think they’re going to be outstanding with a new scheme, new defensive coordinator. And I also think the quarterback spot. It was almost these last couple years with Hackenberg, it just seemed to be — it just didn’t fit with what James Franklin was trying to do, after what Bill O’Brien had done. It just kind of seemed to be out of rhythm or out of sorts offensively. And there’s been a lot of talk about a more mobile quarterback and that’s what James Franklin wanted and he has it. So until we see it, I would say the quarterback spot in this new system, that’s the one question mark for me on offense and the on defensive line. We’ll know a lot September 10 when they go over to Pitt.

ESPN Networks Kick Off Coverage Of The 2016 College Foootball Season This Week

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The wait is nearly over.  The 2016 college football season kicks off this Friday, August 26. And ESPN will have full coverage of Week 0.

The 2016 college football season kicks off this Friday night on ESPN when California and Hawaii face off live from ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Australia. ESPN will carry full coverage of the game beginning at 10pm ET.  Allen Bestwick, Mike Bellotti and Warren Smith will have the call for the game.

Friday’s live international event will be followed up Saturday night by a matchup between defending Big South Champion and #6 ranked Charleston Southern on the road against five-time defending champion and #1 North Dakota State at 7:30pm ET.  Adam Amin, Mack Brown, and Molly McGrath will have the call for that game live from Fargo, North Dakota.  It will mark the first time that the trio will have worked together on an ESPN broadcast.
As an additional bonus for college football fans, ESPN will air a special one-hour edition of College GameDay Saturday morning at 11am.  Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack and Lee Corso (via satellite) will look ahead at the season to come in this week’s special season preview edition of College GameDay.  The weekly college football broadcast will officially launch its 2016 season next Saturday, September 3rd from Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin ahead of the Badgers’ game against the LSU Tigers.

The full broadcast schedule for the ESPN networks’ college football preview shows is noted in whole below.

Date

Time (ET)

Show

Commentators 

Network

Mon, Aug. 22

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

2016 SEC College Football Preview Show

Matt Schick, Tom Luginbill, Kevin Carter

ESPNU

 

8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

2016 ACC College Football Preview Show

Anish Shroff, Mike Bellotti, Charles Arbuckle

ESPNU

Tue, Aug. 23

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

2016 Big Ten College Football Preview Show

Brendan Fitzgerald, Tom Luginbill, Jason Sehorn

ESPNU

 

8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

2016 Big 12 College Football Preview Show

Anish Shroff, Kevin Carter, Jason Sehorn

ESPNU

Wed, Aug. 24

7 p.m. – 8 p.m.

2016 Pac-12 College Football Preview Show

Brendan Fitzgerald, Mike Bellotti, Charles Arbuckle

ESPNU

 

8 p.m. – 9 p.m.

National College Football Preview

Matt Schick, Mike Bellotti, Tom Luginbill

ESPNU

 

8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.

The Herbies Preseason Special

Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit

ESPN2

Sat, Aug. 27

11 a.m. – noon

College GameDay Season Preview

Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack, Lee Corso (via satellite)

ESPN

Sun, Aug. 28

1 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

The Heisman Trophy Preview Show

Joe Tessitore, Desmond Howard, Danny Kanell

ESPN

 

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Championship Drive: College Football Season Preview

Rece Davis

ESPN

More information on the ESPN networks’ coverage of the 2016 college football season is available online now along with all of the latest college football headlines at:

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/college-football

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CFBonESPN

Twitter: http://twitter.com/espncfb

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Red Sox, Royals Added To ESPN’s ‘SNB’ Broadcast Schedule

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

The Royals and Red Sox are going under the lights live on ESPN later this month.

The American League opponents will face off August 28th on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell.  The game will be the closer in the teams’ three-game weekend series.  There is currently no word on either team’s rotation or who will take the mound on either side of the ball.

Dan Shulman will have the call for the game.  He will be joined in the booth by analysts Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza for additional commentary.  Reporter Buster Olney will be on hand for all of the game’s latest news and interviews.  Coverage is expected to begin at 8pm ET.  The inter-divisional matchup will be simulcast on TV, radio, and online via ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes Radio, and WatchESPN.

Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet will precede the broadcast, as it does each week, beginning at 7pm ET.  Adnan Virk will anchor the broadcast.  He will be joined at the desk by analyst Dallas Braden and ESPN MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian for additional commentary.

More information on the August 28th edition of Sunday Nigh Baseball presented by Taco Bell is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBTN

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN’s Tom Jackson Announces His Retirement

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ESPN personality Tom Jackson is retiring.

The long-time broadcaster announced this week that after 29 years with the worldwide leader in sports he is calling it a career.  He joined the network in 1987 as one of its first NFL analysts.  This was following a successful 14-year career as a member of the Denver Broncos.  His final assignment will be this weekend August 6th – 7th at the annual NFL Hall of Fame enshrinement in Canton, Ohio.

Jackson was has only praise for ESPN and all that supported him throughout his career on and off the field in a statement released this week.

“I have been blessed in my adult life to work for two companies, the Denver Broncos and ESPN, to do two things that I love—play football and talk about football.  Having joined in the early stages of ESPN and remained with the same company for 29 years is especially gratifying.  The friendships made are too numerous to mention but I know that many of them will last a lifetime.  I also want to thank all the fans who supported me over the years and made my job so enjoyable.  This move just comes at a time when the priority of my life is spending time with my family.”

Throughout his career, Jackson has worked on a number of its football-based programs beginning with the then NFL GameDay—now NFL Countdown.  Later that same year he and fellow ESPN veteran Chris Berman became partners on ESPN’s NFL Primetime.  Jackson would go on to spend the next 19 years (1987 – 2005) on Sunday nights.  During his time on the program it went on to become the leading NFL highlights show and highest-rated studio program on cable.

Berman was upbeat in recalling his memories working with Jackson.  “Every day working with Tom was a treasure,” he said.  I know every day he appeared on ESPN was a treasure for football fans. His knowledge, his passion, his insight, and his overall joie de vivre makes him special – in fact, makes him unique. I was lucky to spend 29 years of football weekends with him. In television that’s almost two lifetimes. Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon were together for 31 years – enough said.  “Tom long ago became almost a brother to me. We completed each other’s sentences, listened to the same music, laughed together and sometimes cried together. Oh yes, we enjoyed football together. What was a day with Tom Jackson like? Like the Temptations sang, ‘I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day’.”

Along with his time on ESPN’s Sunday night NFL programming he also spent some time as part of the network’s Monday Night Countdown NFL pre-game broadcast and the network’s other NFL programming throughout the year.  That other programming includes coverage of the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, NFL Raft and Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement.  In 2006 he worked as part of ABC’s broadcast team for Super Bowl XL’s pre-game broadcast.

Similar praise has come from others at ESPN including ESPN President John Skipper.  “Tom has been an integral part of ESPN’s presentation of the NFL for three decades.  His partnership with Chris Berman has been a signature for us and a treasure for fans,” Skipper said.  “His influence as a trusted voice and mentor for the generation of players who followed him is an important part of his legacy.  Tom is as widely respected internally as anyone in our company, not to mention beloved.  He has been a pleasure to work with and he will always be an ESPN family member.”

There is currently no word on the search for Jackson’s replacement.  More information on that and all of the latest NFL headlines is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NFLonESPN

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ESPNNFL

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Announces More On-Air Moves Ahead Of 2016 – ’17 NFL Season

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ESPN is making even more moves in its on-air ranks as the 2016 – 2017 NFL season nears.

It was announced this week that NFL Nation’s Giants reporter Dan Graziano has now been named a National NFL Insider for ESPN.  This means that he will have more on-air presence including appearances on NFL Insiders, NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, and ESPN The Magazine.  Graziano’s first official day in the position was this past Friday, July 22nd when he broke the story about Steelers’ star running back Le’Veon Bell’s upcoming four-game suspension.  The punishment was put in place in reaction to Bell violating the leagues drug policy.  Chad Millman, Vice President and Editorial Director of Domestic Digital content noted Graziano’s contributions to ESPN in discussing his new move.  “Dan has been a strong reporter for us on so many platforms over the course of five years,” Millman said.  “He consistently breaks stories on a national level and has an understanding of what’s happening across the entire league. This new role benefits our NFL team and, most importantly, our readers and viewers.”   When he originally started out at ESPN in 2011, he served as an NFL East blogger.  In 2013 he turned his focus specifically to the New York Giants as ESPN’s NFL Nation Network grew.  He has also served as a contributor to ESPN’s NFL Insiders since its inception in 2013.

As Graziano moves upward in ESPN’s on-air ranks, he will be replaced in his previous position by Jordan Raanan.  He was most recently the Giants reporter for NJ Advance Media.  He boasts more than a decade of experience as he comes in to his new position.  He also has covered the St. Louis Rams for ESPN for three seasons.  On a related note, Nick Wagoner has been named the new San Francisco 49ers reporter for ESPN.  More information on these and other moves being made by ESPN is available online now at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/NFLonESPN

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ESPNNFL

 

 

 

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Mets, Nats Announced For Sept. 4th Edition Of ESPN’s ‘SNB’

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has announced the matchup for the September 4th edition of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell.

The Washington Nationals and New York Mets go under the lights Sunday, September 4th on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell.  Being that the game is so far out on the schedule, no rosters or pitchers have been named for the game at this time.  The game is the closer in a three-game weekend series between the NL East opponents.  Dan Shulman will have the call for the game.  He will be joined in the booth by analysts Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza for additional commentary.  Reporter Buster Olney will also be on hand for all of the latest in-game news and interviews.  Coverage of the game is scheduled to begin at 8pm ET.  It will be preceded by Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet.  Karl Ravech will anchor the broadcast.  He will be joined at the desk by analyst Dallas Braden and ESPN MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian.

More information on the September 4th edition of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell is available online now along with all of the latest MLB headlines at:

 

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBTN

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fan can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Announces August 14th ‘SNB’ Schedule

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has announced the matchup for its August 14th edition of Sunday Night Baseball.

The National League Central division will take center stage yet again on the August 14th when the Chicago Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals live in Chicago.  The announcement comes as news from Chicago that Aroldis Chapman might be headed to the Windy City.  There is no official confirmation on the deal at this time.  However if the deal is finalized, the Yankees would receive four players—believed to be Gleyber Torres, Billy McKinney, Adam Warren, and Rashad Crawford—in return for Chapman.  The former Reds standout was traded to the Yankees during the offseason.  However personal issues followed Chapman to New York leading to a 30-game suspension for the star pitcher at the start of this season.  He was alleged to have been involved in a domestic violence incident back in October of 2015.

No pitchers have been named to start for the Cubs or Cardinals in the upcoming game.  It is however, known that the game will be the closer in a three-game series between the NL Central opponents.  After that both teams will have a chance to rest up before hitting the diamond yet again with the Cubs facing the Brewers in a double-header schedule on August 16th.  The Cardinals will take on the Astros the same day in the first of a short, two-game series.  The second game in the series will be Wednesday, August 17th.  The Cubs’ double-header against the Brewers on the 16th makes up the first two games of a four-game series between the teams.

Dan Shulman will have the call for the August 14th matchup between the Cubs and Cardinals.  He will be joined in the booth by analysts Aaron Boone and Jessica Mendoza for additional commentary.  Reporter Buster Olney will also be on hand for all of the latest in-game news and interviews.  Coverage of the game is currently scheduled to begin at 8pm ET.  It will be preceded by Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown presented by Chevrolet at 7pm ET.  Karl Ravech will anchor the broadcast.  He will be joined at the desk by analyst Dallas Braden and ESPN MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian.  The upcoming showdown marks the fifth time this season that the Cardinals have appeared on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell and the fourth time for the Cubs.  Those that won’t be near a television for the game can still catch the game on the radio and online.  That is because the game will be simulcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes Radio, and WatchESPN.

More information on the upcoming NL Central showdown is available online now along with all of the latest MLB headlines at:

 

 

Website: http://espn.go.com/mlb

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ESPNBaseballTonight

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BBTN

 

 

 

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 https://philspicks.wordpress.com.