Friday, July 10, 2009

ESPN giveth, ESPN taketh away


Don't ask me what this is, where it came from, who created it or for what purpose. I just think you need to know it exists, that it's being hosted at Purdue's own site (?!?), and that "Jumbo Heroes" is, as Conan would have told us once upon a time, INAPPROPRIATE!.

So you may have noticed by now that ESPN has released their 2009 college football announcing assignments. Awful Announcing has your simplified nuts-and-bolts list if the info at the ESPN link seems a bit ... confusing.

The JCCW's review of the moves:

THE GOOD

Oh thank heavens--Mike Patrick has finally received his viciously overdue demotion, going from ESPN's Saturday prime time slot alongside Todd Blackledge to one of ABC's various Saturday afternoon regional telecasts ... with any luck, it'll be one of those Maryland vs. Boston College-type ACC games I never wind up watching. With both Patrick and Paul Maguire getting kicked down the ladder, it appears ESPN is finally realizing how mind-bogglingly awful their old NFL crew (Patrick, Maguire, and Joe Theismann) truly was and how much sports fans of all stripes really despised those guys. They're realizing it 20 years too late, of course, but better late than never, I guess.

Taking over for Patrick will be Brad Nessler. Like all of you I'd have given several of my toes--maybe even a big one--to have Ron Franklin back in the position he all-but-singlehandedly made famous, but if we can't have Uncle Ron back Nessler's likely the next-best thing. Smooth, familiar, and professional, Nessler should combine with Blackledge--the best color guy in the business going back to his days at CBS--to become college football's best announcing team this season.

I don't know how much of a "Save the Daves!" movement there really was, but it has one success story to tell anyway--ESPN picked up play-by-play man Dave Neal (always the strongest of the Daves) to stay over in the SEC regional 12:30 telecast. Pairing him with Andre Ware doesn't exactly get the blood pumping, but Ware should at least be an upgrade on the Daves Neal's had to work with at color before.

And while I think excellent play-by-play man Sean McDonough's well overdue to return to the kind of spotlight assignment he used to enjoy at CBS, I'm happy to see him at least get some kind of promotion: he's going from the random "wherever they can fit me in" slot on ESPN Saturdays to a regular ABC regional telecast. He's being paired with Matt Millen, who, despite "the stigma of reeking, carrion-strong failure" is technically an old pro at the announcing gig and should be competent at worst, and Holly Rowe. You already know how I feel about Holly. I'm thinking this should be a terrific team all the way around.

McDonough's old color partner Chris Spielman--who still flashes some really interesting "inside football"-type information from his linebacking days from time to time--is forming one third of another intriguing new team with worthwhile ex-Nessler partner Bob Griese and efficient play-by-play man Dave Pasch. They'll be an upgrade in ESPN's noon telecast.

And lastly, SEC fans will be introduced to Rob Stone as he works the studio desk for ESPN's regional SEC coverage. Stone's been stuck in the "niche sport"/sideline reporter rung of the ESPN ladder for a while, but he's always thrown himself hook-line-and-sinker into his assignments. I always enjoyed his soccer work--seriously, it's not easy to make an MLS match sound exciting--and from what I can tell the bowling folks love him. His willingness to get capital-P capital-U Pumped Up about whatever sport he's covering should be a solid match for SEC football.

THE BAD

SEC nation still turns its lonely eyes to you, Ron Franklin. There's no other word for his current role at the WWL than "a shame. I mean, just read this sentence from the ESPN release:
Returning announcer pairings to television’s deepest field of commentators include: Mark Jones and Bob Davie; Ron Franklin and Ed Cunningham; Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore; Clay Matvick and David Diaz-Infante; and Charlie Neal and Jay Walker.
One of those things is so much not like the others it's just sad. To top it off, if ESPN was going to keep Franklin down amongst the rabble in their steerage deck, they could at least assign him to one of their two new SEC slots so those of us who appreciate him can properly enjoy one of his last few years in the booth. No such luck, I guess.

If you clicked the Rowe-related link above, you know I'm one of the, oh, half-dozen or so heterosexual college football fans in the country who's legitimately disappointed Erin Andrews is taking over Rowe's duties on the Saturday prime time games. She's just not the reporter Rowe is. (Maybe Orson is one of the other half-dozen? Maybe?) WRAS and I may have to have some sort of non-lethal duel to settle our differences here.

Outside of Patrick, the one other demotion I was really hoping to see was the god-awful Pam Ward and Ray Bentley team evicted from their noon slot on ESPN2, which (like the rest of you) I always end up watching a good chunk of just because, of course, not much else has kicked off at that point. No dice. At least I'm not a Big 10 fan--they're understandably more disappointed than the rest of us.

The ??????

Selected to broadcast the new ESPNU SEC Saturday night game are ... drumroll please ... Eric Collins (play-by-play) and Brock Huard (color)? Can't say I know either of these guys. I have a vague recollection of Huard not sucking when filling in for someone else on some broadcast last year, but I might be confusing him for a sandwich I ate a couple of weeks ago. We'll find out how good they are this fall.

OVERALL

Some good moves here by ESPN, and no doubt the Patrick and Maguire demotions are a blessing, but their continued treatment of Franklin is inexcusable. They get a B in the JCCW's (extremely important) book.

4 comments:

jrsuicide said...

Brock Huard did a lot of those Friday Night "Why The Hell Am I Watching Syracuse Play Temple?" kinda games last season. he is okay. and i'm with you on the Holly Rowe > Erin Andrews thing. my girlfriend is much hotter than Erin Andrews and i don't want to watch her on the sidelines asking coaches useless questions. Holly brings it...she just needs a little makeover help.

Philip Arnold said...

Never was much of a fan of Ron Franklin's but I will admit I do like him more than Mike Patrick...

Anonymous said...

If you couldn't get fired up back in the day watching Ron Franklin suck you in and make you feel like you were on the 50 yard line of those Saturday night games at Jordan-Hare - you are no fan of college football. Period. Adrian Karsten, R.I.P, brought it too. Man I miss those days. I don't understand how 99% of the people I talk to that live for college football, regardless of team affiliation, can feel exactly the same way, but ESPN have no clue and keep him stuck in some closet off-time recap show. Despicable. Has to go deeper than just talent. He must have really pissed somebody in that place off.

AU99

cocknfire said...

McDonough is a baseball announcer, IMO. I've never been crazy about him broadcasting football.