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SI reveals 2015 preseason college football Top 25
2:80 | College Football
SI reveals 2015 preseason college football Top 25
Friday August 21st, 2015

With the start of the college football season approaching and some significant broadcasting changes coming this year—from ESPN’s Rece Davis moving over to College GameDay to the end of the unwatchable Mark May-Lou Holtz studio era to Joel Klatt replacing Charles Davis as the lead analyst for Fox’s football coverage—I asked five of our college football writers (Zac Ellis, Brian Hamilton, Lindsay Schnell, Andy Staples and Pete Thamel) to participate in a roundtable on a number of television-related topics. In previous years, I’ve been part of the group, but this year I’m merely asking the questions. I’ll weigh in on some of the Qs during the season.

Hope you enjoy:

What current CFB coach not named David Shaw would have big success in broadcasting and why?

Ellis: I can think of several, but I’ll go with Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez. RichRod is one of the premier offensive minds in college football, so his Xs-and-Os breakdowns would be fun for football nuts. Plus, the personable Rodriguez could deliver information in an entertaining yet informative manner. That’s a necessary combination to succeed in television.

Hamilton: I'm no TV exec—and maybe we can assess this unforgivable oversight in the next roundtable—but I like my former coaches to seem at ease and show some personality on screen. I don't need just a different version of coachspeak. So from what I know and/or see from afar, I could see Notre Dame's Brian Kelly, Houston's Tom Herman, Arizona's Rich Rodriguez, Nevada's Brian Polian and Miami’s (Ohio) Chuck Martin as talking heads who would appear at least a little "real" on screen. And I think Nick Saban could be terrific, if he allowed himself to have fun with it.

Schnell: Easy: Rich Rodriguez of Arizona. He’d be great on TV for the same reasons he’s a good interview: He’s charismatic, funny, detailed and very intelligent. I think Art Briles could be good, too, though he might occasionally stray off topic and have to be reeled in.

Staples: Kliff Kingsbury, and not just because he can fill out a suit like the guys in GQ. Kliff has a knack for translating football to English in a relatable way, and that’s critical in television and radio. (Shaw is also great at this, which is probably why Richard made him the obvious default.) One other coach who could be great as a broadcaster is Nick Saban. He thinks about things differently than most people—which helps explain his success—and he’s adept at articulating why he feels that way. That’s a great combination for a coach and for a broadcaster.

Thamel: I think Brian Kelly could really crush it in the booth. He’s quick-witted, opinioned and really knows the game having won on every level. He isn’t close to being done coaching, but when he’s finished, he could have a long and lucrative career in broadcasting. Kelly would transcend the sheepishness that a lot of analysts have in being critical of players and coaches. A few others who came to mind: Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Arkansas’s Bret Bielema, Shaw, Utah State’s Matt Wells, Miami’s (Ohio) Chuck Martin, Houston’s Tom Herman and Penn State’s James Franklin.

What do you think of this year’s playoff semifinal games airing on New Years Eve?

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Ellis: I think this is being blown out of proportion. Will the New Year’s Eve games match last year’s semifinal ratings? Probably not, because a lot of people work on New Year’s Eve. But let’s not act like these games will hurt for viewers. It’s still the biggest day of the college football calendar—just one day earlier.

Hamilton: Full disclosure: I am old, and I have hated New Year's Eve with the burning fury of a thousand suns for probably a decade, or since that time it was snowing and I had to take the Red Line back home at like 2 a.m. on Jan. 1. Now you're going to give me an exceptionally good excuse to sit on my couch and drink adult beverages on New Year's Eve? Play all the damn bowls on December 31, every damn one of them, I say.

Schnell: I love it. On the west coast, games will kick early enough that people can still party late into the night and early morning, and this will give them one more reason to celebrate (or one more reason to drown their sorrows, depending on how their team does). And if you’re on the east coast, you can go to semifinal-themed parties which sounds like a grand ol’ time. As sports reporters, we don’t really have a concept of what it’s like to have a holiday off during football season, so it won’t change much for us.

Staples: I don’t think it’s going to be as big of a flop as my colleagues around the country are predicting. Going out on New Year’s Eve is no fun. It’s amateur hour. I’d much rather stay home in front of a huge TV with my own food and my own beverages, and I imagine a lot of people feel that way. Be honest: Would you rather watch a great football game or pay $150 a person to get crammed into a bar with a bunch of other people who overpaid to be there? And if you’re at home, would you rather watch a great football game or watch Ryan Seacrest introduce the Black Eyed Peas?

Thamel: It’s arrogant and naïve to think they’ll get the same ratings. College football will always rate well in Birmingham, Atlanta and Columbus. Where the sport has made giant strides in the past decade is bringing in the casual fan in pro markets like Washington, D.C., New York and Los Angeles. This move impacts those fans the most and will inevitably create some dicey scenarios along the line of, “Do I watch the game or go to a party with my significant other?” Some significant others won’t like the answer. College football has great tradition. So does going out on New Year’s. We’ll see which one wins.

Ohio State is unanimous No. 1 in preseason AP Top 25 poll

What CFB school has the best setup for the media and why?

Ellis: I like covering games at Alabama. Bryant-Denny Stadium has an open-air press box, which makes you feel less like a fish in a glass bowl. It’s also roomy so you aren’t basically sitting on top of your neighbor, like at some schools. Oh, and the pregame media meal has always been great in Tuscaloosa. The importance of that cannot be overstated.

Hamilton: This is a question best answered by beat writers who are present day-to-day and week-to-week, and I don't know enough about every team's access plan to answer definitively. I can say that programs I've dealt with over the last year and a half at SI have been almost uniformly helpful. Having been the "local" beat guy in a couple spots, I'm also not naïve about that—walking in as a reporter for a national entity opens doors, right or wrong. Same as it ever was.

Schnell: I interpret this question as “which coach is the most media friendly?” because it’s head coaches who set the tone. With that in mind, the answer is obvious: Mike Riley at Nebraska. I covered Riley at Oregon State, and at the time, didn’t have a full understanding and appreciation for how great he was/is to work with. At OSU he gave unprecedented access to media with open practice (fans could come, too), injury updates and so many one-on-ones I lost count. Unlike coaches who act as if they’d rather get a root canal than deal with media responsibilities, Riley actually enjoys talking with reporters. Everyone raves about him, and rightly so. It’ll be a bit different now that he’s at Nebraska—the sheer size of that fan base means he’ll have to rein in his accessibility somewhat—but he’ll still top the list. I’ve also found Baylor and Art Briles great to work with.

Staples: I’m going to limit this answer to the schools that get a lot of coverage, because the ones that don’t get much coverage typically are very accommodating. (If you’re at a school that doesn’t get much coverage and you make it hard for outlets to cover your team, then you simply aren’t very smart.) That said, the best setup is Georgia. Claude Felton is the best sports information director in the business, and his staff is top notch. Claude understands that it’s usually possible to protect the school’s interests and help us do our jobs at the same time. It probably helps that Mark Richt isn’t a complete control freak like many of his colleagues. Georgia allows more players to be interviewed than most programs of that stature, and they do a good job trying to make sure those interviews take place in relaxed settings, which typically produce better questions and answers. All the Bulldogs assistants are allowed to give interviews, which is kind of a big deal these days. The Nick Saban/Bill Belichick “one voice” philosophy is filtering through college football. And it’s fine when your team is winning national titles. When it isn’t, all you get are boring stories about mediocre teams.

Thamel: In most years, this question yielded an easy answer—Texas. Longtime SID John Bianco and his staff always treated the media fairly and was reliable for good access. They made every trip to Austin worthwhile. But Texas inexplicably fired him, baffling many on campus as well as the local media—and certainly in the national media. Also, former players aren’t happy considering Bianco remains one of the few links to past staffs. I’m sure Texas will still be good, but for now schools like Boston College, Cincinnati, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Stanford, USC, Duke, Pitt, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Washington, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Notre Dame come to mind.

AP Photo/David Stluka

Did the team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit work for you as the top broadcasting team in the sport? If yes, why? If no, why?

Ellis: I never had much problem with Brent Musburger in the first place. But that doesn’t mean Fowler hasn’t been a suitable replacement for the legendary broadcaster. Fowler does a great job in the booth primarily because of his existing chemistry with Herbstreit. That duo spent so much time on GameDay sets that calling games together simply feels natural. Fowler’s voice isn’t synonymous with historic college football games just yet—unlike Musburger, his more established predecessor—but I enjoyed Fowler’s work in the primetime booth last season.

Hamilton: It works. Both are prepared and fair. To my ear, they don't often veer toward being apologists or mythmakers for coaches. They don't gloss over real issues that a particular team faces. No one expects announcers to be an extension of Outside the Lines on big issues, but at least don't pooh-pooh a big deal when it is, in fact, a big deal. Fowler is smooth and has wit to spare, which means the play-by-play portion is never just dreary, well, play-by-play. Herbstreit is sharp on the X’s and O’s stuff and he's about as honest about bad plays as you can reasonably expect.

Schnell: I thought it was great. Chris and Kirk have natural chemistry, which you see in the morning on GameDay, and in the afternoon/evening when they’re in a press box together. Kirk is the best analyst in the game, and he and Fowler seem to have fun working together, which makes it fun for viewers.

Staples: Absolutely. It takes a ton of work on the front end to make a broadcast sound as effortless as these guys make it sound. They put in that preparation, and it showed. I imagine the prep work for College GameDay helped them have more authoritative voices from a 30,000-foot standpoint, and their command of the individual teams playing in the games they called was obvious. Chris won’t be doing GameDay anymore, but he won’t let the 30,000-foot part slip. The guy is always thoroughly prepared for every event he calls.

Thamel: Yes, sir. Both are pros and well prepared. And both can be considered among the handful of the defining voices of their generation for what they do.

What will the change of Rece Davis for Chris Fowler mean for College GameDay and why?

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​​Ellis: Not much. Fowler knew the lay of the land on GameDay, but Davis also does thanks to his experience on ESPN’s college hoops GameDay set. Davis is already an established presence on ESPN’s college football coverage, both from his studio work and his stint calling Thursday-night games. I don’t expect the vibe on College GameDay to drastically shift with Davis at the helm. After all, the rest of the crew remains intact.

Hamilton: Not much. That's not a knock on Fowler at all. I just think Davis is a natural for that spot, and while the show hardly runs itself, it's such a Goliath that it'll keep thundering by any hiccups at the outset. I'm sure Davis will have to find a rhythm with the analysts that only on-camera time will create, but I can't imagine it will take long.

Schnell: It’ll be very weird at first, just because we’re all used to Chris. But I think Rece will fit in well; he’s a natural host and always looks at ease on camera. Might take everyone an entire season to get used to it though—including his fellow GameDay-ers.

Staples: It probably will change the personality of the show a bit, because Chris and Rece are different people with different styles. What they do have in common is that they’re easy to work with, and they usually do an excellent job teeing up their analysts in a way that helps make the analyst look good as well. Besides, if Rece could survive the Lou Holtz-Mark May postgame show for that long, he’ll have no trouble blending in with the far more reasonable GameDay talent.

Thamel: Hard to say. GameDay is such an indelible franchise, and Fowler was a big part of that. The access, timeliness of the stories and personalities make it go. Hopefully Rece can pick up the baton and keep it charging ahead.

Give me 3 to 5 CFB-related Twitter accounts fans must follow.

Ellis: @slmandel: Fox Sports’s Stewart Mandel, a former SI colleague whose college football mailbag is a weekly must-read.

@BarrettSallee: Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee, who follows the SEC better than many other writers.

@SBN_BillC: SB Nation’s Bill Connelly, an advanced statistics guru who writes detailed previews of every FBS team before each season.

Hamilton: I don't know why fans would need to follow anybody but the intrepid, wise, work-until-their-knuckles-bleed crew at SI. But if they want to dole out a few pity follows? Fox's Bruce Feldman and ESPN's Brett McMurphy are the go-to guys for news. The guys at SB Nation (Spencer Hall, Ryan Nanni, and I think like 6,500 other people) do a fantastic job of demonstrating their abiding love for/very hilariously mocking the characters and absurdity in the sport. Likewise Grantland's Holly Anderson. And then there's this guy Stew Mandel.

Schnell: I assume everyone reading this is already following the people on this esteemed panel so...

@KirkHerbstreit: interacts with fans, answers questions and calls out trolls

@BruceFeldmanCFB: very plugged in, breaks a ton of news

@SolidVerbal: Run by Dan Rubenstein and Ty Hildenbrandt, who host the best college football podcast out there. Sometimes informative, always hilarious.

@PaulMyerberg: Love the stories he finds and the way his brain works. Knows more about teams ranked 26–128 than anyone else.

Staples: Fox Sports reporter Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB): Bruce is the best college football reporter working today. He can break news. He can write cool features. He hosts a quality podcast with fellow Fox reporter—and former SI colleague—Stewart Mandel. He can analyze the game on television. He also never devolves into hot-takery.

Ohio State safety Tyvis Powell (@1Tyvis): You can follow Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, but the better play might be following his roommate. Anytime Jones tweets anything interesting, Powell will be the first one to bust his chops. Powell and linebacker Darron Lee give Ohio State the edge in the preseason rankings for the nation’s most hilarious defense.

Penn State offensive line coach Herb Hand (@CoachHand): He coaches offensive line, which means he deals with the most important people on the team. He posts every-few-hours updates when he smokes brisket. Also, a lifetime spent recruiting has given Hand an almost encyclopedic knowledge of where to eat in almost any state.

Ryan Nanni of SB Nation (@CelebrityHotTub): Because college football isn’t supposed to be serious all the time.

Thamel: @PaulMyerberg, @CJ12_, @YogiRoth, @AaronTaylorCFB, @SWiltfong247

[pagebreak]

AP Photo/Tim Sharp

What CFB subject or trend would you love to write 5,000 words on this season?

Ellis: A blow-by-blow look at an actual playoff selection committee meeting. Of course, that won’t happen anytime soon, as the official committee discussions are closed to the public. The playoff doesn’t even release the ballots of individual committee members. But a look at the actual process that creates the final four-team bracket in real time—and then writing about it, say, after the season ends—is the deep-dive every college football writer wants to write.

Hamilton: Fly to [insert SEC program here]. Get full access to meetings, workouts and practices at [insert SEC program here]. Write 5,000 words. Watch many people read those words.

Schnell: I’ve already written on virtual reality for our magazine preview, but I could easily write another 5,000 words on the topic. VR is fascinating; from the actual technology of how it works to the empathy it can create to how teams and programs are going to incorporate it over the next decade. I fully expect it to be part of our everyday lives soon, and how cool is it that sports—football especially—is serving as a guinea pig of sorts?

Staples: I just wrote about 3,000 words on 400-pound Baylor tight end LaQuan McGowan for our season preview issue. Bringing the Fat Guy TD into the base offense is pretty much my dream story, so I’m feeling pretty fulfilled right now.

Thamel: Got a few ideas, but will keep them to myself. This is a competitive business.

What's one broadcasting or writer trade you would make if you were CFB commissioner—and why?

Ellis: CBS’s Gary Danielson for ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, just so Herbstreit could call an SEC on CBS game with Verne Lundquist. That’s a duo I’d like to see but will probably never happen.

Hamilton: I'll pass on this one, mostly because nothing really comes to mind, and also no one should put me in charge of anything.

Schnell: I’ll take Rick Neuheisel (CBS) for David Pollack (ESPN). Popular opinion is that Neuheisel will be the perfect replacement for Lee Corso on GameDay, but why do we have to wait? Let’s get him on set now and let him have some funny back and forths with Corso and the gang. He can play his guitar while crooning about college football, and that’s just good fun for everyone. Also, because I’m a west coast resident and I’m here to tell you east coast bias is real, it would be nice to have someone from the Pac-12 to talk about that conference from an educated perspective. As for Pollack, well, I’m still annoyed with him for his comment two years ago where he basically said the CFP selection committee needs to be all men.

Staples: I would trade myself to the Food Network. Enjoy reading Guy Fieri’s musings on Clemson’s revamped front seven, suckers.

Thamel: Wouldn’t trade any of my SI colleagues. They’re all protected.

If Lee Corso walks away from College GameDay next year, who would be a good replacement on that set?

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Ellis: First off, there’s no one that can truly replace Corso’s charisma and his unique shtick. But Rick Neuheisel would be a really fun substitute. Any college football fan who isn’t already listening to the former UCLA coach is missing out. Unlike a lot of coaches-turned-analysts, Neuheisel has an obvious passion for dissecting football with an audience. Anybody who replaces Corso has to have that passion.

Hamilton: David Pollack. Don't overthink it. I don't know what you do with the headgear picks—I would retire them and find another gimmick, it's just such a Corso thing—but it's not like Mack Brown would be able to convince people he's having fun wearing a Brutus Buckeye head.

Schnell: See my trade answer above.

Staples: I stand by my picks of Gerry DiNardo or Rick Neuheisel from last year. Neither one is afraid of making fun of himself, and each is creative enough to forge his own role instead of simply trying to copy Corso. Also, Neuheisel would bring his guitar.

Thamel: I’ve always envisioned Les Miles doing well in the role of off-beat picker on GameDay. Next year could be too soon for The Hat, though.

Who is the most annoying on-air person (TV or radio) discussing college football?

Ellis: Anytime Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith offer thoughts on a college football topic on ESPN’s First Take, my head hurts.

Hamilton: I'll decline to answer this. I learned long ago: If you don't have anything nice to say about someone, just wait to unload on them at the bar after deadline.

Schnell: I used to find Clay Travis annoying but, whatever, I’d change the channel, mute the TV, click on a different link, etc. Then I found out one of his books includes a vile joke about trying to pick up women in hospitals. We are in the midst of a national conversation about preventing domestic violence and sexual assault on college campuses. Yes, Travis’s book came out in 2008, but the fact that this man has a platform—not to mention a paycheck—to share his views on anything is appalling.

Staples: I don’t find anyone truly annoying, but Danny Kanell has a choice right now. He can be really good, or he could veer quickly into Mark May territory. Kanell’s anti-SEC schtick is probably a good business plan given the widespread belief that ESPN favors that league. (This is a reasonable assumption given the cash-cow-for-both-sides relationship ESPN and the SEC have with one another because of the SEC Network, but the fact is ESPN has financial relationships with every league.) But Kanell needs to play that card wisely. He can’t let the SEC-hater persona become his thing. He’s too good of a talker, and he certainly has the on-the-field bona fides after playing at Florida State and in the NFL. He can be one of the best analysts in the company if he doesn’t bang one drum so loud that it drowns out everything else he says. The good news is that Kanell is now working daily with Ryen Russillo on ESPN Radio, and the laid-back vibe of that show will allow Kanell to have some fun and employ some nuance. It also helps that Russillo’s show, which used to also be Scott Van Pelt’s show, talks college football better than any national all-purpose show. My prediction is that he becomes one of the more valuable college football analysts at ESPN. A little anti-SEC balance is fine—and probably necessary—but Kanell can do so much more.

Thamel: Mack Brown wasn’t annoying last year as much as it felt like he was running for office. (Non-Trump style.) Enough with telling us how hard the coaches worked and how much “the kids” tried. Criticize someone. These guys make $5 million a year and the kids get scholarships. They don’t need cheerleading.

What do you think of Fox’s new team of Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt, and why?

Ellis: I liked Charles Davis, but I also think Klatt is very underrated as a color analyst. Johnson will provide his usual spark no matter his partner in the booth. But Klatt’s analysis will be a welcome addition to the Fox broadcasts. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

Hamilton: I'm good with it. Gus is Gus, and I wouldn't change anything about him. Klatt, I'm less familiar with, but from what I have seen he's cut from the analyst cloth that I prefer—honest with a healthy sense of humor.

Schnell: Love it. No one brings excitement like Gus, and I really enjoy listening to Joel. I see him at a lot of Big 12 and Pac-12 events, and he’s everywhere, talking to coaches and players and other media members, trying to learn everything he can. I really respect the time he puts in. And who doesn’t love Gus?

Staples: I like it. Joel is the rare guy who could be an analyst, a play-by-by person or a studio host. He has a combination of natural on-camera ability and work ethic that allows him to be smooth no matter what role he fills. Combining him with Gus—who can make even the boring games exciting—should be a lot of fun.

Thamel: I’m a big fan of Klatt, who is freakishly well prepared and has really shown well for Fox. I’m not in the Cult of Gus, as I prefer substance over sizzle. Klatt offers a nice balance to Gus.

Icon Sportswire via AP Images

Who's the most media-savvy CFB player you have come across in the last five years and why?

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Ellis: Former Georgia wide receiver Chris Conley was a remarkable interview. You don’t see college players offer strong consideration to every question you ask, but Conley did—and he delivered detailed answers. Oh, and he was also an amateur filmmaker on the side. The guy was an interviewer’s dream.

Hamilton: Michigan State's Shilique Calhoun and Notre Dame's Joe Schmidt can make a living on camera. It may be a while before they do, but both are wired where talking to reporters isn't a chore, isn't something to fear. That can translate really well to TV, I think.

Schnell: First off, I really like this question. I think you could pick just about anyone from Stanford because you can always count on them being good interviews, but I’d go with former Cardinal linebacker Shayne Skov. He’s thoughtful, engaging and a little edgy. If I remember correctly, he was one of the ringleaders in the whole wearing-nerd-glasses-in-the-postgame-presser-to-mock-those-who-call-us-soft thing a couple years ago. He knew how to coyly poke fun at assumptions about smart guys who play football (without crossing the line and getting in trouble) and was always fun to talk to.

Staples: I’m starting to think it’s Cardale Jones, who got a nasty taste of how we operate as a freshman when he sent out the ill-advised tweet about not coming to Columbus to “play school.” Since being thrust into action last season, Jones has had us eating out of the palm of his hand. He played us like a fiddle with his comeback announcement, which got his high school some great pub. He cracked us up with the April Fool’s Day tweet that he was transferring to Akron. His beef with Joakim Noah was tremendous, and the cyber-romancing of Ronda Rousey seems designed to break the Internet.

Thamel: Two of the best guys to deal with in recent years were Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson and Stanford’s Andrew Luck. Both were like 35-year olds at 21—sharp, humble and really insightful. This season, Dak Prescott was nice enough to really open up his life to SI for a story for our college football preview. We trailed him for two days in Mississippi in the spring and two days in Louisiana later on in the spring. I found Dak to have a lot of the same character traits as Russell and Andrew in terms of dealing with people and being personable and conversational. He’s got a bright future in the NFL and in coaching when he’s through playing. A few other really engaging guys who stand out: Notre Dame’s Corey Robinson and KeiVarae Russell, Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones, Stanford’s Shayne Skov, Georgia Tech’s Patrick Skov, Boston College’s Andre Williams, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins and UNC’s Ryan Switzer.

Would you have kept Mike Mayock as the Notre Dame analyst for NBC or replaced him, as the network did, with Doug Flutie?

Ellis: I haven’t watched enough of either individual as analysts to intelligently answer.

Hamilton: If you're replacing Mayock because you like him better on the NFL or you didn't want the NFL impinging on your lodestar college football property, then O.K., I get it. If it's a matter of Mayock being too honest or whatever, then no, I don't make the move, because I happen to like honesty from my broadcasters. Maybe Flutie will be just as deft with the intricacies of the game and he won't blow smoke up everyone's behind. We'll see.

Schnell: I’ll pass on this since I haven’t watched many Notre Dame games.

Staples: I would have kept Mayock. I know I sound like a broken record because I keep mentioning preparation when I discuss game broadcast crews, but it truly is the most important trait for a crew. Hardly anyone in the business does his homework like Mayock.

Thamel: I’m a big Mayock fan. He really knew the personnel and I found myself watching Irish games even during blowouts, just to hear his insights.

Will a female broadcaster serve as the play-by-play announcer or analyst for a CFB national championship game in your lifetime?

Ellis: No. That booth is probably the most sought-after assignment in college football, and I’m not sure that a female broadcaster will leap-frog that waiting list in my lifetime. But I’d have no problem with it if it happened.

Hamilton: I don't think there's any question. Too much momentum and too many strong voices calling for better female representation in all areas of media. It may take long enough that we aren't currently familiar with the person who makes that breakthrough, but it'll happen.

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Schnell: The feminist in me wants to say yes, but I [sadly] just don’t see it happening. Women have made great strides the last few years (hello, Beth Mowins!) but I worry that a lot of people in charge—which is mostly men—think of the championship game as this sacred space that has to be for men only. I hope I’m wrong though.

Staples: I would imagine so. I think the generations behind me in age are a lot less concerned about what kind of voice they hear in a sports broadcast. If you know your stuff—and if you’re prepared—your chromosomal makeup probably won’t matter.

Thamel: I’d like to think so. It was encouraging to see the Raiders hire Beth Mowins of ESPN to broadcast their preseason games. Walls are falling down.

Yes or no: Will an Ohio State football player win this year’s Heisman?

Ellis: No. The Heisman doesn’t lend itself to a team with more than one mega-star, and the Buckeyes could have four: QBs J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, H-back Braxton Miller and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Hamilton: No. The Buckeyes are fortunate enough to have a couple good candidates, improving their odds. But I'm betting the field.

Schnell: Nah. I’ll put my money on Trevone Boykin of TCU.

Staples: I’m guessing no. They have so many weapons on offense that the playmakers will cannibalize one another in the voting. And as much as I’d love a guy like [​the Buckeyes'] Darron Lee to have a shot, the bulk of the Heisman electorate still doesn’t seem to understand football well enough to adequately assess a defensive player’s impact on the game. I do think that day is coming, but it probably isn’t coming fast enough for the current crop of defensive players.

Thamel: No.

[pagebreak]

THE NOISE REPORT

SI.com examines some of the biggest sports media stories of the week

1. The 16th episode of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features a conversation with NBC Sunday Night Football coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli. A longtime sports TV executive and multiple Emmy winner—he’s produced five Super Bowls—Gaudeli discussed how NBC's Sunday Night Football production comes together, what traits NFL broadcasters need to be successful, what coaches could be impact broadcasters, whether Sunday Night Football can be critical of Roger Goodell and the NFL, whether someone like Dennis Miller could work in a football booth again, how he woke up every day for years focusing on how he could beat ESPN and much more.

A reminder: you can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and you can view all of SI's podcasts here. If you have any feedback, questions or suggestions, please comment here or tweet at me.

2. Last week, ESPN announced it had reached a multi-year extension with broadcaster John Saunders. The sports anchor, who joined ESPN in 1986, will continue to appear on college football studio coverage, including anchoring regular-season Saturdays on ABC alongside Mack Brown and Mark May. He will also call play-by-play on select college basketball games and will remain host of The Sports Reporters.

3. New York Times writer Rich Sandomir examined the future of ESPN’s still-yet-to-launch site on race and sports, The Undefeated. On the same topic, mainstream media writers Ryan Glasspiegel and Jason McIntyre examined the future of ESPN’s affinity sites.

4. Sports pieces of note:

• ESPN’s Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru on Chris Borland’s choice.

The Detroit Free Press writer Joe Rexrode on Michigan State AD Mark Hollis.

• SI’s Tim Layden on Usain Bolt versus Justin Gatlin.

• Via John Branch of The New York Times: “​Bama versus Gators.”

• Bleacher Report’s Lars Anderson on Cardinals coach Bruce Arians.

• WNBA player Layshia Clarenden writes with power on religion and sexuality in sports.

Texas Monthly’s Dan Salomon and Jessica Luther on Baylor football and rape allegations. (The case was adjudicated after this piece was published.)

• CBSSports.com writer Denny Burkholder had an oral history of the WWE (née WWF) in 1985.

• I come away with a ton of respect for former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter after reading this piece from former Deadspin intern Rohan Nadkarni. (Ed. note: Nadkarni now works for SI.com.)

Non-sports pieces of note:

• Sobering and remarkable from The New York Times: “Walking in War’s Path:”

• From PRI: An 81-year-old archeologist had a chance to flee ISIS, but wouldn't abandon artifacts.

• From The Washington Post: Rio seen through a unique lens.

5. Pay attention to those calling Baylor college football nationally in 2015. If history serves, they'll God-up coach Art Briles while omitting the trial above.

5a. For tennis fans: ESPN’s U.S. Open tennis coverage schedule. Keep in mind CBS no longer holds any rights to the coverage.

5b. Video unearthed from NFL.com by Twitter user Saad Yousuf featuring ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter and Warren Sapp talking to a group of 2014 NFL rookies had NFL Twitter buzzing on Sunday. At one point during the video, Carter invites Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the stage to ask him if he had a “fall guy” for when he gets into trouble. (You can see the video here). That Warren Sapp was chosen by the league to indoctrinate rookies is quite a thing in itself.

The NFL, as expected, distanced itself from Carter’s comments on Sunday night in a statement to Pro Football Talk. Carter’s words drew ire from many with connections to the game, including former Giants linebacker Carl Banks. ESPN issued an expected corporate-style response, saying Carter’s views were not shared by the company. They later added to SI, "ESPN management was united in its point of view and [senior coordinating producer] Seth Markman delivered the message." Of course what would be honest for ESPN viewers would be for Carter to appear on ESPN’s airwaves this week to explain his thought process. He is now in the tenuous position of commenting on player conduct issues while advising players (at least here) not to take responsibility at best, and to break the law at worst. (After publication, Carter apologized Sunday evening in two tweets.)

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