ESPN sets announcing assignments for College Football Playoff
The committee has spoken, and the announcing teams of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit and Brad Nessler and Todd Blackledge are headed for the College Football Playoff, SI.com has learned.
The team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will call Rose Bowl playoff semifinal between No. 2 seed Oregon (12-1) and No. 3 Florida State (13-0). Heather Cox will report from the sidelines. Kickoff in Pasadena is at 5:00 p.m. ET on New Year’s Day. As expected, Fowler and Herbstreit have been assigned to call the national championship game at A&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Jan. 12.
The broadcast team of Nessler and Blackledge will call the Sugar Bowl playoff semifinal between No. 1 Alabama (12-1) and No. 4 Ohio State (12-1), and Holly Rowe will be the sideline reporter. That game will kickoff in New Orleans on Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. (In the midst of reporting on this, I saw that Todd Porter of The Canton (Ohio) Repository tweeted that Nessler and Blackledge were working the Sugar Bowl game, so full marks to him for first reporting that part.)
Reached on Monday afternoon, an ESPN spokesperson confirmed the assignments.
Fowler told SI.com earlier this year that he takes very seriously the responsibility and legacy of calling a national championship game in football.
“I grew up listening to Chris Schenkel, and he was the voice of the big games when I was first falling in love with the sport,” Fowler said. “Keith Jackson's work speaks for itself. Brent has followed that legacy and is a legend as well. I am very mindful of that.”
While the full announcing schedule has yet to be released, SI.com can report that Rece Davis will be the main anchor for ESPN’s college football studio pregame show prior to the national championship. Brent Musburger, who called last year’s championship with distinction and has worked on the SEC Network this season, will be the named the play-by-play announcer for one of the bowl games involving a top 10 team. There had been plenty of support in social media for Musburger to get the call on one of the semifinal games, but ESPN rewarded that plum assignment to the longtime team of Nessler and Blackledge.
The Noise Report
1. The U Part 2, the first 30 for 30 sequel, premieres on Dec. 13, after the Heisman Trophy presentation. The network's ESPN Films division ordered the follow-up 30 for 30 documentary on Miami's football program after the immensely popular "The U" that aired in 2009. That documentary focused on the fusion between the growing hip-hop culture in Miami and the swaggering football program that won four national titles between 1983 and 1991.
The original "The U" film drew 2.368 million viewers during its Dec. 12, 2009 debut, which made it ESPN's highest-rated documentary at the time. Executives at ESPN Films will tell you that more people ask about "The U" than any other documentary they've done.
2. CBS’s 7.7 overnight rating for Alabama’s win over Missouri in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game was down 12 percent from an 8.7 for Auburn’s win over Missouri last year and down 23 percent from a 10.0 for Alabama-Georgia in 2012, according to Austin Karp of Sports Business Daily. Other weekend ratings:
Boise St.-Fresno St. (CBS): 0.9
3. Sports Business Daily released its annual 50 Most Influential People in Sports Business. The Top 5: 1. Adam Silver; 2. John Skipper; 3. Robert Kraft; 4. Bud Selig/Rob Manfred; 5. Roger Goodell.
4. ESPN’s College Football Playoff Selection Show on Sunday drew a 1.6 overnight rating. The top markets (in order): Birmingham, Columbus, Dayton, Tulsa, Greenville, Tampa-St. Pete, Atlanta, Knoxville, Oklahoma City and Memphis. The network six-week weekly series that featured the playoff rankings averaged 1.1 million viewers.
5. SBJ also posted a list of the gift packages provided to bowl game participants this year.
5a. The MLS Cup between Los Angeles and New England drew a 0.6 overnight rating, slightly up from last year (0.5).