It has become one of the favorite parlor games in sports broadcasting: When is Jon Gruden leaving ESPN?
The latest addition to the canon came Sunday when CBS NFL insider Jason La Canfora
"Jon remains committed to ESPN," an ESPN spokesperson said Sunday night when contacted by SI.com. "With a third of our
Reached in San Francisco on Sunday, Gruden's
So what happens if Gruden bolts at the end of the season? SI.com contacted a half-dozen ESPN staffers on Sunday and Trent Dilfer appears to be the leading in-house candidate to replace Gruden. Steve Young would also get consideration.
"I'd actually be surprised to hear that Steve would want the job," said an ESPN staffer who has worked with both Dilfer and Young. "I'm pretty sure Trent wants it."
"I don't see any other contender in-house," said another ESPN staffer of Dilfer.
Via ESPN, Dilfer was not available on Sunday night.
Dilfer served (perhaps endured is the better word) as the analyst alongside Chris Berman for the Chargers-Raiders season opener, and he also worked the
Now in his fourth year in the
"I think when this started very few people thought he would be doing for this long and here we are in Year Four," Tirico told SI.com on the eve of the regular season. "Will Jon be coaching in 2013? I have no earthly idea. But given where his temperature has been the last couple of years, I think the chances are good that he will be around with us."
Two months ago in an interview with SI.com, ESPN executive vice president of production John Wildhack admitted the network had no ready-made contingency plan for Gruden's departure.
"What I want to do is create a new era of
Asked if that was possible, Wildhack replied: "We sure as hell will try."
The Texas-USC numbers are likely out of reach even with a month of ESPN hype, but the popularity of Notre Dame as a television team will be a massive draw. And if the game is close late, watch out.
"If Notre Dame makes the BCS championship game, it will post the biggest viewership since ESPN started carrying the game," predicted
"How worried am I? Look, if you told me back when Chuck signed on with Turner that we would be having this conversation after 13 years, I'd take that right now," Johnson said. "My concern the day we hired him was when the novelty wore off, would he want to do something else? Would, say, a doubleheader after the All-Star Game that has no bearing on the standings wear on him? Believe me, after 13 years, I am not worried about it. It is what happens in business. I mean, how many people are around the same thing for 13 years?
"Guys like Kenny [Smith], Charles, Shaq [O'Neal] and C-Webb [Chris Webber], there are a lot of people out there who would love to have them in some capacity, whether it's as a team executive or in broadcasting. That's something you live with. I don't worry about it for a second, but I just appreciate that we have had a wonderful run and will continue to have a wonderful run.
"Maybe it was a bad meal he had? It's like Kenny said the other night: 'You want to retire from a job that you work one night a week?' "
"I look at this story as a huge national public health issue," Fainaru said. "Football is just so embedded in the culture and now we are finding it could be damaging and even lethal. ... When you talk to parents of kids who play football, soccer, hockey, lacrosse or any number of sports, they really want answers. There's a lot of justifiable anxiety about what this all means. "
Fainaru, who joined ESPN last March and
"The wall [between editorial and business] so far has been absolute and there was never any issue about this story and what impact it might have on the NFL," Fainaru said. "It was no different than a lot of the work I did at
The show is part of CBS' using of Rome across multiple platforms. He already has a half-hour daily show on the CBS Sports Network, and his radio show will debut on CBS Radio in January 2013. The CBS Sports Network hasn't gained much ratings traction, but as I've said in the past, I've long appreciated Rome's giving run to sports writers we don't often see on television (in other words, not Mike Lupica or Bob Ryan). Rome's initial Showtime guests include the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, the Packers' Aaron Rodgers, actor Matthew Perry and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber.
"I don't know who the starting quarterback should be, but I know who it shouldn't be: It shouldn't be Mark Sanchez," Jaworski said of the Jets on
"Now, a real-life example, critical situations of the game: Go back to the Seattle game last week. A 7-7 tie. They are going in to score and [offensive coordinator] Tony Sparano designs and calls a perfect play. [Wide receiver] Stephen Hill opens up against Cover Two, the linebacker jumps up, wide open under the goal post, and Mark doesn't see it. He ends up throwing an interception. Here's a critical situation, perfectly designed by the coach, and he doesn't execute. That's the issue right now. I don't think it should be permanent. I think it is, 'Go to the sidelines, take a deep breath, watch someone else play.' "
That's terrific stuff.
"One of the basic principles we'll follow is to find someone with no previous body of work covering our company," an ESPN spokesperson said. "We're seeking totally fresh eyes."
Hopefully, those fresh eyes come with an increased metabolism. If ESPN is serious about an ombudsman's impact -- and I applaud it for having one, unlike many places, including
"Now for Eli Manning, it was no disrespect to him at all. I didn't mean any. I respect what he's done as a player. My gosh, to stay on the field for every game and not get hurt, that alone puts you in the Hall of Fame. He's on his way to a Hall of Fame career. I know he has the two Super Bowl MVPs, so it's no disrespect to him at all. I was defining the word elite to try to signify those three guys that they stand out in my eyes. "