Sports Illustrated: Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer named SEC Network's lead team
What's next? As I reported in January after speaking with more than a half-dozen television executives and on-air college football staffers on the topic, College GameDay host Chris Fowler is the leading candidate to call ABC's Saturday Night Football game, as well as next year's national championship game with Kirk Herbstreit. He and Herbstreit would also call one of the semifinal games. Fowler's contract expires after the World Cup in July -- a key leverage point for Fowler -- and he made it clear what he wanted in an interview with SI last year.
"I don't think it is anything secret internally what I want the next for me to be at ESPN," Fowler said. "I don't think that is a mystery given the landscape. It's why GameDay is a unique standalone thing for me. It doesn't act or feel like a studio show. But the live events are the most inspiring, unexplored thing for me. I really have a passion to document live events as they happen. Hosting is wonderful and remains really satisfying, but the joy for me is calling big matches"
It's worth noting that some in ESPN management do not want Fowler to host GameDay and call a college football game on the same day. Herbstreit performs the double duty as an analyst, but Fowler's responsibility on GameDay is much more demanding than Herbstreit's
Reading between the lines here, it sounds like it's going to be Fowler. I think they're just trying to give Brent his day, so they can talk about what a great thing it is that he's staying with ESPN. And then they can play up the new host later.
Rece Davis, who currently calls ESPN's Thursday night games, is also a candidate for the lead announcing job on ABC's Saturday Night Football, as well as one of the national semifinal games. His contract is coming up, too, so he has leverage with the network as an A-plus level performer and a loyal company guy. If Fowler leaves GameDay for the ABC announcing role, Davis seems a lock to fill his position.
Longtime ESPN college football analyst Todd Blackledge is the leading candidate to be an analyst for the non-Herbstreit playoff semifinal.
Saying Rece is a "company guy" is an understatement and I personally like him. I think he'll be doing GameDay (not really surprising) and SVP will take Rece's position, hopefully he won't have to work Lou Holtz/Mark May however.