Behind the Mic: Fox Sports, CBS Sports Reveals Voices for 2018-19 NFL, College Football Season; Maria Taylor Inks ESPN Extension

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, Fox Sports unveils their college football broadcasting slate, CBS Sports releases their announcers for the NFL season, Maria Taylor signs a multiyear extension, Nick Wright starts his own radio show on SiriusXM, Bob Costas and NBC are in talks about parting ways, Jemele Hill leaves ESPN, Jen Lada signs a new deal with ESPN, the Pac-12 Networks discloses their talent additions, and the SEC Network sign Peter Burns to a multi-year contract.

With the 2018 college football season right around the corner, Fox Sports announced its loaded lineup of announcers, analysts, hosts, and reporters.

The most exciting play-by-play announcer in sports, Gus Johnson teams with Joel Klatt, one of college football’s most knowledgeable and respected analysts, for the fourth consecutive year as Fox Sports’ lead college football game broadcasters. For the second year in a row, the pair is joined by reporter Jenny Taft. Johnson, Klatt, and Taft pull double duty to open the 2018 campaign, beginning Thursday, Aug. 30, with Missouri State at Oklahoma State at 7:30 PM ET on FS1 and FAU at No. 7 Oklahoma on Saturday, Sept. 1.

Also returning to the Fox Sports college football booth are Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, and Bruce Feldman; Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman, and Holly Sonders; Brian Custer and Ben Leber; and Justin Kutcher and Petros Papadakis, joined this season by broadcasting rookie DeMarco Murray. Former Ohio State and NFL linebacker James Laurinaitis also joins Fox Sports to call select games during the 2018 season, working alongside a rotation of play-by-play announcers.

In studio, host Rob Stone is joined by Heisman Trophy-winning USC quarterback and College Football Hall of Famer Matt Leinart, All-Big Ten running back at Ohio State Robert Smith, and NCAA and Super Bowl champion coach Dave Wannstedt. Stone, Leinart, Smith, and Wannstedt present pregame, halftime, bridge, and postgame shows from Fox Sports’ Los Angeles studios, with select appearances on the road, each week. Rules experts Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira weigh in during studio and game coverage.

…Led by Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, and Tracy Wolfson, The NFL on CBS, home of Super Bowl LIII, heads into the 2018 NFL season with the deepest NFL announcer lineup in sports television.

CBS Sports is set to once again produce and distribute many of the best games of the 2018 NFL season culminating with Super Bowl LIII on February 3, 2019 from Atlanta, Ga. Super Bowl LIII marks the Network’s 20th time broadcasting the Super Bowl in its storied history, the most of any network.

Nantz, Romo, and Wolfson call CBS’ marquee game each week, along with the Super Bowl for the first time together.

CBS Sports has added former Arizona Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians as a game analyst alongside Greg Gumbel and Trent Green, as well as sideline reporter Melanie Collins also joining the announce team this season. Former 15-year NFL veteran referee Gene Steratore also joins The NFL on CBS as the Network’s NFL Rules Analyst for the 2018 season. Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts, and Evan Washburn continue to serve as CBS Sports’ No. 2 announce team. And, Steve Tasker moves to sideline reporter with the team of Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon.

This season also marks The NFL Today’s 51st year. Host James Brown anchors the show alongside Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, Phil Simms, and Nate Burleson from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York City. Steratore serves as NFL Rules Analyst and Jason La Canfora continues to serve as the “NFL Insider”…

Maria Taylor, one of ESPN’s most versatile commentators, has signed a new deal that will keep her on ESPN’s networks. The host, analyst, and reporter, who has become a prominent voice in the network’s college sports coverage, will continue her roles on a number of franchise programming including ABC Saturday Night Football, Saturday Primetime (men’s college basketball) and studio host for Big Monday, Thursday Showcase (women’s college basketball) and the NCAA Women’s Final Four.

Taylor enters her second season on College GameDay Built by The Home Depot this year, and will continue as a rotating host on College Football Live, in addition to contributing to other ESPN shows, including Get Up!, SportsCenter, as well as NBA Draft and NBA Combine coverage…

SiriusXM announced that sports media personality Nick Wright will host a new daily show airing exclusively on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel.

What’s Wright with Nick Wright will debut Tuesday, September 4th and air live weekdays from 6:00 to 8:00 pm ET/3:00 – 5:00 pm PT on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Sports Radio channel, channel 82 on SiriusXM radios and the SiriusXM app.

Wright also hosts First Things First, seen on FS1 and heard on Fox Sports on SiriusXM (channel 83), weekdays from 6:30 – 9:30 am ET alongside Cris Carter and Jenna Wolfe

…According to USA Today, Bob Costas is talking with long-time employer NBC about leaving the company. He has worked there since 1979…

Deadline is reporting that Jemele Hill is departing ESPN after the network exercised a buyout of the remaining of her contract. Hill’s final day will be Friday, August 31…

…ESPN reporter/host Jen Lada has signed a new multi-year deal to remain with the network.

Since joining ESPN in July 2015, she has appeared on Baseball Tonight and Mike & Mike to First Take, Special Olympics, College GameDay, College Football Live, SportsCenter, and now Get Up!

In addition to her role as a rotating host on College Football Live and a reporter on College GameDay, Lada will be a rotating host on Get Up! and contributing host on SportsCenter…

…As Football Kickoff Week presented by Opus Bank, takes over Pac-12 Networks this week with Utah taking on Weber State tonight on Pac-12 Network, the Networks announced the addition of former Stanford All-American running back and 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year Toby Gerhart to its in-studio analyst team. In addition, the Networks also made a number of others announcements around its on-air talent team, including:

  • A multiyear extension for veteran play-by-play announcer Ted Robinson, who has been with Pac-12 Networks since its launch in 2012
  • The addition of former Washington State All-American and 1997 Pac-10 Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Leaf to on-air lineup, providing game analysis for two Cougars games alongside his co-host of Pac-12 This Morning on SiriusXM Pac-12 Radio, Guy Haberman
  • Play-by-play announcer Kate Scott, who last season became the first woman to ever call a regular season Pac-12 football game for Pac-12 Networks, to call California’s week three game against Idaho State on Saturday, Sept. 15
  • The addition of former USA National Team, Olympic Silver Medalist, and NCAA Champion gymnast for UCLA Sam Peszek to on-air lineup, delivering sideline reports for Arizona’s week three game against Southern Utah
  • The return of lead game-coverage teams with Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron, Lewis Johnson, Robinson, Yogi Roth, and Jill Savage

Along with Gerhart, Pac-12 Networks’ in-studio team on Saturdays will feature a rotating cast of hosts Ashley Adamson and Mike Yam along with analysts Nick Aliotti and Lincoln Kennedy. For Inside Pac-12 Football, with a new weekly home on Tuesday evenings, Yam will be accompanied by analysts Curtis Conway and Roth, as well as others, all season long.

Pac-12 Networks newest programming this season, The Pregame, will feature a combination of hosts Adamson or Yam along with analysts Evan Moore, Nigel Burton, and Roth.

In addition to Pac-12 Networks’ lead game-coverage teams, the first three weeks will feature play-by-play announcers J.B. Long, Haberman, Scott and Jim Watson, analysts Jeremy Bloom, Chad Brown, Leaf and Kennedy, and reporters Cindy Brunson and Peszek…

…ESPN has re-signed Peter Burns to a multi-year deal to host studio programming on SEC Network, including the network’s signature news and information show, SEC Now.

In addition to his studio role on SEC Network, Burns provided analysis as a course reporter on SEC Network’s live coverage of the SEC Men’s and Women’s Golf Tournaments in 2018, and has contributed to studio programming across all ESPN networks, including The Paul Finebaum Show, College Football Live, and SportsCenter. Complementary to his television duties, Burns will continue with his role as a national radio host for ESPN Radio, and is also the co-host of SEC This Morning on SiriusXM SEC Radio, which was simulcast live on SEC Network every morning from the 2018 SEC Media Days from Atlanta.

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