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FOX Unveils Strong College Hoops Lineup

Jason Barrett

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With the college basketball season set to tip off this week, FOX Sports announces its impressive roster of game and studio broadcasters for the 2015-16 season, featuring some of the most recognizable names and voices in the sport. The announcement was made today by FOX Sports President, Production, John Entz.

The inimitable duo of Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery return for their third season as FOX Sports’ lead game announcers, while former UCLA and St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is a new addition to the network’s college basketball coverage, leading studio analysis and calling select games. Lavin makes his FOX Sports debut Friday, Nov. 13, during studio coverage of college basketball’s opening night on FS1, FS2 and FOX Sports Regional Networks, including halftime of Wagner at St. John’s (6:00 PM ET, FS1) as Chris Mullin coaches his first regular-season game with the Red Storm – the same program Lavin led a season ago.

“We are once again thrilled to have several of the nation’s top broadcasters calling college basketball for FOX Sports this season,” Entz said. “This loaded lineup of game and studio broadcasters brings a wealth of energy and knowledge to our coverage, and we’re looking forward to another season of great games featuring some of the nation’s best coaches and players. We can’t wait to get the season started, and we look forward to seeing who’s going to cut down the nets in March.”

Rob Stone returns as FOX Sports’ lead college basketball studio host and is joined by analysts Lavin, Jim Jackson and Donny Marshall at the desk.

Jackson, a two-time All-American at Ohio State and 14-year NBA veteran, also calls select games and contributes to NBA coverage in what is now a full-time role with FOX Sports after serving the network in similar roles each of the last two seasons. Now based in Los Angeles, Jackson also appears regularly on FS1 signature studio programs THE HERD WITH COLIN COWHERD and FOX SPORTS LIVE.

Kevin Burkhardt, Mike Hill, Ryan Field and Greg Wolf also serve as hosts for select college basketball studio programming throughout the season.

In addition to pregame, halftime and postgame coverage, FOX Sports’ college basketball studio programming is enhanced with INSIDE THE BIG EAST, FS1’s weekly show dedicated to the latest news and stories in the conference, which returns with the start of league play in January. FOX Sports takes its college basketball studio on the road multiple times this season, beginning with the Gavitt Tipoff Games Nov. 17-19. FOX Sports also has a live studio presence at New York’s Madison Square Garden for the entire BIG EAST Tournament, March 9-12, and in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Arena for FS1’s coverage of the Pac-12 Tournament March 10-12.

In addition to its robust studio lineup, FOX Sports welcomes back several familiar and iconic voices to call game action. Led by the Johnson and Raftery, game broadcasters Joe Davis, Tim Brando, Justin Kutcher, Brian Anderson and Kevin Kugler return to FOX Sports this season, while veteran play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo is new to the network’s hoops coverage. Lavin, Jackson and Marshall serve as game and studio analysts and are joined by a host of other top voices including Stephen Bardo, Nick Bahe, Jim Spanarkel, Tarik Turner, Ron Thompson and Dickey Simpkins. In addition to Lavin, play-by-play announcer Aaron Goldsmith and analysts Sean Elliott and Casey Jacobsen return to lead FS1’s Pac-12 coverage.

Sports TV News

NBC Officially Unveils Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge as New Big Ten Booth

“With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

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It’s officially official: Noah Eagle, Todd Blackledge, and Kathryn Tappen will join the Big Ten on NBC booth when the network begins airing the conference’s football package in 2023.

NBC made the announcement Thursday, after weeks of speculation about the moves.

“We are excited to showcase Big Ten Saturday Night on the NBC Sports’ primetime marquee,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer Sam Flood. “When you hear Todd’s voice, you know it’s a big college football game. It has been that way for decades.

“Noah is one of the industry’s rising young play-by-play commentators, who has excelled calling numerous sports across multiple platforms for a wide range of audiences. We are thrilled to pair him in the booth with Todd.

“Kathryn has told the stories of so many memorable Notre Dame Football moments over the last decade in her on-field reporting and interviews,” Flood continued. “With their collective college football experience and great enthusiasm for the game, Todd, Noah and Kathryn join a production team that can’t wait to kick off the Big Ten season.”

Blackledge joins NBC after working as a college football analyst for the network for the past 17 seasons. Previously, he was the an analyst for CBS and ABC, making 2023 his 30th consecutive season covering college football as an analyst.

Eagle is the son of broadcasting legend Ian Eagle, and currently serves as the radio voice of the Los Angeles Clippers. He comes to NBC after calling college football games for FOX Sports in 2022.

Tappen has spent the past nine seasons working NBC’s college football coverage with Notre Dame. Eight of those nine seasons were spent as the network’s sideline reporter before anchoring the studio coverage from South Bend in 2022.

2023 will mark the beginning of a seven-year contract for NBC to air Big Ten football games in primetime. The move is one of the biggest notable expansions in the college football arena for the network since its partnership with Notre Dame began in 1991.

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CBS Tried ‘Intervention’ With Tony Romo

“They knew, they anticipated this. That’s a credit to them, the people in charge there. But it has not gotten better.”

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After his performance during the 2022 season, many have questioned why CBS Sports NFL analyst Tony Romo has seemed off his game after seeing high praise during the early stages of his broadcasting career.

A recent nugget from Andrew Marchand of The New York Post claims CBS executives attempted an “intervention” with Romo before the season.

“Tony Romo needs to study more,” Marchand said during The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast. “He needs to be better prepared. As you move away from the sidelines, you need to do more work. I know CBS is aware of this. They tried an intervention last offseason. They knew, they anticipated this. That’s a credit to them, the people in charge there. But it has not gotten better.”

Marchand also argued that it appears as if Romo’s partner — Jim Nantz — is content to let the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback struggle.

“This was the narrative out of CBS when Romo was getting all of the publicity: you heard from Nantz’ side and people from CBS that Nantz was the one creating Romo,” quipped Marchand. “The issue now is, why isn’t Nantz helping Romo get to this next level?”

Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS in 2020 — addressed his critics in an interview with Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post, saying he’s simply trying new things.

“I mean, some changes are good, some you’re like, ‘Ah, I shouldn’t do that’. But I always trial and error a bunch and sometimes it works.”

The 42-year-old Romo appeared to push back on the insinuation that he doesn’t prepare for broadcasts like he used to during the interview.

“You’re going to fail all the time, but at the same time, you succeed because of that, as long as you think about it and try to understand how to improve and then go about the process to make that happen, which is work ethic and commitment. But you got to have a plan for it before.”

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Jason Benetti: Negotiations With Chicago White Sox ‘Kind of A Pain’

“I just thought it would be easier. But just because it wasn’t easier doesn’t mean it didn’t get done.”

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Jason Benetti

Jason Benetti and Steve Stone recently saw their contracts renewed by NBC Sports Chicago to team once more as the television voices of the Chicago White Sox. Benetti says the talks about a renewal weren’t without their hiccups.

In a profile with Chicago Sun-Times writer Jeff Agrest, Benetti said the talks about the situation weren’t exactly what he envisioned.

“The really good news is we got somewhere good,” Benetti said. “It was kind of a pain, really. There were some things that we had to get through that I thought were silly, and I’m sure they thought some of the stuff that I was talking about might’ve been silly. But we got there in the end.”

Agrest reported the Atlanta Braves were watching the situation with bated breath. Their television play-by-play announcer, Chip Caray, recently departed for the same position with the St. Louis Cardinals.

One of the sticking points in the negotiations between the White Sox and Benetti was how many regular season contests he would miss due to his work with FOX Sports. Benetti is announcing MLB and college football games for the network in 2023 and did his first NFL work for FOX Sports this season. Benetti admitted that were points of frustration along the way.

“I think the work has been strong and I appreciate the heck out of the fans and I have loved the Sox for all my life. I just thought it would be easier. But just because it wasn’t easier doesn’t mean it didn’t get done. Where I have put myself, totally honestly, the place I am is we got it done, and that means something. It means both sides wanted it to happen.”

Chicago White Sox Senior Vice President of Revenue and Marketing Brooks Boyer told Agrest he didn’t see any complications in the negotiations.

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