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Klatt Sells Big-12 During Fox Broadcasts

Jason Barrett

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Maybe it’s just good for business.

Or maybe it’s just because Joel Klatt walked on to the Colorado football team without the sniff of a scholarship that he sympathizes with his game’s latest underdog.

That would be the Big 12, the lone “Power Five” conference that again finds itself on the outside looking in at the playoffs as the season heads to the finish line.

Klatt, Fox’s rookie lead college football game analyst, has emerged as the squeakiest of all the network talking wheels when it comes to plugging the Big 12. He’s also not afraid to take shots at the SEC and Big Ten, which he’s said should be re-labeled the “Super Power Two.”

“I don’t view it as standing up for one particular conference,” Klatt said in a telephone interview this week. “Rather, it’s standing up for what I believe in. … I try not to get sucked into what I believe is the perception of the strength of the SEC.”

Coincidentally, Klatt has made the loudest of his comments on the subject on Fox networks while working Big 12 games. But that’s not to say it’s wrong. Nor is Klatt alone. ESPN college kingpin Kirk Herbstreit also has taken up for the Big 12 in the discussion of College Football Playoff rankings. The latest has undefeated Baylor ranked sixth and undefeated Oklahoma State eighth behind Alabama and Notre Dame, each with one loss. Then there is undefeated Iowa, the second Big Ten school ranked ahead of the best the Big 12 has to offer.

Note: ESPN, just as Fox does, pours millions of dollars annually into the Big 12 coffers for football rights. The difference is that ESPN does business with the entire Power Five as well as Notre Dame. Meanwhile Fox is confined to the 12s – Big and Pac.

But there’s more to bringing up Herbstreit’s name here. In Klatt, who this season replaced Charles Davis alongside lead play-by-play voice Gus Johnson, Fox appears to have a worthy rival for Herbstreit.

Klatt is as engaged as Herbstreit. He appears as savvy. And he is not afraid to throw around opinions.

Klatt, like Ohio State’s Herbstreit, played quarterback in what is now a power conference. But while Herbstreit, an Ohio “player of the year” as a high school senior, strolled onto the Big Ten campus in Columbus, Klatt was offered only small-college scholarships.

Instead, signed with the San Diego Padres, who selected him in the 11th round of the 2000 MLB draft. When that didn’t work out, he returned home to his home state and walked on at Colorado, then a Big 12 school. As a freshman in 2002, he attempted three passes. All fell incomplete in a 34-0 victory over Baylor.

He returned as a 22-year old sophomore the next season, became the starter and left two seasons later with 20 school quarterback records.

Undrafted by the NFL, Klatt unsuccessfully tried out for the New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions before using his economics degree to get into real estate.

He tiptoed into broadcasting in 2006 when the regional Fox Sports Rocky Mountain invited him to work high school games. Two years later, he was summoned to the Fox Sports Southwest studios in Las Colinas to provide analysis in the Big 12 studio. Eventually, Fox moved him to Los Angeles to work national Big 12 and Pac 12 games on FX.

When Fox Sports 1 launched in 2013, Klatt was installed as one of the network’s studio analysts. This season, he moved from the studio to the booth.

Here’s Klatt on TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin, whose terrible game at Oklahoma State last week on Fox may have cost him a Heisman Trophy: “If he had a different logo on the side of his helmet there would be a different perception. People have written him off. Meanwhile (LSU running back Leonard) Fournette is still in the race.” Fournette gained 31 yards on 19 carries against Alabama.

Here is how Klatt sized up schools like Baylor and Oklahoma State against the likes of Alabama, Ohio State and Notre Dame: “It’s been taboo to talk about the power of brands in college football, but brands matter. Why not say so?”

Klatt said he hopes to share similar thoughts for a long time.

“I hope I can do this for the next 30 years,” he said. “I really love it.”

Read more at the Dallas News where this article was originally published

Sports TV News

Nick Wright: The Best Version of First Things First is What We’re Doing Now

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day.”

Ricky Keeler

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Nick Wright has been a co-host on First Things First on FS1 for the last five-and-a-half years. The show has evolved over the years and according to Wright, he has evolved as a broadcaster from the time he got cut from doing play-by-play at WAER in Syracuse to now.

Wright was a guest on The Colin Cowherd Podcast this week and he said that when he first appeared on television, he wanted the audience to think he had all the answers, but the mindset has changed for him and he said the new version of the show that he does with Kevin Wildes and Chris Broussard every weekday is the most successful version of the show.

“When I got on TV, I think the first year maybe, I thought the job was to always have all the answers. To have the facts exactly right, to never be wrong. I’ve now done the show for five-and-a-half years. By a country mile, the most successful version of the show is the one I’m doing right now — this moment — with Wildes and Broussard. It’s the funniest and that’s why.

“I used to approach the TV show with the perspective of I have to prove how smart I am to the audience every single day. Now I approach it as our entire goal is to put on a show that people smile while they are watching and have a good time and that has enough meat to it where it is not all empty calories. There’s got to be the information, there’s got to be the analysis, but there’s also got to be a lot of bells and whistles and funny stuff and guys messing with each other and that’s what works. That took me a while to figure out.”

The only time when Wright didn’t think he had to prove how smart he was when he first appeared on TV was when he would appear on The Herd as Cowherd’s guest and he had a goal in mind whenever he would appear on the show.

“Early in our relationship, I was really, really trying to impress you and I wanted to make you laugh. Every time I came on, I was like ‘It’s successful if I made Colin laugh’. I was too stupid to realize I should just be trying to make the audience laugh, too… That was the best version of me at the time. I felt like you knew I was smart, so I wasn’t trying to prove it to you. I could be the best version of myself.”

While Wright knows he is not a traditional broadcaster, he mentioned to Cowherd that there is one skill set he definitely knows he has.

“The point is I’m not a great broadcaster, like a traditional broadcaster. I can’t read off a teleprompter, but there is a specific thing I can do, which is confidently argue, whether it’s 1-on-1 with my wife or in front of a million people.”

Even though Wright got cut from doing play-by-play at Syracuse, he told Cowherd he was doing talk shows at the station still and it led him to where he is today.

“I was fortunate that I was already working on the talk-show staff. Growing up, I thought I wanted to do play-by-play, but what I wanted to do was color commentary. I would watch the NBA on NBC with Bob Costas, Bill Walton, and Steve ‘Snapper’ Jones and what I wanted to do was the color, but I didn’t realize you can’t do that unless you are a former player or a former coach. They aren’t hiring me to do commentary

“I was crushed, but it made me fully pivot to talk shows. Now at WAER, the talk show studio is named after me and my picture is on the wall. I am a Hall of Famer there. Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Nick Wright, those are the three studios there.”

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Sports TV News

Outside the Lines Won’t Return to ESPN Weekend Schedule

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017.

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ESPN has decided to not return Outside the Lines to its weekend lineup, ending the show’s linear television run.

A report from John Ourand of Sports Business Journal claims ESPN told OTL staffers that the show wouldn’t return to the network after the Super Bowl.

The show, which debuted in 1990, aired as a daily show from 2003 to 2019 and aired a Sunday-edition from 2000 to 2017. Outside the Lines was often regarded as the “moral compass” of ESPN, and was often the source of some of the more investigative reporting employed by the network.

Outside the Lines — which was airing at 9:00 AM on Saturday mornings — averaged 303,000 viewers in the timeslot. Meanwhile, SportsCenter: AM has seen an average audience of 572,000 in the same window.

The Outside the Lines brand will continue being utilized during the Noon ET SportsCenter, as well as ESPN digital platforms, including the network’s YouTube page.

Jeremy Schaap will continue to host the Outside the Lines segments during SportsCenter, but will also be the host of a new iteration of The Sports Reporters that will air on ESPN’s YouTube channel. Schaap’s father, Dick, was the host of the ESPN Sunday morning program from 1988 until his death in 2001. The show aired on ESPN from 1988 to 2017.

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Sports TV News

CBS: Calling Meeting With Tony Romo ‘Intervention’ is ‘Complete Mischaracterization’

“We meet regularly with our on-air talent.”

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An opening question in broadcasting circles is ‘What happened to Tony Romo?’, with even CBS reportedly pondering the issue.

During The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast earlier this week, The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand claimed CBS attempted “an intervention” with its lead NFL analyst.

The intended mission of several alleged meetings with CBS Sports Chairman Sean McManus and CBS NFL producer Jim Rikhoff was to return Romo to his previous heights, which were widely regarded as the best NFL analyst in the business.

CBS Sports has responded to the insinuation that the meetings would be classified as an “intervention” with a strong denial.

“To call this an intervention is a complete mischaracterization, we meet regularly with our on-air talent,” CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle told Marchand

Marchand added that CBS Sports officials plan to attempt to rectify the issues it sees with Romo again this offseason. Romo — who signed a 10-year, $180 million contract with CBS Sports in 2020 — is slated to call Super Bowl LVIII in 2024 with Jim Nantz.

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