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Maria Taylor Not Leaving ESPN Before End Of NBA Finals

The “NBA Countdown” host’s contract expires on Tuesday.

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

There won’t be a mid-series switch for NBA Countdown after all. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports that Maria Taylor and ESPN have agreed to a “mini-extension,” allowing her to finish out the 2021 NBA season before deciding to stay with the company long term.

ESPN did not offer a statement to Marchand but the host is expected to be at her normal spot on the broadcasts for Games 6 and 7 on Tuesday and Thursday.

All of this as rumors swirl surrounding the rising stars’ next move in the industry. The Post also reported last week that NBC is eyeing Taylor to be a marquee addition to their sports department. The prevailing thought was to add her to NBC’s Olympic lineup if she bowed out of ESPN the day her contract expired on July 20. 

Maria Taylor could still bolt for NBC if they make the right offer, but the “mini-extension” might delay her first appearance on NBC airwaves. Leaving for NBC could mean she takes over for Mike Tirico as the face of their studio sports coverage. Tirico signed with NBC to eventually replace Al Michaels as the voice of Sunday Night Football.

With Amazon and NBC striking a new deal for production on Thursday Night Football, those days could be coming sooner rather than later. Amazon has made it well known they desire to pair Michaels with another heavy hitter for instant credibility in their streaming-only booth, starting in 2022.

As for Taylor’s current role on NBA Countdown, the team is missing one of its playmakers in Jay Williams, who recently tested positive for COVID-19 and experienced mild symptoms while quarantining in a Milwaukee hotel room.

Unfortunately, Williams will not be on site for any more Finals games as the sports media world awaits Taylor’s next move in the industry.

Sports TV News

Notre Dame AD: NBC Deal With Big Ten is “Perfect” For Irish

“But it’s also perfect for Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said.

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Jack Swarbrick

While not official, there has been strong reporting that the Big Ten conference has decided which broadcast entities would be awarded media rights for their football and basketball games. One of those partners appears to be NBC who also has a partnership with Notre Dame thru 2025.

On Wedneday, Notre Dame’s Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick held a live chat for the school’s alumni association. On that chat, the subject of the recent Big Ten media rights deal came up. He praised Commissioner Kevin Warren and called the Big Ten’s strategy brilliant and added that it’s great for college football because it gives networks inventory and now an incentive to produce around it. He also said when the value of the deals was announced, it’d be “pretty amazing” for the conference.

He then discussed how it fit with Notre Dame’s outlook on television media rights.

“But it’s also perfect for Notre Dame,” Swarbrick said. “We need NBC to have more college football to more effectively promote our games and to talk about our games and to have NBC be seen in that light. So that was great for us that they got a big piece of this.”

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Sports TV News

Louis Riddick Signs Contract Extension With ESPN

He will be on the network’s Thursday night college football package.

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Football analyst Louis Riddick has signed a new extension to continue his career with ESPN.

The network made the announcement on Wednesday when announcing their broadcast teams for the 2022 college football season. In that release, it was revealed that Riddick would be returning to the college football booth for the first time since 2019.

He will be on the network’s Thursday night college football package and be partnered with play-by-play commentator Matt Barrie and Harry Lyles Jr.

It was announced earlier this summer that Riddick would also be in the booth for ESPN’s preseason NFL action. He’ll also be in the booth for three weeks that ESPN has multiple games in that week.

Riddick’s first college football game assignment will be the Backyard Brawl game between West Virginia and Pittsburgh and the latter has already noted their excitement.

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Sports TV News

ESPN Adds Aaron Murray, Re-Signs Beth Mowins For College Football Coverage

Mowins provides play-by-play on college basketball and softball, and has been the Voice of the Women’s College World Series for more than two decades.

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Aaron Murray, Beth Mowins

ESPN announced the hiring of Aaron Murray to its analyst roster.

Murray, a former quarterback at Georgia and most recently an analyst with CBS Sports Network, will call a handful of games on the SEC Network. He’ll also appear on some of the network’s studio programming.

ESPN also announced the re-signing of play-by-play commentator Beth Mowins to a multi-year deal. In addition to football, Mowins provides play-by-play on college basketball and softball, and has been the Voice of the Women’s College World Series for more than two decades.

ESPN announced the broadcast crews for its college football coverage as well.

Game/NetworkCommentators
ABC Saturday Night FootballChris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Holly Rowe
ESPN Saturday Night PrimetimeSean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Molly McGrath
ESPN and ABC SaturdayJoe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Katie George
ESPN and ABC SaturdayMark Jones, Robert Griffin III, Quint Kessenich
ESPN and ABC SaturdayDave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek, Tom Luginbill
ESPN and ABC SaturdayBob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Kris Budden
ESPN and ABC SaturdayDave Flemming, Rod Gilmore, Tiffany Blackmon
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayAnish Shroff, Brock Osweiler, Taylor McGregor
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayBeth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Stormy Buonantony
ESPN ThursdayMatt Barrie, Louis Riddick, Harry Lyles Jr.
ESPN and ESPN2 FridayRoy Philpott, Andre Ware, Paul Carcaterra
ESPN and ESPN2 SaturdayBrian Custer, Dustin Fox, Lauren Sisler
SEC Saturday NightTom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, Cole Cubelic
ACC Network PrimetimeDave O’Brien, Tim Hasselbeck, Kelsey Riggs
SEC NetworkDave Neal, Deuce McAllister, Andraya Carter
SEC NetworkTaylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb, Alyssa Lang
ACC NetworkWes Durham, Roddy Jones, Taylor Davis
ACC NetworkChris Cotter, Mark Herzlich, Lericia Harris
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayClay Matvick, Rocky Boiman, Dawn Davenport
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayKevin Brown, Hutson Mason
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayJohn Schriffen, Rene Ingoglia
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayDrew Carter, TBD
ESPN2 and ESPNU SaturdayConnor Onion, Craig Haubert
Longhorn NetworkLowell Galindo, Sam Acho, Alex Chappell
ESPNU Thursday – HBCUTiffany Greene, Jay Walker
ESPN Radio Marc Kestecher, Kelly Stouffer, Ian FitzsimmonsMike Couzens, Max Starks

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