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Tom Rinaldi: I Tell As Many Positive Stories As Sad Ones

“Even though by volume there’s an equality, there is a disproportion of meaning and memorability to those stories.”

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Sports Illustrated

Tom Rinaldi is one of the better, more captivating storytellers in sports media. One of the many roles that Rinaldi had at ESPN for 19 years was the main voice for features on College GameDay. 

Now, in addition to working the sidelines on big games for FOX, Rinaldi is telling feature stories on their college football pregame show, Big Noon Kickoff, a show that is rising in popularity. This week, Rinaldi was a guest on The Ryen Russillo Podcast to discuss his time at ESPN. 

During the interview, Russillo threw out a theory about College GameDay since he used to host the radio version of the show on ESPN Radio. He said he felt the show has been pushing for longer-form storytelling and that it “veers towards sadness” a lot. He wondered if there was research by programmers that showed people wanted to see more redemption in stories.

“It’s a fascinating theory,” Rinaldi answered. “That was never brought up. Features were brought up. If you actually took a season’s worth of storytelling content, whether it’s Big Noon Kickoff or on Gameday, you would see that there’s a balance of he’s good, she’s good, the lighter story, and the heavier story.

“I would submit that what people perhaps fail to recognize is that it is the heavier story that is more memorable. Even though by volume there’s an equality, there is a disproportion of meaning and memorability to those stories.”

While Rinaldi isn’t on any form of social media, but he does hear what some critics think of the amount of stories that air on a two or three-hour show. That doesn’t mean he is fazed by the criticism.

“I think there is at times a thought that these stories are wrong to tell or there are too many of them or I hear terrible terms suggested to me like tragedy porn or things of that nature. I would just suggest you always have the right not to watch. You always have the right to look away.” 

As for how Big Noon Kickoff is doing, Rinaldi feels that while GameDay is set in stone for what it is, the FOX college football pregame show is still establishing its identity.

When asked to compare the two networks, Rinaldi had nothing but good things to say about both. He said the decision to move on from ESPN was not an easy one to make.

“It’s difficult to leave a place that you love and you’ve been for 19 years. I’ll always love ESPN. I’m grateful for the next. There is so many wonderful things I got to do during my time at ESPN. Now, the chance to do not only Saturdays, but Sundays, the chance to do the World Cup, some features for the World Series, I’m just so grateful and I’ll always love ESPN, but so far, things have been tremendous on FOX.”

Sports TV News

Tony Stewart Joins Fox Sports Booth For Busch Clash, Daytona 500

“Tony brings Hall-of-Fame credentials and one of the most informative and entertaining voices in motor sports,”

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart will hop in the FOX Sports booth as a guest analyst next month for the Busch Light Clash and the season-opening Daytona 500 alongside Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer. 

“To call the very first Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum AND the Daytona 500 is an opportunity you don’t pass up,” Stewart said in a FOX Sports release. “The size and scope of both these races is massive, and it’s an honor to be a part of them with FOX. Anytime you get to talk racing with Clint and Mike, you’re going to have a good time.”

Stewart, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, won three championships as a driver and last competed in the Cup Series in 2016. He also helped form the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) last summer, in which he ran all six races. 

Former NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon had been in the booth since 2016, but was named Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports last summer. So Stewart will take his spot for the time being.

FOX has not yet announced a full-time replacement for Gordon. 

Stewart is not totally green to the booth as he and Bowyer did get some reps together last season when they joined Adam Alexander for the season-opening NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona.

“Tony brings Hall-of-Fame credentials and one of the most informative and entertaining voices in motor sports,” said Brad Zager, FOX Sports President of Production & Operations and Executive Producer.

“There is an obvious chemistry between Smoke and Clint, and there is no one better than Mike at bringing a broadcast all together.”

The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum will air Sunday, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. ET on Fox. The 64th annual Daytona 500 is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 20 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

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Sports TV News

Fox Reportedly Looking At Sean Payton As Possible Troy Aikman Replacement

Aikman is being targeted by Amazon for its Thursday Night Football game broadcasts.

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Following an ESPN report that TV networks are showing interest in current NFL coaches Sean Payton, Pete Carroll, and Sean McVay as potential broadcasters, some more specific information is coming to light.

Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy reports that Fox Sports is looking at Payton as a possible replacement for Troy Aikman on its No. 1 NFL broadcast team alongside play-by-play announcer Joe Buck.

Aikman is being targeted by Amazon for its Thursday Night Football game broadcasts. In December, he acknowledged that his representatives have had discussions with Amazon regarding the position. It’s believed that Al Michaels will be the play-by-play man for that crew.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Payton still has three years (and nearly $30 million) remaining on his contract as head coach of the New Orleans Saints. But he hasn’t yet committed to returning for the 2022 season.

Rapoport’s sources told him that Payton, 58, could take a year off from coaching, recharge, then return to lead another team. (Maybe the Dallas Cowboys?) Others, such as Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians, have temporarily gone into broadcasting before coaching again. But if Fox wanted to add Payton to its top NFL broadcast team, it’s highly likely that the network would want more than a one-season commitment for the job.

The interest in Payton as Buck’s broadcast partner seems a bit surprising. Greg Olsen was highly regarded in his first full season in the booth and it’s believed that he’s viewed as a possible top analyst for the network in the future.

But networks are also in the business of making headlines these days, as the pursuit of Peyton Manning and Drew Brees has demonstrated. Philip Rivers is another former NFL quarterback who many believe has a strong broadcasting future. Hiring Sean Payton from the sidelines would get attention, while promoting Olsen wouldn’t draw the same intrigue.

As McCarthy points out, Fox has shown interest in Payton before, checking in with him while he was suspended for the 2012 NFL season for his involvement in the Saints’ “Bountygate” scandal. And if Fox hired him as its top NFL analyst, the network could offer money similar to what he makes as a head coach. Payton reportedly earns a $9.8 million annual salary on his current contract, while Fox is believed to pay Aikman $8 million per season.

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Sports TV News

Skip Bayless Was All-Caps Mad After Buccaneers’ Playoff Loss To Rams

To be fair, Bayless has a good point about the Buccaneers needing to defend Cooper Kupp better.

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FS1

Dallas Cowboys fan Skip Bayless presumably got all of the outrage and agony out of his system last week after the Dallas Cowboys’ bumbling last-second Wild Card playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

But no, Bayless had new indignation and furious anger following the Tampa Bay Buccaneers losing their divisional playoff game to the Los Angeles Rams with a long pass from Matthew Stafford to Cooper Kupp and a game-ending field goal by Matt Gay.

As highlighted by The Big Lead, Skip was mad. And he used his Caps Lock key to show it.

To be fair, Bayless has a good point about the Buccaneers needing to defend Cooper Kupp better. The receiver had an astounding season with 145 catches, 1,947 yards, and 16 touchdowns, each of which led the NFL in those respective categories. Should Tampa Bay have put two defenders on Kupp during that drive?

You’ve surely seen the catches to which Bayless is referring. But just in case you haven’t, and knowing that it could upset Skip all over again, here are the plays from the Rams’ game-winning drive. First, a 20-yard reception, then the 44-yard dagger that effectively ended the Buccaneers’ chance of defending their Super Bowl title.

Oh, Skip wasn’t finished either. Nope, he had a few more all-caps tweets to go.

Just when it appeared that Bayless’s keyboard (or phone) was malfunctioning and his Caps Lock key was permanently pressed down, he posted a tweet that went back to lower-case letters about halfway through.

FS1 is surely hoping that Bayless saves some of his fury for Monday morning’s Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. Maybe more Angry Skip will result in some memorable video clips. Outrage is undoubtedly his brand and when he zeroes in on a target like the Tampa Bay defense, Skip is at his best. (Or worst, depending on how view his schtick.)

On the bright side, all of social media was spared a sequel to this tweet Sunday night:

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