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Russell Wilson To Take Over Jon Gruden’s QB Camp

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Jon Gruden’s departure from ESPN, after agreeing to return as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, also means he will no longer host the popular Jon Gruden QB Camp series.

For the last eight years Gruden has mentored more than 50 quarterbacks during the ESPN program. With the NFL draft around the corner, ESPN has partnered with Russell Wilson to host the show which will be renamed SportsCenter Special: QB2QB.

“Russell is an ideal mentor for these young players entering the NFL. He overcame a fair amount of skepticism when he joined the league and worked hard to become one of the NFL’s top players,” said ESPN Monday Night Football producer Jay Rothman. “Our QB Camp series with Jon Gruden highlighted the relationship between coach and quarterback; this new iteration of the series will now explore the mentoring relationship between NFL veteran and these soon-to-be rookie players.”

As part of the series, Wilson will sit down one-on-one with Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, J.T. Barrett and running back Saquon Barkley. The Super Bowl winning quarterback will explore mental conditioning and share his career experiences with the pending draftees.

Russell Wilson expressed excitement for the opportunity saying, “Jon Gruden’s QB Camp was one of my favorite experiences of the NFL Draft process because it helped prepare me for some of the physical and mental demands of playing in the NFL. Now, I’m excited to have the opportunity to meet Baker, Saquon, Mason and J.T. to try to help them get ready for the next level as part of ESPN’s QB2QB. At the same time, I look forward to feeding off their energy and excitement as I prepare myself for the new experiences that await me this season.”

QB2QB will consist of four 30 minute episodes, each of which will debut on ESPN Tuesday, April 17th during prime time.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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John Ourand Expects Apple To ‘Run The Table’ On Upcoming TV Rights Deals

“He said Apple’s willingness to experiment and the availability of properties like MLS and Major League Baseball line up perfectly.”

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On the most recent episode of the Marchand and Ourand podcast, Andrew Marchand of The New York Post said he would be shocked if Apple TV+ did not have some portion of Major League Soccer’s next media rights deal. It may not be an exclusive deal. He suggested it was possible Apple could win the streaming rights while broadcast rights stayed with ESPN and ABC.

His podcast partner, Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand took it a step further. He said he doesn’t see Apple being excluded from much of anything that hits the market in the coming years.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple sort of runs the table on the next couple of rights that come up including the NFL. We’ve talked about this before, the Sunday Ticket rights,” Ourand said. 

Apple recently got into the sports business, adding an exclusive package of Major League Baseball games on Friday nights. Ourand is confident that deal is less about Major League Baseball and more about the company finding out what it can offer leagues across all sports. The MLS could fit the same description.

“It’s kind of a test. They want to see if this works, and MLS? It’s not the NBA. It’s a relatively low-cost test to see if they can do live video, if they can do things differently, and if they can have a sort of ‘Apple way’ of doing things.”

He cited a new book about the Apple company in the modern age. Tripp Mickle’s After Steve looks at how Apple became a trillion-dollar company.

Ourand, who is friends with the author and has read the book, says that it gives great insight into CEO Tim Cook’s philosophy of releasing products. He said Apple’s willingness to experiment and the availability of properties like MLS and Major League Baseball line up perfectly.

“Early Apple would only release an iPhone or an iPod when it was fully formed and ready to go and there were no problems with it. Apple under Tim Cook? They’re happy to release different things that have bugs or don’t work very well, because they’re gonna improve on it, so if you look at where baseball is right now, it’s not gonna be where baseball is in three years.”

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ESPN, Omaha Productions Expands Places Franchise into Hockey, College Basketball, Tennis

“PK Subban will host PK’s Places focused on hockey, Sue Bird will host Sue’s Places focused on college basketball, and John McEnroe will host McEnroe’s Places focused on tennis.”

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Peyton’s Places has been one of the great successes in terms of original series on ESPN+. The franchise, which began with Peyton Manning visiting places and people integral to the history of the NFL, has expanded into new sports in recent years. Now, there are spinoffs starring Eli Manning, Abby Wombach, Ronda Rousey, Davíd Ortiz, and Vince Carter.

At Tuesday’s Disney Upfront presentation, the Manning Brothers announced three new additions to the Places family.

PK Subban will host PK’s Places focused on hockey, Sue Bird will host Sue’s Places focused on college basketball, and John McEnroe will host McEnroe’s Places focused on tennis.

“The Places franchise is all about giving fans an inside look at their favorite sport so we are excited to be adding such incredible teammates as the Places Universe continues to expand,” said Peyton. “Sue, P.K. and John will all bring a unique and colorful perspective to their sport’s history as they give viewers a look at some of their favorite places.”

In addition to the new shows, Peyton and Eli are coming back. Peyton’s Places will get a third season. Eli’s Places will get a second season.

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No Timetable For Big Ten To Get TV Deal Done

“Warren told The Athletic that he wasn’t married to a deadline of having a deal to announce by Memorial Day.”

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Negotiations are reportedly continuing between the Big Ten Conference and media partners to complete a new media rights deal, and conference commissioner Kevin Warren isn’t in a hurry to make an announcement.

Warren told The Athletic that he wasn’t married to a deadline of having a deal to announce by Memorial Day.

“I want to make sure we take the appropriate time to get this wrapped up, but we’re making really good progress; that’s the good thing about it,” Warren said. “It’s a great time to be in this space. And there are so many really talented people in this area. But we have a good team. We have a great conference, and so I just really look forward to making sure that these are done in a very thoughtful manner and keep our fans and our student-athletes at the center of our decisions.”

FOX Sports will remain the anchor partner for Big Ten football games, but the conference is working with its other partners like ESPN and CBS for basketball and listening to other potential suitors to add a streaming element.

“The media landscape has changed, and you think (of) the interplay between linear television and streaming,” Warren said. “We just have to really think through what fits for what the Big Ten stands for, what’s in the best interest of our fans, what’s in the best interests of our student-athletes, what’s in the best interest of our member institutions.”

The deal, when finalized, could be worth close to $1 billion and would see a modest increase in money paid out to member schools.

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