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Finebaum Threatens to Sit Out SEC Media Days

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Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage is reporting that the relationship between Paul Finebaum and ESPN has soured to the point that the biggest star on ESPN’s SEC Network is threatening to sit out SEC Media Days entirely. The SEC isn’t happy about it and Finebaum certainly isn’t happy about it. Travis reports that Finebaum is seriously looking at his other options.

According to sources Finebaum, who declined comment to Outkick, was told in October of last year by then-president of ESPN John Skipper not to worry about his soon to expire contract. Nine months later, with limited contact from ESPN executives, Finebaum has now reached the limits of his patience with the network and is preparing to depart. That’s despite substantial efforts by an increasingly frustrated SEC office over ESPN’s inability to get the deal done.

Not signing a contract extension with Finebaum is only the latest in the SEC’s list of frustrations with ESPN. Travis reports that the league feels it was mislead by ESPN and its relationship with the ACC.

This exacerbates recent tension in the SEC-ESPN relationship that has threatened to explode into public view over ESPN’s decision to launch the ACC Network, a move undertaken despite what sources say was a promise made by former ESPN president John Skipper to former SEC commissioner Mike Slive that ESPN would never partner with another conference to create a network.

In an effort to repair the relationship new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro traveled to the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida and told everyone there that the SEC was one of his top priorities. So, many wonder, how is it that Finebaum’s contract is close to expiring?

As for Finebaum’s grievances with the World Wide Leader in Sports, Travis says there are many. The report at Outkick the Coverage details Finebaum’s desire for ESPN to lay out their vision for his future and for the network to find ways to expand his profile in a way that makes him relevant to a larger audience than just Southern college football fans.

Finebaum already skipped ESPN’s upfront presentation to advertisers. Skipping SEC Media Days would be another matter entirely considering the wall-to-wall coverage the SEC Network provides and the daytime coverage on ESPNU in the past.

What would be Finebaum’s plan should he exit ESPN? According to Travis’s report, there is no shortage of options.

Finebaum, who hosts a daily radio show simulcast on TV on the SEC Network as well as appearing on the SEC Nation pregame show and as a commentator on ESPN’s SportsCenter, has explored a syndicated radio opportunity and a move back home to Alabama which would provide more creative freedom for his show. In addition to that opportunity, another conference is also willing to hire away Finebaum to do his show on their channel, broadening the show’s appeal from just the SEC to all of college football. Finebaum, whose radio show on JOX in Birmingham prior to his departure for the SEC Network, was a rollicking carnival of excess which received a glowing six thousand word profile in “The New Yorker,” has sometimes bristled over the heavy-handed management exerted by ESPN on his show’s content.

 

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Ian Rapoport: I Have Never Thought It is Me vs Adam Schefter

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows.”

Jordan Bondurant

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In terms of NFL insiders, Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are the two biggest names out there. And sometimes it can be a race between the two to get the biggest scoops first. Especially now with the NFL coaching carousel in full swing.

This week two teams hired new head coaches – the Broncos traded two first round picks to the Saints to acquire the rights to Sean Payton and the Texans signed DeMeco Ryans.

Rapoport tweeted that Denver had pursued Ryans up until the day they announced the trade for Payton.

Not even 15 minutes later, Schefter appeared to clarify the information out there with the two teams.

On The Pat McAfee Show on Thursday, Pat McAfee referred to the conflicting information as a “source off.”

Ian said he stood behind what he put out there.

“I know it’s fun to call it a source off or whatever, but for me I reported what I had based on the best information I can get – based on talking to many, many people throughout the course of the last month,” Rapoport said from the Senior Bowl. “And then whatever happens as a result of this I don’t really mind.”

In terms of any sort of rivalry between him and Schefter, Rapoport doesn’t view it as a head-to-head matchup.

“I don’t even think that, it’s just I report what I know, and he reports what he knows,” he said. “And everyone can sort of judge for themselves whichever way to go.”

McAfee gave kudos to Rapoport for his reporting on the Ryans situation. He also said it’s a good thing Rapoport doesn’t worry himself too much about what other insiders are doing.

“I think you should feel good about it, but I do like a good source off,” McAfee said. “And I appreciate the fact that you don’t view it as you versus Schefter. But you two are at the top of the game. So that’s a compliment more so than anything.”

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Sports TV News

AEW Considers Launching Streaming Service

“It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.”

Jordan Bondurant

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All Elite Wrestling is looking into launching its own streaming service.

According to reporting from Bloomberg, a source “familiar with management’s thinking” said AEW is looking to strike a deal with broadcast partner Warner Bros. Discovery.

Since launching in 2019, AEW now puts on two weekly shows on Warner channels TBS and TNT and airs two shows on YouTube.

Last year AEW acquired Ring of Honor from Sinclair Broadcast Group. As part of that deal, AEW took ownership of RoH’s extensive content library Honor Club. So much like WWE did with WWE Network when it launched in 2014, AEW could launch its streaming service and have all of Ring of Honor’s content in a one-stop shop.

It’s possible an AEW streaming service could be independent, but many are hopeful AEW’s offerings would be available on HBO Max or Discovery+ akin to how WWE Network is now available on Peacock.

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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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