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Andy Kennedy Joins ESPN and SEC Network

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Andy Kennedy lost his job as head basketball coach at Ole Miss in February. He immediately signed a deal that kept him on SEC Network through the end of the conference’s men’s basketball tournament. Kennedy apparently impressed his ESPN bosses, because he is now joining the company full time.

The former coach will appear as a studio analyst on multiple ESPN Networks including ESPN, ESPNU, and the SEC Network. Today is his first official day of employment. He is in Birmingham as part of the SEC Network’s coverage of the conference’s basketball media days.

“Having been a part of college basketball for over 28 years as both a player and a coach, including the last 12 seasons as a head coach in the SEC, I’m very excited to join the team at the SEC Network,” Kennedy said in a press release. “Coming off an unprecedented season with eight SEC teams earning NCAA Tournament bids, this league has never been better.”

Andy Kennedy wasn’t the first recently released head coach to find work at ESPN during his sport’s postseason. He is one of the few that has turned the assignment into a full time job though. The company will have plenty of work for him too. Between the TV networks and ESPN+, ESPN plans to carry play-by-play coverage of nearly 2900 college basketball games this season.

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Jason Benetti: Negotiations With Chicago White Sox ‘Kind of A Pain’

“I just thought it would be easier. But just because it wasn’t easier doesn’t mean it didn’t get done.”

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Jason Benetti

Jason Benetti and Steve Stone recently saw their contracts renewed by NBC Sports Chicago to team once more as the television voices of the Chicago White Sox. Benetti says the talks about a renewal weren’t without their hiccups.

In a profile with Chicago Sun-Times writer Jeff Agrest, Benetti said the talks about the situation weren’t exactly what he envisioned.

“The really good news is we got somewhere good,” Benetti said. “It was kind of a pain, really. There were some things that we had to get through that I thought were silly, and I’m sure they thought some of the stuff that I was talking about might’ve been silly. But we got there in the end.”

Agrest reported the Atlanta Braves were watching the situation with bated breath. Their television play-by-play announcer, Chip Caray, recently departed for the same position with the St. Louis Cardinals.

One of the sticking points in the negotiations between the White Sox and Benetti was how many regular season contests he would miss due to his work with FOX Sports. Benetti is announcing MLB and college football games for the network in 2023 and did his first NFL work for FOX Sports this season. Benetti admitted that were points of frustration along the way.

“I think the work has been strong and I appreciate the heck out of the fans and I have loved the Sox for all my life. I just thought it would be easier. But just because it wasn’t easier doesn’t mean it didn’t get done. Where I have put myself, totally honestly, the place I am is we got it done, and that means something. It means both sides wanted it to happen.”

Chicago White Sox Senior Vice President of Revenue and Marketing Brooks Boyer told Agrest he didn’t see any complications in the negotiations.

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Sports TV News

Tony Romo on Criticism: ‘You’re Always Evolving’

“I mean, some changes are good, some you’re like, ‘Ah, I shouldn’t do that’. But I always trial and error a bunch and sometimes it works.”

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Tony Romo isn’t too worried about the criticism he received this season for his work on CBS.

The network’s top NFL analyst was once the toast of the broadcast industry. This year though, he was the subject of plenty of complaints. The former Cowboys’ QB says that is because he is still trying to define himself in his new career.

“I mean, the ability to adapt and learn, if you never try to change at all — I just think like the best players in the world aren’t afraid of failure,” he told Jenna Lemoncelli of The New York Post.

“You’re going to fail all the time, but at the same time, you succeed because of that, as long as you think about it and try to understand how to improve and then go about the process to make that happen, which is work ethic and commitment. But you got to have a plan for it before.”

Plenty of sports talk radio hosts laid into Romo for his performance during the playoffs. Even his broadcasting mentor, Dick Ebersol, questioned his commitment to the craft, although Ebersol later walked back those comments.

Tony Romo seems to hear the criticism. He says that he isn’t going to insist on continuing to do the things the audience tells him are not working.

“I mean, some changes are good, some you’re like, ‘Ah, I shouldn’t do that’. But I always trial and error a bunch and sometimes it works.”

For all of the complaints though, Romo says there are still plenty of people that think he is doing a good job.

“You don’t always get it right, but I do think more often than not, just the people that come up to you all the time. I mean, it’s quadruple from my first 2-3 years, of how many people come up to me on the street and want to talk about it and how they loved it and stuff. So it’s really rewarding for that.” 

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Sports TV News

Stephen Nelson: Joining Dodgers Booth ‘Different Challenge Than I’ve Ever Had’

“If you grew up a fan of sports in Southern California, you had Vin Scully…Jaime Jarrin…Chick Hearn…Ralph Lawler…Every single night you could listen and watch broadcasting greatness.”

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MLB Network Intentional Talk co-host Stephen Nelson is joining the Los Angeles Dodgers television booth, and is slated to call at least 50 games for the franchise on Spectrum SportsNet LA in 2023.

Nelson will work games when lead play-by-play announcer Joe Davis is on assignment for national games as the lead announcer for MLB on FOX and is the network’s number two NFL announcer.

In an interview with Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Nelson was cognizant of “the weight and responsibility” that comes with working for the Dodgers.

“It’s a different challenge than I’ve ever had,” Nelson said. “If you grew up a fan of sports in Southern California, you had Vin Scully, you had Jaime (Jarrín), had Chick Hearn or you’re listening to Ralph Lawler on the Clippers. Every single night you could listen and watch broadcasting greatness … even though they weren’t teaching a class directly, I still went to their school.”

The 33-year-old Nelson will be the only Asian American play-by-play broadcaster working Major League Baseball, and he’s proud of that distinction.

“It means everything to me,” Nelson said. “To be in a position where I can help further pave the way for the next wave of AAPI broadcasters or minority broadcasters — because if you look around the sport, and sports in general, it’s pretty embarrassing, to be frank. That’s something that I do not approach lightly at all. It’s a massive responsibility.”

In 2022, Nelson worked as a play-by-play announcer for AppleTV+’s Friday Night Baseball franchise, mostly on the outlet’s “West” games, alongside Hunter Pence, Katie Nolan, and Heidi Watney.

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