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Report: Neil Everett Could Be Next To Leave ESPN

Everett has been working at ESPN since 2000.

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Courtesy: Geoff Turner

The talent exodus at ESPN could thicken soon. Sources have told Front Office Sports that Neil Everett may not return to the network when his contract expires this summer. 

The 59-year-old SportsCenter anchor has manned the late-night edition of ESPN’s flagship program with Stan Verrett since the duo moved to Los Angeles in 2009. The Spokane, Wa. native cut his teeth in Hawaii television news before signing with ESPN in 2000. Now, Everett is caught in the yin and yang of their pandemic hiring practices.

The network has retained talents like Chris Berman, Rece Davis, Michael Eaves, Charly Arnolt, and Tony Reali in recent months, but they’ve lost some big names as well. 

Kenny Mayne said directly to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch that he was a “salary cap casualty” after leaving ESPN following a 27-year run. Ariel Helwani joined Mayne as the latest powerful name offered less than expected, prompting the MMA journalist to bet on himself and leave the company on June 15 after starting there in 2018.

Those two joined the likes of Dan Le Batard and Mike Golic Sr. as staple ESPN characters that have exited the company since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sources told FOS that ESPN believes some salaries spun out of control, and the financial strain is reeling them in.

These rumors are swirling amidst a new deal for Everett’s partner Stan Verrett. The SportsCenter co-anchor has a fresh multi-year contract with ESPN. Ironically the last time the pair was up for new deals ESPN announced they’re re-signing in the same press release. 

Verrett and Everett are arguably the most popular SportsCenter duo since the 2000s. The pair have built a seamless rapport and even hosted afternoon drive on ESPN Radio together while ESPN was preparing their new lineup last summer. Time will tell if Everett and Verrett can stay together on the late-night SportsCenter for another decade to come.

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Adam Schefter Expected To Join Mannings On Monday Night Football

The NFL insider has been with ESPN since 2009.

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Courtesy: ESPN Images

ESPN executives have nailed down two members of the Manning Monday Night Football Megacast already; now they have to round out the trio. One familiar face has a leg up on one of the hottest jobs in the industry right now.

Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy reports that Adam Schefter is a leading candidate to join Peyton and Eli Manning for their Monday Night Football Megacast, airing ten times this season on ESPN2. Schefter has never been a TV host or play-by-play voice at the company, but sources told McCarthy this isn’t set up as a “down and distance” broadcast.

“It will be like watching ‘Monday Night Football’ with the Mannings and their friends. The win will be how funny and interesting the whole conversation is,” A source said to FOS. “If you want down and distance, that’s on the main broadcast. This should look and feel totally different.”

A source went on to say that the job is pictured “more like Ernie Johnson Jr. — and less like Al Michaels,” with Schefter (or whoever gets the gig) facilitating conversations around the game with the Mannings.

McCarthy confirmed that the brothers have the final say on who will join them in the booth as the hottest job in sports media opens up. Name a big name and they’ve likely already had their agent on the phone to pump them up in Bristol, Conn.

“Everyone wants in. Every agent in town is calling ESPN,” a source said to FOS.

The brothers won’t be on-site for these games. Instead, they’ll pull off all ten broadcasts this season in a looser, remote atmosphere. Schefter could be a strong fit for that type of hybrid role, and the professional timing couldn’t be much better for the NFL insider. 

Schefter has been with ESPN since 2009 and signed his current five-year deal back in 2016. He’s a routine news breaker and a valuable asset for ESPN. Dangling the carrot of ten games with the Mannings could spell a fresh deal between Schefter and ESPN. Who is reeling in the Manning Conversations this fall? We’ll find out soon enough.

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Liberty Extends ESPN Deal

Liberty and ESPN reached a deal that gives the flames exclusive rights to the Flames’ football games through 2025.

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In a state dominated by FBS programs Virginia and Virginia Tech, and FCS power James Madison, Liberty University has needed to be aggressive in order to stay relevant. They hired Scott Jackson, the longtime assistant to the legendary Mike Fox at UNC, to coach their baseball program. The Flames also hired Ritchie McKay, Tony Bennett’s top assistant at UVA, to lead their basketball program. Of course, they famously hired ex-Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze to be their head football coach. Now, they have extended their exclusive media rights deal with ESPN through 2025.

The deal will see all of Liberty’s football games available on an ESPN platform, with a guarantee of at least one game available on a linear station and ESPN has the right to choose a non-traditional gameday to air a second linear broadcast. Liberty’s 12-game schedule is highlighted by a pair of road games at Power Five schools: a September 24 date with Syracuse and a pseudo-homecoming of sorts for Freeze against Ole Miss November 6.

“We are pleased to continue to showcase Liberty home football games exclusively on ESPN platforms in the years ahead through this multi-year extension of our rights agreement which began in 2018. The recent success of the Flames has made them one of the more intriguing programs in college football the past few seasons.” said Dan Margulis, senior director of programming and acquisitions, ESPN.

The move comes during a tumultuous time in college football as Oklahoma and Texas are reportedly nearing a deal to join the SEC. Liberty is currently one of just six FBS independents, along with BYU, UMass, Army, Notre Dame, and New Mexico State. That list is a mixed bag of those who are independent by choice and those who are not.

The Flames will embark on just their fourth season in the FBS this fall, and the smoke surrounding the school’s desire to join the AAC is palpable. Gaining favor with the Worldwide Leader is a good first step for a program that’s always focused on putting one in front of the other as of late.

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FOX Sports Puts Up Brewers Billboard Near Wrigley Field

After winning the Ultimate Fan Bracket, Brewers fans will be rewarded with a billboard honoring their victory in Chicago.

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Trolling is no longer reserved for the dark, seedy corners of the internet. It is now a tried and true amendment to the fabric of America’s digital culture. Such is the case for Fox Sports as it will have a billboard praising fans of the Milwaukee Brewers put up in Chicago as reward for winning Ultimate Fan Bracket.

The billboard will go up at the corner of LaSalle and Grand, roughly six miles from Wrigley Field. This is not the first time Fox Sports has trolled a home base’s fans as they previously had Bills billboards in Foxborough, Massachusetts and UNC signage in Durham, North Carolina.

While the Cubs’ primary rival resides some four hours south and a little west, the jab from their neighbors 90 minutes north will still sting. That is especially true given the phrase is borrowed from a self-appointed title for Cardinals fans in a city that is wildly proud of their loyalty to the Cubs, who, for over a century, embodied losing.

It’s going to take one heckuva cup snake to get that billboard down.

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