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College GameDay Won’t Replace Maria Taylor

“ESPN has already announced Holly Rowe as Taylor’s sideline replacement on Saturday Night Football.”

Russ Heltman

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Courtesy: ESPN

Don’t expect to see a concrete replacement for Maria Taylor on ESPN’s College Gameday this fall. Michael McCarthy of Front Office Sports reports the network will use a cast of talent to fulfill Taylor’s open hosting duties.

Jen Lada and Gene Wojciechowski feature more prominently this season but will remain in their essayist roles. Those stories are being expanded for the pair after Tom Rinaldi jumped over to Fox Sports and Taylor left ESPN for NBC.

“There are no immediate plans to replace that role,” ESPN told Front Office Sports in a statement. “We look forward to kicking off the 35th season of College GameDay with our talented crew, including Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard, David Pollack, Chris ‘The Bear’ Fallica, and reporters Jen Lada and Gene Wojciechowski.”

Wojciechowski has been with the network for almost a decade. The veteran journalist started at ESPN in 2012 and puts together feature packages regularly for College Gameday. Lada has been a part of the show since 2016 while also appearing on ESPN Radio, Outside the Lines,  E:60, and SC Featured.

ESPN has already announced Holly Rowe as Taylor’s sideline replacement on Saturday Night Football.

“When they told me, I just started crying because I’ve been obsessed with college football my entire life,” Rowe said about the opportunity. “It’s a dream come true, and I’m thankful to my bosses for this opportunity. I’m starting my 26th season covering games on ABC and ESPN, and it’s been long years filled with hard work. I’m excited to join what’s been established as the best team in college football with Chris (Fowler) and Kirk (Herbstreit), and I hope to be the world’s best teammate to them.

College Gameday starts the 2021 season with a trip to the Cricket MEAC/SWAC Challenge Kickoff on Aug. 28.

Sports TV News

Jenny Taft Details Security Measures For Female Journalists In Qatar For World Cup

“I just had to go through a special gate in Qatar for ladies only. Somehow, I don’t feel that special about it.”

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Much has been made about the abysmal human rights record of World Cup host Qatar as the Middle East nation sees worldwide attention for one of the first times. FOX Sports reporter Jenny Taft detailed the experience of a female journalist covering the event, and was less than impressed.

“I just had to go through a special gate in Qatar for ladies only,” Taft said. “Somehow, I don’t feel that special about it.”

Taft had received pushback from viewers and media personalities for her coverage during the World Cup opener, and her interview with the organizers of Qatar’s bid to host the event. Many called FOX’s coverage “tone-deaf” and “proppoganda”.

Taft has continued chronically her experience at the World Cup on her TikTok account, with one video mentioning how difficult it was to leave behind her baby for the nearly month-long assignment.

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Sports TV News

Peter Burns Apologizes To Ben Watson After On-Air Joke About Wife

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

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SEC Network host Peter Burns has publicly apologized to analyst Ben Watson and his wife Kirsten for an off-color joke he made during halftime of Saturday’s Florida/Vanderbilt game on the network.

While joking about Watson’s suit being lighter in color than everyone else’s on set, Watson said he didn’t care what the other hosts thought about his suit, just as long as his wife thought he looked nice, and asked her to “send the text” letting him know he looked good. Burns quipped “that’s not the text she sent me” before going to commercials. When the show returned, Burns and Watson were not on set, and the former NFL tight end insinuated the pair had a strong disagreement during the break.

Later that evening, Burns tweeted a picture of the pair with the caption #Friendship, which Watson retweeted saying Burns needed to publicly apologize. He did that Monday evening.

In a tweet, Burns said “the truth is that I crossed the line”, noting that Watson “couldn’t have handled it better with his humor and class”.

An ESPN representative had previously told OutKick the entire situation was a joke, calling it a “performance bit”, adding Watson “100% deserves an Emmy nomination”.

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Sports TV News

Rece Davis: College GameDay Needed Someone Like Pete Thamel for Years

“It’s like because of this podcast and that, people have started to think of us as two guys who might someday star in a buddy movie.”

Jordan Bondurant

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ESPN’s College GameDay has a formula to it that has made the show work for so long. It’s not scripted at all, but it’s organized in a way that gives the show structure.

And sometimes time constraints force producers and the hosts to have to make adjustments on the fly, like eliminating segments or elements within segments.

GameDay host Rece Davis talked about it on Monday’s edition of the College GameDay podcast with ESPN senior college football writer Pete Thamel. Davis praised Thamel for his contributions to the show but acknowledged that often Thamel whose hits on the show end up struck because of time.

“All of us sacrifice some, but you’re one of the ones who take heavy hits in terms of things getting cut,” Davis said. Thamel’s tweets are often featured throughout the show, and Davis makes it a point to recognize Thamel on the air. “That’s why I try to give you a shoutout when I see the tweets pop up on the screen, which are amazing by the way.”

Davis said Thamel’s ability to provide up to the second information on relevant and timely stories in college football has been a welcomed change to the show.

“You’ve brought something to GameDay that GameDay’s desperately needed for years,” he said. “It’s like because of this podcast and that, people have started to think of us as two guys who might someday star in a buddy movie.”

GameDay will be on location this weekend for the showdown between Michigan and Ohio State. This past weekend the show was live from Montana State.

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