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Pat McAfee Says ESPN Made Him Skeptical Of Analytics

Pat McAfee said on his radio show some shows are reaching too far when it comes to statistics in sports to prove certain points.

MIchael Quirk

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Analytics and sabermetrics have taken a lot of the Neanderthal narratives out of college and professional sports. Still, those who rely on them as their bible, rather than simply to apply context, can oftentimes miss a bigger picture. Just ask Tim Kurkjian who was once told analytics were not kind to Tony Gwynn what he thinks about it all. Count Pat McAfee in among those who believe some broadcasts of numbers have gone too far.

McAfee called into question a graphic on ESPN detailing the completion percentage above or below expectation for the five first round rookie NFL quarterbacks. The host of the eponymous Pat McAfee Show said there are always numbers that can prove any narrative in sports you want. He made that point by recalling a time when ESPN content producer Paul Hembekides was providing stats to both McAfee and analyst Dan Orlovsky during a debate.

“I learned that whenever I was around like the best numbers guy around, Hembo, because I would say something and he would give me a stat and I would be battling Orlovsky and he would give Orlovsky a stat.”

There’s a phrase, “numbers never lie,” and ESPN famously had a show under that exact moniker. McAfee said when you introduce human elements into numbers and try to pass them off as 100 percent reliable, errors can run abound.

“If that numbers person is also sophisticated enough to dissect the play and say ‘hey, that should’ve been a completion or not,’ I respect that a lot,” McAfee said. “But anytime you have human judgement in something and then you say ‘no it’s analytics and numbers saying this,’ automatically you’re full of shit. You’re automatically full of shit and I don’t know how to break it to you.”

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ESPN Reaches 5-Year Deal to Sublicense College Football Playoff Games to TNT Sports

“We’re confident in the reach and promotion that this new agreement will provide as we enter the new, expanded playoff era.”

Barrett Sports Media

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ESPN; TNT; College Football Playoff
Courtesy: The Walt Disney Company; College Football Playoff; Warner Bros. Discovery

ESPN and TNT Sports have reached a five-year agreement that will result in TNT Sports sublicensing select College Football Playoff games from ESPN. TNT Sports will broadcast two first-round College Football Playoff games during the 2024 and 2025 seasons, along with an additional two quarterfinal games beginning with the 2026 season and ending in the 2028 campaign. These games will be primarily presented on TNT along with several other distribution platforms under the company’s portfolio. ESPN will present all other College Football Playoff games on its networks, which includes the CFP National Championship Game, in addition to managing the sponsorship program for presenting the College Football Playoff.

“We’re delighted to reach this agreement with ESPN, providing TNT Sports the opportunity to showcase these College Football Playoff games on our platforms for years to come,” Luis Silberwasser, chairman and chief executive officer of TNT Sports, said in a statement. “TNT Sports aims to delight fans and drive maximum reach and engagement for these marquee games.”

Earlier in the year, ESPN and the College Football Playoff agreed to a six-year contract to retain the network as the rightsholder of the event through the 2031-32 season. ESPN has been the broadcast home of the College Football Playoff since 2015 and is set to present the expanded format for the postseason tournament containing 12 teams beginning in the 2024-25 season. The network has expanded its package of games in the final two years of the deal that will include all four of the new first-round games in addition to the quarterfinals, semifinals and CFP National Championship Game.

“ESPN is pleased to sublicense to TNT Sports a select number of early round games of the College Football Playoff, an event we’ve helped to grow – alongside the CFP – into one of the preeminent championships,” Rosalyn Durant, executive vice president of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, said in a statement. “We’re confident in the reach and promotion that this new agreement will provide as we enter the new, expanded playoff era.”

“It is exciting to add TNT Sports, another highly respected broadcaster, to the College Football Playoff family,” Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff, said in a statement. “Sports fans across the country are intimately familiar with their work across a wide variety of sports properties over the past two decades, and we look forward to seeing what new and innovative ideas they bring to the promotion and delivery of these games.”

The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery, along with FOX Corporation, are part of the Venu Sports joint streaming venture that is expected to be released this fall. This offering will provide sports fans with a direct-to-consumer outlet wherein they will be able to subscribe and watch marquee sporting events and other programming on networks across the three companies. Pricing and a launch date have yet to be announced for the platform, the latter of which is “conditional on receiving regulatory approval,” according to the home page of the website. Both The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Discovery will also introduce a streaming bundle this summer that implements Disney+, Hulu and Max.

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Kirk Herbstreit: I Had 8 Emmy Awards Taken Out of My Home

“I thought the people on the set would get an Emmy, so all these years, I didn’t know what was going on.”

Barrett Sports Media

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Kirk Herbstreit

ESPN apologized to the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences following a report by The Athletic that divulged that the network had fabricated names in order to garner more Emmy Award trophies. With the Sports Emmy Awards taking place on Tuesday night in New York City, the network secured eight victories recognizing excellence in innovation, its NFL coverage and Mike Breen for his work as a play-by-play announcer. Moreover, College GameDay attained its 14th Sports Emmy award win by being named the winner in the “Outstanding Studio Show – Weekly” category. Pat McAfee joined the cast of the program last season and worked alongside host Rece Davis, analysts Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit.

Herbstreit, who has been a member of the show since 1996, has been a part of several of its award victories and displayed the physical trophies on the mantle in his home. In reality, the physical trophies were granted to faux associate producers with names similar to on-air talent. These plaques were then subsequently re-engraved to have the name of the on-air personalities before the statuettes were delivered to them. During a recent appearance on The Pat McAfee Show, Herbstreit outlined his perspective surrounding the incident, which ultimately led to eight Emmy trophies being taken out of his home.

“For people that don’t know, when College GameDay or any of these shows win an Emmy – when the show does – I was naïve to the whole thing,” Herbstreit said. “I thought the people on the set would get an Emmy, so all these years, I didn’t know what was going on. I was not privy to that information, [and] I just thought, ‘Hey, it finally came. Where’s this been?,’ and I stuck it on the mantle and we kind of moved on.”

Herbstreit stated that he received a call that the trophies were granted to them in error and that they would need to be taken back by the organization. When he revealed that he was not at home, the organization said that it would come to get the trophies out of the residence. After investigations by both the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and ESPN, additional sanctions were placed upon members of the network. Craig Lazarus and Lee Fitting, the latter of whom left ESPN last August, were ruled ineligible for future participation in the Emmys.

“They went down and got them and took eight of my 13 of them out of the house, and then I guess – again, I don’t follow this as closely as a lot of the people – I think after that, they changed the rule, I think, and now if GameDay wins one, now I think guys like you – all the schleps – guys like me and you and Des and Rece, Coach, I think we… legally get one,” Herbstreit said. “I think technically it’s our ninth, but it would be our first one that we actually are supposed to actually have in our house.”

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‘NHL DataCast’ Alternate Broadcast to be Featured During Oilers-Stars Series on truTV, Max

The broadcast will use cutting edge data and real-time in-depth insights from NHL EDGE positional data.

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Graphic for the NHL Western Conference Finals coverage on truTV, TNT and Max
Courtesy: NHL

TNT Sports’ 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs coverage will continue with the Western Conference Finals starting this Thursday.  2023 Hart Trophy winner Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers will be taking on Jason Robertson and the Dallas Stars. This series also marks the debut of the ‘NHL DataCast’ powered by AWS alternate broadcast which will air on truTV and Max.

On the call for the series on TNT will be Kenny Albert, along with commentary from Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher, and reporting from Jackie Redmond. 

Steve Mears will provide play-by-play for ‘NHL DataCast’ along with commentary from World Championship gold medalist Colby Armstrong and Mike Kelly, NHL Network analyst and Director of Analytics and Insights for Sports Logiq.

In a release the league describes ‘NHL DataCast’ as “a new analytics-driven alternative viewing experience on truTV and MaxThe broadcast will use cutting edge data and real-time in-depth insights from NHL EDGE positional data (NHL Puck and Player Tracking) to provide deeper context and understanding of how statistics are utilized by players, coaches and front offices across the National Hockey League. NHL EDGE IQ powered by AWS advanced analytics, including Face-Off Probability, Opportunity Analysis and Ice Tilt, will also be featured. “

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