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Rece Davis’ Goal at ESPN Wasn’t To Host College GameDay

“I love Gameday and I think I have the best job in television, but Chris [Fowler] was hosting that show and I didn’t feel like I had to have that.”

Ricky Keeler

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Photo Credit: ESPN

Rece Davis has been at ESPN for over 25 years and has had the opportunity to cover a variety of sports over his great career. In recent years, the broadcaster who was born in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, has become the main voice on the network synonymous with hosting college football and college basketball for ESPN.

Davis was a guest on the Gramlich and Mac Lain podcast and he talked about what his goal always was in the industry. It wasn’t necessarily to be the host of College GameDay:

“My goal was always to have the most prominent position that I could in college football and college basketball. I’ve been asked many times if GameDay was my goal. It wasn’t. I love Gameday and I think I have the best job in television, but Chris [Fowler] was hosting that show and I didn’t feel like I had to have that.”

“I had what I considered to be as enjoyable a run as I could imagine in-studio for all those years, particularly (no disrespect to all of the other guys I worked with that are great) that decade-long run with Lou Holtz and Mark May. Mark and I were together for several years before Lou came and joined us . I cherished that time as well. It was time to make a change of some sort, whether it was into the booth or as it turned out to GameDay and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”

In his early years at ESPN, Davis was hosting shows such as NBA 2Night and RPM2Night and he covered soccer and horse racing as well. While some of these sports weren’t Davis’s expertise, it did prepare him for the role that he is in now:

“I did soccer and horse racing, all things that were completely out of my wheelhouse and I think it helped me long-term to not only learn how to prepare things that you don’t know or don’t have any preconceived notions about, but it gives you some confidence to execute things that are outside your field of interest.”

Since becoming the host of College GameDay in 2015, Davis and the GameDay crew have tried to improve the broadcast more in terms of getting the crowd more involved in the show:

“I think the thing that hopefully we’ve gotten better at over the years is capturing what’s going on in the crowd rather than just using it as a backdrop. They are like another character on the show. That was probably the biggest adjustment,” said Davis.

Even though the atmosphere for GameDay can be electric, Davis mentioned one of the biggest challenges for the show is trying to highlight the games of the day and not just the game they are at:

“Finding the balance between capturing the essence and energy of where you are and not allowing Gameday to turn into a pregame show simply for that game is one of the things that’s a challenge every week. You want to give the venue its due, but it’s also the pregame show for the entire day in college football.”

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Penn National To Acquire Barstool Sports In Full

“Bloomberg reports that the two step process will be completed by February.”

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Penn National Gaming made its initial investment in Barstool Sports in 2020, paying $161.2 million for a 36% stake in the content factory. Just a few years later, the casino company will acquire the remaining shares.

The relationship with Barstool has had ups and downs for Penn National.

A Business Insider report dropped in December accusing Barstool founder Dave Portnoy of sexual misconduct with multiple women caused serious headaches for Penn National. Portnoy denied any wrongdoing, saying all of the incidents detailed in the piece were consensual. He has also filed a defamation suit against the publisher.

Jay Snowden, the company’s CEO, encouraged investors to be patient. That didn’t stop the reaction though. Penn National lost over $2.5 billion in value and drew the attention of regulatory boards in Nevada and Indiana.

Still, the relationship with Barstool is one the casino company wants to keep. The company has found value in using the brand’s name to attract a younger audience to its sportsbooks. The Barstool name has been used on other venues and products inside of Penn National’s casinos as well.

Barstool podcasts and videos give Penn National a valuable, proprietary means of advertising. Plus, the Barstool Sports Arizona Bowl and the Barstool Classic in Philadelphia, put Penn National in the live sports business.

Penn National has an option to acquire the rest of Barstool for another $387 million. Bloomberg reports that the two step process will be completed by February.

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Dana White Calls ESPN Writer a “F—ing Scumbag”

“It wasn’t a serious interview,” White said. “It was a fun, f—ing edited piece…”

Jordan Bondurant

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Dana White
Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UFC president Dana White did not hold back when talking about a recent piece by ESPN, which claimed in the story headline that White said fighters would not be getting pay raises.

White did an interview with GQ last week and answered a Twitter question about UFC fighter pay. He said fighters “get paid what they’re supposed to get paid. They eat what they kill. They get a percentage of the pay-per-view buys and money is spread out amongst all the fighters.”

White prefaced those words by saying boxing is not what it used to be on account of money and other issues. “It’s never gonna happen while I’m here,” he said, which was meant to be interpreted that he would never allow pay to force the UFC to become like boxing.

“Do you think I’m going to sit here and say, ‘Fighter pay will never go up while I’m here.’ That’s the dumbest f—ing thing I’ve ever heard,” White told Yahoo Sports. “And do you know how stupid you have to be to think that’s what I said in that interview when I was talking about boxing?”

White was fired up mainly because ESPN took words he said in what was supposed to be a fun and light interview with GQ and, in his opinion, changed the context to create a more salacious story.

“It wasn’t a serious interview,” White said. “It was a fun, f—ing edited piece, and ESPN, the leader in sports, is going to write a story on fighter pay based off that f—ing video? Give me a f—ing break.”

Marc Raimondi, who covers MMA for ESPN, wrote the article in question. White didn’t know that, but he made it clear he was pissed off about the piece.

“I didn’t see the story,” White said. “I don’t even know who wrote it, but you’re not a journalist. You’re a f—ing scumbag.”

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Tim Brando: Fox Has Been ‘So Good To Me’

“FOX actually asked me ‘Hey Tim, is there anybody you’d like to have with you’. I said yes, Spencer’s contract is up over at CBS and they went out and hired him.”

Ricky Keeler

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Legendary play-by-play broadcaster Tim Brando has had one of the rare distinctions of working at ESPN, CBS, and FOX. He also has had the chance to work with the same partner at two different networks, which is not something that is very common.

Brando was a guest on the Straight Fire with Jason McIntyre podcast on Wednesday. During the segment, Brando talked about how when Joel Klatt moved up to the lead broadcast booth on FOX’s college football coverage in 2015, the network asked Brando who he wanted with him in the booth. His answer was to go bring in someone else he was very familiar with at CBS before FOX hired him in 2014, Spencer Tillman.

“When Joel moved up to work with Gus, FOX actually asked me ‘Hey Tim, is there anybody you’d like to have with you’. I said yes, Spencer’s contract is up over at CBS and they went out and hired him.”

Brando worked with Tillman calling college football games on CBS and in studio shows as well. This year, the two of them will begin their 24th year working together in some capacity over the last 25 years, which is quite the accomplishment.

When FOX called Brando to join their team in 2014 after CBS let him go, he was excited for another opportunity and he saw the vision and the growing college football coverage that the network was planning.

“In so many ways, FOX has been so good for me. When I left CBS abruptly back in 2014, I think a lot of people including me thought Oh gosh, I think I’ve earned enough checkmarks that I should land with a good parachute at a good place.

“I was a free agent for about 8-9 months. When FOX called, I was so excited. Their portfolio was growing, but it wasn’t nearly what it is today. They were visionary. I think they were thinking we are going to grow our college football portfolio. We need more people. We need to add some greater depth. Maybe some people that have a little more understanding of the history of the game. It’s not always popular for a young television executive to hire a 58-year-old guy that has worked at 3 different networks, but FOX did and I really owe them a lot.”

Brando definitely brings that to any college football game that he calls and he will begin his 9th season at FOX this year in addition to the college basketball game he broadcasts as well. 

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