Following a tumultuous offseason in sports media that resulted in the movement of several established National Football League broadcasters, Mike Tirico found himself promoted to become the lead play-by-play announcer for Sunday Night Football on NBC.
Tirico entered this role following Al Michaels, who called Sunday Night Football for 16 seasons with Cris Collinsworth and the late-John Madden before signing with Amazon Prime Video this offseason. The broadcast, which also features Collinsworth as a color commentator and Melissa Stark reporting from the sidelines, has been the number one show in primetime television for a record 11 consecutive seasons.
As a native of Queens, N.Y., Tirico attended Bayside High School where he realized that his dream of playing sports professionally was impractical and began thinking of ways to remain involved in the industry. Tirico considers himself to have been an avid sports fan when he was younger and always enjoyed listening to game broadcasts. He identified that by announcing the games, he would be able to build a viable career for himself and remain involved in sports as a media member.
Consequently, he began conducting research on how to achieve his goal of becoming a professional in a highly-competitive field.
“[I] found out at the time that some of my favorites – Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Len Berman – very popular and widely-respected broadcasters in New York were all Syracuse alums,” Tirico said. “I did some more digging and found out that Dick Stockton and Marty Glickman – and even Dick Clark in the American Bandstand-days and Ted Koppel are all Syracuse alums. I got very focused on trying to [go] to school there and was lucky enough to do that.”
While attending Syracuse University, Tirico made it a point to gain as much experience as he could, starting by broadcasting basketball, football, lacrosse, volleyball and other sports on WAER, the university’s student-run radio station. It was important for Tirico to attend a university with prominent alumni and a history of success – but sports broadcasting is not the only thing he studied as a student.
In addition to his broadcast journalism major within the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Tirico also studied political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Although he has a penchant for sports broadcasting, having previous experience and an understanding of news and current events serves to make media professionals more versatile.
“I think the collection of talented people there at the station gave you a good idea of who the best in your generation or class were going to be because a lot of the best were right there with you,” Tirico said. “I think we all made each other better along the way. That was a real influence for me – and a lot of the individuals there were an influence [on] me.”
At the end of his junior year, Tirico was hired by WTVH-5, a local CBS-affiliated television station in Syracuse, to deliver the weekend 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. sportscasts, effectively beginning his television career. Once he graduated Syracuse University in 1988, he remained in the area with WTVH-5 and was subsequently promoted as the outlet’s sports director, giving him early professional management experience outside the walls of the university.
“The experience and peers at Syracuse gave me the opportunity to test myself early on amongst the best in the industry,” Tirico said. “At that point, [it also] allowed me a chance to get on-air far earlier than I would have if I had gone to school somewhere else.”
In 1991, Tirico joined ESPN as a studio anchor where he contributed across its coverage of professional and collegiate sports. Additionally, he hosted an edition of SportsCenter with Jimmy Roberts where the duo updated viewers on the latest scores and news around the world of sports.
ESPN was the first national television station Tirico was ever employed by, and making the jump from working at a local station in Syracuse was initially challenging and brought him awareness of what skills he needed to improve on to ensure he would last and make a name for himself in the industry.
“There’s a lot of getting yourself up to speed for that and fortunately it was a great time at ESPN where we had the rights to so many different sports,” Tirico said. “[During the time I was there, SportsCenter] went from three half-hour shows a day to a constant presence [being] almost the wallpaper of the network; it was always around. That, I’m sure, was a big onus for me to be around that time of growth for ESPN and the SportsCenter franchise specifically.”
Two years later, Tirico hosted NFL Prime Monday, a new pregame show leading up to the network’s broadcast of Monday Night Football. Due to space limitations at ESPN’s studios, the show was broadcast out of a garage yet it transformed studio coverage of professional sports.
By introducing elements such as interviews with star players (conducted by former MTV VJ and SiriusXM DJ “Downtown” Julie Brown), utilizing an on-site field reporter for live stadium coverage and implementing debates between on-air talent and guests regarding the game, the way studio coverage leading up to live game broadcasts was forever changed. Additionally, the show had regular analysts including Craig James, Phil Simms and Joe Theissman, along with writers Mitch Albom, Skip Bayless and Michael Wilbon, all of whom would contribute their opinion and expertise to viewers.
The show led to the development of Monday Night Countdown which still airs on the network before Monday Night Football broadcasts featuring Buck and Troy Aikman, along with Peyton and Eli Manning in select weeks.
“We had in that show – 30 years ago – a variety of elements that were not in all the other pregame shows,” Tirico said. “….I’m really proud of the way that show got on the air. That was kind of a template for where pregame shows have evolved today.”
The evolution of technology and media consumption have engendered changes to the ways in which sports broadcasters prepare for a typical day at work. For example, when Mike Tirico and Sunday Night Football are covering the Green Bay Packers, Tirico recognizes the value in watching Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ weekly appearance on The Pat McAfee Show.
Additionally when Tirico covered the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles matchup in late October, Tirico listened to New Heights, a podcast featuring Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and his brother, Eagles center Jason Kelce.
“There’s so much out there right now that by the time you get to Sunday – really that hour before the games [during] those pregame shows, I want to know, ‘What have you learned from the broadcasters who are on-site there?,’” Tirico said.
“What are the opinions from the guys in the studio who over the years you’ve come to appreciate their views on what’s going to happen. It’s really become a preview [of] the games that are about to come up as opposed to, ‘Here are some stories from around the league from during the week.’”
As a host at ESPN, Tirico was given various opportunities to display his versatility as a play-by-play announcer across multiple sports calling games on both the professional and, when applicable, collegiate level on various platforms of dissemination. This included working as a play-by-play announcer for the NBA Finals on ESPN Radio with color commentators Hubie Brown and Dr. Jack Ramsey; hosting professional golf coverage on ABC Sports with analyst Curtis Strange; and anchoring College Football Scoreboard starting in 1993.
“The only things I really call now are football and golf,” Tirico said. “I miss the days when I called a variety of sports. I loved jumping into new sports and getting a chance to do them.”
Whether it be the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament, FIFA World Cup, Daytona 500, Rose Bowl, NCAA Final Four, or U.S. Open Golf Championship, Tirico has had the chance to anchor coverage of long-established and historic sports traditions. Having worked in many different areas of professional sports demonstrates the chance he has been afforded to reach new audiences and bring viewers insightful and fascinating converge of these and other heralded realms of competition.
“Tiger Woods winning the career Grand Slam at St. Andrews,” Tirico said when asked of one of his most memorable moments working in sports media. “That had not happened but once before on live television and hasn’t happened since 2000. That was a remarkable moment to be there and see the fifth golfer win all four golf majors and to do it at the home of golf.”
In 2006 when Monday Night Football moved from being broadcast to ABC to being exclusively on ESPN, he became the fourth person to serve as the voice of the weekly program. Just as Tirico did leading up to this football season, he succeeded Al Michaels in the play-by-play role, as Michaels joined NBC Sports to call the inaugural season Sunday Night Football with Madden.
From the first Monday night broadcast on ESPN, Tirico was joined by Jon Gruden for live primetime NFL games and broke cable television viewership records in the process. It was during this time when Tirico experienced a powerful moment on the football field that transformed his view on sports broadcasting and remains carved in his memory.
“Our third regular season game was the New Orleans Saints against the Atlanta Falcons,” Tirico recalled. “That was the return to the Superdome post-Hurricane Katrina for the Saints and it was the day that reminds me forever that sports is not just a game; it’s not just a toy shop. It has incredible meaning and connection to the cities that host these teams over the years.”
After he anchored the 2016 UEFA European Football Championship, Tirico made the decision to leave ESPN and join NBC Sports. He first appeared on the NBC Golf Channel calling play-by-play during the 2016 U.S. Open Golf Championship and concluded the tournament by hosting studio coverage.
A few months later, he was behind the desk working as a daytime host for coverage of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a worldwide sporting tournament and cultural phenomenon that takes place once every four years.
Tirico always looked up to NBC primetime Olympics host Bob Costas throughout his journey in sports broadcasting. As a venerable graduate of Syracuse University, Costas worked with NBC Sports beginning in 1980 as a host and play-by-play announcer for football, basketball and baseball coverage.
In 1988, he was selected as the primetime host for the broadcast of the Olympic Games, a job he performed for 12 iterations of the event before retiring from the role in 2017. Tirico was chosen to step into the position – something he affirms is one of the most significant roles in his career.
Ironically enough, he had previously received the inaugural “Bob Costas Scholarship” at Syracuse University in 1987 which continues to be awarded annually to one of its acclaimed broadcast journalism students.
“There are a lot of people who host shows; there are a lot of people who do… play-by-play. There’s only been one person that has hosted the Olympics in primetime since the 90s and it’s Bob,” Tirico said. “I’ve had plenty of experience in this and I think it becomes easier as you go along because I have an established style.”
Hosting the Olympics expands upon the traditional role of a sports broadcaster since it involves many of the countries across the globe. Tirico’s previous experience at WTVH-5 in Syracuse in addition to his steady consumption of news media and college major of political science keeps him prepared for the event and able to cover it on a global scale for the viewing audience, primarily based in the United States.
“It’s far closer in the host role to news than sports because there’s so much geopolitics involved in the entire process of the Olympics no matter how much we continue to hope that it’s about competition,” Tirico said. “That’s the root and that’s the foundation, but politics always seems to find a way to come into play with the different organizing committees, national governing bodies and, of course, each nation’s delegation.”
Tirico is grateful for the leadership of both NBC Olympics Executive Producer and President Molly Solomon and Primetime Producer Rob Hyland in how they have elevated the coverage of the event. Moreover, he is excited to cover the games taking place in Paris, France starting in July 2024 and continue being part of the evolution of the broadcast in the years to follow.
“There’s not a better studio hosting job in our industry than being able to host the Olympics in primetime,” Tirico expressed. “It requires a lot of talented people behind the scenes [and] a lot of help in preparation, but that opening ceremony when more nations and delegations come [in]… than you have when the U.N. General Assembly gathers every fall shows you that nothing, nothing, nothing brings the world together like the Olympic games.
“To be the person who has this unique role of 17 straight nights hosting multiple hours of primetime TV to present the competition of the athletes of the world – it’s pretty cool.”
In the latter half of 2016, NBC announced that Tirico had been added as a play-by-play announcer for some of its professional football broadcasts, including three Sunday Night Football games and one Thursday Night Football game when the network had the rights.
One year later, Tirico was named the play-by-play voice of the Thursday Night Football franchise where he worked with analyst Cris Collinsworth on live game broadcasts. Now working regularly with Collinsworth on a week-by-week basis doing Sunday Night Football, the familiarity has lent itself to a broadcast where the commentators play off of each other’s strengths to bring viewers the best coverage possible.
“The good part was there was no real adjustment,” Tirico said on acclimating himself to the broadcasts this season. “….We were lucky enough to do about 20 games together – preseason and regular season… from Thursday nights to Sundays; different games along the way. Getting to know Cris and his family and all of that made it so easy to start from the beginning here this year.”
While the network lost the Thursday night rights to Fox the following season, Tirico was still busy as the play-by-play announcer for Notre Dame college football games, host of Triple Crown horse racing coverage along with the Indianapolis 500, a brief stint doing play-by-play for National Hockey League games, and the studio host for Football Night in America, which is the most-watched studio show in sports.
In an era where studio coverage is changing amid consumers being afforded more control over the content with which they engage, progression with the dynamism of the current time is fundamental for sustained growth. In some cases, the coverage is being eliminated entirely due to a lack of consumer interest concerning those working in that environment.
“I think there’s always going to be a future for shoulder programming before and after a game,” Tirico expressed. “I personally would like to see more of an emphasis on quality postgame programming. I think we spend so much time talking about what’s going to happen in a game and not an equal amount of time talking about why things happen within a game.”
Following Al Michaels as the full-time play-by-play announcer on Sunday Night Football was always the plan since he joined NBC Sports, according to a statement made to Deadline by NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua.
Developing his own style on the show was not something he was preoccupied with though, as his previous experience in other play-by-play roles had already given him the chance he needed to hone his craft.
While he respects the previous work Michaels did on the broadcasts, he seeks to make it his own and bring his own style to the broadcast. An example of such is the elimination of the infamous “Collinsworth Slide” at the start of broadcasts, which resulted from an opening visual containing solely then-play-by-play announcer Michaels talking to the audience about the game and the shot zooming out shortly thereafter when it was time to include the analyst.
Now, the broadcast begins with both the play-by-play announcer and color commentator on-screen, resulting in more air time for Collinsworth and the ability to quickly have a back-and-forth discussion.
“I’m not thinking, ‘Okay, I have to do this [in] this way because the person who was here before did it,’” Tirico said. “I don’t know why NBC hired me but I do know that they hired me for my skill set, not to mimic the person who came before me in any of the other jobs. Once you’re authentic in how you do a job, I think that’s the best way to approach following some of the great people in the history of our business no matter what their roles were.”
The program continues to put up stellar ratings with the new broadcast production team in place, posting season-high numbers in last week’s matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills. In fact, it was the most watched Week 8 edition of the show since 2015 with a 10.6 rating and viewership of 19.62 million people, according to Nielsen.
Additionally, Tirico made history earlier in the season when he called his 200th NFL game, a notable career milestone and a testament to his hard work and alacrity towards taking chances fostered from the moment he first recalled becoming interested in sports media.
Overall, the entirety of the NFL broadcast landscape is doing well under new media rights agreements and commentary teams, an ideal time for the industry to meet and exceed expectations as football continues to sustain its popularity.
“The industry has never been better,” Tirico said. “There are so many good production people working behind the scenes. The quality of the broadcasts in terms of information has never been higher – I don’t think many broadcasts overindulge in analytics and stats but find the key ones. I think the fans are served pretty well in terms of entertainment and options too, things like a Manningcast or something like that. Those things are good.”
As time progresses, it remains imperative for sports media to remain at the forefront of innovation and continually possess a willingness and ability to change when necessary. In anticipating shifts in media notwithstanding their impact, the industry figures to more effectively serve the fan; that is, rather than reacting to changes after they occur.
“I would say that we continue to all use information technology to push the envelope and I think the result has been some really good television production,” Tirico said. “If you look back 15 years ago and look now, the depth and quality of what you see is really, really good. I think the state of covering football is in great shape and as another generation of announcers and producers and executives and leaders come in here, they’ve grown up around people pushing the envelope for better football broadcasts. I think you’re going to continue to see that going forward.”
In the days leading up to February 13, 2022 – which was dubbed by NBC as “Super Gold Sunday” since the network was broadcasting both the Olympics and the Super Bowl on the same day – Tirico pulled off an unprecedented broadcast feat.
For the two weeks leading up to “The Big Game,” he woke up in Beijing, China where he hosted primetime Winter Olympics coverage. Later in the week, he took a flight from Beijing to Los Angeles to host pregame and postgame coverage of Super Bowl LVI between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.
On that same day, he hosted primetime Olympics coverage from outside of SoFi Stadium, giving him the feat of contributing to coverage of both major sporting events within the same 24-hour period. Once the Rams hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy, Tirico was on the way to the NBC Sports studios in Stamford, CT to complete his primetime Olympics hosting – meaning he traveled over 12,000 miles in a week and adjusted to a 13-hour time difference.
“That’s never happened before because there’s never been that confluence in the calendar with the Super Bowl and the Olympics on the same network on the same day,” Tirico said. “I don’t know how often it’s going to happen again but the chance to be the host for both of those was [a] once-in-a-lifetime day that I’ll cherish forever.”
As Tirico embarks on the second half of his 17th consecutive season calling primetime NFL games – now as the lead play-by-play announcer for Sunday Night Football – he looks back on his journey throughout sports media, grateful for the opportunities he has had and excited for what to come. One of those future endeavors, he hopes, is another chance to call basketball, the sport he originally began broadcasting while attending Syracuse University.
“I miss doing hoops games and basketball is the one I’ve never done that I’d love to do at some point,” Tirico expressed. “You’re at the point now where my career is so complete… and just to dabble in those and have the opportunity to do them would be cool for me.”
For aspiring professionals looking to work in sports media, Tirico advises them to be well-rounded and find niches in the industry that they are able to grow in and have a passion towards. Throughout his journey, Tirico was flexible and did not limit himself in what he was or was not able to do – a contributing reason as to why he has covered most professional sports in some capacity.
The reason broadcasters are ultimately chosen to be on-air not only pertains to their individual ability behind a microphone, but also in how they collaborate with their colleagues and work as a member of a team. Mastering those latter skills are just as essential to genuinely stand out from others vying for opportunities that can only be bestowed on one person.
“I think one of the most important things is being a good listener,” Tirico articulated. “I think our job is based on talking, but I think some of the most valuable things we need to do are listen. Listen to other broadcasts and hear what works; hear what you deem to be entertaining and informative…. If you’re lucky enough to not just like sports but love it, then this is as great a business as you could ever ask to be a part of.”
Derek Futterman is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. In addition, he serves as the production manager for the New York Islanders Radio Network and lead sports producer at NY2C. He has also worked on live game broadcasts for the Long Island Nets and New York Riptide. He previously interned for Paramount within Showtime Networks and wrote for The Long Island Herald. To get in touch, find him on Twitter @derekfutterman.
Colorado Hiring Deion Sanders Will Be Constant Gift for College Football Media
“If Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers, he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor.”
Deion Sanders quickly made it clear why the University of Colorado chose him to be its next head football coach.
Coming off a weekend in which the four College Football Playoff teams were announced and all of the other bowl-eligible teams accepted their invitations, Colorado — which went 1-11 this past season — made news for hiring Sanders, the former NFL star who was phenomenally successful at Jackson State.
The media that covers college football and sports as a whole should be thrilled that the Buffaloes program decided to take a big leap for attention and notoriety. Sanders is a bold, risky hire. But he’s also been successful in virtually every venture he’s taken. “Primetime” had a Hall of Fame NFL career and also played Major League Baseball. And he’s a master at drawing attention to himself.
During his first meeting with his new team, Sanders made sure to mention that he has Louis Vuitton luggage to make the point that some of his Jackson State players are coming with him to Boulder — including his son, quarterback Shadeur Sanders. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart probably don’t cite luxury fashion when explaining to their players that they’ll have to compete for starting positions.
Coach Prime will not be boring to cover. (That self-appointed “Coach Prime” title, which was on his name plate at his introductory press conference, is a big clue there.) He never has been. This is a man who said during the 1989 NFL Draft, after being selected No. 5 overall by the Atlanta Falcons, that if the Detroit Lions had selected him at No. 3, he “would’ve asked for so much money, they’d have had to put me on layaway.”
Even if he doesn’t win as much as Colorado hopes, Sanders will pursue top talent — players who want to perform on a larger stage than the FCS-level Jackson State allows — and impact athletes will be attracted to him. He got the No. 1 recruit in the nation, cornerback and wide receiver Travis Hunter, to play for him. (Hunter is following his coach to Boulder.) Now that Sanders is at an FBS school in a Power 5 conference, more stars will surely come.
But if Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers — going 27-5 in three seasons, including a 12-0 campaign in 2022 — he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor. And he’ll get the attention that such figures typically draw from media and fans. According to the Denver Post‘s Sean Keeler, at least 400 people attended what felt more like a celebration than a press conference.
Coach Prime wasn’t going to just win the press conference, which is what any school and fanbase want when a new coach is introduced.
If Colorado wanted someone to sit at a podium, and give platitudes like “We want to win the Pac-12 and get to the College Football Playoff,” “We’re going to build a program with young men you’ll be proud of,” or “It’s time to restore Colorado to the football glory we remember,” Sanders isn’t the guy for that.
“Do I look like a man that worries about anything? Did you see the way I walked in here? Did you see the swagger that was with me?” Sanders said during his introductory presser. “Worry? Baby, I am too blessed to be stressed. I have never been one for peer pressure. I put pressure on peers. I never wanted to worry, I make people worry. I don’t get down like that. I am too darn confident. That is my natural odor.”
To no surprise, Sanders announced his presence in Boulder with authority. He had cameras following him as he met with Colorado players for the first time. How many other coaches would have recorded what many would see as a private moment for posterity and post it online?
Sanders caused a stir by putting his players on notice. He warned them he was coming, telling them they’ll be pushed so hard they might quit. He told them to enter the transfer portal and go someplace else if they don’t like what he and his staff are going to do.
That candor, that brutal honesty surprised many fans and media when they saw it Monday morning. For some, that message might have felt too familiar. How many in media — or many other industries — have worried about their job status when a new boss takes over? What may have seemed secure days earlier is now uncertain.
But how do we know other coaches haven’t said something similar when taking over at a new job and addressing their team? We just hadn’t seen it before. But Sanders has been in the media. He knows social media. He understands controlling his own message and telling his story.
Sanders also knows what kind of value he brings to any venture he takes on. How many people would have left an NFL Network gig for Barstool Sports? But Sanders went to where his star would shine, where he was the main show, where he could be Deion Sanders. Maybe he’ll have to turn that down just a bit at Colorado. But athletic director Rick George knows who he hired.
Colorado could have made a safer choice, including previous head coaches Tom Herman, Bronco Mendenhall, or Gary Patterson. A top assistant from one of this year’s Playoff contenders — such as Georgia’s Todd Monken, USC’s Alex Grinch, Alabama’s Bill O’Brien, or Michigan’s Sherrone Moore — could also have been an option.
But what fun would that have been? What kind of tremor would Colorado have created in the college football news cycle? How much attention would a more conventional hire have received? Yes, Sanders has to recruit and win. However, if the objective was to make Colorado football a talking point again, that’s been accomplished.
There could be some friction too. Sanders has already been criticized for being a champion of HBCUs, only to bolt for a mainstream Power 5 program when the opportunity opened. (To be fair, other columnists have defended the move.)
At Jackson State, Sanders tried to control local media when he didn’t like how reporters were addressing him or covering a story. Last year during Southwestern Athletic Conference Media Day, he balked at a Clarion-Ledger reporter addressing him as “Deion,” not “Coach,” insisting that Nick Saban would’ve been shown that respect. Earlier this season, Sanders admonished a school broadcaster (and assistant athletic director) for speaking to him more formally on camera than he did off-camera.
Will that fly among Boulder and Denver media, or the national college football press? It’s difficult to imagine. Maybe Sanders will ease back on his efforts to control reporters within a larger university environment, metropolitan area, and media market. But we’re also talking about Deion Sanders here. He doesn’t bend to outside forces. He makes them bend to him.
Sanders’ stint in Boulder — whether it lasts the five years of his contract and beyond, or less than that — will not be dull. There could be no better gift for the media covering Colorado football. Or college football, a sport already full of bold personalities, eccentric to unhinged fanbases, and outsized expectations. Coach Prime will fit right in.
Ian Casselberry is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously written and edited for Awful Announcing, The Comeback, Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation. You can find him on Twitter @iancass or reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Media Is Finally Strong Enough To Take On The Rose Bowl
“The whole Rose Bowl organization is stuck in a black and white TV world. The future playoff is Marty McFly stepping out of a Delorean and the Rose Bowl is the Enchantment Under the Seas Dance.”
I am a sucker for packaging. Take me to a grocery store and show me a uniquely packaged sauce or condiment or waffle syrup and I’ll give it a try just based on bottle size or design. The one packaging ploy that has vexed me is the “biggie size” at the local drive through. I’m always interested in the largest drink possible but don’t necessarily want a grain silo full of fries passed through my window. The College Football Playoff is going “biggie sized” in 2024 and I’ll take all of that I can get.
The College Football Playoff Committee made official last week what had long been speculated, that the four-team playoff field would increase to 12 teams starting with the 2024 season. This was an inevitable move for money and access reasons. The power conferences and Notre Dame stand to gain significantly in TV revenue and the “non-power” conferences finally get the consistent access they have long craved.
What may have finally pushed the new playoff over the finish line was the end of an ultimate game of chicken between college football powers and the Rose Bowl.
There is a scene from the movie The Hunt for Red October when the rogue Russian nuclear submarine is trying to avoid a torpedo from another Russian submarine. The American captain, aptly played by Scott Glenn, tells Jack Ryan; “The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch.”
The Rose Bowl finally flinched.
The only thing that delayed an earlier move to this new world was the insistence of the Rose Bowl Game to cling to the bygone era of the antiquated bowl system. Only in college football could an organization that runs a parade hold such outsized influence but, until recently, the Big Ten and PAC 12 gladly enabled their addiction to a specific television time slot.
Dan Wetzel is a Yahoo! Sports National Columnist, he also wrote the book Death to the BCS which laid out a very early argument for dumping the bowl system for a Playoff.
“The single hardest thing to explain to people is that the Rose Bowl and its obsession of having the sunset in the third quarter of its game was a serious impediment to a billion dollar playoff,” Wetzel wrote.
Wetzel makes the point that simply moving the game up one hour would’ve helped the playoff TV schedule immensely, “They were adamant that they get to have an exclusive window on New Year’s Day, the best time of all, not only would they not give that up but they wouldn’t even move it an hour earlier (to help Playoff television scheduling) because then the sun would set at halftime. It was so absurd but for a lot of years they got so much protection.”
We may never know what it was that finally forced the Rose Bowl to play ball with the rest of the college football world. There are many possibilities, not the least of which was the presence of SoFi Stadium just down the road. The College Football Playoff committee could have always taken the bold step of scheduling games at SoFi, in the Los Angeles market, opposite the Rose Bowl TV window to try to squeeze them out.
It is also possible the Rose Bowl scanned the landscape and realized that, if a 12-team playoff already existed, their 2023 game would’ve been Washington (10-2) versus Purdue (8-5). That shock of reality came with the understanding Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Utah and USC would enthusiastically choose a 12 team playoff bid over a Rose Bowl invite. That was the future the Rose Bowl faced with the departure of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten and the 12 team playoff gobbling up the top remaining PAC 12 teams.
I have proposed that theory to many people in the college football world and have received some version of this response from many of them: “They really wouldn’t care who is playing as long as they can still have their parade.”
That is one of the issues at play here; in many ways, the whole Rose Bowl organization is stuck in a black and white TV world. The future playoff is Marty McFly stepping out of a Delorean and the Rose Bowl is the Enchantment Under the Seas Dance.
One other possibility is that the television executives of the major networks, primarily FOX, may have put the pressure on the Big Ten and Pac 12 to have a little less interest in keeping college football stuck in the late 1970’s. It makes sense, FOX has nothing to gain by the Rose Bowl keeping influence. Fox may have everything to gain by getting a media rights cut of the future playoff. Many believe FOX was a driving force behind USC and UCLA bolting to the Big Ten. If that much is true, pressing for less Rose Bowl influence is child’s play.
No matter what was the catalyst to the expanded playoff, it worked and the fans benefited. College football is moving into a brave new world all because the college football powers finally stood up to the old man yelling at the clouds.
Turns out, it was all a game of chicken. And the Rose Bowl flinched.
Ryan Brown is a columnist for Barrett Sports Media, and a co-host of the popular sports audio/video show ‘The Next Round’ formerly known as JOX Roundtable, which previously aired on WJOX in Birmingham. You can find him on Twitter @RyanBrownLive and follow his show @NextRoundLive.
Andrew Perloff Learned From The Master of Sports Radio on Television
“I think I’m really lucky because I went from a really fun and supportive place in the Dan Patrick Show and have now transitioned into what I would also call a very fun and supportive place at CBS Sports Radio/Audacy.”
It’s a fact of life that not everybody loves their job. To have a job that you love and have fun at is pretty special. For Andrew Perloff, life is good.
“I’m just watching so much sports during the week,” said Perloff. “I don’t come up for air watching sports and I love that. And the fact that we get paid to sit on the couch for 72 hours…oh my God…it really is the best job in the world.”
That job is being the co-host of Maggie & Perloff weekdays from 3pm to 6pm eastern time on CBS Sports Radio and simulcast on CBS Sports Network. Perloff was an on-air personality on The Dan Patrick Show beginning in 2009 before making the switch to CBS Sports Radio for the new show with Maggie Gray that launched this past January.
And so far, the move has worked out.
“I’m really happy,” said Perloff. “I think I’m really lucky because I went from a really fun and supportive place in the Dan Patrick Show and have now transitioned into what I would also call a very fun and supportive place at CBS Sports Radio/Audacy. I miss the DP Show but I love my new co-workers. (Vice President of Programming) Spike Eskin and (New York Market President) Chris Oliviero have been great. We get a lot of support and a lot of help from those guys and they’ve made the transition so much easier.”
When a new radio program begins, chemistry between the hosts is vital to the success of the growth and success of the show. In the case of Maggie & Perloff, they had an existing friendship from their time working together at Sports Illustrated.
And that relationship is certainly evident to the listeners.
“I’m having a great time with Maggie,” said Perloff who was an editor and contributing writer at Sports Illustrated and SI.com. “We knew each other pretty well at Sports Illustrated. We’ve been friends for a while now. I have gotten to know her a lot better through the show. It took a couple of months to really find our rhythm and get the show to where we wanted to get it.”
There has been a fun and evolving dynamic to the on and off-air chemistry between the hosts. Perloff is from Philadelphia and a die-hard Eagles fan while Gray is a fan of the Buffalo Bills. The Eagles have the best record in the NFC at 11-1 while the Bills are among the best teams in the AFC at 9-3.
Perloff has come to understand just how much Gray loves the Bills and there is a chance that their two teams could meet come February 12th in Arizona for Super Bowl LVII.
“She’s a very passionate Buffalo Bills fan,” said Perloff. “I always knew that, but to actually sit there on a daily basis and see her sweat out every detail about the Buffalo Bills has been a lot of fun. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we’re on a collision course for the Super Bowl and we’re already trying to figure out a Super Bowl bet.”
The easy wager to set up would involve food.
If the Bills win, Perloff would have to give Gray some Philly cheesesteaks.
If the Eagles win, Gray would have to furnish Perloff with some Buffalo Wings.
But it appears as if management wants there to be more at stake for the potential bet.
“Our boss wants us to do something more severe,” said Perloff. “The truth is I’m an Eagles fan so I’ve already won my Super Bowl. Maggie, on the other hand, has no idea what that feels like. I almost feel sorry for her because it’s tough being a Bills fan.
“We have a pretty big rivalry with our team because she’s a Mets fan and I’m a Phillies fan. We get along great expect for those areas.”
The Maggie & Perloff chemistry extends throughout the show and that includes producer Michael Samtur who has his own rooting interests.
Samtur is a fan of the New York Jets who are having a better-than-expected season.
“When the Jets win, I don’t want to see Mike on Monday mornings because he’s smiling so much,” said Perloff. “He’s an unbelievably cynical Jets fan…it’s hysterically funny.
“Mike is doing a great job. It’s really an all-hands-on deck show. I think we all sort of kind of wear each other’s hats at certain times.”
An added element to the show is that it is also simulcast on CBS Sports Network. If there’s one thing that Perloff learned from working with Dan Patrick — who also has a simulcast on television — is that the program is a radio show that just happens to have cameras in the studio. At the end of the day, it’s a radio show on television and not a television show on the radio.
“That’s also my philosophy,” said Perloff. “From a logistical standpoint, to do a good radio show you can’t really focus on the TV side of it. For us, the foundation of the base is to really focus on the radio show and the TV and video comes naturally after that.”
Perloff’s resume also includes writing and co-writing an assortment of magazine stories, books, and television shows while also hosting his own weekend show on NBC Sports Radio from 2016 to 2019. But it was working on The Dan Patrick Show where he learned an important aspect of being a talk show host that he continues to live by at CBS Sports Radio.
What he learned was that you just have to be yourself.
“Dan always wanted us to be authentic in the sense that don’t try to be someone you’re not,” said Perloff. “Don’t try to come up with hot takes just for the sake of hot takes. When you listen to Dan Patrick on the radio, you’re really hearing Dan. He’s not a radically different person off air.”
This is a huge time of the year for sports radio.
The NFL’s regular season is winding down and college football is heading towards bowl season and the College Football Playoff. Throw in the NBA, college basketball, NHL, and the World Cup and there’s so much going on in the sports world to talk about.
Perloff can’t get enough of it.
“I love it so much,” said Perloff. “College football is just huge right now. When we bring up a college football story, the phone lines just light up which I think is a reflection of the growing interest in that sport. This is the best time of the year. It’s incredible.”
As Maggie & Perloff head towards their first anniversary on the air, there are goals and expectations heading into 2023. The show has grown tremendously over the course of the first year and while that may have occurred faster than expected, the hope is that the trend continues.
“I’ve been a little surprised by how fast the audience has grown and our connection with the audience,” said Perloff. “One of the great things about The Dan Patrick Show was the community feel with the show and all of the listeners. That’s definitely growing with us and I’d like to see that really take off next year. It makes it so much more fun when you’re doing the show and everybody is along for the ride.”
It’s been a great ride so far and it should be interesting to see what happens if that ride includes an Andrew Perloff vs Maggie Gray Super Bowl matchup in February. It’s not even because the breakdown of Eagles vs Bills would be fascinating but the audience wants more.
That Super Bowl bet would certainly be intriguing.
Peter Schwartz has been involved in New York sports media for over three decades. Along the way he has worked for notable brands such as WFAN, CBS Sports Radio, WCBS 880, ESPN New York, and FOX News Radio. He has also worked as a play by play announcer for the New Yok Riptide, New York Dragons, New York Hitmen, Varsity Media and the Long Island Sports Network. You can find him on Twitter @SchwartzSports or email him at DragonsRadio@aol.com.