Editor's note: During the college season "Behind the Mic" will be posted weekly, discussing all the news surrounding college football's broadcasters, writers and radio personalities. Media columns are disappearing in newspapers across the country, which is a shame. "Behind the Mic" will celebrate the best and the worst of the college football media (and that includes us).
Last Thursday ESPN released its 2009 broadcast teams for the college football season and the major changes include the break-up of the Brad Nessler, Brian Greise, and Paul Maguire team that called the 2:30 CT Big Ten game on ABC for the past few years.
Nessler is moving to ESPN's primetime slot where he will work with Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews, while Greise will work with fellow analyst Chris Spielman and play-by-play man Dave Pasch during 11 a.m. CT games on ESPN.
Meanwhile, Paul Maguire will not work with ESPN this season and was replaced by Matt Millen who teams up with Sean McDonough and Holly Rowe to make-up one ABC's afternoon broadcast teams. The other is made up of Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox.
Who was promoted/demoted:
- Brad Nessler and Erin Andrews replace Mike Patrick and Holly Rowe on the Saturday ESPN College Football Primetime game. Patrick and Rowe fall back to the 2:30 p.m. CT games on ABC.
- Matt Millen takes over for Paul Maguire in the other 2:30 p.m. CT ABC team. Maguire will not work any games this season while Millen will also be a part of ESPN's NFL studio coverage.
- Jesse Palmer takes over for Craig James in the ABC studio on Saturdays. James leaves the studio and returns to the booth alongside Mike Patrick and Heather Cox for 2:30 p.m. CT games on ABC.
- Bob Greise falls back to the 11 a.m. CT slot on ESPN where he will work with Chris Spielman and Dave Pasch.
- Doug Flutie and Bonnie Bernstein will not be a part of ESPN's college football coverage this season.
So here's what you will likely see for Big Ten games this season:
11 a.m. CT (ESPN): Dave Pasch, Bob Griese and Chris Spielman
11 a.m. CT (ESPN2): Pam Ward and Ray Bentley
2:30 p.m. CT (ABC): Mike Patrick, Craig James and Heather Cox
6:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2): Mark Jones and Bob Davie
7:00 p.m. CT (ESPN): Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge and Erin Andrews
7:00 p.m. CT (ABC): Brent Musberger, Kirk Herbstreit and Lisa Salters
These are just guesses based on the information on the press release and previous years' knowledge of who usually calls Big Ten games. For instance, Sean McDonough usually calls east coast games so I would expect to see the Mike Patrick crew on Big Ten games more often.
The good: No more Paul Mauire. That 2:30 crew was an odd mix that sometimes busted out into a bad comedy show. Brad Nessler is great, but he was stuck with a boring guy (Griese) and another guy (Maguire) who never stayed serious for more than 10 seconds. At times it was an entertaining, but actual football talk was lacking. Nessler gets a knowledgable partner in Blackledge and who can complain about Erin Andrews in primetime?
The trickledown effect could be good or it could be bad. I like the Patrick/James/Cox crew (we might actually hear some serious football talk this season), but if McDonough and Matt Millen end up doing Big Ten games, then I'm not sure how I am going to be able to handle listening to an analyst who has the football credibility of a squirrel. The guy isn't terrible on the air, but how can you take him seriously after what he did running the Detroit Lions? Again, I expect (and hope for) more of Mike Patrick's team because Millen needs to be in Bristol, Conn. on Sundays and McDonough usually calls east coast games. This would also mean less Holly Rowe, which is always a good thing.
The bad: Pam Ward and Ray Bentley are still around. I knew the Badgers were a bad team last year when they got stuck with the Ward/Bentley combo for five weeks straight. The only thing worse than watching a bad team play football is having Pam Ward describe the bad football while it is being played. You want football hell? How about Pam Ward's call on Brett Swenson's walk-off field goal against the Badgers in East Lansing last season. Not only do you lose the game, but you have her ramming it through your ear drums. (Although even Pam Ward called out Bret Bielema for calling the timeout that set up Swenson's field goal. That's when you know you made a bad mistake.)
Here is the entire list of pairings:
ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Regional Television and ESPN360.com Game Pairings
Note: Additional commentators will be utilized throughout the season.
Game Telecast Play-by-play Analyst Reporter
Saturday Night Football (on ABC)
ESPN College Football Primetime (Saturday)
ESPN2 College Football Primetime (Saturday)
ESPNU SEC Saturday primetime
ESPN College Football Primetime (Thursday)
Craig James and Jesse Palmer
ABC Saturday Afternoon
ABC Saturday Afternoon
ABC or ESPN Saturday Afternoon
ESPN College Football (Saturday afternoons)
Bob Griese and Chris Spielman
ESPN2 College Football (Saturday afternoon)
ESPNU Saturday noon
ESPNU Saturday afternoon
ESPNU late Saturday
ESPN and ESPN2 Fridays and select ABC Saturdays
ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 Saturdays and select Fridays
ESPN and ESPN2 midweek games
Mark May and Lou Holtz
ESPN Radio games
SEC Network (ESPN Regional Television syndicated games)
BIG EAST Network (ESPN Regional Television syndicated games)
ESPN Regional Television MAC Syndication
Additional commentators include Bob Wischusen, Rob Stone, Dave Lamont and Clay Matvick providing play-by-play and analysts Shaun King, JC Pearson and Jon Berger.