[color=DeepSkyBlue]TV Sports[/COLORFox's NFL coverage changes some faces
By Michael Hiestand, USA TODAY
game coverage this season will get its biggest roster shuffle since the network began airing NFL games in 1994.
And no, the new on-air lineup won't include Brett Favre
In moves that Fox will formally announce at its NFL production meetings Monday, it will add several new analysts and give a more prominent role to ex-Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick
Says Fox Sports president Ed Goren: "We're as stable an organization as there is, but it was time to freshen up."
Fox's lead NFL game teams — Joe Buck/Troy Aikman and Kenny Albert/Darryl Johnston — remain intact. So does its studio show, except for weather reporter Jillian Reynolds
being on maternity leave.
Billick, who worked in two- and three-man booths last season, will this season step up — after what Goren calls "an outstanding rookie season" last year — to a full-time two-man booth with Thom Brennaman
Charles Davis, Fox's lead analyst on BCS games, will work NFL games with Dick Stockton
. With Fox's BCS deal in its last season, Goren says, "we looked for an opportunity to keep Charles with us."•
John Lynch, the nine-time Pro Bowler who called a few Fox games after retiring last season, will work games with Ron Pitts
, who retired in June after playing 11 NFL seasons, will call games with Chris Myers
. Goren says Dick Vermeil
, the ex-ABC analyst who coached Green, recently "called me out of the blue and said, 'You just made the best hire of the year.' "•
Gone from Fox's NFL games: Analysts Brian Baldinger
, J.C. Pearson, Tony Boselli
and play-by-play announcer Matt Vasgersian
When it comes to TV wild card Favre, Goren says there's "no indication he's interested in starting a broadcasting career at this time."
And when asked whether Fox — or any network — might somehow resurrect John Madden
on-air, Goren says, "I certainly take him at his word that he's not a heavyweight fighter making multiple comebacks. … But there's something that just isn't right when we approach a season and Madden isn't in the booth."
Hmmm.CBS College Sports Network adds hosts
As it tries to build name recognition, the CBS College Sports Network will add some pretty big names to its on-air roster.
The cable channel, reaching about 30 million households, will formally announce today that CBS analyst Randy Cross
will work Navy home games and studio shows. Former New York Giant Jason Sehorn
will call Army games as well as other games and ex-Tennessee Volunteers coach Phillip Fulmer
will appear on pregame and postgame shows from the sites of the CBS broadcast network's SEC games.
Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, an ex-NFL linebacker/defensive linemen will be added to call Mountain West games.
And College Sports Network general manager Steve Herbst says getting that name was critical: "He's going to be a star. He told me Gbaja-Biamila means 'big man come save me.' Once I heard that, I had to get him onboard."•The NFL Network carries 65 preseason games — its highest ever — but only 12 will air live.
NFLN, which re-airs or simulcasts local or national TV coverage of games, can't carry live action during time windows when any network is airing national game coverage.
But this weekend, it carries five games live — Rams-Jets and Broncos-49ers on Friday, Falcons-Lions, Bears-Bills and Seahawks-Chargers on Saturday — and this season adds its own network halftime show rather than just re-airing each game's halftime shows.
Another NFLN studio show expansion: Its Sunday pregame show this season will last four hours, up from two last season.•
With an Aug. 25 debut focused on the Dallas Cowboys
' new stadium, Versus launches a weekly The $ports Take
sports business show. Says Rick Horrow, a sports consultant who'll host the show: "This is not intended just for hard-core sports fans or business people."Brown's legwork lands VickJames Brown
visited Michael Vick
in prison as well as during his subsequent home confinement for "background information" and to keep "letting the Vick team know" he wanted an interview.
He's not sure exactly why he got the first interview with the ex-NFL quarterback who went to prison for running a dogfighting ring, but suggests people can be more receptive to interviewers they "trust and respect" — but any relationship Brown has with Vick made him "in no-way less hard-hitting" in an interview taped Monday in Northern Virginia that will air Sunday on 60 Minutes
Brown, who has subbed on CBS' morning news show and appeared for years on the syndicated America's BlackForum
, will make his 60 Minutes
debut. But Sean McManus
, who oversees CBS' sports and news divisions, notes the show is based on "meritocracy" and never considered another reporter. "He worked this story for two years. I'm not sure anybody else could have gotten it without the legwork and constant contact."
McManus, who hopes to use Brown on more news reporting, says only about 5% of 60 Minutes
stories in the past two years involved sports, but "they were some of the highest-rated" in part because of big CBS sports lead-ins — such as the CBS PGA Championship coverage leading into Sunday's show.
Brown, whose Vick interview included Vick mentor Tony Dungy
and Humane Society of the United States
head Wayne Pacelle sitting in, says the plan was to find out "why Vick did what he did" and "why he didn't extricate himself as things started to build."
As Vick has become more religious, Brown says he brought up that "it seems like when anybody gets in trouble, they find Jesus, so why should people think it's legit?"
Vick, says Brown, talks about "how many nights he cried in prison when he realized the error of his ways. … He blames no one but himself for not being man enough to walk away."http://www.usatoday.com/sports/colum...s_N.htm?csp=34