ESPN has maintained we will not see Craig James on their airwaves this fall and the network moved one step towards cementing that glorious, blessed reality by naming his replacement in the Thursday night football booth beside Rece Davis and Jesse Palmer. Former Georgia Bulldog David Pollack will receive the call up to one of ESPN’s premier slots and receive his first major color commentary role according to USA Today. Pollack has been working with ESPN since 2009 and bounced around the lower levels of ESPN’s college football coverage with an appearances on College Gameday and calling games on ESPNU.
As for James’ other assignment on Saturday afternoons with Mike Patrick, ESPN says those crews haven’t been announced yet, but Pollack will not be calling games with Patrick.
The other change to Thursday’s telecast is one that isn’t getting as much attention, but may be just as interesting. ESPN is replacing “Next Erin Andrews” frontrunner Jenn Brown with another blonde bombshell in a similar mold, Samantha Steele. Andrews’ contract talks have been conspicuously quiet in recent weeks with many speculating her value as a potential free agent as decreasing. Jenn Brown seems to be set to step into a larger role at the network and ESPN says she’ll be working a Saturday game for the network. Steele, who has worked at ESPN’s Longhorn Network, should be more than able in her new role… as long as there are no teenage spelling prodigies in sight.
The choice of Pollack will make news and is one that makes sense on a number of levels for the leader. He’s still a name that resonates in the college football world and a fresh face that doesn’t carry the old boy politics, backslapping, and total lack of integrity that befell his predecessor. Furthermore, Pollack definitely has chemistry with Jesse Palmer as the two have co-hosted their own show on ESPNU, creatively titled Palmer & Pollack. But most of all, Pollack is a solid analyst with potential. I’ve never quite been wowed with Pollack in his television appearances, but he’s one of those guys that can consistently move the chains and speaks his mind. All in all, Pollack’s promotion is progress and should be a drastic, drastic improvement for ESPN. Then again, sticking a scarecrow in the booth with a computer generated voice would be an exponential improvement over Craig James, too.