ESPN is facing a huge shakeup in their college basketball department. Already losing Hubert Davis to the UNC coaching staff, Bristol lost another of their key college basketball contributors today – Doug Gottlieb. Gottlieb is leaving ESPN for a multi-layered position at CBS Sports, the network announced today in confirming a report from The Big Lead. Gottlieb also announced the move on his Twitter account.
Many thanks for 10 amazing years that changed my life forever at
#ESPN, but I have chosen to pursue new opportunities at CBS
— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) July 31, 2012
Not only was Gottlieb one of ESPN's top college basketball analysts, he was a presence across several platforms. Perhaps most important is his role as the late afternoon national host on ESPN Radio. The former Oklahoma State point guard also filled in periodically for Mike & Mike, The Herd, and ESPN's litany of debate shows when need be. He was a big presence on SportsCenter as well.
Gottlieb's another domino to fall in the wave of free agents to leave Bristol, but ESPN has acted quickly to fill his shoes. In what turned out to be a preemptive strike, ESPN got in front of the Gottlieb news by announcing two new additions to their college bball talent pool yesterday.
Former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl and former Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg are Bristol's newest college basketball analysts. Also, ESPN is transitioning NBA analyst Jalen Rose to the college game, where he'll star on College Gameday and fill the void left by Davis. All three will work as game and studio analysts and appear across the "family of networks."
This is an example of ESPN's dominance over the sports landscape. Lose one analyst, add two more. Given their outspokenness, Pearl and Greenberg seem like they would be naturals in the move to the TV side. ESPN should have no problem replacing Gottlieb on the TV side, it's the radio side where his absence will be most felt. It bears watching who ESPN taps for that late afternoon/early evening slot between Scott Van Pelt and Hill & Schlereth. But as always, ESPN will reload and move on.
These series of moves is much more about CBS Sports than it is ESPN. CBS is betting heavily on Doug Gottlieb. Gottlieb will call games and appear in the studio for CBS's NCAA coverage, including the NCAA Tournament. He'll be one of the flagship shows when the national CBS Sports Radio network launches in January. He'll host his own show on CBS Sports Network. And, he'll pen columns for CBSSports.com. That's quite the list of responsibilities.
Gottlieb is the second big name to be plucked from ESPN by CBS joining Jim Rome earlier this year. Rome has been the flagship addition for CBS Sports Network, but as we've chronicled before, he has little reinforcements at the network. Gottlieb is the first step to changing that. CBS Sports Network is well behind even NBC Sports Network in viewership and distribution, so the network will have to be patient in seeing if both Rome and Gottlieb can eventually build an audience.
Overall, the move is a solid one for CBS. Gottlieb can add an edge to their regular sesason college basketball coverage that would provide a nice balance to the underrated work of Seth Davis and Greg Anthony. As far as the booth goes, I'd expect Gottlieb to slot in on the 4th NCAA Tournament team with Kevin Harlan (and possibly Reggie Miller) behind the established duos of Nantz/Kellogg, Marv/Kerr, and Verne/Raftery.
It's a beginning step for the CBS Sports network/cable/radio empire to establish themselves nationally, but a step forward nonetheless.