For the third consecutive year, CBS's Sunday slate of NFL games will sound very much the same. One year after cutting down to seven broadcast pairings thanks to an increased NFL Network schedule, CBS Sports announced via a press release Monday that the exact same 14 men would be calling games as part of the exact same broadcasting hierarchy this season.
Here's how it breaks down:
1. Jim Nantz, Phil Simms
2. Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
3. Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
4. Marv Albert, Rich Gannon
5. Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
6. Bill Macatee, Steve Tasker
7. Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein
Don Criqui and Randy Cross called three games together as an eighth pairing in 2011, but that's it. CBS continues to put forward an extremely strong batch of play-by-play/color duos, and there's little reason to believe that'll change any time soon. Nantz is the superstar, but Gumbel and Albert also have Super Bowl pedigree and Eagle and Harlan are rising stars.
Simms took a lot of criticism for his performance during Super Bowl XLVII, but you'd be crazy to think that CBS would knock him out of the top spot. Supreme Court judges have less job security than so-called top-tier broadcasters. I don't think he's a great analyst, but at least he's unintentionally funny often enough to provide a nice comedic distraction during lulls in the action.
It'd be great to see CBS start promoting some of their younger voices, but that probably won't happen until Simms, Gumbel and Albert step aside. The reality is that they aren't willing to fix what ain't broke, and there's little pressure to do so right now.
What are your thoughts on CBS sticking to the status quo yet again? Should Simms still be the network's top football color guy? Let us know.