This is not a surprise if you've been reading the ESPN tea leaves since January. When news broke that Brent Musburger's contract was expiring, it was widely speculated that The Powers That Be in Bristol, CT were looking to replace him with either Chris Fowler or Rece Davis as the lead college football voice.
After ESPN announced Wednesday that Musburger would be moving to the SEC Network, it paved the way for College GameDay host Fowler to move into the Saturday Night Football booth with Kirk Herbstreit.
ESPN has announced to the world that Fowler has signed a nine year contract extension through 2023, His duties will be lead college football play-by-play voice. His play-by-duties will include calling one College Football Playoff semifinal and the Championship Game. The interesting part of the deal is that he'll continue to host College GameDay with Herbstreit, Lee Corso and Desmond Howard. That will make a very long day for Fowler and Herbstreit.
Fowler has been jonesing to return to the college football announcing booth. He called ESPN's Thursday Night Football from 2006-09 and told Sports Illusrated last year that he regretted leaving to focus on hosting GameDay.
The expert on all things ESPN, James Andrew Miller, noted that the new lead college football announcing team will be in the booth for many years to come.
— James Andrew Miller (@ESPNBook) March 13, 2014
Fowler will continue as the lead tennis voice for ESPN as he'll call the finals of three of the four Grand Slams, Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open beginning in 2015.
Fowler has been an ESPN-lifer. He began in 1986 as the host of the old Scholastic Sports America, a magazine show that highlighted high school sports. He then became a college football sideline reporter in 1988, then became the host of College GameDay in 1990 joining Corso and Beano Cook.
He's hosted ESPN's World Cup coverage in 2010 as well as being the original host of the X Games and fronted the network's horse racing coverage for a short time. Fowler also was the host for ESPN's coverage of the NCAA Final Four, but has since yielded that position to Rece Davis.
It's a well-deserved promotion for Fowler, but now it leaves fellow ESPN-lifer Davis in the lurch. It was thought that when Fowler moved to the broadcast booth, he would leave College GameDay and Davis would be a candidate to take his place, but now, that will not be the case. It will be the next part in the saga of "As ESPN Turns."