Before the next college football season begins, ESPN will be busy staffing its new SEC Network. Already we know of a few high profile additions to the newest conference-based network. Joe Tessitore will host the channel’s version of College GameDay while Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy will be their star analysts.
After a standoff with ESPN, Brent Musburger is moving down the ladder from his national perch to be the network’s lead play by play man alongside Jesse Palmer.
But that still leaves several slots to fill, and now we at least know of two more faces that we’ll see throughout the south this fall. Former NFL defensive linemen Booger McFarland and Marcus Spears, both graduates of LSU, are the newest SEC Network analysts. Here’s more from ESPN’s announcement:
“The addition of Booger and Marcus extends the depth of our commentator bench even further with both on-field experience and a defensive line perspective,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN vice president, production of college networks. “Booger brings a built-in knowledge of the conference as a former player and proven success covering sports with a diverse opinion.”
Druley continued, “Marcus’ personality and passion for the conference will be both entertaining and insightful for SEC fans. His SEC roots make the new network the perfect place for him to start his television career.”
McFarland joins ESPN after hosting a popular sports radio show in Tampa Bay, Florida since 2012. He is a beloved figure in both Tampa Bay and Louisiana, where he grew up, and was a fiercely feared defensive tackle during his three years in the SEC (1995-98). Drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round of the 1999 NFL Draft, he was a main fixture on their menacing defensive line for seven years, winning a Super Bowl under then-head coach Jon Gruden. McFarland went on to win a second Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts before retiring in 2007.
“I think the SEC is the best conference in the country with the best fans,” said McFarland. “I look forward to covering it from a variety of angles for the SEC Network when it launches in August.”
Spears also hails from Louisiana, and was a highly sought after two-sport athlete from Baton Rouge, recruited for both basketball and football. He played tight end, fullback and defensive end for LSU’s football team under Nick Saban from 2001-04. During his sophomore year he became a full-time defensive player and his contributions to the team helped lead the Tigers to two SEC Championships titles (2001, 2003) and a BCS National Championships (2004) win. Spears was drafted in the first-round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys and played defensive end in the league for eight years.
SEC Network will certainly be one of the youngest in terms of on-air personalities. Tebow and McElroy are both in their mid-20s, Spears is just 31, and McFarland is 36. It’s another sign that NFL players are seeing television as a viable second career sooner rather than later. Instead of trying to eek out what remains of their professional playing careers, why not make the move to television straight away?