The Alliance of American Football has already held its quarterback draft and is getting closer to its start date in February, and now we know who will be calling its games. We already knew the league had a broadcast deal with CBS (an opening doubleheader on the broadcast network, a game of the week on CBSSN for 11 weeks, and the championship on the broadcast network), and CBS has now revealed their announcing teams.
A couple of surprising voices are included in the list: college football analyst Gary Danielson and CBS Sports Radio host Tiki Barber (each for one game of the opening doubleheader).
The Alliance officially debuts on CBS Television Network on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 8:30 PM, ET, with regional coverage featuring the San Antonio Commanders hosting the San Diego Fleet and the Atlanta Legends visiting the Orlando Apollos.
Spero Dedes, Trent Green and Tiki Barber, along with reporter Jamie Erdahl, call the action for the San Antonio-San Diego game from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Andrew Catalon and Gary Danielson will announce from UCF’s Spectrum Stadium in Orlando, Fla. with Melanie Collins reporting from the field for the Atlanta-Orlando match-up.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, CBS Sports Network begins its 11-week run televising The Alliance’s best matchup each week on Sundays at 4:00 PM, ET. Ben Holden, Adam Archuleta and John Schriffen serve as the announce team for all games airing on CBS Sports Network.
It’s nice that Barber was able to get time off from his six-week Broadway run in Kinky Boots (which led to the photo seen above), and it’s interesting that he’s heading into the booth for an AAF game. He’s dabbled in calling some games before, including one with brother Ronde on Fox last year, and has a lot of other media experience from NBC to SNY to CBS Sports Radio (where he’s been since their 2012 launch).
Danielson’s involvement also raises some eyebrows. He’s mostly known for his college football work, with ESPN/ABC and now CBS (since 2006), but he played in the NFL with Detroit and Cleveland, and was a part-time anchor at Detroit’s WDIV-TV in the offseason while playing. And perhaps even more notably, he has personal experience with a startup football league, kicking off his pro football career with the short-lived World Football League’s New York Stars/Charlotte Hornets in 1974 and the Chicago Winds in 1975. Hopefully things will go a little more smoothly for the AAF than they did for the WFL.
It’s also interesting to have the regular game-of-the-week team of Holden, Archuleta, and Schiffren announced. All are CBSSN regulars with plenty of college football experience, so they should provide a solid broadcast. (It’s notable that another one of CBSSN’s regular college commentators will actually be on the field; that would be Aaron Murray, who’s signed with the Atlanta Legends, and we’ll see how the broadcast team covers him if they wind up doing a Legends game.) But it’s sort of interesting that CBS is going with names from its NFL coverage for the starting games on its broadcast network, then transitioning over to the cable crew for the rest of the season. And they haven’t yet announced who will be calling the championship game (April 27 on CBS) yet; that may lead to a tough decision of bigger names versus those who have been covering the league all year. We’ll see how this works out for them.