ESPN has added a new SportsCenter host who’s also going to call college football and basketball for them. That would be 49-year-old Brian Custer, who’s most recently worked at Fox Sports (since 2014, calling college football, college basketball and boxing there), but whose resume also includes local stints in Columbus and Dallas and work with SNY in New York. Custer spoke to Jerry Carino of The Asbury Park Press (in New Jersey, where he lives) about this move, and said the chance to host SportsCenter was a big part of why he made the jump:
“It’s exciting, getting the opportunity to anchor an iconic brand like SportsCenter and call games at ESPN,” Custer said via phone Tuesday. “It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”
…“When I was a teen, I was like, ‘Man, I want to be on SportsCenter,’” Custer said. “When I started my broadcasting career it was without question on my vision board.”
He will continue his role as host for Showtime Championship Boxing and plans to remain in Wyckoff.
“We’ll try to work it out where I can do SportsCenter for a number of days in a row so I’m not going back and forth.”
This maybe speaks to one advantage ESPN currently has over Fox when it comes to on-air talent recruitment. The chance to do SportsCenter as well as play-by-play is a big deal for many broadcasters, and Fox doesn’t have an equivalent studio news show since their 2017 dismantling of Fox Sports Live. And it’s notable that SportsCenter is year-round; there isn’t always a ton of announcing work for college football and college basketball announcers in the late spring and summer months. So this feels like a good fit on those levels.
It’s also notable that ESPN has an incredible amount of tonnage of college football and basketball, especially when you consider the rights they’ve added for ESPN+. So there should be lots of work for Custer calling games in the fall and winter. As he mentions to Carino, this will lead to less opportunities for him to call Seton Hall men’s basketball (as Fox has the Big East rights), and that’s unfortunate given how much attention his initial 26-0 run calling that team got (his current mark there is 28-1 following a Pirates’ loss to Providence in overtime last December). But this does still seem like a logical move for Custer. We’ll see how he does at ESPN.
[The Asbury Park Press, ESPN Media Zone; the top photo is from the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and Custer’s story there about battling prostate cancer in 2013 is worth a read]