College football season begins with a small slate of Week 0 action this week, but kicks off in full next week. On Monday, ESPN announced its broadcast lineups for the 2021 season, with few changes from previous years.
Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit (duh) return as the network’s top college football crew, joined by reporter Holly Rowe (who replaced Maria Taylor). Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Todd McShay, and Molly McGrath will also be back. Joe Tessitore and Greg McElroy will work together once again, and with Rowe moving up to the top team, their reporter this season will be Katie George, whose reporting role had previously been on ACC Network games. Kelsey Riggs will replace George with the ACC Network duo of Dave O’Brien and Tim Hasselbeck.
And now, the game of musical chairs begins in earnest.
Mike Golic’s departure from ESPN means that Dave Pasch will work with Dusty Dvoracek and Tom Luginbill this season. Mark Jones, Dvoracek’s partner last season, will team with ESPN newbie Robert Griffin III and Quint Kessenich. Anish Shroff, who worked with Luginbill last season, will partner up with Mike Golic Jr this season. Matt Barrie, Golic Jr’s former Thursday night partner, will be paired with Roddy Jones this year. Jones will continue working with Wes Durham on ACC Network broadcasts, and the ACCN pairing of Chris Cotter and Mark Herzlich will also work together again. SEC Network also brings back their top broadcast team of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, and Cole Cubelic.
A bunch of other pairings will also return, including Bob Wischusen and Dan Orlovsky, Dave Flemming and Rod Gilmore, Beth Mowins and Kirk Morrison, Jason Benetti and Andre Ware, and Roy Philpott and Kelly Stouffer.
I wouldn’t read too much into the Week 1 sideline reporter assignments past the ones mentioned in here. ESPN used a pool system last year for many of their games outside premier windows, and it wouldn’t be a shock if they did something similar again this year. Week 1 isn’t typical of the rest of the season since there are five days worth of games (as opposed to a loaded Saturday schedule and maybe half a dozen in the weekdays before), leading to some teams calling multiple games (Fowler and Herbstreit, O’Brien and Hasselbeck, Hart and Rodgers, to name three) instead of just one.
Anyway, if I didn’t mention an announcer, you can check out ESPN’s huge Week 1 release and headshot compilation graphic to see what game they’ll be on and what role they’ll have this season.