Sean McDonough at ESPN.

The ESPN college football announcing pairings have been released (weeks earlier than last year), and there are some significant moves happening with their lineup. The biggest one is perhaps Sean McDonough returning to the “more fun” college game after leaving Monday Night Football; interestingly enough, he’ll be slotting right in to the role vacated by new MNF play-by-play voice Joe Tessitore, calling ESPN’s Saturday night game alongside Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe. (The ABC Saturday night team of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Maria Taylor remains intact.)

Here’s the full list:

ESPN 2018 Game Commentators  

Game/Network Commentators
ABC Saturday Night Football Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Maria Taylor
ESPN Saturday Night Primetime Sean McDonough, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe
ESPN or ABC Saturday Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay
ESPN or ABC Saturday Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill
ESPN or ABC Saturday Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams
ESPN or ABC Saturday Adam Amin, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich
ESPN or ABC Saturday Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, Molly McGrath
ESPN or ABC Saturday Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
ESPN Thursday Dave Flemming, TBD, Laura Rutledge
ESPN or ESPN2 Friday Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Olivia Harlan
ESPN or ESPN2 Friday/Saturday Clay Matvick, Dan Orlovsky, Paul Carcaterra
ESPN or ESPN2 Saturday Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Roddy Jones
ESPNU Saturday Kevin Brown, Andre Ware
ESPNU Saturday Mike Corey, Rene Ingoglia
ESPNU Saturday Mike Couzens, Kirk Morrison
ESPNU Saturday Roy Philpott, Tom Ramsey
ESPNU Thursday – HBCU Tiffany Greene, Jay Walker
All Networks Mark Neely, Ray Bentley
All Networks Dave Lamont, John Congemi

Some further notable moves there include that ESPN has officially announced the hire of Dan Orlovsky and said that he’ll be working both games and studio. They haven’t announced their full CFB studio lineup yet, but he’s expected to contribute to CFB studio shows, as well as contribute both NFL and CFB analysis to properties like SportsCenterGet Up and ESPN Radio. On the game side, Orlovsky will be working with Clay Matvick and Paul Carcaterra this season on ESPN/ESPN2 games, including Friday and Saturday games.

ESPN has also made a prominent play-by-play announcer swap of Adam Amin and Mark Jones, with Amin now working with Rod Gilmore and Quint Kessenich and Jones now working with Dusty Dvoracek and Molly McGrath. But many of their other teams remain the same; Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Todd McShay are in their third year together, as are Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy and Tom Luginbill, Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard and Allison Williams and Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, and Rocky Boiman.

In addition to those moves, ESPN will again use a Thursday night rotation, bringing in a guest analyst each week to work with play-by-play voice Dave Flemming and reporter Laura Rutledge. Some of the voices there last year included Herbstreit, Mike Golic, Joey Galloway, Brock Huard, and Booger McFarland; McFarland’s unlikely this year given his new Monday Night Football role, but those others could return.

Also, Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer and Olivia Harlan will call some Friday night games as well as Saturdays, and Andre Ware will work with Kevin Brown on ESPNU. Tiffany Greene will call the majority of ESPN’s HBCU games alongside Jay Walker, while Lowell Galindo will call Longhorn Network’s two football games alongside Ahmad Brooks. The primary SEC Network team of Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers, and Cole Cubelic remains the same, with other SEC Network broadcasters to be announced later.

We’ll see how these moves work out for ESPN. It’s going to be a lot of similar voices to last year and a lot of teams that have carried over intact, but Orlovsky is a notable new voice, and McDonough’s return (and return to a prominent slot) is certainly interesting. There are also some departures; veteran play-by-play announcer Mike Patrick left ESPN after 35 years earlier this year (and wasn’t happy about it), and his analyst partner Tommy Tuberville, ESPN’s big splashy CFB hire last year, isn’t listed in these pairings either. And it will be worth keeping an eye on how Amin and Jones fit in with their new broadcast teams.

[ESPN Media Zone; photo from this ESPN release]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.