In the aftermath of ESPN electing to move on from Suzy Kolber as its Monday Night Football pregame host, the network is still searching for her replacement. But they have a few in-house candidates to choose from before ultimately making a decision. Kolber had been a permanent fixture as the MNF pregame host since 2015, so replacing her presence won’t be an easy task.
According to the New York Post’s Andrew Marchand, Laura Rutledge and Scott Van Pelt are the “leading candidates” to be ESPN’s new MNF pre-game host. Rutledge, the host of NFL Live, was a name that Marchand had previously floated as a “favorite” to replace Kolber back when he first reported that she could be a part of The Worlwide Leader’s next round of layoffs last month.
Rutledge does a terrific job on NFL Live and has great chemistry with the likes of Mina Kimes, Marcus Spears, Dan Orlovsky and Ryan Clark. She also leads the Saturday morning pre-game show on SEC Network. Right now, it’s unclear if Rutledge would continue both of those duties if she is ultimately the choice to replace Kolber. She is currently on maternity leave after giving birth to her second child this summer.
As for Van Pelt, his late-night edition of SportsCenter is the network’s most popular. Over the first six months of 2023, SportsCenter with Scott Van Pelt has averaged 745,000 viewers, which is a 13% increase from the same period last year.
Right now, his edition of SportsCenter effectively serves as the post-game show for Monday Night Football anyways. It’s hard to envision that ESPN would move him off SportsCenter, so it would be up to the 57-year-old Van Pelt to decide if he wanted to do both the pre and post-game shows on Monday nights during the NFL season.
This could be a transition to something else for Van Pelt, though, as the SportsCenter veteran recently expressed to Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina that his time in the anchor chair may soon be coming to a close, doubting he’ll last another three years in his current capacity.
As Marchand writes, there are logistical factors to consider with both Van Pelt and Rutledge. They’re expected to largely continue their current duties whether they get the MNF pre-game assignment or not. At the same time, that could be made difficult, as Monday Night Countdown is an on-site show.
Marchand reports that ESPN will consider other candidates, but Van Pelt and Rutledge are the names to watch as of now.