Joe Buck and Troy Aikman Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on Monday Night Football.

In what felt to some like a bit of a Friday news dump, ESPN announced last week that Monday Night Football was moving its director and producer into different roles as their new 10-year NFL media rights agreement gets set to begin next season.

Per ESPN, Jimmy Platt, who had been MNF’s director the past four seasons, is moving into a new role as the director of the College Football Playoff National Championship and ABC’s Saturday Night Football. Derek Mobley, who had previously been the director of those two offerings, would now be swapping over to Monday Night Football.

Meanwhile, Phil Dean, MNF’s producer for the past three seasons, was swapping roles with Steve Ackels, who had been producing college football and many other sports on ESPN for over a decade.

While that personnel change might be considered too inside baseball for many ESPN viewers, the timing of the announcement certainly caught the attention of those in the sports media industry. Given that the change comes one season after the arrival of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, it’s natural to wonder if the two megastar broadcasters had some input into who they wanted to work with moving forward.

NY Post reporter Andrew Marchand’s interests were certainly piqued and he shared his insights into the decision for the changes on the latest episode of The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast. According to Marchand, while Aikman might not have pulled the strings, it was clear to ESPN brass that he had certain preferences.

“It’s not fair to say that Troy Aikman or Joe Buck made this change but there was a feeling from people close to the situation that Aikman wanted a different producer,” said Marchand. “He had Richie Zyontz at Fox for years and years, so he was used to it being a certain way. Joe Buck, on the other hand, has had a lot of different producers. Their feelings, especially Aikman’s, were known, especially by the higher-ups at ESPN, but I don’t think…to say ‘they gotta go,’ I don’t think that’s what happened. But they knew what Aikman wanted.”

Marchand also said that ESPN wants to make sure it’s buttoned up for its Super Bowl broadcast three years from now.

“The way ESPN looks at it is that they got the rights to the Super Bowl a couple years ago,” said Marchand. “Then they brought in Buck and Aikman. Now, they have three years til their Super Bowl, they want to get their production team working together for the next three years, and they want to get the right personalities to work together.

“Ackels, he has been around Monday Night Football, probably at 10 to 12 games, so he’s been around Joe and Troy. And there’s a feeling that he’ll be a little bit more assertive in the booth.

“They brought in Buck and Aikman, they want to do things a certain way, and I think that team hasn’t melded together. Buck and Aikman, they fly a little bit later to the games. So, to get that relationship, it takes time and you have to trust. There has to be trust between a booth and their producers and directors. And so in ESPN’s view, that’ll give them three years leading into their Super Bowl to get everything right.”

[The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to