Following Maria Taylor’s move from ESPN to NBC last month, there’s been a lot of discussion about who will get her various roles at the Worldwide Leader. One of those discussions is now settled, with ESPN announcing Monday that veteran sideline reporter Holly Rowe will join their main college football team of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit. (The rest of their college football assignments for this year are expected to come later.) Taylor had been the main sideline reporter for that team in 2020, 2019, 2018, and 2017. Here’s more from ESPN’s release on Rowe’s new assignment:
ESPN announced today that longtime ESPN commentator Holly Rowe will join the ABC Saturday Night Football team this fall. Rowe will take on the sideline reporter role for the franchise, joining play-by-play commentator Chris Fowler and analyst Kirk Herbstreit as she kicks off her 26th season covering college football for ESPN and ABC. She will begin her new duties in August as part of her existing multi-year contract, and this new assignment continues Rowe’s reporting presence from kickoff of the college football season through the conclusion of the College Football Playoff.
“For more than two decades, Holly has been a well-respected member of ESPN, establishing herself as one of college sports’ best ambassadors in the process,” said Lee Fitting, ESPN senior vice president of production. “Holly’s dedication to her work is indisputable, and the knowledge, passion and professionalism she brings to her craft every day shines through.”
It should be noted that this team likely won’t be calling every Saturday Night Football installment on ABC. While that’s the designation for ESPN’s top college football team, and while that team winds up calling the majority of those ABC primetime games, ESPN tends to move their teams around to some different slots from week to week. The actual Saturday Night Football broadcast window on ABC saw five different play-by-play voices, four different analysts, and six sideline reporters (including Rowe) last season, and five, three, and four (also including Rowe) in 2019. So the real assignment for Rowe here is working on the top team with Fowler and Herbstreit, regardless of what timeslot and network that team winds up with. And that’s definitely a significant assignment, and as she said in that release, she’s thrilled about it:
“When they told me, I just started crying because I’ve been obsessed with college football my entire life,” Rowe said. “It’s a dream come true and I’m thankful to my bosses for this opportunity. I’m starting my 26th season covering games on ABC and ESPN, and it’s been long years filled with hard work. I’m excited to join what’s been established as the best team in college football with Chris and Kirk, and I hope to be the world’s best teammate to them.
“Early in my career, I would cover the NCAA Division III National Championship every year and I met a legendary coach named Frosty Westering,” Rowe added. “His quote for life was ‘make the big time where you are’ so you’re not always chasing the big time. I’ve adopted that as my personal mantra and I’ve tried to make the ‘big time’ where I am, putting my heart and soul into every show and every game. It’s really special for that to finally pay off and I’m just grateful, honored and humbled.”
It’s pretty impressive that Rowe has spent 26 seasons covering college football at ESPN; that’s remarkable longevity. And she’s done great work on that sport, and on the many other sports she’s covered at the network. We’ll see how she does with Fowler and Herbstreit.