Nick Saban and Bill Belichick in a 2019 HBO documentary. Nick Saban and Bill Belichick in 2019 HBO documentary “Belichick & Saban: The Art of Coaching.” (HBO.)

There’s been a lot of chatter around former New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick working in media this year, especially after he didn’t get another NFL job this cycle. Much of that talk has revolved around the idea of pairing him with former Alabama coach Nick Saban (who served as Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns from 1991-94) for a “CoachCast” alternate broadcast.

That’s a proposal initially floated by Rich Eisen and quickly endorsed by Peter King. And it’s gained a lot of momentum since then. It’s far from the only discussion about Belichick and broadcasting, with Pat McAfee also trying to recruit him for a weekly guest spot , with Mike Greenberg proposing himself as the host of a podcast with Belichick and Saban, and with tons of discussions about him in a more conventional TV role.

But the alternate broadcast idea with Saban perhaps has particular appeal. The combination of those two famed coaches (who have teamed up in the past: beyond their time in Cleveland, they were featured in a 2019 HBO/NFL Films documentary on their careers, seen above) would make a lot of sense. And it likely would be more suited to Belichick’s interests than a more traditional broadcasting role, with alternate broadcasts providing the freedom to go away from play-by-play narration of what’s happening and dive in deeper on particular aspects of the game. (Perhaps that will even include 10 minutes on long snappers, or seven minutes on the Chicago Bears.)

Now, Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions company are reportedly in talks to make this happen. That’s notable, as Omaha has played a major role in the recent popularizing of alternate broadcasts, from the ManningCast with Manning and his brother Eli through a college football version with McAfee through NBA versions with Stephen A. Smith and Kevin Hart to a women’s college basketball version with Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi to broadcasts in the UFC, golf, and F1. And now, as per Andrew Marchand of The Athletic, they’re in talks with Belichick on this plan:

Peyton Manning is pursuing Bill Belichick in an effort to sign the longtime New England Patriots head coach with Omaha Productions, Manning’s entertainment company, officials briefed on the plans told The Athletic.

…If Manning were to sign Belichick, the idea of teaming with ESPN to create a Belichick and Nick Saban “Manningcast” is expected to be broached, according to officials briefed on the plans.

…Belichick has yet to meet with ESPN, but ESPN is interested in Belichick. Omaha Productions and ESPN work closely together on “Monday Night Football” alt-casts, the Manning-hosted documentary “Peyton’s Places,” and satellite shows.

Of course, just because someone is pursuing a deal doesn’t mean it will happen. (Manning knows that well, as he regularly declined ESPN offers for more conventional broadcasting roles before signing on for the ManningCast in 2021.) And there’s a lot of interest in Belichick elsewhere too, with Marchand noting that he has met with both CBS and NBC, and that Fox might have interest in him as well (but is “not looked on as a favorite”). So this won’t necessarily be Belichick’s landing spot.

But it might make a lot of sense for Belichick to wind up working with ESPN, Omaha, and Saban. Marchand writes that Belichick “has made it known he is uninterested in being part of a weekly Sunday studio show” and that he “only wishes to talk about aspects of football that interest him.” And a network bringing in Belichick for a prominent conventional game analysis or studio role could be risky, as there’s been talk about him looking to return to coaching next year; making high-profile room for a one-year rental carries challenges.

The alternate broadcasts are certainly less of a problem there, as they’re a new show created for particular personalities rather than the replacement of anyone already in a role. And they would definitely give Belichick the freedom to talk about what interests him. And pairing him with Saban could be great, and could be an interesting quasi-revival of the much-missed “Coaches’ Film Room” concept. (That was last seen in any form with a Jimbo Fisher one at the 2022 CFP national championship game, and last seen with a full list of head coaches in 2020.) We’ll see if it happens, but there’s appeal to it.

[The Athletic]

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.