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Mar
13
2014

Fowler to stay at ESPN for a long time

Fowler and ESPN strike up a nine year deal. Is it too long?

Fowler and ESPN strike up a nine year deal. Is it too long?

If you are a fan of college football, if you enjoy watching College GameDay on ESPN and like to watch the Saturday Night Football games on ABC I hope that you also like Chris Fowler. Because if you do not, you are going to have to deal with it for the distant future, as the do-it all commentator for the world leader in sports just signed an extension that will go through 2023.

“Chris Fowler is a one-of-a-kind talent who brings an amazing work ethic to every project he works on,” said John Wildhack, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Production. “His ability to skillfully document some of the world’s most popular sporting events continues to impress sports fans year after year and his love for college football is on full display every week on GameDay. Chris will bring the same great qualities to the Saturday Night Football stage and new College Football Playoff, joining his long-time colleague Kirk Herbstreit and respected reporter Heather Cox.”

The contract is quite long, and once it is done Fowler will have worked for ESPN for over 35 years. Having covered events from the FIFA World Cup, Triple Crown, X Games and many of the top tennis events. He has also hosted SportsCenter, College GameDay, The Heismann Presentation and College Football Awards you can say that Fowler is a man of many talents. He and Herbstreit have worked together for almost two decades together, and while he will be at his first season doing Saturday night games, he has been in the Thursday night slot for many years, starting as a sideline reporter back in the late 80’s.

chris-fowlerWhat the Fowler/Herbstreit tandem will also handle from 2014 forward will be the playoff games in college football. So, just like the NCAA changes their ways of selecting a national champion, ESPN chooses another torch bearer for their marquee games on ABC. It will be interesting if the chemistry the duo has on Saturday morning can now be equaled in the booth when calling games.

In all of this what has to be pointed out is that Brent Musburger, who has been Herbstreit’s partner on Saturday nights, will no longer be in that spot. So, while the legacy of Chris Fowler keeps going, the one for Musburger will now be with the SEC Network. He and Jesse Palmer will serve as the lead broadcast team for the upcoming SEC Network when it launches in August. The letting go of the old guard for Fowler should truly say what the network thinks of the man who has covered as much as anyone else working in Bristol has.

I have always felt that long contract make no sense, as you never know what the future has in stored. But when it comes to this particular one I am not really sure how to view it. Was ESPN looking to seal up someone they know can do the job in many venues, and wanted to make sure to keep him for a long time? It feels that way, but wouldn’t a five year deal do the same? On the other hand Fowler is only 51 and when the contract is over he would just have reached his sixties. I guess only time will tell, but for now, I am glad that he is staying put, but unsure if the long term contract was the right way to go.


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