ESPN officially named Musburger as the lead voice for games on the new SEC Network. He will be paired with Jesse Palmer.
Musburger now goes from being ESPN’s top play-by-play man for college football, calling the prime-time and BCS title games, to working the third or fourth best SEC games during most weeks on a regional network. CBS will get the best game, and ESPN often will take No. 2.
The move seems to pave the way for Chris Fowler to become the new lead voice for ESPN’s college football coverage. He has been angling to do play-by-play. Whether he continues to remain as host of GameDay remains to be seen. Rece Davis could slip into that role.
Meanwhile, here is the positive spin on Musburger from ESPN:
Sports broadcasting legend Brent Musburger will be joined by college football analyst Jesse Palmer in the booth every Saturday on the SEC Network when it launches next fall. The Hall of Fame sportscaster and the former Florida quarterback have each reached an agreement with ESPN to be the lead college football game commentators on the new network. The pair will kick off the season with Texas A&M at South Carolina on the SEC Network Thursday, Aug. 28.
“Brent Musburger is a cultural icon who has been guiding fans through many of sport’s most spectacular moments for decades,” said John Wildhack, ESPN Executive Vice President, Programming and Production. “His big-game performance and unmistakable style will elevate our football coverage on the SEC Network. Serving as the definitive play-by-play voice for this major network launch represents an exciting new chapter in his legendary career and reinforces our commitment and investment in the SEC Network.”
Wildhack continued, “Jesse Palmer has quickly established himself as one of college football’s most insightful, entertaining and dedicated analysts. As a former SEC quarterback, he brings the perfect combination of playing experience and deep conference knowledge to the SEC Network. Partnering him with Brent on this new national platform will create a memorable booth for college football fans everywhere.”
Musburger is one of the most recognized voices in the history of sports television and he will continue to be a staple of ESPN’s sports coverage with a multi-year contract extension. In addition to lending his voice to one of the three football games slated for the network each Saturday, Brent will remain a play-by-play announcer for Big 12 college basketball games across ESPN networks. He and Palmer will call multiple college football bowl games on ESPN as well.
Musburger will make appearances on behalf of SEC Network and, after more than 20 years at ESPN and ABC, his role will continue to include sharing his expertise and experiences as a mentor.
“I’m delighted to be staying with ESPN, thrilled to be able to call the best football conference in the nation every week and am really looking forward to working with Jesse, who I covered while he was at Florida,” said Musburger. “Jesse has tremendous football knowledge, knows this league very well and does his homework. He has a tremendous future in this business.”
Musburger’s new booth partner, Palmer, has also reached a new agreement with ESPN that includes the role. In addition to calling Saturday games for the conference with the most BCS Champions, he will continue as an analyst on ESPN’s Thursday Night College Football package. Palmer’s expertise will also be featured in ESPN’s extensive post-season coverage.
“I am honored and humbled at the rare opportunity to help launch a national network of this magnitude and to do so alongside, Brent, a legend within the sport and the industry” said Palmer. “”Playing in the SEC represented four of the greatest years of my life and I feel incredibly fortunate to now have the opportunity to cover this great conference. Year after year, their on-field success continues the conference’s standard of excellence and their passionate fan base is second to none.”
Musburger and Palmer join a growing roster of nationally recognized on-air commentators for the SEC Network that include Joe Tessitore, Tim Tebow and Paul Finebaum. Additional ESPN and SEC Network college football announcements will be made at a later date.
“The pairing of Brent and Jesse as our lead team speaks to the caliber of talent we will have on the network and the commitment to quality that we are making,” said Stephanie Druley, ESPN Vice President, Production, College Networks. “We are establishing an incredible roster that SEC fans and followers expect and deserve.”