What’s ahead for 2013: Will Gruden jump? Last season for McCarver? Fox gears up new sports network

Back in the saddle and ready to go for 2013.

There will be plenty of stories on the agenda. Here are a few for the watch list.

Gruden going?: With seven coaching vacancies in the NFL, and possibly more, you know there are going to be teams who will want to make Gruden a very rich man. While he continues to say he is content calling Monday Night Football, he clearly is a football coach. And a coach works the sidelines, not the booth. Plus he hits 50 this year, and those milestone birthdays have a way affecting decisions about a person’s future.

If I were going to bet, I’d say Mike Tirico has a new MNF partner in 2013.

Finale for McCarver?: In a July interview, Tim McCarver told me 2013 is the final year of his contract with Fox Sports. He wavered at whether he wants to work beyond this year.

“Like anyone else, your health is paramount,” McCarver said back then. “I hope I’m clear enough to say, ‘I’ve had enough. This is it.’ I’m good at that. I’ll know.”

McCarver will be 72 when he works his 24th World Series in October. Don’t be surprised if it is his last.

Fox Sports 1: It isn’t official yet, but Fox is expected to transform its Speed Channel into an all-sports network this year. Fox has a significant inventory of games, including Major League Baseball and college football. While it won’t be ESPN, the game content could enable Fox1 to stand out more than the NBC Sports Network and CBS Sports Network.

Dodger bucks: Speaking of Fox, the network appears to be doubling down on local sports cable outlets, as evidenced by recent deals with the YES Network and Sports Time Ohio. Still out there is that mega $280 million per year deal with the Dodgers for Fox’s sports outlet in Los Angeles. It’s already a game-changer for baseball.

Here comes Michelle: It is year two for the re-branded NBC Sports Network. The NHL strike has been a major downer. The network needs games, period.

On the non-game front, the goal now is for the network to develop some signature personalities. In comes Michelle Beadle. Expect plenty of promotion for her new show, The Crossover, which begins during Super Bowl week.

Beadle will be an important player for NBC Sports Network. She has the ability to lure viewers who used to watch her over at ESPN.

Radio games: CBS and NBC get in the game on the radio front with the launch of new networks. CBS’ 24/7 lineup features Jim Rome, Doug Gottlieb, Tiki Barber, and John Feinstein. NBC currently is working evenings (Erik Kuselias) and weekends (Jon Stashower) and will go full time in the spring. As is always the case, both networks have a long way to catch up on the radio side to ESPN, and Fox Sports, for that matter.

Mohr time: Speaking of Fox Sports Radio, Jay Mohr has launched a new afternoon show on the network. He told Jim Williams of the Washington Examiner:

“We will have good guests on the local show Wednesday. We had Kobe Bryant and Brian Billick, so Fox will keep the sports stars coming. My Rolodex of top comics will be in full use. They are great sports fans, and we will showcase them in a segment in our final hour titled ‘Last Call,’ where they will have some fun and give us some insight. Fans want smart, fun and entertaining sports talk, and that is our goal.”

Book report: This year’s big sports book should come from the brother team of Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. The ESPN reporters are working on a book about football and brain injuries, scheduled to be published by Random House.

Fainaru-Wada was co-author of Game of Shadows, the book the blew open the doors about steroids and Barry Bonds and Marion Jones. I would expect their new book on the major issue confronting the NFL and football to be very illuminating.

Yahoo!-NBC: It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this new Yahoo! Sports-NBC marriage. Yahoo! gets NBC Sports video for its site, while NBC gets Yahoo!’s critical mass. You can be sure the folks in Bristol will be following closely.

Super CBS: It is CBS’ turn to air the upcoming Super Bowl. As always, the pressure and scrutiny will be intense for the network’s coverage of the big game. Featuring a cast of thousands, CBS plans to use its base in New Orleans as a platform to display and promote virtually every show on its networks. It’s a wonder that there will be any hotel rooms left for the teams.

Quiet on Tebow?: Not a chance. He’ll get traded somewhere and the craziness will begin again.




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