Jan 9, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Greg Olsen (88) warms up prior to a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen to lead Fox 2022 NFL team

Play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt and analyst Greg Olsen will lead Fox Sports’ top broadcast team for the 2022 NFL season.

Veteran reporters Erin Andrews and Tom Rinaldi, plus rules expert Mike Pereira, will complete the team for Fox, which will televise Super Bowl LVII from Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12.

The move had been expected but wasn’t announced until Tuesday.

“We’re thrilled to have this team steward our industry-leading and award-winning coverage as we embark on our 29th NFL season, highlighted by our 10th Super Bowl,” Fox Sports executive Brad Zager said Tuesday.

The Fox team will make its regular-season debut on Sept. 11 from Minneapolis, where the Minnesota Vikings will face the Green Bay Packers.

Burkhardt and Olsen, a three-time Pro Bowl selection during his 14-year NFL career, will replace the top Fox broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. They have reunited at ESPN to make up the lead team for “Monday Night Football.”

Burkhardt and Olsen were Fox’s No. 2 broadcast team last season.

Buck and Aikman are coming off 20 seasons calling NFL games for Fox. They will make their “MNF” debut on Sept. 12 when the Denver Broncos face the Seattle Seahawks.

Terms of the Buck-Aikman deal with ESPN were not released. However, the New York Post reported Buck was in line to receive a five-year deal worth between $60 million and $75 million. The Post reported that Aikman received a five-year, $92.5 million contract to jump to ESPN.

Olsen is keeping the seat warm for Tom Brady, who will become Fox Sports’ lead NFL analyst when his playing career ends. Fox did not release terms of his contract, but he has agreed to a 10-year, $375 million deal — the most lucrative in sports broadcasting history — according to the New York Post.

Brady, a seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback, will return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his 23rd NFL season this year.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; Baylor Bears linebacker Terrel Bernard (2) reacts to a play against the Mississippi Rebels during the second half of the 2022 Sugar Bowl at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Sugar Bowl moved to Dec. 31 to avoid TV conflict with ‘MNF’

The Sugar Bowl will be played on New Year’s Eve at 12 noon ET on Dec. 31 next season, rather than in its regular primetime TV slot.

The bowl game is normally held on New Year’s Day, which will fall on a Sunday in 2023. But it could not be moved to Monday, Jan. 2 with other bowl games because ESPN owns the broadcast rights and had a conflict with its “Monday Night Football” game, an AFC tilt between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals.

Instead, the Sugar Bowl — held in New Orleans and usually pitting representatives of the SEC and Big 12 — will stay back on Dec. 31 and kick off at 11 a.m. local time.

Next season’s two College Football Playoff semifinal games, the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl, will follow that day at 4 and 8 p.m. ET in some order.

The Orange Bowl will be played Dec. 30, but that isn’t unfamiliar territory for the Miami-based game that features the ACC champion. The two other traditional New Year’s Day bowls — the Cotton Bowl and Rose Bowl — will be played during the day on Jan. 2.

–Field Level Media

Lee Corso waves while wearing a Brutus Buckeye head as, from left, Desmond Howard, Rece Davis, Archie Griffin, and Kirk Herbstreit applaud his pick during ESPN's College GameDay broadcast from the campus of Ohio State prior to the NCAA football game against the Michigan State Spartans in Columbus on Nov. 21, 2015. (Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch)

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‘College GameDay’ to kick off at Ohio State-Notre Dame

ABC will air a trio of high-profile college football games over Labor Day weekend, with ESPN kicking off its “College GameDay” coverage with Notre Dame’s visit to Ohio State on Sept. 3.

It’s the 21st visit all-time to Columbus, Ohio, by “GameDay” — more than any other city.

ABC begins game coverage with national champion Georgia, which will meet Oregon at 3:30 p.m. ET in Atlanta. It will represent a homecoming for new Oregon head coach Dan Lanning, who was the defensive coordinator on the Bulldogs’ title team.

That game will be followed by the seventh all-time meeting between Notre Dame and Ohio State at 7:30 p.m. The Buckeyes have won all four games played since 1995.

It marks another return for a new head coach. Marcus Freeman, hired to replace Brian Kelly at Notre Dame, played linebacker for the Buckeyes (2006-08) and began his coaching career there as a graduate assistant.

On Sept. 4, Kelly and his new team, LSU, will meet Florida State at the Superdome in New Orleans at 7:30 p.m. in the first meeting between the teams since 1991.

–Field Level Media

Jan 5, 2020; Boulder, Colorado, USA; General view of a ESPN broadcast microphone before the start of the game between the Oregon State Beavers against the Colorado Buffaloes at the CU Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

NFL reporter John Clayton dies at 67

John Clayton, a longtime NFL reporter who came to national prominence during his time at ESPN, died Friday.

The Seattle Seahawks, a team he long covered as a print and radio journalist, said in a statement, “The Seahawks are heartbroken to learn of the passing of John Clayton after a battle with a brief illness at the age of 67.”

Chris Mortensen, one of Clayton’s ESPN colleagues, reported that Clayton died at a Seattle hospital with his wife and sister at his side.

Clayton, who was born in Braddock, Pa., got his start in newspapers in covering the Steelers in the 1970s. He later worked for the Tacoma News Tribune on the Seahawks beat before joining ESPN in 1995.

In recent years, he was a radio host on Seattle Sports 710, and he served as a Seahawks sideline reporter.

Known for his NFL reporting on ESPN alongside Mortensen, Clayton also was the star of a humorous “This is SportsCenter” TV commercial in which he shed his suit-and-look and reveled himself to be a rock-and-roll-loving headbanger.

–Field Level Media

Oct 6, 2019; Arlington, TX, USA; Fox announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on the field prior to the game with the Dallas Cowboys playing against the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

It’s official: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman take over ‘MNF’ booth

ESPN on Wednesday made it official with the announcement that Joe Buck and Troy Aikman will be the broadcast team for “Monday Night Football.”

The pair are coming off 20 seasons calling NFL games for Fox Sports. They will make their “MNF” debut on Sept. 12.

“Everything about Monday Night Football, including the broadcast, set the standard for the modern NFL experience,” Buck said in a statement. “My earliest memories of walking around football stadiums are tagging along with my dad as he called Monday Night Football on radio. To return to the stadium on Monday nights with Troy — who I have the utmost comfort with and confidence in — and begin a new chapter, for us and ESPN, has me excited about this season and our future.”

Terms were not released. However, the New York Post reported Buck was in line to receive a five-year deal worth between $60 million and $75 million. The Post reported that Aikman received a five-year, $92.5 million contract to make the jump to ESPN.

“The opportunity to be a voice on Monday Night Football, adding to its legacy and being a part of the future of the NFL on ESPN, has me motivated and reflective,” Aikman said. “As a kid in California, the voices of Frank Gifford, Howard Cosell, and my mom’s personal favorite, Don Meredith, echoed throughout our living room each week. Joe and I are humbled to be part of that same tradition that has existed for more than 50 years across generations of football fans.”

ESPN announced that Lisa Salters would return for her 11th season as sideline reporter for “MNF” and that John Parry will be back as rules analyst.

Buck started with Fox in 1994. At age 25, he became the youngest full-time play-by-play announcer on NFL games. He has teamed up with Aikman since 2002.

Aikman was a three-time Super Bowl champion quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

–Field Level Media

Jan 28, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Fox Sports broadcaster Joe Buck speaks with the media during Fox Sports media day at the Miami Beach convention center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Buck leaving Fox for ESPN, according to his wife

Lead football and baseball play-by-play announcer Joe Buck is leaving Fox Sports for ESPN, his wife, Michelle Beisner-Buck, wrote on Instagram on Friday.

Reports were circulating that Buck was closing in on a deal to become ESPN’s Monday Night Football broadcaster and Beisner-Buck, of course, had insider knowledge as she shared the news. Buck will rejoin his long-time Fox partner Troy Aikman at ESPN.

“Ohhhhhh Emmmmmm Geeeeee!!! Welcome to the @espnnfl Fam, Fam!!!!!!! I love you so much (Joe Buck) — Insanely proud and excited that you and (Troy Aikman) are going to be the new voices of Monday Night Football!!!!” Beisner-Buck wrote.

“… This is going to be life-changing for our family. Forever grateful to (Fox Sports) and the almost 30 years Joe spent there. Change is hard, but change is good. This change is also historic. There is no one better than Joe and Troy calling NFL games, and I am so thrilled that they get to continue doing what they do best, TOGETHER.”

Buck, who turns 53 in April, has been Fox’s No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer since 2002 and has called six Super Bowls. He also has been a staple on the network’s baseball coverage and has called 24 World Series.

The New York Post reported Buck was in line to receive a five-year deal between $60 million and $75 million.

The Post reported that Aikman received a five-year, $92.5 million contract to make the jump to ESPN. The deal with the Hall of Fame quarterback hasn’t been formally announced.

Buck started with Fox in 1994. At age 25, he became the youngest full-time play-by-play announced on NFL games. He has teamed up with Aikman since 2002.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; ESPN analyst Louis Riddick prior to the game between the New England Patriots and the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Steelers to interview ESPN’s Louis Riddick for GM post

The Pittsburgh Steelers plan to interview ESPN analyst Louis Riddick for their vacant general manager position, NFL Media reported Tuesday.

Riddick, 52, last worked in the NFL in 2013 as the Philadelphia Eagles’ director of pro personnel.

He is a Pennsylvania native and played college football at Pittsburgh.

After playing six NFL seasons with three teams, the former safety joined the Washington staff as a scout (2001-04) and director of pro personnel (2005-07) before going to Philadelphia. With the Eagles, Riddick worked as a scout (2008) and assistant director of pro personnel (2009) before his promotion to director in 2010.

A ninth-round draft pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 1991, Riddick posted 155 tackles and two sacks in 94 games (eight starts) with the Atlanta Falcons (1992, 1996), Cleveland Browns (1993-95) and then-Oakland Raiders (1998).

Longtime Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert, 65, announced last month that he is stepping down after the 2022 NFL Draft.

Riddick reportedly interviewed for the GM vacancies with the Houston Texans and Detroit Lions following the 2020 season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 31, 2018; Madison, WI, USA; ESPN College Football logo on a tv camera prior to the game between the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

YouTube TV subscribers lose access to ESPN, other Disney-owned channels

Subscribers to YouTube TV lost access to Disney-owned channels, including ESPN, at midnight Eastern time Saturday after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a new contract.

The blackout comes as ESPN is preparing to televise 39 college bowl games between Saturday and the national championship game on Jan. 11. Those are on top of its regular slate of NBA and college basketball games, as well as “Monday Night Football” and other programming.

Other Disney networks pulled from Google-owned YouTube include ESPN2, ESPN3, ABC, SEC Network, ACC Network, the Disney channels, the FX networks and National Geographic.

Both sides issued statements, putting the blame on the other.

“We’ve held good-faith negotiations with Disney for several months. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to reach an equitable agreement before our existing one expired, and their channels are no longer available on YouTube TV,” Google said in a statement, adding it was decreasing the monthly subscription price by $15 because of the loss of programming.

“We’ve been in ongoing negotiations with Google’s YouTube TV and unfortunately, they have declined to reach a fair deal with us based on market terms and conditions,” Disney said in a statement released to Variety. “As a result, their subscribers have lost access to our unrivaled portfolio of networks.”

Disney continued: “We stand ready to reach an equitable agreement with Google as quickly as possible in order to minimize the inconvenience to YouTube TV viewers by restoring our networks. We hope Google will join us in that effort.”

YouTube TV is estimated to have more than 4 million subscribers, Variety reported.

–Field Level Media

18721  EAST RUTHERFORD,NJ  11/07/04 NFL FOOTBALL /  NY GIANTS VS CHICAGO BEARS:   Giants QB #13 Kurt Warner during warm ups nest to backups #3 Jesse Palmer and #10 Eli Manning  -Thomas E. Franklin / The Record

EAST RUTHERFORD,NJ  11/07/04 NY GIANTS VS CHICAGO BEARS:   Giants QB #13 Kurt Warner during warm ups nest to backups #3 Jesse Palmer and #10 Eli Manning

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College football analyst Jesse Palmer to host ‘The Bachelor’

Jesse Palmer, most recently of ESPN college football analyst fame, has been tabbed to host season 26 of “The Bachelor,” the reality show he once participated with in the titular role.

He will serve as host for the 2022 season with a network option to renew after that.

“Falling in love is one of life’s greatest gifts, and I am humbled by the opportunity to return to the show as host,” Palmer said.

Palmer, 42, was a University of Florida quarterback drafted by the New York Giants in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft. As a professional, Palmer played in eight games, completing 52.5 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

He then appeared on “The Bachelor” during its fifth season in 2004.

More recently, he has served as a college football analyst with ESPN, and that deal has also been re-upped. He’s been with ESPN since 2007.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2019; Santa Clara, CA, USA; ESPN analyst Tim Tebow looks on before the 2019 College Football Playoff Championship game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Clemson Tigers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Tebow, Michael Irvin join ESPN’s ‘First Take’

After a failed tight end experiment in Jacksonville, Tim Tebow joins the cast of ESPN’s reformatted “First Take.”

The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback and former New York Mets minor leaguer will talk college football with host Stephen A. Smith on Fridays.

Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin will be in the hot seat opposite Smith for NFL debates on Mondays.

ESPN announced the updates on Thursday, with the new format set to begin Sept. 6.

“This new format will pair Smith with new voices and perspectives every day of the week who will challenge him on their specific area of expertise in a completely new way,” senior coordinating producer Antoine Lewis said in a news release.

Tebow, 34, was released by the Jaguars on Aug. 17, ending his bid to return to the NFL after an eight-year absence. He has previously worked for ESPN as a college football analyst.

Irvin, 55, won three Super Bowl rings and caught 750 passes for 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns with the Dallas Cowboys from 1988-99.

Previous “First Take” host Max Kellerman’s last episode with the series was on Wednesday. He is joining ESPN Radio’s morning show alongside Keyshawn Johnson and Jay Williams.

–Field Level Media