Behind the Mic: Full Rundown of CBS-Turner Tourney Announcers; Pam Oliver Returning to NFL on Fox

Turner Sports and CBS Sports combined coverage of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship tips off today with Brian Anderson calling the NCAA First Four on truTV games with analyst Steve Smith and reporter Lewis Johnson. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play on Wednesday alongside analyst Gottlieb and reporter Evan Washburn. Both teams will continue serve alongside CBS and Turner’s army of announcers throughout the tournament.

The lead broadcast team will feature Bill Raftery and Grant Hill as analysts teaming ith with play-by-play commentator Jim Nantz and reporter Tracy Wolfson throughout the NCAA Tournament, including their first time calling the NCAA Final Four National Semifinals and National Championship on television.

Chris Webber, Steve Lappas and Smith will contribute to the networks’ tournament coverage as game analysts for the first time this year.  Webber will join play-by-play commentator Marv Albert, analyst Len Elmore and reporter Craig Sager during the first two weeks of the tournament.  Lappas will team with Andrew Catalon and reporter Jamie Erdahl, while Smith will pair with play-by-play commentator Brian Anderson and reporter Lewis Johnson throughout the first week of the tournament.  Other announce teams include Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, and Allie LaForce; Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, and Dan Bonner; and Rachel Nichols, Spero Dedes, Mike Gminski, and Jaime Maggio.

Studio coverage for the First Four will originate from Atlanta with Matt Winer and analysts Seth Davis, Mateen Cleaves and Wally Szczerbiak. Greg Gumbel and Ernie Johnson will host studio coverage from the CBS Broadcast Center in New York during the first full week of the tournament, with Johnson hosting studio coverage from Atlanta during the second week of tournament action.  Steve Smith will also join the studio team in Atlanta following the opening week while Doug Gottlieb joins studio coverage from New York. Ernie Johnson will once again host studio coverage from the Final Four and National Championship with analysts Charles Barkley, Clark Kellogg and Kenny Smith. They will be joined by Greg Gumbel with analysts Reggie Miller, Seth Davis, Steve Smith and college coaches…

…Despite being replaced on Fox Sports’ NFL A-game announce team prior to last season, Pam Oliver has elected to re-up her contract with Fox for another two years – as reported by SI.com’s Richard Deitsch. Oliver, who was replaced by Erin Andrews, reported worked out a new contract that called for the 2014 season to be her last on the sideline and put a new focus on longform pieces and features. However, Oliver has changed her mind will once again work with Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch for the NFL on Fox B-game in 2015 and 2016…

…Veteran motorsports broadcaster Jon Beekhuis has joined ESPN’s team as a pit reporter for telecasts of the Verizon IndyCar Series on ABC in 2015. Beekhuis, Dr. Jerry Punch and Rick DeBruhl will be pit reporters for ABC’s telecasts of the Indianapolis 500 on May 24, and four other Verizon IndyCar Series races as well as two days of Indianapolis 500 qualifying. Other members of the telecast team will be lap-by-lap announcer Allen Bestwick and analysts Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever. During more than 25 years of motorsports broadcasting, Beekhuis has often appeared on ESPN and ABC motorsports coverage, including working two IndyCar races as a pit reporter in 2008 and as analyst during telecasts of the former Champ Car World Series in 2007. His first television work was in 1989, while he was still an active racer, as analyst on ESPN’s telecasts of races in the Indy Lights series and from 1991-2001 he was a pit reporter for ABC and ESPN telecasts of CART races. During that period, he also worked on select telecasts of IndyCar races as well as other forms of racing and ESPN’s X Games. Beekhuis raced for more than 20 years in various open wheel series, including four seasons (1989-1992) in CART. He was the first American to win the American Racing Series (ARS) title, the forerunner to today’s Indy Lights, in 1988. In addition to his work with ESPN, Beekhuis will continue as pit reporter for many of the NBCSN telecasts of the Verizon IndyCar Series this season. He has been with the network since 2009…

…John Strong and analyst Alexi Lalas will serve as FOX Sports 1’s lead Major League Soccer broadcast team this season, with reporter Grant Wahl serving as sideline reporter.  The announcement was made today by FOX Sports’ Executive Producer, John Entz.  The trio made its network MLS debut on March 8. Rob Stone will host FOX Sports 1’s pregame, halftime and postgame coverage live from the Fox Network Center in Los Angeles with National Soccer Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda, former USMNT midfielder Stuart Holden and guest analyst and U.S. Soccer legend Landon Donovan, who just recently ended his stellar playing career by lifting the MLS Cup with the LA Galaxy. FOX Deportes’ lead broadcast team features a three-man booth with play-by-play announcer John Laguna and analysis from Mariano Trujillo and Claudio Suarez, both former MLS players…

…Joe Tolleson will handle play-by-play duties and Ian Joy will provide color commentary on the YES Network’s telecasts of New York City FC soccer matches this season. Tolleson has done play-by-play for ESPN International’s coverage of the UEFA Champions League, the CONCACAF Champions League, Serie A (Italy), La Liga (Spain), and World Cup Qualifiers.   He is also Executive Producer of SiriusXM FC 94, the 24-hour soccer channel on satellite radio.  He has covered every Winter and Summer Olympics for Westwood One Radio since 2002, announcing soccer and other sports.  He handled play-by-play duties at MSG Network for the New York Red Bulls (including when the team was known as the NY/NJ MetroStars), and the New York Power of the WUSA.  In addition, he is the New York Rangers’ arena announcer at Madison Square Garden, has done radio play-by-play for the team and hosted NHL Radio’s studio show for nine years.  Joy’s 14-year pro playing career included stops in Scotland, England, Germany (playing for Hamburger SV and then FC St Pauli in the Bundesliga), and with the MLS’s Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers. Following his retirement from soccer, Joy did MLS color commentary for FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake’s radio and TV broadcasts.  Since August 2012, Joy has been a soccer analyst for beIN Sports, where he has held multiple roles including color commentator and studio analyst working on Serie A, French Ligue 1 and La Liga telecasts.  He also hosted beIN Sports’ 2014 World Cup studio show from Rio. In addition, Carlos DeMolina has been named producer, and Jim Daddona director, of YES’ New York City FC match telecasts…

…In other YES Network news, YES’ Brooklyn Nets sideline reporter Sarah Kustok handled color commentary duties alongside play-by-play man Ian Eagle during YES’ Saturday, March 14 Nets-76ers telecast (pre-game at 7:00 pm ET; game telecast at 7:30 pm ET). In addition to handling sideline reporter duties for YES the past three seasons, Kustok, one of the best three-point shooters in the history of DePaul University’s women’s basketball program and a former assistant coach for the tam, has provided analysis during FOX Sports 1’s Big East women’s college basketball telecasts the past two seasons.   She also was a studio analyst earlier this week during FOX Sports 1’s coverage of the Big 12 and Big East women’s basketball tournaments…

…NBC Sports Group continues to bloster to its arsenal of Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) talent, adding Laila Ali, B.J. Flores, Kenny Rice and Chris Mannix to its coverage on NBC and NBCSN. Three-time super middleweight champion Ali and former two-time U.S. amateur heavyweight champion Flores will serve as corner analysts for PBC on NBC telecasts. Mannix and Rice will report ringside, and Rice will conduct interviews. Rice will also serve as the blow-by-blow announcer on select NBCSN shows. They additions join blow-by-blow announcer Marv Albert, analyst “Sugar” Ray Leonard, and host Al Michaels on the PBC on NBC, which debuted on March 7…

…Spike TV has named veteran combat sports announcer George X and former “King of the Cage” heavyweight champion, Manny Rodriguez, as the SAP Spanish announce team for the debut season of Premier Boxing Champions, which launched on March 13.George X currently serves as the play-by-play commentator for Spike’s SAP Spanish broadcast of Bellator MMA. He has served as the Spanish voice for the X Games for ESPN Deportes for 10 years. George has also served as an on-air journalist for the Televisa Network and covered a wide range of sports from the Super Bowl to the Olympics to the World Rafting Championship in Zambia. Manny Rodriguez currently serves as the color commentator for Spike’s SAP Spanish coverage of Bellator MMA. Rodriguez been involved in the fight game since the mid 1990’s training, fighting, coaching, managing. He is a former “King of the Cage” Heavyweight world champion and grappling coach at Alliance MMA…

…ESPN has reached a multi-year extension with Major League Baseball analyst Dallas Braden. The former Oakland Athletics’ perfect-game pitcher will continue to appear on Baseball Tonight and will also serve as a game analyst. Braden joined ESPN at the start of the 2014 season. Braden’s first appearance of the 2015 season is currently scheduled for Monday, April 6 – Opening Day – when he’ll serve as the game analyst alongside play-by-play commentator Dave Flemming for the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants’ opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks on ESPN2…

…Steve Gelbs will serve as SNY’s field reporter on Mets telecasts this season, replacing Kevin Burkhardt, who landed a full-time gig at Fox Sports. Gelbs, who worked about 50 games game for SNY last season, worked for MSG Varsity for four years after graduating from Syracuse. He also worked at MSG Network — MSG 150 for the Knicks and Rangers filling in for Bill Pidto and Rangers pre- and postgame and intermissions on radio filling in for Don LaGreca…

…Former Sun Sports Rays TV reporter Kelly Nash has joined MLB Network. Nash will make her MLB Network debut on Wednesday providing updates on spring game broadcasts. She will have a regular, still to be announced, role on the Network once  the season starts. Nash was part of the Rays broadcast team for the previous two seasons, with her duties including pre-, in- and post-game reports, as well as hosting some of the Inside the Rays shows. Nash also worked on Lightning and Orlando Magic broadcasts. She will be replaced on Rays games by Emily Austen. (Tampa Bay Times)…

…Yahoo Sports inked former NBA Player Jason Collins to serve as a NCAA and NBA analyst, providing original video programming for the Yahoo Sports studio including basketball analysis for both the the men’s NCAA basketball tournament and the NBA…

…Fantasy sports company FanDuel tapped the services of sportswriter Will Carroll, who will write content for the FanDuel Insider blog. Carroll was previously at Baseball Prospectus from 2003-2010, ESPN in 2006, Sports Illustrated from 2007-2012, Football Outsiders from 2006-2009 and Bleacher Report from 2013-2014…

…FiveThirtyEight named former New York Times pillar David Firestone as the new managing editor of the ESPN site. Most recently, he was a member of the newspaper’s editorial board, and served as the board’s projects editor.