Behind the Mic: ESPN Unfurls Long List of College Football Playoff Talent, Re-Signs Two Notable Baseball Faces

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, ESPN readies for the college football playoff, the network extends the deals of two baseball personalities, and CBS Sports HQ adds three names to studio list.

ESPN’s postseason college football coverage is highlighted by the exclusive presentation of the College Football Playoff, which begins with the Semifinals on Saturday, Dec. 28. The College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will feature No. 1 LSU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma (4 p.m. ET) from Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. The Peach Bowl precedes the CFP Semifinal at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson (8 p.m.) from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The winners will play in the CFP National Championship Presented by AT&T (8 p.m.) from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on Monday, Jan. 13.

In the broadcasting booth, Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will call the Fiesta Bowl, while Sean McDonough and Todd Blackledge team up for the Peach Bowl. Fowler, Herbstreit, and Blackledge have called a CFP Semifinal all six years of the system, with Fowler and Herbstreit working together in each of those years. McDonough is calling his second consecutive CFP Semifinal with Blackledge.

ESPN will utilize reporters Maria Taylor and Tom Rinaldi at the Fiesta Bowl, their third and sixth CFP Semifinal, respectively. At the Peach Bowl, Holly Rowe and Laura Rutledge will report, also their sixth and third, respectively. Taylor will be with Clemson, Rinaldi reports on Ohio State, while Rowe is with LSU and Rutledge has Oklahoma.

Fowler, Herbstreit, Taylor, and Rinaldi will head to Pasadena to call the Rose Bowl Game Presented by Northwestern Mutual between No. 6 Oregon and No. 8 Wisconsin (5 p.m.), and McDonough, Blackledge, and Rowe travel to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl featuring No. 5 Georgia vs. No. 7 Baylor (8:30 p.m.) on New Year’s Day. At the Rose Bowl, Taylor will report on the Ducks and Rinaldi on the Badgers.

ESPN’s presentation of the New Year’s Six will begin with the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic between No. 16 Memphis and No. 10 Penn State (noon) on Saturday, Dec. 28, which will lead into the CFP Semifinals. The Capital One Orange Bowl between No. 9 Florida and No. 24 Virginia (8 p.m.) on Monday, Dec. 30, will precede the New Year’s Day bowls and follow the CFP Semifinals.

Mark Jones, Dusty Dvoracek, and Olivia Dekker will call the Nittany Lions-Tigers matchup, with Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay, and Molly McGrath on the Gators-Cavaliers.

Levy, Griese, McShay, and McGrath will also call the CFP Semifinal at the Peach Bowl on ESPN Radio, while Sean Kelley, Barrett Jones, and Ian Fitzsimmons call the Fiesta Bowl for the network.

Herbstreit calls the Las Vegas Bowl featuring No. 19 Boise State vs. Washington with Bob Wischusen and McGrath, airing in primetime (7:30 p.m.) on Saturday, Dec. 21 on ABC

Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, and Tom Luginbill call the Vrbo Citrus Bowl between No. 14 Michigan vs. No. 13 Alabama (1 p.m.) on ABC

Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore, and Quint Kessenich call the Outback Bowl featuring No. 18 Minnesota vs. No. 12 Auburn (1 p.m.) on ESPN

Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, and Allison Williams call the Camping World Bowl between No. 15 Notre Dame vs. Iowa State (noon) who are playing each other for the first time, December 28 on ABC.

Ryan Leaf will make his ESPN bowl debut calling his alma mater as Washington State plays Air Force in the Cheez-It Bowl (10:15 p.m.) Friday, Dec. 27 on ESPN. Leaf teams with Clay Matvick on the call…

…ESPN has re-signed veteran Major League Baseball analyst Eduardo Pérez to a multi-year extension. Pérez will remain one of ESPN’s signature baseball analysts, contributing to both event and studio coverage. Pérez first joined ESPN in 2006 and served as an analyst through 2010. He returned to ESPN in 2014.

Pérez will continue his game analyst role for ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball and its coverage of MLB Opening Day, Holiday Baseball and many of ESPN’s international MLB telecasts. Pérez will also remain the primary analyst on ESPN’s Statcast-driven alternate presentations for the T-Mobile Home Run Derby and its Wild Card coverage.

The versatile Pérez will regularly appear on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight, SportsCenter, MLB on ESPN Radio, and other news and information platforms. He will also continue his analyst role for the Men’s College World Series.

In recent years, Pérez has become a staple of ESPN’s international MLB game telecasts, helping to lead coverage of the 2016 spring training game in Cuba, regular-season games in Mexico and Puerto Rico, and for the Japan Opening Series in 2019…

…ESPN has also reached an extension with Major League Baseball analyst Doug Glanville. The nine-year MLB veteran will continue to provide expert insight on ESPNstudio programs including Baseball Tonight and SportsCenter.

Glanvillefirst joined ESPN as an analyst in 2010 for seven years and returned in March of 2019 as a contributor to ESPN studio programming. He spent the majority of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies, and also played for the Chicago Cubs and the Texas Rangers. Glanville tallied 1,100 hits throughout his career and retired in 2004 with his streak of 293 games without an error intact…

…CBS Sports HQ has also expanded its talent roster with three new anchors.

Brandon Baylor joins CBS Sports HQ from WFTS in Tampa, FL, where he had served as a sports reporter and anchor since 2017. He previously spent two years as the sports director and host/reporter at NBC News 2 in Charleston, SC. Baylor is a graduate of Temple University.

Amanda Guerra comes to CBS Sports HQ from KRLD NewsRadio 1080 in Dallas, TX, where she was a co-anchor of the “KRLD Morning News”. Prior to joining KRLD, Guerra spent five years at KXAS/Channel 5 in Dallas, serving as weekend anchor and reporter. She began her career at KOCO-TV in Oklahoma City and is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma.

Joe Musso joins the CBS Sports HQ team by way of CBS Sacramento, where he was responsible for relaunching the sports department. Prior to his time in Sacramento, Musso covered University of Nebraska athletics for 1011 News in Lincoln. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and received his bachelor’s degree from Illinois Wesleyan University where he also captained the Titan Football team.

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