Behind The Mic: Nick Saban To Join ESPN; Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier and Mike Breen Celebrate 25 Years as MSG Networks’ Knicks Broadcast Team

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: Joe Girardi to join the YES Network as an analyst; Unreal Ride for Tony Reali Hits 20 Years; and more.

Nick Saban Joins ESPN

Nick Saban, one of the most accomplished and decorated coaches in college football history, will join ESPN, it was announced Wednesday following the recent news of his retirement from the University of Alabama. Saban will work primarily as an analyst on the set of College GameDay Built by The Home Depot (regular season and post-season editions), ESPN’s award-winning weekly college football road show.

Saban will also contribute to ESPN’s extensive, multi-day NFL Draft coverage, and make appearances tied to SEC Media Days across ESPN platforms, including SEC Network.

Saban, who has made many guest appearances on College GameDay through the years, will join a team that includes host Rece Davis, analysts Lee CorsoKirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Pat McAfee, as well as college football insider Pete Thamel, reporters Jen Lada and Jess Sims, and college football betting analyst ‘Stanford Steve’ Coughlin.

“ESPN and College GameDay have played such an important role in the growth of college football, and I’m honored to have the opportunity to join their team,” says Saban. “I’ll do my best to offer additional insights and perspectives to contribute to College GameDay, the ultimate Saturday tradition for college football fans.”

ESPN Chairman Jimmy Pitaro says: “Nick Saban is a singular, iconic presence in college football. He is also an extremely gifted communicator, who will immediately add even more credibility, authority and entertainment value to ESPN, including our esteemed College GameDay show.”

Additional details, including Saban’s first assignment, will be announced at a later date.

Over the course of 28 years as a college coach, Saban’s track record of success is historic. He has captured seven national championships, including six at Alabama (one at LSU). His record as a head coach is 292-71-1, and he won 12 conference championships and 19 bowl games. His teams never had a losing record for a season.

In addition to the past 17 years at Alabama (since 2007), Saban also served as head coach at LSU (2000-04), Michigan State (1995-99) and Toledo (1990). He was also head coach of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins (2005-06).

Trey Wingo & Kevin Frazier Re-Unite for Wondery Sports Show ‘Alternate Routes

Wondery announces a brand-new sports series, Alternate Routes, a co-production with JJ Redick’s ThreeFourTwo Productions, hosted by Trey Wingo and current Entertainment Tonight host Kevin Frazier. Each week, former SportsCenter anchors Wingo and Frazier will start with a flashpoint moment in sports, and then enter the multiverse to explore some of the biggest “what if” moments in sports history, taking a deep dive into every alternate scenario that could’ve happened had the moment played out differently. The first episode launches early for Wondery+ subscribers on March 5, and will be available wide on Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts starting on March 12. New episodes will be released every Tuesday.

What if the NBA never vetoed the Chris Paul trade to the Lakers? What if the Seahawks ran the ball on the one yard line in the Super Bowl? Could a coin flip have landed Magic in Chicago, Michael in L.A. and made Charles Barkley the first black President? Wait, what? Questions like these have broken the brains of sports fans since the beginning of time.

Trey and Kevin are re-uniting to scramble the puzzle pieces of the most memorable moments in sports. Listeners will hear them step out from the news desk to explore every alternate route set in motion by the slightest revision in the sports time continuum. In these hypothetical realities, new dynasties will rise and fall, unlikely GOATS will emerge, and legacies will change forever.

“Every sports fan has their own ‘what if’ moments that are the subject of endless debates,” says Wingo and Frazier. “We’re thrilled to partner with Wondery to create a show that takes these ‘what ifs’ to new heights and explores how small changes in some of sports biggest moments and stories would have created new legacies, dynasties and GOATs across the sports multiverse.”

“We’re thrilled to expand our relationship with Wondery and partner with Trey and Kevin on Alternate Routes,” says ThreeFourTwo Productions founder JJ Redick. “Trey and Kevin are magnetic personalities that have come up with fascinating scenarios for the show and have shown a unique ability to explore how these pivotal moments would change the sports we know and love.”

Alternate Routes is a co-production between Wondery and ThreeFourTwo Productions.

Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Mike Breen Celebrate 25th Anniversary as MSG Networks’ Knicks Broadcast Team

One of the most dynamic and popular NBA broadcast teams of all-time, the pairing of 2x Hall of Famer Walt “Clyde” Frazier and Hall of Famer Mike Breen, reaches an incredible milestone on February 5th – 25 years as television broadcast partners on MSG Networks, calling more than a thousand New York Knicks games together.

Their first game together as TV partners on MSG Networks was February 5, 1999, a 93-85 Knicks loss to the Orlando Magic that featured a starting lineup of Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson, Allan Houston, Latrell Sprewell and Charlie Ward.  That season, the Knicks reached the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

MSG Networks will celebrate their 25-year journey with a special conversation with Breen and Frazier during the pre and post-game shows on February 6th, bookended around the Knicks / Grizzlies game.  The duo will also be celebrated throughout game coverage that evening.

Frazier, the floor general of the Knicks 1970 and 1973 Championship teams is the only person to be elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and broadcaster, entering the Hall as a player in 1987 and a broadcaster in 2022.  “Clyde” was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA history in during the league’s Golden Anniversary in 1996, and one of the top 75 Greatest Players in NBA history when the NBA celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2021.  His #10 jersey hangs in the Garden rafters (1979).  Known for his on-air stylin’ and profilin’, “Clyde” has bridged the gap between generations of Knicks fans and is a beloved ex-player and broadcaster.

Recognized as the signature voice of the NBA, Breen received the prestigious Curt Gowdy Media Award in 2020, entering the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.  Breen has called the play-by-play action for the Knicks for 32 years, first on radio, before joining the MSG Network TV team with “Clyde” in 1999.  Breen has called the last 18 NBA Finals for ABC/ESPN, the most of any play-by-play announcer.

“We would like to congratulate Mike and ‘Clyde’ on their Silver Anniversary,” says Andrea Greenberg, president and CEO, MSG Networks. “They are an iconic broadcast duo that has left an indelible mark on the New York sports landscape and together have given Knicks fans so many great memories throughout their historic run.”

Walt Frazier – “Working with Mike for twenty-five years has been magnificent.  It’s changed my life. He gave me a lot of confidence. I remember the first time we met, he told me, ‘Clyde, just do your thing. The fans want to hear what you have to say. Don’t worry about the nuances of radio.’  So that gave me a lot of confidence, and we became a formidable team because of our mutual respect for each other.”

Mike Breen – “Clyde has been a NY treasure for over 5 decades.  For Knick fans,  he has been the gift that keeps on giving. He may be known to most as the Hall of Fame player and broadcaster, but to our MSG Network crew, he’s our beloved friend.  For me personally, Clyde has been one of the great blessings of my life.”

Longtime MSG Networks Knicks Director – Howie Singer – “It has been such an honor to work with these two legends for their entire run together. They are both Hall of Fame broadcasters, but more importantly, they are Hall of Fame people.”

Longtime MSG Networks Knicks Producer – Spencer Julien – “I’m truly stylin’ and profilin’ being able to work with two Hall of Famers game in and game out. Mike and Clyde are synonymous with Knicks basketball, and this has been a dream job for all of us. Here’s to 25 more years of this Dynamic Duo!”

Joe Girardi Joins YES Network at Analyst

Ex-Yankees catcher and manager Joe Girardi is joining YES Network as an analyst for the upcoming season. Girardi previously had stints on the channel in 2004 and 2007. Girardi, who spent four years with the franchise as a player, led the Yankees to a World Series crown in his second year as manager in 2009 and made the playoffs five other times before his last season with the club in 2017. After managing the Phillies for 2 1/2 seasons, he joined the Cubs’ Marquee Sports Network as a color commentator and analyst that summer. While Girardi is joining YES, he will continue to work as an analyst on the Cubs for Marquee. Besides stints with YES in 2004 and 2007, Girardi has also worked for the MLB Network.

Unreal Ride for Tony Reali Hits 20 Years

February 2 marks a special anniversary at ESPN. Tony Reali has been hosting Around the Horn for 20 years. That’s more than 5,000 weekday shows over two decades – and an infinite number of mutes and paper tosses.

It’s been a remarkable run and one that began on February 1, 2004, when Reali – then the 25-year-old “Stat Boy” on Pardon The Interruption – was in his Washington, D.C. apartment watching Super Bowl XXXVIII. He received a call at the end of the second quarter from producer Bill Wolff, asking if he could fill in as host for Max Kellerman the next day.

Reali agreed, and little did he know Monday’s show would feature two of the biggest stories of the year – the Patriots’ thrilling 32-29 Super Bowl victory AND the now-infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ from the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake halftime show, which took place just minutes after Wolff’s fateful call.

Reali only had one suit at the time – which he remembers sweating through during that first show. He filled in for a couple of days and by Wednesday, “it was time to go shopping.” Kellerman had made the decision to leave ESPN, and Reali was offered the ATH job full-time.

“I don’t know if I believe in luck, but I am one lucky man. It feels like this happened to somebody else,” Reali says. “I’ve done so many shows since Feb. 2, 2004, it kind of feels like a flashback in movie. Maybe that happens when something is so big it changes your whole life in an instant, it becomes … pause … cinema! But check the tape, it happened and I’m happy it did!”

Around the Horn, the popular weekday sports debate show, resumes today, Friday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN with Reali hosting, joined by panelists Mina Kimes, Marcel Louis-Jacques, Israel Gutierrez and Pablo Torre.

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