• Loading stock data...
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
  • -
  • -
  • -
  • -

How Power At ESPN Shifted To Football From ‘SportsCenter’

  • Scott Van Pelt poised to host ‘Monday Night Countdown.’
  • ESPN talent calling pro/college football make the biggest bucks.
Scott Van Pelt
Allen Kee / ESPN Images)

One of the last of the great “SportsCenter” anchors is poised to take the next step toward the top of ESPN.

Scott Van Pelt has the “inside track” to succeed the laid-off Suzy Kolber as host of “Monday Night Countdown” this season, according to the New York Post.

On Monday, the Post’s Andrew Marchand reported Van Pelt and “NFL Live” host Laura Rutledges were the two primary candidates to succeed Kolber, among the 20 or so on-air talents laid off by ESPN in late June.

As of Wednesday night, the final decision hadn’t been made. But it seems the winds are blowing in favor of the 57-year-old Van Pelt, who’s hosted ESPN’s popular Midnight “SportsCenter” for nearly eight years. 

In fact, The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch tweeted Wednesday that the “decision had been made” for Van Pelt. He later clarified ESPN management viewed Van Pelt as their “choice,” – but there were still details to work out.

Translation: both sides still need to agree on the right dollar figure. 

Kolber has been part of Monday Night Football since 2006.

‘Monday Night Countdown’ Anchor Suzy Kolber Out After 27 Years at ESPN

Kolber has been part of Monday Night Football since 2006.
June 30, 2023

Don’t cry for Rutledge. She’s highly thought of inside Bristol and will continue to anchor the weekday “NFL Live.” But it feels like Van Pelt’s time now.

The 22-year ESPN veteran’s contract is expiring, said sources. Giving Van Pelt stewardship of “Monday Night Countdown” would be a nice perk to get him to extend his deal.

Debuting in 1993, “Monday Night Countdown” is one of ESPN’s two NFL pregame shows along with “Sunday NFL Countdown” hosted by Samantha Ponder. 

Long filled by Chris Berman, the anchor job is one of the choicest gigs at ESPN. It will become even more critical as ESPN televises its first two Super Bowls after the 2026 and 2030 seasons.

Due to his friendship with Tiger Woods and Golf Channel’s resume, Van Pelt already has carved out a prominent role in ESPN’s Masters’ coverage. 

With the NFL in his back pocket, the sky could be the limit for him hosting other prominent NFL, NBA, and MLB events owned by ESPN.

Van Pelt recently told Jimmy Traina of Sports Illustrated he doesn’t foresee hosting his late night show full-time for many more years.

“I’ve been doing this a long time where look, I don’t want to do that forever,” Van Pelt said. “And that would lead to the natural, ‘What would you want to do?’ I don’t know. I don’t know…I still enjoy it.”

Van Pelt’s move up to “Monday Night Countdown” would emphasize the tectonic shift in power at ESPN.

During its heyday in the ’80s and 90s, “SportsCenter” anchors like Dan Patrick, Keith Olbermann, and the late, great Stuart Scott were the network’s biggest stars.

Then came the “Opinionists,” such as Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith, and “Insiders,” like Adam Schefter and Adrian Wojnarowski.

Today, most of the highest-salaried talents lead ESPN’s pro and college football coverage. 

Think Troy Aikman and Joe Buck’s respective $18 million and $15 million annual salaries for calling “Monday Night Football.”

Or Pat McAfee’s $17 million a year deal to license his eponymous, money-making show to ESPN. 

McAfee has the best rolodex of any host in sports media right now. He’s also tight with Peyton Manning, whose ESPN portfolio keeps growing.

There’s “College GameDay” host Kirk Herbstreit, who pulls down an estimated $18 million a year for his twin gigs calling college football for ESPN and the NFL’s “Thursday Night Football” for Amazon Prime Video.

Shannon Sharpe

Shannon Sharpe Could Score ‘Contributor’ Role With ESPN

Media free agent Shannon Sharpe has talked to ESPN about a role.
July 19, 2023

And don’t forget ESPN’s interest in Shannon Sharpe.

The Pro Football Hall of Famer could serve as a possible debate partner for Stephen A. Smith on “First Take” to replace the benched Michael Irvin. He could also appear as a contributor on both ESPN pregame shows and Rutledge’s “NFL Live.”

ESPN’s executive trio of Jimmy Pitaro, Burke Magnus, and Norby Williamson are up to their elbows in NFL and college football deal-making and drama. 

Nothing moves the TV needle like football. The writing is on the wall for ESPN talent: If you want a big contract, and better job security, get yourself a piece of the network’s pro or college football coverage.

If you want to know what talent has the most juice at ESPN these days, then heed the advice of Bob Woodward’s best source: Follow the Money.

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Caitlin Clark Drives Massive WNBA Draft Audience for ESPN

Clark’s coronation was the most-watched WNBA telecast in decades.

For Caitlin Clark and Other Rookies: Now a 29-Day Sprint to WNBA Debut

The league regular season starts swiftly after college basketball ends.

O.J. Simpson Lawyer Says He Won’t Shield Estate From Goldman, Brown Families

The executor of Simpson’s will had previously said the Goldmans would get ‘zero.’

Star-Studded NBA Play-In a Potential Ratings Boon for ESPN and TNT

The initial portion of the NBA postseason features three former MVPs.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

Inside the Most-Hyped WNBA Draft in History


Featured Today

Women’s Basketball Finally Has a TV Deal to Match the Excitement. Now What?

A lucrative new media-rights contract could rectify problems of the past, but the future of March Madness media rights is anyone’s guess.
Mar 16, 2024; Washington, D.C., USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack forward DJ Burns Jr. (30) cuts the net after defeating the North Carolina Tar Heels for the ACC Conference Championship at Capital One Arena.
April 6, 2024

How Two College Seniors Helped DJ Burns Cash In on a Final Four Run

Two college seniors are facilitating deals for NC State’s big man.
Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NCAA officials measure the three point line while coaches from the Texas Longhorns and NC State Wolfpack watch with referees in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center.
April 1, 2024

NCAA Has No One to Blame for Latest Women’s March Madness Transgressions

NCAA is still making avoidable mistakes three years after a complete overhaul.
Nov 16, 2015; Bloomington, IN, USA; General view of the championship banners at Assembly Hall prior to the game between Austin Peay and Indiana.
March 31, 2024

How to Make It in Basketball: Become a Manager at Indiana

Inside the Hoosiers’ unglamorous, profoundly rewarding incubator for basketball’s biggest names.


Powered By

Careers in Sports

Looking for a new job? Check out these featured listings and search for openings all over the world.
Multiple - USA Careers
Multiple - USA Careers
Dunham's Sports
Multiple - USA Careers

Tuned In: CFP Committee Got It Right. And Fox Mounting Massive Rights Bid?

After all that criticism of the CFP selection committee, a Michigan-Alabama insta-classic proves they made the right call—for TV viewers, at least.
NFL in London
December 13, 2023

Blanket Coverage: NFL’s Global Expansion Could Create Fourth Sunday Time Slot

NFL expands its International Series to eight games.
NFL WBD Paramount
December 21, 2023

Could Warner Brothers Discovery Swoop Back Into the NFL TV Business?

A merger of WBD and Paramount Global would reportedly bring NFL TV rights back to TNT.

Rapid Returns: How Technology Is Getting You Back to Your Seat

How Oracle’s POS technology is helping fans get back to their seats faster.
Bill Belichick
December 8, 2023

The Hoodie in the Booth? Bill Belichick’s TV Analyst Prospects Grow

If the Patriots coach is interested in TV, several TV networks told Front Office Sports they’d love to talk to him.
December 5, 2023

Seminoles’ CFP Snub Opens New Front in Disney vs. Florida War

Florida lawmakers are already considering legislation to protest the College Football Playoff’s exclusion of Florida State.
December 1, 2023

Would Disney’s ESPN Walk Away From The NBA?

Will financial pressures impact the company’s decision with a longtime partner?
November 28, 2023

Greg Olsen’s Coaching Ambitions Could Shake Up Fox Sports’ NFL Broadcasts

The current No. 1 analyst could be a candidate for a head coaching job with the Carolina Panthers.