ESPN puts best spin possible on the Sean McDonough demotion

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Monday Night Football serves as, without question, the highest-profile series on ESPN. College football, from a ratings, profile, and revenue standpoint, amounts to a clear step down.

So the move of Sean McDonough from play-by-play duties on Monday Night Football to college football represents an obvious demotion. ESPN’s press release announcing the move tries to sell it as something other than that.

“Sean is so well-respected at ESPN and throughout our industry and we look forward to his return to college football where he will be a signature voice on many of our biggest games, including the College Football Playoff,” ESPN Senior Vice President, Events and Studio Production, Stephanie Druley said. “Sean is a highly-skilled broadcaster who brings great passion, energy and work ethic to every game he calls. In addition to his premier play-by-play skills, Sean excels at storytelling and setting the scene for the emotion and pageantry of college football, which are such integral parts of our presentation.”

OK. So why not leave those skills and talents on Monday Night Football? McDonough’s quote creates the impression that he wanted to return to the lower-level version of the sport.

“Over the past two years, as I watched college football on television, I realized how much I missed it,” McDonough said. “Being the ‘Voice of Monday Night Football’ was one of the great honors of my life, but I am grateful for the opportunity to return to the unique traditions, rivalries and pageantry of college football and to tell the stories of the participants. I look forward to reuniting with ESPN’s college football team where I have so many close friends in front of and behind the camera.”

The more obvious truth is that, with Jon Gruden leaving, ESPN will be crafting a brand-new booth, with Joe Tessitore taking over the job (he likely doesn’t view the move from college football to Monday Night Football as anything other than a significant step up). The only remaining question is who Tessitore’s partner(s) will be. With Peyton Manning saying no, ESPN has to decide whether to make another swing for the fences or to promote someone from within.

If ESPN ultimately can’t generate the kind of sizzle that the Manning hire would bring, don’t be shocked if they add two to the booth, since the inability of quality to create buzz could force ESPN to rely on quantity instead.

28 responses to “ESPN puts best spin possible on the Sean McDonough demotion

  1. He was boring. They all have been since Howard Costello left. Funny to think of people complaining about how they hated Howard Costello. What we wouldn’t give to have him back today!

  2. Tessitore is their latest talking head who is not as good as McDonough, but has the “Ken Doll” look that they love…..

  3. I know we all hate espn around here, but Isn’t it possible that this actually went down the way they’re saying it did? According to their story, they were happy with McDonough on MNF, but he missed the college game and they gave him the college gig.

    The presumption here is that all broadcasters want to do the pro game and regard that gig as the plum. But that’s not necessarily true. Believe me, I live in the south and there’s a strong, prevailing attitude down here that the college game is superior.

    As a viewer, I thought McDonough’s love of the college game and discomfort with the pro game was pretty clear. His most insightful commentary between plays often related to the college careers of the players on the field.

  4. McDonough and Chucky never clicked. And McDonough is just another play-by-play guy. Competent, and easily interchangeable. Like a SportsCenter anchor. Tessitore is more of the same. ESPN really needed to go after somebody with a lot of NFL experience – somebody currently with Fox or CBS.

  5. I may be in the minority on this, but I don’t see this as a demotion. Monday night football is a shell of what it used to be back when Al Michaels did the play-by-play. McDonough always seemed to prefer college football to the NFL, and ESPN should be glad they were able to have him manning the booth for these last couple of years. I’m no fan of ESPN, but I’m willing to take the word of both sides on this one.

  6. Sean’s voice, to me, always sounded grating. Never particularly liked his delivery style. Knowledgeable enough about the game, but I was never a fan and generally disliked hearing him. Several other announcers were/are far better, Chris Spielman for one comes to mind, even though, as a Michigan alum, I sure didn’t like him when he was playing for Ohio State! He’s one of the most insightful announcers in the game now, though, and I really respect his work….

  7. McDonough just doesn’t have the big voice. You need a voice that becomes a part of any exciting plays. Joe Tessitore should be okay. He’s been around broadcasting for quite some time. Give him 3 or 4 weeks to get comfy. Now who does ESPN / ABC find him for color. It won’t be Manning. Just about everything ESPN does lately is a disaster. I enjoy MNF. I hope they don’t destroy it.

  8. Trying to think of a time when I ever cared who was calling the game, it doesn’t really add or detract from a game in any way for me. Literally the last thing I’m thinking of when watching a game. I usually don’t even put on the sound. I already know football, Sean McDonough or Al Michaels aren’t going to teach me anything new. And not for nothing, most MNF games are hot garbage nowadays anyway.

  9. Just a thought,
    Tim Ryan who use to do NFL Radio on Sirius XM and left for FOX. Damn good game analyst and a deep commanding voice. Pair him with Joe Tessitore. That would be some lively conversation. Ryan played in the NFL with Da Bears for 4 or 5 years. He had a career ending injury. He talks with intelligence.

  10. Maybe ESPN realizes, that since MNF isn’t getting the best matchups anymore. (SUnday Night has that honor), its a waste of Sean’s talents, and they need him where they can maximize value.

  11. College football is light years ahead of MNF. Plus , you can still get a good nights sleep after the game, instead of being up til 11-12 or missing the last part of the game. I rarely watch MNF any more. If they could get a deal to bring in the most relevant game of the week, maybe they would get some more viewers, but that “ain’t gonna happen”.

  12. McDonough and Gruden were one of the worst combo in NFL broadcasting history. Both are nice guys, know the game, but they never meshed and, frankly, it was dullsville. And you have to work pretty hard to make any prime time NL telecast dull.

    Tessitore will have plenty of energy. He’ll need a smart and opinionated partler to lighten him up and bring these games to life.

  13. I’ve never watched or chosen not to watch a football game based on the announcers.
    That said, I think Al Michaels and Collinsworth are the best. I look forward to hearing what they have to say.
    Dan Fouts is superb, too.

  14. shadywarrior says:
    March 10, 2018 at 11:02 am
    Trying to think of a time when I ever cared who was calling the game, it doesn’t really add or detract from a game in any way for me. Literally the last thing I’m thinking of when watching a game. I usually don’t even put on the sound. I already know football, Sean McDonough or Al Michaels aren’t going to teach me anything new. And not for nothing, most MNF games are hot garbage nowadays anyway.

    ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    You’ve clearly never watched a game that has Phil Simms or Chris Collinsworth providing commentary.

  15. Never heard of this Tessitore guy. Sean & Jon were just OK. Won’t miss them. As long as they don’t, and it appears they are not, bring in Pizza Man I’m good.

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