More Monday Night Football "New Direction" News

Monday, September 01, 2008


So it was two weeks ago that I told you about ESPN's plan to "focus on Football" and not have guests show up in the booth. There's now even more word that the focus has shifted and after talking with focus groups in the offseason they realized that they were, "trying too hard."

"I think we may have been trying to overdeliver for all audiences and casual fans," said senior coordinating producer Jay Rothman. "You could call us the old ABC on steroids, but the truth of the matter is we are a sports network and people tune into ESPN for a sporting event.

" One of the things we heard was You're trying too hard.' Well, we're going to pull back. We may not be 20 pounds in a 5-pound bag; we'll give you 5 pounds in a 5-pound bag. But guilty as charged: I think we were trying to service too many and found we were doing too much."

ESPN plans in particular to let analyst Ron Jaworski shine more at what he does best, which is taking the intricate X's and O's of the game and making them easy for viewers to understand.

"We're going to make him the new (John) Madden," said Rothman. "Jaws is one of the most credible and well-liked football analysts out there, not just by fans, but by teams and players as well."

ESPN also plans to utilize high-speed cameras and new graphics, but says it wants to get its graphics "out of the way" of the action on the field, another thing it says its focus groups wanted.

Mike Tirico and Tony Kornheiser return with Jaworski and Rothman said he plans to use Kornheiser to deliver "instant columns" to put events in perspective.
See this is the thing. I completely understand the direction and the thinking here, but to me it's still not the right direction. You shouldn't be trying to make Jaws the next Madden, but rather just let him be himself. There's no correct formula to delivering a stellar broadcast because each game is different and always changing. Some games are going to be dreadful like that Dolphins-Steelers game in the rain last year and some will go from blowouts to amazing comebacks like the Cards-Bears game in 2006. Ultimately though, the problems don't stem from Jaws or Tirico at all, but rather Tony's ramblings on his fantasy football team and stories that are months old. He's very endearing at times when he seems to care about the back story, ala Michael Vick, but more often than not it seems like he just doesn't care about the game at all.

It's great that they are considering the feelings of the fans, but the fate of the trio unfortunately doesn't hinge on Jaws, but rather Kornheiser.

Carlisle: ESPN will shift its focus to football (Ventura County Star)
ESPN Comes Up With The Novel Idea Of Focusing On "Football" During MNF Games (Awful Announcing)

15 Comments:

"dreadful like that Jags-Steelers game in the rain last year"

I think you mean Steelers-Dolphins. The Jaguars and Steelers played on a Sunday in snow.

Anonymous said...
Sep 1, 2008, 12:59:00 PM  

Just caught that as well...thanks.

Sep 1, 2008, 1:02:00 PM  

I think Kornheiser might be ok if he actually knew anything about football.

He knows about 5 players in the league (Favre, Manning, Brady, Romo and Tomlinson) and the rest are unknown to him.

alan said...
Sep 1, 2008, 2:07:00 PM  

but rather

Anonymous said...
Sep 1, 2008, 2:13:00 PM  

I think the way that they are thinking of using Tony Kornhsier this season sounds like a good idea. Why? Because this way Tony doens't feel like he has to be fnny every time and just provide insight from a former newspapper columninst angle. And I think he can do that with some funny one liners here and there.

Anonymous said...
Sep 1, 2008, 2:20:00 PM  

Look for lots of LT talk from Mr Tony this year.

In his FFL chat on WAPO.COM, Gene Wang said he drafted Tk's fantasy team for him and had the first pick and took LT.

odessasteps said...
Sep 1, 2008, 2:31:00 PM  

The last monday presesason game was just Tirico and Jaws, and I have to say it was pretty good with TK's pointless ramblings.

Also I'm watching College Football Live right now, they are doing plays of the week, could somebody please tell ESPN to stop using field level shots for plays that go the length of the field ?

jg said...
Sep 1, 2008, 3:59:00 PM  

Sorry the previous post should say without TK's pointless ramblings not with.

jg said...
Sep 1, 2008, 4:01:00 PM  

If they really wanted to "focus on football", they'd get rid of Kornheiser. ESPN could grab someone off the street five minutes before kickoff and they could do what Kornheiser does on MNF.

Anonymous said...
Sep 1, 2008, 5:54:00 PM  

I'm glad they're changing the graphics. I know to most that it's not a big deal, but that scoreboard was in the way of the action. Just use what ESPN uses for College Football.

ifiok2567 said...
Sep 1, 2008, 6:14:00 PM  

Get rid of Tony Kornholio. Or at least make him wear a pulp fiction ball gag!

Anonymous said...
Sep 1, 2008, 7:16:00 PM  

Tony got annoying when not only he admitted he did not know about football but would state baseless opinions on anything NFL after stating such a thing.

I may hate Theisman but I totally agree about Jaws being TK's laugh-track.

Oh and Tirico since he radio show went off on far more off-topic tangents than usual last year.

Anonymous said...
Sep 1, 2008, 11:46:00 PM  

The dopiest thing ESPN ever did was let Al Michaels go to NBC. Instead, they give us a mishmosh of continuous crap.
And now they're into focus groups --- Help us all.

Anonymous said...
Sep 2, 2008, 12:35:00 AM  

Tirico and Jaworski are really good at their jobs; the problem definitely lies with Kornheiser, whose knowledge is questionable at best. He's even admitted in the past that he doesn't like football that much.

CB said...
Sep 2, 2008, 2:01:00 AM  

Let get this thing straight, Al Micheals after singining a contract woth ESPN to go over there and call MNF games dicidded to leave for NBC after he saw that Madden was going there. So, ESPN wnated Micheals but Micheals didn't want to go to ESPN.

Anonymous said...
Sep 2, 2008, 11:02:00 AM  

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