Now that morning Sportscenter anchor Josh Elliott has decided to leave ESPN for a higher profile gig as newsreader on Good Morning America (where, on occasion, he’ll iron shirts!), who’s getting his job? The list of candidates to sit alongside Tony Kornheiser’s favorite person, Hannah Storm, is long and distinguished, but I’ll try to whittle it down to four. I’ll break this post up a bit – first the candidates that are buzzy in Bristol, and then some thoughts on Elliott’s departure.
I hear ESPN will be looking for a co-host for the 9 am Sportscenter who has less of a buttoned-down feel than the anchors of the 6 pm show, but isn’t quite as loose as the guys who operate the 11 pm offering (which isn’t a knock on either show; they all have a vibe to them). My odds are purely guesses, pulled out of my baby’s latest soiled diaper:
Jay Harris 10:1
John Anderson 8:1
Steve Levy 12:1
Kevin Negandhi 14:1
These four anchors seemed to be the most popular answers when I asked nearly a dozen people at ESPN for their thoughts. Two other names that popped up:
Brian Kenny (Has a radio show that would probably eliminate him from contention, but his personality fits into the bonhomie, morning show vibe)
Jay Crawford (Hosts
Cold Pizza First Take, and would they really want to ruin his chemistry with Dana Jacobson?)
Could ESPN pair a female with Storm? It seems unlikely (though it happens on the show occasionally), but if you’re looking for a sleeper outside of Sage Steele, try Wendi Nix. The final decision, supposedly, will be made by Norby Williamson (perhaps ESPN’s new blog can confirm that). I imagine he’ll ask Hannah for her input, so prospective candidates would be wise to send flowers early and often and brush up on Notre Dame football, which she is passionate about.
As for Elliott, you could see his star rising three years ago (he made the in/out list in ’08; a year and a half later, we coaxed him into what was one of the most revealing interviews we’ve had on the site). So what went wrong? Well nothing, really. We hear Elliott has managed to leave ESPN on good terms (which is a rarity). Is there anything that could have prevented him from leaving? Well, there’s some chatter that Elliott wasn’t thrilled about being passed over for ESPN’s World Cup coverage last summer. And there’s some scuttlebutt about how ESPN kept throwing Hannah Storm plum assignments (Wimbledon, NBA Finals, Super Bowl, US Open) while her co-anchor wasn’t offered the same opportunities.
But even if he was given some high-profile events … could ESPN have prevented him from moving to ABC, where Ben Sherwood undoubtedly wants to groom Elliott to be their version of Matt Lauer?