Nearly a year ago, we conducted a pair of media drafts to build our own fictional television networks — one for college football and one for the NFL. Since then, the industry has undergone dramatic change. Wholesale layoffs at ESPN hit front-facing talent particularly hard. Long-tenured and venerable voices hung up their microphones and rode into retirement.
Revisiting these drafts, it’s striking how much turnover has taken place in such a short period of time. Even by a conservative reading, 15 of the 54 personalities selected in the college football version are no longer with the same company, or have transitioned into significantly different roles within the same company. And that doesn’t even include Tim Tebow, who has struck gold with his powerful baseball swing.
Tim Tebow: Not technically a change as he signed a multi-year extension with ESPN and will appear on the SEC Network when the season kicks off. But it should be noted that he is currently a baseball player, and is performing quite well.
Verne Lundquist: Retired from the college football booth.
Brent Musburger: Retired to pursue his real passion: over-unders.
Bruce Feldman: Still employed by Fox as a sideline reporter but now will write for Sports Illustrated after the hard pivot to video.
Scott Van Pelt
Jesse Palmer: No longer working the booth with Musburger. Studio guy now.
Danny Kanell: Laid off from ESPN.
Steve Spurrier: Drafted on speculation, but taking his talents back to the Florida program.
Stewart Mandel: No longer with Fox. Heading college football vertical for The Athletic.
Sam Ponder: Replaced Chris Berman as host of Sunday NFL Countdown.
Brett McMurphy: Laid off from ESPN.
Pete Thamel: No longer with Sports Illustrated. Now with Yahoo.
Taylor Rooks: Left Big Ten Network for SportsNet New York.
Kaylee Hartung: Left ESPN for CNN.
Brad Nessler: Left ESPN after 24 years and spent much of 2016 watching games from home. He’ll replace Verne Lundquist in CBS’ top booth.
Travis Haney: Contract was not renewed by ESPN.
Ty Duffy: No longer with The Big Lead.
Steve Sarkisian: Left Fox for Alabama, then left Alabama for the Atlanta Falcons.
By comparison, the NFL draft saw less turnover as just 14 of 84 picks qualify, although, it should be noted that huge names like Chris Berman and Tom Jackson are included.
Mel Kiper Jr.
John Clayton: Laid off at ESPN. Continued his radio show.
Tom Jackson: Retired from ESPN.
Mike Tirico: Was given the green light to call Thursday Night Football games after a few false starts.
Bill Simmons: No longer with HBO on any given Wednesday.
Chris Berman: Only doing select assignments.
Tony Gonzalez: Left The NFL Today, is now with Fox.
Bart Scott: Also out at The NFL Today.
Phil Simms: Lost his spot next to Jim Nantz in CBS’ top booth to unproven Tony Romo.
Trent Dilfer: Laid off from ESPN.
Britt McHenry: Laid off from ESPN.
Ron Jaworski: Seems to not know if he has a job at ESPN, which should be interesting.
Adam Caplan: Laid off from ESPN.
Katie Nolan: Where art thou, Katie Nolan?
Key & Peele
Jason Lisk: Still kickin’.
Solomon Wilcots: No longer working the sidelines at CBS.
Michael Schottey — now the executive editor at Travel Pulse.
Cleatus the Robot
In total, 29 of 138 picks qualify. Again, this is a conservative estimate–others may be revealed as the season begins–and it still comes to more than 20 percent of what can be considered as the top of the field. Change has been real this past year, meaning coverage will look — and sound — much different this coming season.