Saturday, March 17, 2007

ESPN on ABC: Busch Series - Atlanta

My ESPN contacts tell me that Brent Musburger is regarded as a confusing presence on the NASCAR Busch Series trail. Supposedly, Musburger was taking the "Jack Whitaker" style role of a seasoned veteran "show host." Unfortunately, as viewers of the IndyCar Series discovered, Musburger is not experienced at motorsports, and his awkward attempts at humor rely on his knowledge of stick-and-ball college and professional sports.

The Busch Series Race in Atlanta was no different. Musburger could not get through the top five rows of the starting grid. He made obtuse and over-blown comments a la Keith Jackson when specific details just do not come to mind. Musburger tried to reference Saint Patrick's day by calling Brad Daugherty Irish, and then ultimately managed an awkward throw to the broadcast team to call the race. Several members of the crew called him "Brett" once again.

Who is watching this nonsense at ESPN? If this was Major League Baseball, these problems would be addressed immediately. Let's face facts. Brent Musburger, Chris Fowler, and Brad Daugherty have absolutely no business being behind the microphone of a NASCAR race. Their opening lines and the thirty minute pre-race show are amateurish at best until the pros stop by.

ESPN made the incredible mistake of seating guest commentator Ray Evernham next to Mr. Daugherty. Then, they asked both to comment on the same topics. Mr. Daugherty should have just taken a sharp stick to the eye. Evernham contradicted Daugherty with details and facts over-and-over again. The pre-race show had even the most casual fan asking "why is that tall guy there?" Musburger, Fowler, and Daugherty cannot stop talking about college sports and often reference that day's college games on other networks. It would be nice if they had any knowledge about the event they were assigned to cover.

ESPN finally has a solid broadcast crew in place, with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree bringing viewers a nice combination of personalities and knowledge. The pit road reporters are solid, and the directing is first rate. What a shame that surrounding this outstanding performance are the Three Musburgateers. Isn't there a UNC vs. Duke game somewhere for them to cover?