Monday, July 9, 2007

Suzy Kolber Is Back In The ESPN Saddle Again

ESPN has just released their talent assignments for the upcoming NASCAR weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. ABC Sports will carry the Busch Series race and the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. ESPN2 will carry coverage of Busch Series practice and qualifying.

Dr. Jerry Punch will return as play-by-play announcer, with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree alongside. They will call the race, as well as the practice and qualifying sessions.

In the Infield Studio will be Suzy Kolber. She will host the qualifying show, the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show, and continue to be the infield host for the race itself. Her partner on the infield set will be Brad Daugherty.

Kolber is an ESPN veteran, and perhaps best known for her role as the sideline reporter for Monday Night Football . She has hosted one early season edition of NASCAR Countdown, but has been absent from the NASCAR TV screens since then.

This race is the final big track "dress rehearsal" for the Brickyard 400, which marks the start of ESPN and ABC's coverage of NEXTEL Cup until the end of the season. The network has been doing the Busch Series races all year, but the transition to the longer and more high-profile Cup Series will be interesting.

Notes: There was no mention of Brent Musburger being involved in the telecast, either as the "show host" or on the infield studio set. Allen Bestwick has been confirmed as a pit reporter for the entire weekend.


David said...

Bestwick is being underutilized yet again. I'll give Suzie a chance but I would really rather have a "NASCAR" person leading the charge instead of a "tv" person. I give them credit for doing the dress rehearsal, almost thought they were going to head to the Brickyard cold.

bevo said...

Thank You!
You've made my day - no Brent Musburger!!!!

Anonymous said...

Well, it could have been worse. Eric Kuselias could have been assigned to the crew.

While I think that ESPN is underestimating Alan Bestwick's talent, I am ready to give Ms Kolber the benefit of the doubt. She is a pro who will work hard. I think that if it is not working well after a reasonable trial period, she will be the one who opts out.

I do wish that ESPN could figure out what AB's role is going to be. It just seems like he is wasted talent as a pit reporter. Perhaps he will get some feature assignments.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other posters who feel Allan Bestwick is being underutilized as a pit reporter, especially when they can use folks like Marty Smith, Shannon Spake or even Mike Massaro in that role. But at least Bestwick will be in the pits, staying on top of stories and playing a solid anchor to the potentially adrift Suzy Kolber and the always rocky Brad Daugherty.

Speaking of Kolber, I'm sure she'll try hard in her new role but NASCAR fans aren't going to be too forgiving if she doesn't "get it" sooner rather than later. ESPN has shown far too much contempt for NASCAR fans this year with their inconsistent and questionable content, both on race day and during the week. ESPN simply does not have the viewer equity to burn while personalities like Kolber educate themselves on live national TV.

And, hey... if she falls on her face and gets no cooperation from the NASCAR travelling circus, she can always go back to the NFL. The first preseason game on ESPN is on Aug 13, the day after the Watkins Glen race. If we see Bestwick hosting the prerace show at the Aug 19 Michigan race, we'll know a change has been made at ESPN. Again.

jammin_jamey said...

Glad to see Brent Musburger exit stage left...We know we are "looking live at Chicagoland Speedway." It's simply redundant.

Once again, Allen Bestwick's professional efforts result in telling audiences "gas and go for Carl Edwards." Amazing that the network doesn't see the connection Bestwick has with long-time fans from his MRN days and other ventures.

What has Suzy Kolber done to earn her position over Bestwick? She's foreign to dedicated NASCAR fans excited about ESPN's coverage of Nextel Cup, although I understand that ESPN wants to use her to catch a general ESPN audience that is accustomed to seeing her on MNF and other Football programming. Yet, this is not a danged-if-you-do-danged-if-you-don't scenario. Anyone interested in NASCAR would rather have a veteran personality with the mic who understands and can convey knowledge of the sport, than the celebrity sideline reporter Kolber, stepping "down" from the NFL to help NASCAR coverage "grow."

Hopefully, Kolber will study her driver numbers between commercial breaks.

Anonymous said...

Can Suzy properly host and open a NASCAR broadcast? Absolutely. Can she do a quick and concise recap of the days action at the halfway point? Totally. Can she ask Brad Dougherty intelligent, on topic questions and illect a proper answer from him? Doubtful. Can she host a 90 min rain-delay telecast with humor and grace? No-way! In other words, she can do the basics but nothing more. And NASCAR coverage needs more than just someone who knows "the basics."

Anonymous said...

Jammin-Jamey: to answer your Suzy Kolber question, NOTHING. That is what she has done to deserve her role in this NASCAR coverage. They may as well hire me. I've been following the sport for 2-3 seasons, and I know most of the car #'s by heart. Wow!

To be honest, though, Suzy's presence really offends me as a NASCAR fan. Is this really the best you can do, ESPN? Give me a break.

Anonymous said...

I hope that when ESPN's Nascar SprintNextelWinston Cup coverage starts they have some stability in the pit studio

Anonymous said...

nooo, say it ain't so. i like suzy her role on espn football. i like brad daugherty as a personality.

BUT...should they be paired on a pre-race show?? i mean what happened to the "dream team" of bestwick, wallace, and petree. they were great together.

imagine ESPN trying to present monday night football with someone who had never been to a football game and someone who made their living playing hockey. it would never ever happen. so why do the same for NASCAR?

ESPN...why why why? do you think we're stupid? do you think we don't care? i don't understand.

allen bestwick is one of the top NASCAR tv personalities, fills every role that he tackles with professionalism and class, but yet is not fully utilized. amazing.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it... the TV ratings prove that not nearly as many people watch the Busch races as they do Cup... and when fans tune in to the Brickyard 400 excited that ESPN is "back in the saddle" - they will be sorely disappointed.

ESPN's coverage was popular mainly due to its booth - Bob Jenkins, Benny Parsons and Ned Jarrett. Rarely has a booth in any sport spoken WITH and not TO the fans as well as they did, not to mention Jenkins' ability to call a dramatic moment.

Punch, Petree and Wallace - the lead guys on the race coverage - don't match that. Not even close.

Mike Joy is about the best at this these days.

Bottom line: ESPN can shuffle the names all they want, but their approach is clearly wrong.

Joe from philly said...

Kolber is good on the NFL shows for the most part. I actually haven't liked her style much while playing the host though but I hope it's more from lack of experience.

Two shows that come to mind: 'NFL Match up' and the second day of the 'NFL Draft' when she takes over for Berman. She handles herself very nicely on both shows. But she doesn't engage the others on set very well. She almost seems like an outsider while speaking with the others on set. I'm not speaking to her knowledge as she clearly knows her stuff. It's just a presence that she doesn't seem to have yet.

I say yet because this may be her break to sink her teeth into a host role. The other two shows I mentioned above aren't truly "hers" .

Yeah, she doesn't know Nascar at all but at least she's a pro. I'm gunna go out on a limb here and say that she's going to kick Chris Myers butt! ;-)

OK. That wasn't much of a stretch but just pointing out that it's not like this is the first time Nascar fans had a newbie shoved done their throats.

It could be worse! ESPN coulda gone out and re-hired Keith Olbermann...shudder

lisa foster said...

I'm really aprehensive, nay, frightened of the ABC/ESPN coverage of the Cup series. What I have seen thus far hasn't really impressed me much. I haven't felt comfortable with any of the on air talent with the exceptions of Said, Bestwick and Rusty Wallace. Sometimes after watching their broadcasts, I am usually left with the impression that they don't seem to like NASCAR racing very much. It's like being out on a bad blind date. I can only hope I will be wrong.

p.s. ESPN/ABC I also vote for a bigger role in your coverage for Alan Bestwick. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

If I could ask Suzy one question, it would be "do you like NASCAR"? I don't care if she just became a fan this year, but I want to know she likes it. My son and I just became fans this year, but we're as into it as anyone, so it's not a length of time issue.

Having said that, clearly Bestwick seems to deserve being a host. Besides, then maybe Suzy could get an interview with a drunk Joe Namath in the pits who will say "I want to kiss you". :>)

Anonymous said...

It is quite obvious that ESPN DOES NOT want to do Nascar races. When they get something right they change it. Suzy and Brent can handle football but cannot do squat with anything pertaining to Nascar. I don't know what they have against Alan Bestwick but they are definitely wasting his fantastic knowledge and reporting of anything regarding Nascar. So keep up the good work ESPN and the ratings will continue to go DOWN!!!!!

Anonymous said...

well.....heard on Dave Moody's show that you may also have to look in NASCAR's direction when reviewing who is pulling these strings. It's very possible it's a NASCAR directive to get more mainstream talking heads. They do suffer from NFL-envy so it's believable...

just a thought ;-)

Mark B. said...

Suzy K. would really be great on the new Tennis Channel. Is there anyone out there with that kind of influence? "you know it's not what you know, but who you know".

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