Thursday, February 2, 2012

Carl Edwards Talks ESPN Future


Now into the month of February the vast majority of on-air personalities working on race coverage for all four of the NASCAR TV partners are well known. We still need a TNT host to replace Lindsay Czarniak and wonder what Marty Reid's future holds, but there is one other big ticket item that seems to be still pending.

"Roush Says Edwards Headed To ESPN" was a TDP story from September of 2011. Jack Roush was addressing the media in the infield after a Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway. In an ironic twist, the speedway staff had put a live video feed of that interview on UStream.com.

In response to a question about the growing tension between Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards, Roush gave this response to the media and the UStream live audience.

"I think he's (Carl) made his decision," said Roush. "I think he is going to become a sportscaster for ESPN for the Nationwide Series races. I'm not sure if he is going to just do the companion races or all the races."

Although the small group of assembled media never followed-up on the topic, the fact that Roush confirmed Edwards would not be returning to the track in the Nationwide Series was news. The fact that Edwards would supposedly be joining ESPN was big news.

It had become quite clear in 2011 that ESPN had fallen in love with Edwards. In a "man crush" that rivals ESPN's current fascination with Tim Tebow, Edwards seemingly was invited to be on ESPN's NASCAR telecasts as much as possible.

Edwards often appeared as an ESPN pre-race guest from the Infield Pit Studio. If he fell out of a race, he would then appear on TV. Unlike other drivers, he was not being interviewed from the garage by a pit reporter. He was now back in the Pit Studio as a guest analyst. Edwards was also the only Sprint Cup Series driver selected to offer post-race analysis on ESPN for all the Chase races.

The Roush comments made even more sense when it was publicly confirmed just two weeks ago that Edwards will not run any Nationwide Series races in 2012. Edwards told Dave Rodman of NASCAR.com that he wants to concentrate on his Sprint Cup Series efforts, especially since a full time Cup driver can no longer win the Nationwide Series driver's title.

This week, Edwards continued to work on his television skills. Edwards was at the Tournament Players Club in Scottsdale, AZ on Wednesday, where he served as a roving reporter for the Golf Channel during the Pro-Am tournament leading up to the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Luckily, NASCAR reporter Becca Gladden who writes for Insider Racing News lives in that area and was able to sit down with Edwards for a one-on-one interview. Since Edwards was there to work on TV, it only made sense for Gladden to ask him about his NASCAR television plans for this season.

Gladden: Will you be spending more time in the broadcast booth on ESPN in the Nationwide Series this year?

Edwards: We haven’t made a final deal and there’s really no ‘deal’ – you know, it’s not a money deal or anything like that. It just basically comes down to time. If there are weekends where I can go up there and help the broadcast and they’ll let me do it, then I’d love to do it, but I don’t know if I’ll do one race or ten races …

Gladden: There was a rumor out there that you were cutting back on driving in the Nationwide Series in order to do more TV broadcasts.

Edwards: No, that was not my intention. Number one for me is to win the Cup championship. But, I do think – after thinking about it a little bit – I think that I might actually be able to learn some things being up there in the broadcast booth, to be able to watch the races that closely. Sometimes you see things up there that you don’t see either on television or in the race car. So, if it turns out to be something like that, I might do a lot more of them.

Gladden's entire interview will be posted at Insider Racing News Thursday evening.

Love him or hate him, Edwards is a master at leaving doors open for for things to "just suddenly" develop. In this short interview excerpt, he does just that once again.

This is the first time we have heard Edwards reference a perspective he has not experienced and one that has not been discussed. He speaks about being up in the TV booth and looking down at the racing. As veteran NASCAR fans know, folks just don't "show up" in the broadcast booth and work a race on national TV.

ESPN's current partnership is Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree for the Nationwide Series races. While Petree is an ironman, Jarrett takes a good bit of time off and his TV replacement in the booth is Rusty Wallace. Ricky Craven also filled that role last year on occasion.

Live NASCAR TV telecasts require an incredible amount of coordination long before the network even arrives on-site. Conference calls, meetings and assignments start the sequence of assembling the production elements, equipment and manpower that results in a race being produced for TV.

Of all the NASCAR TV networks, ESPN is by far the most organized and buttoned-up when it comes to who is on the air and what they are going to say. The ESPN announcers in the TV booth have to be prepped on many production elements inside the telecasts and the entire on-air team has to coordinate their efforts to make things work.

In a few short weeks, ESPN will unveil the network's NASCAR broadcast team for the 2012 season while the NASCAR media is assembled in Daytona. In the past, the network has used this occasion to offer some surprises. Ray Evernham showing up out of the blue to work for the network a while back is a good example.

This year, it should be interesting to see if Edwards puts on his suit and tie and takes a position alongside Jarrett, Petree, Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Judging from his most recent words, he is certainly leaving the TV door wide open.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Most everyone berates the Busch Bros., but The Carl is the phoniest driver in all racing!

MaryAnn M said...

Carl is a great announcer. ESPN would be lucky to have him on a regular basis.

Busch Babe 99 said...

Carl has a future in sports broadcasting, and will be an excellent addition to any NASCAR broadcast that they allow him to. He is articulate and well spoken, and i
t might actually make me watch the Nationwide races more regularly now that he's not actually running them, to know he'll be part of the telecast.

Buschseries61 said...

Can't imagine 4 people in the booth after that 'backseat drivers' thing ESPN did in 2009. The booth was so tight they almost needed to sit on each others laps.

While I think this is just Edwards talking out of his rear as usual, he does have a very strange relationship with ESPN. Maybe they could put him in the tech garage to give Tim some company.

AncientRacer said...

Carl is well known, intelligent, has a personality, is articulate, proficient in spoken English, willing to serve an apprenticeship, has not proved to be a microphone hog (not, I think, a part of personality makeup like a couple of fellers I could mention) and the camera likes him. Carl has been in a car and done well there. Were I producing I would look kindly upon him. I would be inclined to think he will wear well with the fan base and not wear out his welcome (again, as have a couple of fellers I could mention). I am not shy anout bashing The Worldwide Leader, but their adding Carl seems not to be an occasion for me to do so.

Shifting gear slightly, Carl said in the interview, in reference to The View From the Booth: "Sometimes you see things up there that you don’t see either on television or in the race car.". I hope he means that. I hope h really means the tlevision part of it. Maybe he will figure out how much it often sucks to be us, and maybe he can have an effect on the presentation.

Quack.

Anonymous said...

Carl....less is more. He is already on the verge of wearing out his welcome. Ls

dagsboro said...

Many were ready to hang Kyle Busch for banging into Hornaday but what Edwards did to Brad K was far worse and more dangerous. I think most of these people are full of crap. Why does Edwards get a pass and Busch almost lose his ride? And don't give me the history nonsense. Edwards can hold his own there too.

Dennis said...

Carl seems to be a polarizing character judging by the comments so far. I don't particularly care for him. He seems to full of himself as well as striking me as very phony.

He's done some outrageous things on the track as well as off.

However, the camera does love him and vice versa. We'll see how he does.

PammH said...

Cuz Carl's Eddie Haskell veneer doesn't fool alot of folks, judging by certain comments. My mute button is really going to get a workout this season!

Tracy D said...

PammH, me too.

GinaV24 said...

No active drivers/owners in the booth. It's bad enough having DW, Rusty, Mikey and others who are all paid by various entities to speak.

Carl is articulate and could certainly have a future in broadcasting, but right now, having him in the booth annoys me.

Roland said...

I dont mind Carl wanting to be an announcer. Hes pretty good at it. I just have a problem with ESPN shoving him down our throats all the time. He doesnt need to be on every show possible. Thats part of what annoys me about DW. But the bottom line is his move to the booth means 1 less Cup driver ruining the series, and Im all for that.

Anonymous said...

I Got to go with the phony votes (but always Nascar politically correct) He speaks well//looks good for tv//has some natural charisma BUT Is going to toe the Nascar line so his opinion is worthless (lacking credibility) Also his maniac temper is still lurking under there (i've seen it) So I got to say a Great Driver who's got all the personality you could want whos a complete irresponsible aa ss ss

Darcie said...

I'm of the camp that as long as you're still involved in the sport in any capacity, be it driver, owner or crew member, you should remain just that and leave the broadcasting to when you retire. There just seems to be too much in the way conflict of interest, as was the case with Rusty Wallace and his son, that can bring judgement into question.

BTW, for any fans of Matt Kenseth, his mom passed away yesterday at the age of 63. Far too young to lose your life. Prayers to Matt and his family.

Anonymous said...

off topic, but when are we going to see images of the 2013 chevy dodge and toyota cup cars, since they've already been tested and ford has shown theres

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon, told next is Toyota in Daytona during speedweek. It's all well planned in advance...imagine that.

Charlie Spencer said...

I don't have any problems with Carl in the booth. I think he does a pretty good job. I'd prefer Ricky Craven, but Carl is better than Rusty.

Dot said...

@PammH, I'm with you too. I don't care for Carl either.

@GinaV24, I'm with you too. I don't mind once in awhile if a driver sits in the booth, but not all the time. Carl needs to save this job for when he retires. He can replace Rusty. ;)

Veri-word phomi, close to phoni just like Carl.

Anonymous said...

Would rather see more of Ricky Craven but Carl does a decent job.Have always admired the powers that be at ESPN for being smart enough to stay away from the Waltrips.

CaseMoney said...

Seriously.. Carl as one of the top drivers already has his mug all over the TV Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.. interviewed countless times throughout the weekends. Now he'll be commentating races. That's a little too much Carl for me.

Besides this, I find Carl to be a big phony, and am not really interested in hearing his analysis. One more strike against ESPN I'm afraid, as they are just in love with the guy.