Jan 13, 2014
By Richard Deitsch
From : SportsIllustrated.com
CBS Sports has always been a conservative division. The unit’s management is judicious about talent changes, prizes stability throughout its ranks, and has opted to watch from the sidelines as ESPN, Fox Sports and NBC Sports engage in a Pac-Man-like pursuit for television sports rights.
But the retirement of NFL analyst Dan Dierdorf– he called his last game on Saturday with New England’s win over Indianapolis — gives CBS Sports an opportunity for forward-thinking change that will also reward NFL viewers:
It’s time to move Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts up to the network’s No. 2 team.
“I happen to agree with you,” said an executive at a competing network who works on the NFL. “Ian Eagle is a true pro, calls a great game and has more personality than he’s given credit for. Dan Fouts has always been underrated. But I bet they pursue someone new and pair them with [Greg] Gumbel as No. 2 team.”
That would be a mistake. I can make a compelling argument that Eagle and Fouts on talent and chemistry alone could be the No. 1 team at CBS, but the network is heavily invested in Jim Nantz as its lead announcer across multiple sports and the same with Phil Simms as its primary NFL voice. Such a suggestion would not be based in reality.
But as a No. 2 team, Eagle and Fouts would be a significant upgrade for CBS. They call an excellent game, use humor in their broadcast as well as any NFL broadcast team, and thankfully dial down on overhyping players and coaches. They also have experience in the booth — Eagle and Fouts have worked 68 games together– and finely tuned chemistry with director Suzanne Smith and producer Bob Mansbach. Moving them up to No. 2 — which means more people in the country would view their work including the playoffs — would also strengthen CBS’s No. 3 team, which would feature Gumbel and a new partner finding chemistry. CBS already has the deepest roster of NFL game announcers and game analysts and this would only amplify that.
CBS Sports management, not surprisingly, offered little on its future staffing plans. Contacted on Saturday afternoon by SI.com, a CBS spokeswoman said, “We will assess our lineup at the conclusion of this season and make a decision for next season in the coming months.”