Behind the Mic: Gus Johnson Set to Become Voice of Fox World Cup Coverage; Vitale To Call Final Four for ESPN International

Fox Sports’ Gus Johnson will call his first-ever match for Fox Soccer on Feb. 13, when Real Madrid and Manchester United take the pitch in a highly anticipated UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match at Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The assignment will be the first in a series of Barclays Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League matches Johnson is expected to call, including the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League Finals, May 11 and 25, respectively, on FOX.

According to SI.com, the Champions League match next week will only be the beginning, as Johnson is set to become the lead voice of Fox Sports FIFA World Cup coverage in 2018 and 2022…

…For the first time in his career, ESPN college basketball analyst Dick Vitale will call NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament Final Four games this year. Vitale will serve as the analyst for a semifinal and the championship games in Atlanta for ESPN International. Longtime ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas will work the semifinal telecast not called by Vitale. Brad Nessler will call play-by-play on all three Final Four games…

…Spike TV made it official this week, inking MMA legend Randy Couture to a multi-year deal to be the face of its Bellator programming. Couture will serve as a coach for the channel’s upcoming series Fight Master: Bellator MMA that will debut this summer. He will also be featured in MMA Rescue, another non-scripted series in which he will attempt help turnaround struggling MMA gyms. Other projects will also be announced at a later date…

…ESPN has named Dave Rieff as its new lead anchor for the 2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. Rieff, who has been a pit reporter since ESPN began its NHRA coverage in 2001, will host ESPN’s telecasts of both the Mello Yello Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. The season begins with the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, CA, Feb. 14-17. Rieff will call the action from the booth with analyst Mike Dunn, who is beginning his 12th year with ESPN. Rieff and Dunn have previously worked together in the booth on some ESPN3 qualifying shows as well as co-hosting some other drag racing programs on ESPN…

…Comcast SportsNet Chicago has announced it will debut a new, live, weekly series entitled Full Court Press presented by Buffalo Wild Wings, dedicated to the latest Bulls and NBA news and player/team analysis starting next week. Full Court Press will be co-hosted by Comcast SportsNet’s Bulls Pre/Post Game Live tandem of Mark Schanowski and Kendall Gill, along with commentary & insight from CSNChicago.com’s Bulls “Insider” Aggrey Sam.