Behind the Mic: ESPN Re-Ups Taylor Twellman; NBC’s Flutie, Mayock To Swap Spots for Notre Dame Game

Taylor Twellman, ESPN’s lead soccer match analyst for Major League Soccer and the U.S. Men’s National Team, has agreed to an extension with ESPN through 2022. Twellman will continue his dual role as a match and studio analyst for ESPN’s television and digital platforms. He will call USMNT and MLS matches and work studio and games during ESPN’s presentation of the UEFA European Football Championship 2016 in France. Twellman will also remain a primary analyst for ESPN FC on TV, the company’s daily soccer news and information program.

Twellman joined ESPN in November 2011, barely a year after his career as one of MLS’s most-prolific goal-scorers was prematurely cut short due to multiple concussions. He starred during his work on ESPN’s U.S. Men’s National Team matches during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Twellman paired with acclaimed match commentator Ian Darke during the most-viewed soccer match ever on U.S. television – ESPN’s 2014 FIFA World Cup opening round telecast of USA vs. Portugal, seen by an average of 18,220,000 viewers in June. Twellman was also praised for his work in-studio during both UEFA EURO 2012 and on the “Last Call” set in Brazil this summer for his pointed analysis and candid remarks on head injuries and concussions in soccer…

…NBC Sports Group college football analysts Doug Flutie and Mike Mayock will swap broadcast positions this Saturday, when the No. 18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish return to Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind., to face the Northwestern Wildcats at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Flutie, who has served as a sideline analyst for NBC’s first five Notre Dame games this season, moves to the broadcast booth this weekend alongside NBC’s Notre Dame Football play-by-play commentator Dan Hicks. Mayock, who has manned the booth for all Fighting Irish home games since 2010, shifts to sideline analyst for Saturday’s game to provide in-depth Xs-and-Os commentary from field level. Kathryn Tappen continues as sideline reporter…

…NBC Sports Group has reached agreements with motorsports reporters Dave Burns and Mike Massaro, who will join NBC’s multiplatform NASCAR coverage in 2015.  In addition to covering pit road during Sprint Cup and XFINITY Series action on NBC and NBCSN, Massaro and Burns will contribute to NASCAR AMERICA on NBCSN, as well as handle assignments throughout various NBC Sports properties.  The announcement was made today by Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN. Massaro also joins NBC Sports from ESPN, where he has been handling motorsports coverage and other assignments since 2001 as a reporter during live events and contributing to properties such as SportsCenter and Outside the Lines. Previously, Massaro served as a reporter for RPM2Night, and as host/reporter for ESPN2’s NASCAR Now. In his first announcing duties, he handled the public address system at Stafford Motor Speedway in upstate Connecticut.  From there, he joined MRN Radio, which led to increased exposure as a reporter for Inside NASCAR on TNN, and assignments on pit road for NBC and TBS. The appointments of Massaro and Burns follow previous NBC Sports NASCAR on-air announcements for analysts Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte, race announcer Rick Allen, pre- and post-race host Krista Voda, and fellow reporters Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast…

…NESN has re-signed Charlie Moore to a multi-year agreement to continue to appear the Emmy Award-winning Charlie Moore Outdoors (Sunday nights at 7 p.m.). Charlie Moore has been a fixture on NESN since 1996, first as a part of Front Row, a sports magazine show, and since 1999 as host of Charlie Moore Outdoors

…Former UFC Middleweight and Light Heavyweight title contender Chael Sonnen has joined ESPN in a multi-fight agreement as a studio and on-site analyst, providing expert pre- and post-fight insight on SportsCenter’s coverage of major UFC pay-per-view events. Sonnen will make his debut tonight prior to UFC 180, appearing throughout the weekend on SportsCenter and various ESPN platforms. Sonnen — who fought for the UFC world title three times at two different weight classes, against former UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva (twice) and UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones — retired with a professional MMA record of 29-14-1. He has served as a UFC analyst for FOX Sports and was a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen,” which aired on FX, and “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil: Team Wanderlei vs. Team Sonnen,” which aired on UFC Fight Pass, the organization’s digital subscription service. In addition, he made several guest appearances as an analyst on ESPN’s MMA Live in 2010. He currently hosts “You’re Welcome with Chael Sonnen,” a weekly podcast featuring MMA insight, analysis and interviews on PodcastOne. Sonnen, an Oregon native, attended the University of Oregon, where he was an NCAA All-American wrestler…

…SiriusXM announced that two-time major championship winner John Daly has signed on to host a new show on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio (XM channel 93, Sirius channel 208). Hit It Hard with John Daly will debut this December and run as a six-part series on the channel.  Daly will take calls from listeners around the country, talk about his experiences in and out of the sport, offer his thoughts on today’s game and players, share his love of music, and more…

…Veteran college basketball head coach Ben Howland is joining NBCSN’s coverage of the 2014-15 college basketball season as an analyst. Howland, who has spent more than three decades coaching and playing college basketball, served as the men’s basketball head coach at UCLA (2003 -2013), Pittsburgh (1999 – 2003), and Northern Arizona (1994 -1999), and is among a handful of NCAA Division I coaches to take three different teams to the NCAA tournament. Howland’s first assignment comes November 28 when Rutgers takes the court against Vanderbilt in the Barclays Center Classic at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN followed by Virginia – LaSalle at 9:30 p.m. ET…

…Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery return for their second season as FOX Sports’ lead game announcers, while Tim Brando takes the play-by-play mic for his first season calling FOX Sports college basketball. Joining Johnson and Brando on play-by-play, Kevin Burkhardt, (NFL on FOX action and MLB on FOX’s studio host) and Joe Davis (FOX Sports college football and MLB) debut courtside for FOX Sports this season.  Also calling action are Justin Kutcher, Aaron Goldsmith, Dick Stockton, Kevin Kugler, Eric Collins, Cory Provus and Brian Anderson, who all return for their second seasons. In addition to Raftery, Jim Jackson, Donny Marshall, Tarik Turner, Jim Spanarkel, Stephen Bardo, Ron Thompson, Bob Wenzel, Vin Parise and Sean Elliott are back as game analysts, while Stanford All-American Casey Jacobsen joins primarily on Pac-12 games.

In the studio, Rob Stone returns as host of FOX Sports’ and FOX Sports 1’s college hoops studio coverage, sharing duties with Burkhardt, Don Bell and Greg Wolf.  Former Providence standout Austin Croshere is back as a studio analyst, sitting alongside Marshall, Kevin O’Neill and Ben Howland, who each coached in both the BIG EAST and Pac-12 conferences.  Croshere, Marshall and O’Neill contributed to FOX Sports’ college basketball game and studio analysis a season ago, while Howland is in his first season behind the desk. Insiders Stewart Mandel and Reid Forgrave also contribute to the network’s extensive college basketball coverage with Mandel serving as FOX Sports’ bracketologist, projecting who’s in, who’s out and who’s on the bubble as March Madness draws near…

…ESPN announced its on-air talent lineup for the 2014-15 men’s college basketball season, with analyst Jay Bilas (entering his 21st season at ESPN) paired with Dan Shulman and reporter Shannon Spake on the Saturday Primetime Presented by DIRECTV game. Bilas and Basketball Hall of Famer Dick Vitale, who enters his 36th season calling games for the network, will each call key ESPN weekday matchups across multiple conferences. Vitale will also work a marquee game each Saturday.

College GameDay gets a fresh look in its 11th season as host Rece Davis and Bilas are joined by first-year GameDay analysts Seth Greenberg and Jay Williams. Davis will also call a Thursday Night Showcase game involving Big Ten teams.

Shane Battier, fresh off a lengthy and successful NBA career, will join play-by-play veteran Sean McDonough and reporter Allison Williams on the ACC Big Monday package. The trio of Brent Musburger, Fran Fraschilla and Holly Rowe return to work the second half of the Big Monday doubleheader featuring Big 12 programs. Mike Tirico pairs again with analyst Dan Dakich and reporter Samantha Ponder for the weekly Big Ten Super Tuesday game. Dakich will also call a Saturday Big Ten contest with Bob Wischusen. ESPN’s weekly Super Tuesday SEC telecast, will see the return of Brad Nessler and Spake, and adds analyst Sean Farnham. Farnham will join Joe Tessitore on the Thursday SEC telecast. Kara Lawson will work with Mark Jones to call the Saturday SEC window. Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Walton will again have the call of Pac-12 games on Wednesday and Thursday nights with Dave Pasch. ACC games will also be covered by Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke (Saturday), as well as Bob Wischusen and LaPhonso Ellis (Wednesday). Big 12 Tuesdays will be called by Dave Flemming and Miles Simon, in addition to the league’s Saturday games called by Jon Sciambi and Fraschilla. American games will see Mike Patrick on Thursdays and Saturdays with Len Elmore and Bob Knight, in addition to O’Brien and Burke working select AAC Thursday games.

Several analysts return to ESPN and ESPN’s studio coverage – with a consistent presence from Battier, Greenberg and Williams. Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame member and former UConn head coach Jim Calhoun joins ESPN provide insight and analysis, including studio programming, joining select game telecasts and conducting sit-down interviews with top figures in the game. In addition, ESPN and ESPN2 studio programming will also include Dakich, Ellis, Farnham, Fraschilla, Jeff Goodman, Andy Katz, Lawson and Miles Simon…

…As for the rest of the ESPN family, new faces on ESPNU include former coaches Craig Robinson and Stan Heath, and former college and pro standout Brad Daugherty (returing to ESPN games after several years as a NASCAR analyst). He will call select ACC college basketball games, including the ESPNU ACC Sunday Night Basketball series with Adam Amin. ESPNU will rotate its studio coverage including analysts Dino Gaudio and Adrian Branch, along with hosts Brendan Fitzgerald, Matt Schick and Anish Shroff.

SEC Network will televise 118 men’s games in its inaugural season and will include analysts Dane Bradshaw, Barry Booker, Joe Dean, Jr., Tony Delk, Daymeon Fishback, Darrin Horn, Jon Sundvold and Will Purdue, as well as play-by-play commentators Dave Neal, Tom Hart and Dave Baker.

Longhorn Network will surround the network’s 10 exclusive Texas men’s basketball games with studio programming that includes a simulcast of Coach Rick Barnes weekly radio show and original content such as LHN All-Access. Paul Sunderland and Lowell Galindo will call play-by-play for the network with analysts Lance Blanks and Reid Gettys…

… ESPN also announced its 2014-15 women’s college basketball announce team with Sue Bird, WNBA star and former All-American at UConn, joining ESPN to call games on ESPN2, ESPNU and Longhorn Network. The Final Four announcing team of Dave O’Brien and Doris Burke will reunite for marquee games throughout the season, beginning with the UConn-Stanford Tip-Off Marathon Presented by Dish telecast on Monday, Dec. 17.  Host Kevin Negandhi joins analysts Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo for numerous top regular-season games from ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios. Veteran analyst Carolyn Peck and play-by-play commentator Pam Ward will be pulling double-duty this season, calling games across all ESPN networks, with the majority on ESPN2 and SEC Network. SEC Network will air more than 60 games this season, and the network added former coaches Gail Goestenkors and Carol Ross to its lineup of analysts. Also making appearances on the SEC Network will be analysts Debbie Antonelli, Nell Fortner and Steffi Sorenson, as well as play-by-play commentators Cara Capuano, Melissa Lee, Paul Sunderland and Brenda VanLengen. Beth Mowins will team with Stephanie White for most of the Big Monday series, beginning in January 19. Familiar names returning to the analyst chair are LaChina Robinson and Brooke Weisbrod. Katie Smith, the most-decorated player in Ohio State women’s basketball history and former WNBA standout, will call games on ESPN2, ESPNU and Longhorn Network. Longhorn legends Fran Harris and Nell Fortner, former coach at Auburn and ESPN analyst, will call LHN’s 14 exclusive women’s games.