NFL Network & NFL.com Programming Notes — April 7-13

NFL_Network_2012_LogoNFL Network Shows & Scheduled Guests

·         Caught in the Draft – Premieres Wednesday, April 9 at 9:00 PM ET

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: This week’s episode – 1964: The Greatest Draft Ever?

·         Game Changers – Premieres Tuesday, April 8 at 9:00 PM ET

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner with quarterbacks at 9:00 PM ET & NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin with wide receivers at 9:30 PM ET

·         NFL AM

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: Former Pro Bowl FB Lorenzo Neal in-studio guest analyst on Wednesday, April 9

·         NFL Total Access
      SHOW HIGHLIGHT: Hall of Fame S Rod Woodson in-studio guest analyst tonight – Friday, April 11

·         Path to the Draft – Airs Monday – Friday at 7:00 PM ET

SHOW HIGHLIGHT: Mike Mayock from LSU’s Pro Day on Wednesday, April 9

·         NFL Network’s Day-by-Day Programming

  • NFL.com Content

·         NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock’s Top 5 Prospects by Position List

·         NFL.com/Live: Mock Draft Weekly Presented by Verizon – Thursdays at 5:30 PM ET on NFL.com & 6:00 PM ET on NFL Network

·         NFL.com Editorial Content

PODCAST GUESTS: Marlon Wayans on The Rich Eisen Podcast; Cardinals DE Darnell Dockett on The Dave Dameshek Football Program; former San Jose State CB Bene Benwikere on the College Football 24/7 Podcast

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Caught in the Draft – Premieres Wednesday, April 9 at 9:00 PM ET

Before the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off, NFL Network provides a comprehensive look back at the past 50 years of the NFL Draft with a new, NFL Films-produced series, Caught in the Draft.

Premiering Wednesday, April 9 at 9:00 PM ET and airing every Wednesday leading up to the eve of the 2014 NFL Draft, the five-episode series examines five specific drafts which had a profound impact on the National Football League and helped to transform the NFL Draft into the enormous event it has become.

This week’s episode – 1964: The Greatest Draft Ever? – focuses on the 1964 NFL Draft. In a draft that includes 11 Hall of Famers – more than any other draft in NFL history – the Dallas Cowboys revolutionize the scarcely covered player selection meeting and plant the seeds for a national phenomenon with the selections of Roger Staubach, Bob Hayes and Mel Renfro. Additionally, the New York Jets lay the foundation for their Super Bowl III championship with the selection of six eventual starters, and number one overall pick Dave Parks later makes history by being the first marquee player to challenge the league on player movement. Features interviews with Roger Staubach, Bill Parcells, Peter King, Bobby Beathard, Dan Daly and more.

For an excerpt from the episode, visit: http://on.nfl.com/PT1tar

The on-air schedule for the entire series is as follows:

- April 16 1974: The Future is Now

- April 23 1984: A War is Upon Us

- April 30 1994: A Day That Will Live in Infamy

- May 7 2004: Storm Over Eli

Through archival sources and fresh interviews, Caught in the Draft provides viewers with the most compelling stories from each draft and offers a look inside at just how differently drafts were conducted in the past, and how the nature of the game as it was played in each of those times dictated the types of players selected. Additionally, each episode of Caught in the Draft features graphics and music related to that period of time, truly putting viewers “in the moment” of each decade.

To view the trailer for the series, visit:

http://on.nfl.com/PGcc8f

Game Changers – Premieres Tuesday, April 8 at 9:00 PM ET

Before their names are called on draft day, some of the top NFL prospects get put to the test by former NFL coach Steve Mariucci and NFL Network’s team of former players on Game Changers.

Premiering Tuesday, April 8 at 9:00 PM ET and airing each Tuesday leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, Game Changers puts each prospect through an interview, film study and on-field workout to give viewers exclusive access into the lives of these athletes on and away from the football field.

This week, former Super Bowl-winning quarterback and NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner joins Mariucci to work with quarterback prospects Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, Blake Bortles and David Fales at 9:00 PM ET.

At 9:30 PM ET, Hall of Fame wide receiver and NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin joins to work with wide receiver prospects Kelvin Benjamin, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson and T.J. Jones.

FL AM – Daily Episodes at 6:00 AM ET; Re-Aires at 10:00 AM ET

Start the day off with the NFL. NFL AM airs Monday – Friday at 6:00 AM ET offering analysis, reports from correspondents in several NFL cities and interviews with players and coaches.

This week, the following guests join the show:

  • ·         Today

o   Chicago Bears tight end Martellus Bennett & Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett on “Bro to Bro”: on.nfl.com/1e8vgaE

o    Tennessee Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard: http://on.nfl.com/1hUMpUl

  • ·         Tuesday, April 8 – Former quarterback Chad Pennington
  • ·         Wednesday, April 9 – Former Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal in-studio guest analyst

 

NFL Total Access – Monday – Saturday at 8:00 PM ET on NFL Network

NFL Total Access airs Monday – Saturday at 8:00 PM ET on NFL Network.

This week, Hall of Fame safety Rod Woodson joins the show as an in-studio guest analyst tonight – Friday, April 11.

Monday, April 7

·         Host: Amber Theoharis

·         Analysts: Heath Evans, Shaun O’Hara & Rod Woodson

Tuesday, April 8

  • Host: Amber Theoharis
  • Analysts: Heath Evans, Shaun O’Hara & Rod Woodson
  • Guest: Actor Chadwick Boseman in-studio

Wednesday, April 9

  • Host: Amber Theoharis
  • Analysts: Willie McGinest, Shaun O’Hara & Rod Woodson

Thursday, April 10

  • Host: Amber Theoharis
  • Analysts: Willie McGinest, Shaun O’Hara & Rod Woodson

Friday, April 11

  • Host: Amber Theoharis
  • Analysts: Willie McGinest & Rod Woodson

Saturday, April 12 – Week in Review

 

Path to the Draft – Airs Monday – Friday at 7:00 PM ET

Get ready for the 2014 NFL Draft with Path to the Draft Monday – Friday at 7:00 PM ET on NFL Network. NFL Network analysts Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) and Charles Davis (@CFD22) anchor Path to the Draft, and are joined by NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, Charley Casserly and Brian Baldinger, former first-round pick Curtis Conway, and various additional NFL Network analysts.

This week’s editions of Path to the Draft feature the following:

Tonight

- Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden appeared in-studio to discuss the top defensive back prospects: http://on.nfl.com/1eaO49f

- Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis discuss if the Oakland Raiders are a good fit for Johnny Manziel: http://on.nfl.com/1mURD5L

- Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis, Curtis Conway and Shaun O’Hara discuss if selecting a wide receiver in the first round is a risk: http://on.nfl.com/1e6kIZ4

- Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis, Curtis Conway and Brian Baldinger go inside the New England Patriots’ draft room: http://on.nfl.com/1qf5PWy

Tuesday, April 8

- Preview of NFL Network’s Albert Breer’s sitdown interview with former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger

- Path to the Draft goes inside the Miami Dolphins’ draft room

- “First Draft” – Former Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews

Wednesday, April 9

- Mike Mayock reports from LSU’s Pro Day on wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, running back Jeremy Hill, quarterback Zach Mettenberger and guard Trai Turner

- Path to the Draft goes inside the New York Jets’ draft room

- “First Draft” – Former University of Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Thursday, April 10

- Path to the Draft goes inside the Buffalo Bills’ draft room

- “First Draft” – Former LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.

Friday, April 11

- Daniel Jeremiah and Charles Davis present a combined Mock Draft

- “First Draft” – Former Washington State cornerback Deone Bucannon

 

On the Clock – Every Thursday on NFL Total Access at 8:00 PM ET

Every Thursday on NFL Total Access at 8:00 PM ET, NFL Network’s On the Clock follows three of the top draft prospects throughout their journey leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft: Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix.

This week’s On the Clock focuses on Nix’s football journey at Notre Dame and how injury prematurely ended his senior season.

Last week’s edition of On the Clock focused on Watkins and his quest to become one of the draft’s top prospects: http://on.nfl.com/1hmByni

 

NFL Network Programming Schedule  

Day-by-Day Programming Schedule:

To view the entire NFL Network programming schedule, please visit: http://www.nfl.com/nflnetwork/networkschedule

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NFL Network Analyst Mike Mayock’s Top 5 Prospects by Position List

To view NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock’s top five prospects by position list for the 2014 NFL Draft, visit: http://on.nfl.com/1lyIDTH.

For complete coverage leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, visit NFL.com/cfb, follow on Twitter (@NFL_CFB) and download the College Football 24/7 Podcast on NFL.com and iTunes. Path to the Draft airs Monday – Friday at 7:00 PM ET on NFL Network.

NFL.com/Live: Mock Draft Weekly Presented by Verizon – Thursdays at 5:30 PM ET on NFL.com & 6:00 PM ET on NFL Network

Get ready for the 2014 NFL Draft with NFL.com/Live: Mock Draft Weekly Presented by Verizon, which streams on NFL.com every Thursday at 5:30 PM ET and airs on NFL Network Thursday at 6:00 PM ET.

The 30-minute show features the latest mock drafts from experts Daniel Jeremiah, Bucky Brooks and Matt “Money” Smith. They tell you which prospects are rising up the draft boards and which prospects are falling.

Featured on this week’s edition of NFL.com/Live: Mock Draft Weekly:

  • How do this year’s top quarterback and wide receiver prospects measure up against the best from 2013?
  • Who is the best linebacker in the 2014 NFL Draft?
  • Where will the top offensive tackles land?

Back to Top

NFL Editorial Content – Daily on NFL.com

  • NFL.com’s Around the League Blog

o   Get all of the latest news from around the NFL with the Around the League blog: http://www.nfl.com/news

  • NFL.com’s College Football 24/7

o   For all of the latest news, analysis, mock drafts and prospect rankings leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft, visit: http://www.nfl.com/cfb247

o   NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s top 50 prospects: http://on.nfl.com/12KSo79

o   NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks’ top 25 prospects: http://on.nfl.com/1m44WRT

o   NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks’ top 5 prospects by position: http://on.nfl.com/1eSUDs9

o   Latest Mock Drafts from NFL Network analysts:http://on.nfl.com/1bmOckD

Catch all of NFL Media’s writers work here:  http://www.nfl.com/news

 

The Rich Eisen Podcast Highlights NFL.com’s Six Different Podcasts Each Week

NFL Digital Media offers six different podcasts, including The Rich Eisen Podcast which has amassed more than 11 million downloads and can be downloaded at NFL.com and iTunes.

This week on The Rich Eisen Podcast, Rich Eisen is joined by actor/comedian Marlon Wayans in-studio.

Other NFL.com podcasts include:

·         Dave Dameshek Football Program – Arizona Cardinals defensive end Darnell Dockett

·         Around the League

·         The Coaches Show

·         College Football 24/7 – Former San Jose State cornerback Bene Benwikere

·         NFL Fantasy Live

To listen to all six of NFL.com’s podcasts, visit:

http://www.nfl.com/podcast

 

ESPN Pioneer Chuck Pagano to Retire; LaBerge Named Successor

espn-logoTechnology Chief Key Driver of ESPN’s Technological Innovation from Beginning
Charles E. “Chuck” Pagano, who joined ESPN prior to its September 7, 1979, debut and whose vision and passion has driven ESPN’s innovative use of technology for 35 years, will retire from the company in February 2015.  Aaron LaBerge, who rejoined ESPN in 2013 as senior vice president, technology and product development, has been named Pagano’s successor and will assume the day-to-day management of the team June 1, 2014, reporting to Pagano and ESPN President John Skipper. Pagano will remain in an advisory role in order to effect a smooth transition.
Pagano, ESPN’s executive vice president, technology since 2005, was given the added title of ESPN’s first chief technology officer in 2011 with added duties including advising other divisions across The Walt Disney Company on technological developments. Under his leadership and guidance, ESPN has built industry leading facilities at its headquarters in Bristol, Conn, its Los Angeles production center and around the world. This May, ESPN will launch Digital Center 2 in Bristol, a 195,000-square-foot facility featuring numerous technical firsts. Over the years, Pagano’s contributions have made ESPN the leader in marrying cutting-edge technology to unparalleled content across a variety of media platforms.
“Quite simply, Chuck Pagano personifies ESPN – its entrepreneurial spirit, its creative passion and its focus on the people who make it all happen – and we would not be what we are today without him,” Skipper said.  “I am personally grateful for his contributions and insights, and I join all ESPNers in offering an enthusiastic thank you for all he has meant to our company.”
LaBerge’s ESPN roots go to the very early days of ESPN.com and ESPN’s initial Internet product development efforts.  He is in his second tour of duty with ESPN, having left for a time to launch and operate his own consumer software and digital product development company.
“In Aaron, we have an executive well versed in ESPN’s culture and history, and who is also relentlessly focused on what’s next,” said Skipper. “He is a visionary technologist whose experience at ESPN and also in founding and successfully running his own company gives us a huge advantage as we contemplate how the future will evolve.”
Pagano’s career at ESPN spans more than three decades, having joined as a technical director in August 1979, a few weeks before the network launched in 1.4 million homes. At ESPN and throughout the industry, Pagano is known as a collaborative partner, an early adopter of new ideas and techniques, and a leader who always recognized that technology starts with people.
“I’ve been incredibly lucky to be at a place where from Day One, people have been emboldened to break barriers and seek new ideas,” said Pagano. “I’ve been surrounded by incredibly talented and dedicated people. I learned long ago that the best leaders let others do their best work, as long as they have the appropriate culture and motivation to innovate. Yet, for all the amazing advancements I’ve seen – from two-inch tape to HD – what I remain most proud of is simply our birth. The odds were against this rag-tag group of people crazy enough to work 18 hours a day, seven days a week, but we had a goal and we reached it. We envisioned what others scoffed at – an all-sports network. Everything we are today started with that.”
Among his many accomplishments, Pagano’s influence was critical to the company’s decision to launch an HD service in 2003, well before there was industry consensus on the preferred format.  ESPN’s first Digital Center, under construction at the time, was re-tooled by Pagano and his team, and at launch was the most sophisticated building of its kind in the world.  ESPN’s second Digital Center will open in late May. LaBerge has been working closely with Pagano as a key architect of that facility.
Before joining ESPN, Pagano worked for WFSB-TV, the CBS affiliate in Hartford, Conn., as a technician from 1977-1979. The native of Waterbury, Conn., (half-) jokingly says he joined ESPN to cut his commute in half.
An avid astronomer, Pagano has received many honors for his visionary and creative approach to both technology and his approach to management, including being the recipient of the 2012 Vanguard Award for Science & Technology presented by the NCTA and induction into the Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame in December 2012. Most recently, Pagano was honored by SMPTE with the David Sarnoff Medal, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the development of new techniques or equipment that have contributed to the improvement of the engineering phases of television technology, including large-venue presentations. He was also inducted into the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame in December 2013, and has won two Emmy Awards for technical achievement.
Pagano remains active in giving back to the community.  Pagano currently serves on the Board of Regents at the University of Hartford, his alma mater, as well as on the Board of Advisers for the College of Engineering, Technology and Architecture. He also serves on the Tunxis Foundation Board for Tunxis Community College in Farmington, Conn., and is Chairman of the Connecticut Technology Council.  He is President of the Board of Directors of The Holy Land, a grass-roots community effort to restore a sanctuary in his hometown of Waterbury, Conn.
 
Pagano received a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1984 and a master of science degree in organizational psychology in 2007, both from the University of Hartford.
Aaron LaBerge
LaBerge first worked at ESPN for a decade, 1997 – 2007, originally as a software engineer, through Disney’s acquisition of Starwave Ventures, the company that produced ESPN’s early Internet initiatives. In his current role, LaBerge is responsible for oversight and strategic leadership for technology and product development for digital media and mobile platforms, and on-air production software. His teams include the production data group supporting all ESPN media, technology integration across multiple media platforms, and ESPN’s technology research and development team.
In 2007, LaBerge pursued a new path as co-founder of Fanzter Inc., and served as CEO of the venture-funded consumer software and digital product development company. In this capacity, he directed the development and launch of a variety of consumer-focused Internet and mobile products.
“Chuck Pagano is one of the smartest, most curious and most loved people I know,” LaBerge said. “While it is impossible to fill his shoes, I’m excited to advance the legacy of innovation that Chuck has fostered for more than 35 years. ESPN is one of the greatest American companies ever created and I am humbled to accept the challenge to lead the technology team as we shape the next wave of products and services.”
 
He is a native of Charleston, S.C., and holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of South Carolina.
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FOX Sports Programming Highlights: MLB, NASCAR, Soccer, Boxing, SuperCross & More

fox-sports-logoFOX SPORTS HIGHLIGHTS

MLB on FOX Sports 1: Twins-Indians / Giants-Dodgers Doubleheader This Saturday

NASCAR: Sprint Cup Series Racing From Texas Motor Speedway

SOCCER: UEFA Champions League and Rise As One Documentary Highlight Week

GOLDEN BOY BOXING: Night of the Heavyweights Features Three Unbeatens

SUPERCROSS: Stewart Goes for Fourth In a Row in Houston

MLB

FOX SPORTS 1 USHERS IN NEW ERA FOR BASEBALL FANS FILLED WITH PASSION, EXCITEMENT AND UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS 

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Saturday, April 5 (12:30 PM ET)
  • Pregame: Host Kevin Burkhardt welcomes baseball fans into a new era for America’s newest 24-hour sports network as MLB games come to FOX Sports 1 for the first time ever. Burkhardt is joined by MLB on FOX Sports 1 analyst and World Series Champion Gabe Kapler and MLB Hall of Famer Frank Thomas to preview the upcoming day’s action.  FOX Sports 1 delivers fans two exciting matchups this Saturday:
  • Minnesota Twins @ Cleveland Indians: Thom Brennaman & Eric Karros (1:00 PM ET).
  • San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers: Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds & Tom Verducci (4:00 PM ET)
  • What The Analysts Are Saying:  MLB on FOX game analyst Harold Reynolds joined The Dan Patrick Show earlier this week. Reynolds on which team he believes is the best in baseball:  “I know a lot of people say the Dodgers, but the Nationals are loaded this year. If they get (pitcher) Doug Fister back healthy, that’s the team to beat right now.”

MLB WHIPAROUND IN FULL SWING ON FOX SPORTS 1

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Wednesday, April 2 (12:00 AM ET), Thursday, April 3 (9:00 PM ET), Friday, April 4 (7:00 PM ET), Monday, April 7 (10:00 PM ET), preempted April 8-9
  • Talent:  Chris Myers, Ryan Field, Frank Thomas, C.J. Nitkowski, Gabe Kapler
  • This Week: MLB Whiparound expands FOX Sports 1’s commitment to baseball coverage this season with quick-turnaround highlights of in-progress games, MLB news and analysis. The hour-long program originates from Los Angeles.

MLB 162

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Wednesday, April 9 (1:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Julie Alexandria
  • This Week: Taking its cue from the hottest baseball topics trending on social media and delivering first-hand, behind-the-scenes perspectives seen through the eyes of those closest to the game, with clever twists on stats and players.

 

NASCAR

 

NASCAR ON FOX, FOX SPORTS 1 & FOX SPORTS 2 FROM TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY: With Brad Keselowski vs. Martinsville winner Kurt Busch front and center, the NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES heads to the Lone Star State for Sunday’s race, live on FOX at 3:00 PM ET with pre-race coverage beginning at 2:30 PM ET. Mike Joy leads the NASCAR on FOX booth with analysis from NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and former crew chief Larry McReynolds.  Chris Myers hosts with analysis from Michael Waltrip and pit reports from Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond, Krista Voda and Matt Yocum.

FOX Sports 1’s NASCAR RACEDAY (1:30 PM ET) kicks off Sunday’s coverage, immediately followed by network pre-race coverage on FOX NASCAR SUNDAY (2:30 PM ET). FOX Deportes telecasts the race on a delay on Monday, April 7 (2:00 AM ET), while FOX Sports GO, the app that provides live streaming video of FOX Sports content, offers live streaming of the race, as well as all practice and qualifying sessions telecast on FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2. Customers of participating video providers may access the live streams of the race through the FOX Sports GO app for iOS devices, as well as on desktops through FOXSportsGO.com.

TIRE ISSUES COULD POP UP AT TEXAS, SAYS LARRY MCREYNOLDS: “Tires could be a question until we get on the track at Texas because of rule changes this year. One thing we don’t talk about much is that in addition to high speeds, new setups and the no ride-height rule this year, we’ve got added down force that causes more load on the cars and has the corner speeds up. Everyone will be monitoring tires closely on Friday and Saturday because I think we found the threshold at Auto Club Speedway. It would be nice to say teams could add air pressure and solve the tire problem we had at Fontana, but until we get to Texas, we can’t predict. We didn’t see a lot of problems at Las Vegas, so I’m hanging my hat on that.”

BUSCH’S CONFIDENCE UP AFTER EARLY WIN, SAYS DARRELL WALTRIP:  “With Kurt, that win provides confidence after a long dry spell. He has been through a lot of trials and tribulations since his last win, and as a driver, you begin to wonder if you’ll ever win again.  Throw in a new crew chief and a brand-new team for Kurt, and I’m sure there were some question marks. Those likely have been erased now.”

 

NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES RACING FROM TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY

  • Network/When: FOX, Sunday, April 6 (3:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Mike Joy leads the NASCAR on FOX booth with analysis from NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and former crew chief Larry McReynolds. Chris Myers hosts alongside Michael Waltrip, with pit reports from Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond, Krista Voda and Matt Yocum.

FOX NASCAR SUNDAY TEXAS PRE-RACE SHOW

  • Network/When: FOX, Sunday, April 6 (2:30-3:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Chris Myers, Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Krista Voda

                                               

NASCAR RACEDAY

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Sunday, April 6 (1:30-2:30 PM ET)
  • Talent: Chris Myers, Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, Michael Waltrip, Jeff Hammond, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Krista Voda and Rutledge Wood

NASCAR VICTORY LANE

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Sunday, April 6 (8:00-8:30 PM ET; delayed)
  • Talent: Chris Myers, Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond, Matt Yocum and Krista Voda

 

NASCAR RACE HUB – EDSEL FORD GUEST

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Thursday, April 3 (12:00-1:00 PM ET), Monday, April 7 (4:00-5:00 PM ET), Tuesday, April 8 (12:00-1:00 PM ET); Wednesday, April 9 (12:00-1:00 PM ET)
  • Talent:  Co-hosts Steve Byrnes, Danielle Trotta and Adam Alexander; analysts Matt Clark; Bob Dillner, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds
  • Guests:  Edsel Ford on Thursday, April 3
  • Features:  New features series counting down the top-10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie drivers of all time begins on Wednesday, April 9 with Matt Kenseth

SOCCER

 

UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL SECOND LEGS

  • Network/When:
    • Olympique Lyon vs. Juventus, FOX Sports 1, Thursday, April 3 (2:30 PM ET)
    • Porto vs. Sevilla, FOX Sports 2, Thursday, April 3 (2:30 PM ET)
    • AZ Alkmaar vs. Benfica, FOX Soccer Plus, Thursday, April 3 (2:30 PM ET)
    • Basel vs. Valencia, FOX Soccer Plus, Thursday, April 3 (5:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Host Rob Stone, analysts Warren Barton, Brian McBride and Janusz Michallik.

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTERFINALS WRAP UP NEXT WEEK

  • Network/When:
    • Chelsea vs. Paris St. Germain, FOX Sports 1, Tuesday, April 8 (2:00 PM ET)
    • Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid, FOX Sports 2 & FOX Soccer Plus, Tuesday, April 8 (2:00 PM ET)
    • Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United, FOX Sports 1, Wednesday, April 9 (2:00 PM ET)
    • Atlético Madrid vs. Barcelona, FOX Sports 2 & FOX Soccer Plus, Wednesday, April 9 (2:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Host Rob Stone, analysts Warren Barton, Brian McBride and guest analysts Mario Melchiot (Tuesday) and Mikael Silvestre (Wednesday). Gus Johnson, analyst Eric Wynaldacall Bayern Munich-Manchester United live from Allianz Arena on Wednesday.

WORLD CUP FEVER CONTINUES WITH RISE AS ONE EPISODE 3

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Tuesday, April 8 (8:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Legends from France’s 1998 World Cup team including Lilian Thuram, Zinedine Zidane and Youri Djorkaeff.
  • This Week: Budweiser and FOX Sports’ documentary series resumes with the third episode, “One Nation,” focusing on the French Men’s National Team, who won the World Cup in their home country in 1998. Leading up to the tournament, the team was criticized in their country for having players that came from immigrant parents or grandparents. The team was able to break down these divisions, set an example to promote racial unity in the country and continue to fight against racism in sport today.

THE CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL IS ALMOST SET

  • Network/When:
    • Semifinal Leg 2: Toluca vs. Alajuelense, FOX Sports 2, Tuesday, April 8 (8:00 PM ET)
    • Semifinal Leg 2: Cruz Azul vs. Tijuana, FOX Sports 2, Wednesday, April 9 (8:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: JP Dellacamera and Cobi Jones (Tuesday Semifinal), JP Dellacamera and Brian Dunseth (Wednesday Semifinal)

 

UFC

 

UFC TONIGHT – JACKSON’S MMA MEDIA DAY WITH LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMP JONES, BROWNE AND KENNEDY INTERVIEWS

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Wednesday, April 2 (7:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Kenny Florian, Chael Sonnen, Karyn Bryant, Ariel Helwani
  • This Week: On UFC TONIGHT, Insider Helwani attends a media day at Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque where he interviews light heavyweight champ Jon Jones, heavyweight contender Travis Browne and middleweight Tim Kennedy, as well as Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn. Florian and Sonnen discuss a potential fight between Daniel Cormier and Dan Henderson, and the just announced Renan Barao vs. TJ Dillashaw title fight.

THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER NATIONS – BATTLE OF THE UNDEFEATED

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Wednesday, April 2 (10:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Patrick Côté, Kyle Noke
  • This Week:On this episode of THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER NATIONS: CANADA VS. AUSTRALIA, following Elias’ win over Tyler, the fighters watch UFC FIGHT NIGHT live from Brisbane, Australia. The relaxed night improves the mood of the house as everyone gets ready for the welterweight semifinal between Canadian star Olivier Aubin-Mercier and Aussie grinder, ‘Filthy Rich’ Walsh.

UFC ULTIMATE INSIDER – BISPING SOUNDS OFF, DAVIS AND JOHNSON TRAINING DAYS, COWBOY’S DAYTONA 500

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Sunday, April 6 (8:30 PM ET)
  • Talent: Host Jon Anik
  • This Week: Watch the training day routines of UFC stars Phil Davis and Anthony Johnson as they prepare for their epic showdown at UFC 172. Yoel Romero recalls the path from Cuban Olympian to UFC rising star. Michael Bisping joins host Jon Anik in studio to sound off on his next opponent Tim Kennedy. Thrill-seeking Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone has an all-access pass at the Daytona 500 courtesy of NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick.

UFC RELOADED: UFC 162 FEATURES SHOCKING SILVA VS. WEIDMAN REMATCH

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Monday, April 7 (7:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman
  • This Week: Watch one of the biggest rematches of all time again with the UFC RELOADED from UFC 162, featuring the middleweight title fight between champion Chris Weidman and challenger Anderson Silva, who wants to redeem his title loss to Weidman earlier in the year. Plus, catch all the thrilling highlights of the evening.

BOXING

BREAZEALE HAS INTRIGUING POTENTIAL AT GOLDEN BOY’S NIGHT OF THE HEAVYWEIGHTS, SAYS MAROTTA

  • Network/When:  FOX Sports 1 / FOX Deportes, Thursday, April 3 (10 :00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Rich Marotta, Beto Duran and Jessica Rosales
  • This Week: It’s a special “Night Of The Heavyweights” at the Golden Boy Live! boxing at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California, featuring former heavyweight world title challenger Monte “Two Gunz” Barrett (35-10-2, 20 KOs), who returns to the ring to face unbeaten Cuban contender and #2-ranked Luis “The Real King Kong” Ortiz (20-0, 17 KOs) in the main event. Plus, Vallejo, California’s Gerald “El Gallo Negro” Washington (11-0, 8 KOs) risks his perfect professional record in the 10-round co-main event against Houston’ Skipp “Strictly Business” Scott (16-1, 10 KOs). Although he’s not in the main event, 2012 U.S. Olympian Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale (9-0, 9 KOs) is one to watch, says FOX Sports boxing announcer Rich Marotta, as he goes for 10 straight wins against veteran standout Nagy Aguilera (19-7, 13 KOs). “Breazeale has size and athleticism, but the key is turning those gifts into a boxing equation,” he says. “Breazeale is getting more relaxed and less mechanical, and has very intriguing potential.”

MOTOCROSS

 

STARS SHINE AS MONSTER ENERGY SUPERCROSS HEADS TO HOUSTON

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Saturday, April 5 (8:30 PM ET)
  • Talent: Ralph Sheheen, Jeff Emig, Jeremy McGrath and Jenny Taft
  • This Week: The Monster Energy Supercross Series heads to Houston this weekend with three of the sport’s biggest stars poised to slug it out for this year’s championship. James ‘Bubba’ Stewart’s scintillating run in St. Louis was punctuated by his fifth 450SX victory of the season, moving the two-time champ to within one point of second-place Ryan Dungey for the 2014 title. Ryan Villopoto still holds a solid 26-point lead with his runner-up finish, but nagging injuries have slowed the three-time and defending Monster Energy Supercross champ. Stewart’s victory also marked the 50th of his career.

 

NATIONAL ARENACROSS SERIES HITS HALFWAY POINT OF 2014

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Sunday, April 6 (12:30 PM ET)
  • Talent: Robbie Floyd, Grant Langston and Cristy Lee
  • This Week: The National AMSOIL Arenacross Series, featuring Ricky Carmichael’s Road to Supercross, has hit the halfway point in its 2014 season with teammates Zach Ames and Tyler Bowers embroiled in a hotly contested points battle. A technically challenging Nampa, Idaho surface awaits this weekend, as Bowers hopes to continue the momentum he gained by winning both 15-lap main events in Sacramento.

 

COLLEGE BASEBALL

 

STREAKING CONFERENCE USA SQUADS STEP TO THE PLATE ON FOX SPORTS 1

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Sunday, April 6 (2:30 PM ET)
  • Talent: Play-by-play announcer Ron Thulin and analyst Pat Combs
  • This Week: Southern Miss and Middle Tennessee both ride hot streaks into this weekend’s three-game set in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Golden Eagles have taken two of three in each of their conference series so far this season, plus a win last week over then-No. 9 Ole Miss, while the Blue Raiders are coming off a series win against then-No. 10 Rice. Sunday’s finale between the two squads airs live on FOX Sports 1.

 

STUDIO SHOWS

 

AMERICA’S PREGAME PREMIERES MONDAY

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Monday, April 7 (6:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Mike Hill, Molly McGrath.
  • This Week: A new hour-long program originating from the FOX Network Center in Los Angeles that every weeknight answers the questions sports fans have about the most compelling stories, games and events from across the country. Always fan-first, AMERICA’S PREGAME highlights the action from game sites across the nation using FOX Sports’ national and regional channels, and viewers learn what’s important and why they should watch, no matter which network is televising it.

 

FOX SPORTS LIVE HEADS TO DALLAS FOR FINAL FOUR

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, nightly (11:00 PM ET)
  • Talent:  Jay Onrait, Dan O’Toole, Charissa Thompson, Don Bell, Donny Marshall, Steve Lavin, Austin Croshere, Donovan McNabb, Gabe Kapler, Andy Roddick, Bill Reiter, Petros Papadakis, Reid Forgrave and/or Jim Jackson
  • This Week: St. John’s head basketball coach Steve Lavin joins Charissa Thompson, Jim Jackson and Reid Forgrave live from the site of the Final Four in Dallas to break down the top stories from around college basketball.

 

GUEST PANELIST AND MLB ALL-STAR ORLANDO HUDSON JOINS CROWD GOES WILD

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, weekdays (5:00 PM ET), Friday, April 4 (9:00 PM ET)
  • Talent:  Regis Philbin, Georgie Thompson, Jason Gay, Michael Kosta, Trevor Pryce and Katie Nolan. Guest panelist Orlando Hudson on Thursday, April 3 and Friday, April 4.
  • Guests: Kelly Tripucka (retired NBA player/NBA broadcaster) on Wednesday, April 2; Anthony Mackie (actor) on Thursday, April 3.

THE MIKE FRANCESA SHOW

  • Network/When:
    • FOX Sports 1: Friday, April 4 (1:00 – 4:00 PM ET)
    • FOX Sports 2: Friday, April 4 (4:00 – 6:30 PM ET)
  • Talent:  Mike Francesa
  • This Week: The Mike Francesa show is preempted due to live sports programming: April 2, April 3, April 7, April 8 & April 9

POKER

WPT ALPHA 8 RE-DEFINES HIGH STAKES POKER ON FOX SPORTS 1

  • Network/When: FOX Sports 1, Sunday, April 6 (9:00 PM ET)
  • Talent: Lynn Gilmartin
  • This Week: Day 2 of World Poker Tour’s dramatic, super-high stakes WPT Alpha 8 Series event from Florida is set for FOX Sports 1 on Sunday, March 30. This new series feature’s poker’s top professionals competing against wealthy amateur enthusiasts in $100,000 buy in matches. The tour travels to some of the most exclusive gaming destinations in the world.

ESPN Analysts Offer Thoughts on 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four Matchups

espn-logoDoris Burke, Kara Lawson and Rebecca Lobo – top analysts on ESPN’s season-long women’s basketball coverage – offered insight and analysis on the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four matchups.

The NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship Presented by Capital One has reached its final weekend – the Women’s Final Four in Nashville, Tenn., on Sunday, April 6, and Tuesday, April 8. ESPN and WatchESPN will offer full studio and game coverage throughout the weekend, starting with the National Semifinals on Sunday: No.1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Maryland at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by No. 1 seed Connecticut vs. No. 2 Stanford at 8:30 p.m. The National Championship game will air Tuesday at 8:30 p.m., with the NCAA Women’s Championship Special Presented by Capital One beginning at 7 p.m.

 

Burke

Keys to Semifinal Game 1

“Brenda Frese’s recruitment to and emphasis on winning the rebounding battle is impressive. She is a passionate, energetic coach who has at her disposal one of the nation’s best players in Alyssa Thomas. The All-American is a powerful left-handed driver who is amongst the most versatile in the country.  With the dynamic freshman point guard Lexi Brown and the depth Maryland brings to the table, the Terps can wear opponents down in transition and on the glass.

Muffet McGraw has led the Fighting Irish to their fourth straight Final Four and into the strata of a consistent national championship threat – a rare feat in the sport. Jewell Loyd is as dynamic an athlete and as talented and dangerous as a basketball player can be. The Irish need Kayla McBride to be as efficient as she is dangerous and must find a way to make up for the leadership, toughness and productivity of injured Natalie Achonwa.”

 

Keys to Semifinal Game 2

“Stanford has always run quality offense and disciplined, well-thought out scouting of defenses. Chiney Ogwumike must be accounted for in transition, the half court and certainly on the offensive glass. Mikaela Ruef operates well in tandem with Ogwumike, and Amber Orrange must impose her will as a threat on offense.

Connecticut requires an opponent to play a near perfect defensive game. The Huskies have proved through the first two weekends, and in fact all season, that they can win without shooting it to the best of their abilities. What allows this to occur, is they are consistently one of the best defensive teams in the country. The Huskies are excellent at taking away your strength and making you beat them in another way. Breanna Stewart is the most dangerous chess piece on the board, and when Geno Auriemma has that, it typically leads to a national title.”

Lawson

Top Players to Watch

“Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas and Notre Dame’s Jewell Lloyd are the standout players in this first matchup.”

Thoughts on No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 4 Maryland

“This is an intriguing matchup because of all talk of Natalie Achonwa and the lack of her presence for Notre Dame on the court this weekend. The loss of her is so fresh, no one is sure how the Irish will respond and how quickly they can make up for the loss of everything she brings. The regular-season meeting was a tale of two halves. Maryland had no answer for Lloyd, and not many teams in country do. She had 31 in that game and 30 against Baylor in the Elite Eight. This is a good matchup for Lloyd individually and she is playing her best basketball right now. The second half of the game, Notre Dame didn’t have an answer for Thomas. She was overwhelming with her power and rebounding, and Achonwa had trouble guarding her.

I don’t feel the tale of two halves will be as dramatic in this game, but those two matchups are issues for both sides. Rebounding is a big issue for Notre Dame with the loss of Achonwa and the size of Maryland, but the Irish have the advantage with Kayla McBride and Lloyd.”

Lobo

Top Players to Watch

“Chiney Ogwumike is the star for Stanford, and you won’t want to miss her final weekend as a collegiate athlete. Breanna Stewart is the matchup nightmare for UConn opponents.”

 

Thoughts on the No. 1 Connecticut vs. No. 2 Stanford matchup

“Connecticut and Stanford are much different teams than the ones we saw match up back in November. Stanford has settled on a rotation that includes Lili Thompson, a nice slasher and 3-point shooter, who complements Amber Orrange in the backcourt and Bonnie Samuelson, a sharpshooter from three. Ogwumike continues to put up monster numbers even with constant double and triple teams.

UConn has been dominant all season with Stefanie Dolson as the constant inside. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, always a fantastic 3-point shooter, has emerged as a complete player in the tournament. Bria Hartley and Moriah Jefferson remain steady and Stewart shows flashes of brilliance in each game. If UConn is clicking on all cylinders, they won’t be beaten.”

-30-

ESPN Names Four Additional Analysts for 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil

FIFA-World-Cup-2014_Logo-espnEfan Ekoku returns; Kasey Keller, Alejandro Moreno and Stewart Robson to make their ESPN World Cup debuts

ESPN has named four additional analysts – Efan Ekoku, Kasey Keller, Alejandro Moreno and Stewart Robson – to its commentator team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil this summer. The group of analysts will contribute to ESPN’s English-language match and studio coverage in the United States during the month-long tournament, June 12 – July 13.

Ekoku, the former Nigerian national team player, will again work primarily as a match analyst after calling the opening match and World Cup final in South Africa 2010. Keller, Moreno and Robson will make their ESPN World Cup debut, though all currently or have previously contributed to the company’s global football coverage.

Moreno, the former Venezuelan national team player, will continue to call Mexican National Team matches with Fernando Palomo on ESPN and will work as co-commentator and studio analyst during the tournament.

Keller, the former United States goalkeeper and studio analyst for MLS Cup on ESPN, will split roles as both as studio pundit and match co-commentator in Brazil. Robson, ESPN’s lead match analyst for the 2013 Confederations Cup, returns to the network in a similar role for Brazil 2014.

“Our team of analysts for the 2014 FIFA World Cup is one the best collections of football minds assembled anywhere for this global sporting event,” said Jed Drake, ESPN’s executive producer, 2014 FIFA World Cup. “Beyond their knowledge of football on its biggest stage, their passion for the sport is infectious and resonates with viewers.”

ESPN’s 11-member analyst team for Brazil 2014 represents a highly diverse, global roster of international football experts. Collectively, the commentators represent eight different countries including Steve McManaman, Stewart Robson (England); Alexi Lalas, Taylor Twellman, Kasey Keller (USA); Michael Ballack (Germany); Efan Ekoku (Nigeria); Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela); Gilberto Silva (Brazil); Santiago Solari (Argentina); and Ruud van Nistelrooy (Netherlands).

ESPN’s broadcast assignments for the World Cup in Brazil – including match analyst pairings – will be announced later this spring.

Bios:

Ekoku scored an impressive 16 goals in 38 appearances for Norwich City during the 1993-94 Premier League season, earning a spot on the Nigerian National Team for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. He currently works as a co-commentator for Premier League Productions, where he is heard across the English-speaking world wherever Premier League matches are televised.

Keller, a member of the U.S. team roster for four World Cup tournaments (1990, 1998, 2002 and 2006), is the most-capped goalkeeper in U.S. Men’s National Team history with 102 appearances. He is a studio analyst for select Major League Soccer and U.S. Men’s National Team telecasts, and he served as co-commentator for the 2013 Confederations Cup and the UEFA EURO 2012 on ESPN.

Moreno, who played 41 matches for Venezuela from 2004-11, ended his 11-year Major League Soccer career in 2012 and made a seamless transition to broadcasting. He is the English-language match analyst for Mexican soccer – “El Tri” and Liga MX club matches – on ESPN networks, as well as studio analyst for ESPN FC and MLS Cup on ESPN.

Robson, a midfielder, played top-division football for 13 seasons with Arsenal, West Ham United and Coventry City from 1981-94. Since he retired from professional soccer, Robson has been a television commentator for Arsenal TV, UK’s international feed of FA Cup and ESPN UK.

ESPN Inc.’s 2014 FIFA World Cup in the United States

The 2014 FIFA World Cup will be ESPN’s eighth World Cup and most comprehensive presentation to date.  ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will combine to air all 64 matches live and in high definition (June 12 – July 13). All ESPN and ESPN2 games will be available on WatchESPN, while ABC matches will be available on WATCH ABC. ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network available in more than 85 million homes, will present matches live in multiple languages (other than English and Spanish).

ESPN’s presentation of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will include comprehensive news and information coverage of the month-long soccer showcase with renowned journalists reporting on the tournament and the host country of Brazil. Additional English-language coverage of the quadrennial event will total more than 90 hours of original programming and will include SportsCenter at the World Cup, a nightly World Cup Tonight program, ESPN FC World Cup Encore, a 30-minute pre-match show, halftime and post-match segments, as well as a World Cup-branded ESPN Films 30 for 30: Soccer Stories series, E:60 shows, and access-driven long-form storytelling features.

ESPN garnered more than 40 industry awards, including three Sports Emmys, for its presentation of 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa – more accolades than any single event in the company’s history.

– 30 –

2014 NHL STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS – ONE GOAL

nhl-logoEvery Stanley Cup Playoff Game to be Televised Nationally for Third Straight Year

NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and NHL Network to Carry Games

New Playoff Format Allows for Brackets for Fans; Emphasis on Division Rivals Prior to Conference Finals

NBC Sports Live Extra to Live Stream All Games Airing on NBC, Plus All Games Airing on NBCSN and CNBC via “TV Everywhere”

NBC Sports Regional Networks to Air Live Coverage of First-Round Games & Comprehensive Local Team Coverage

NBC & NBCSN Combine to Cover Stanley Cup Final for Ninth Straight Year

STAMFORD, Conn. – April 2, 2014 – For the third consecutive year, every NHL Stanley Cup Playoff game will be presented nationally across the platforms of the NBC Sports Group. During April, May and June, NBC Sports Group will televise as many as 105 playoff games and possibly more than 260 hours of programming across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC (in primetime), and NHL Network. NBC Sports Live Extra – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets – will stream all games on NBC, as well as all games airing on NBCSN and CNBC via “TV Everywhere.”

Locally, NBC Sports Regional Networks will surround the Blackhawks (Comcast SportsNet Chicago), Bruins (Comcast SportsNet New England), Flyers* (Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia), Sharks (Comcast SportsNet California), and Capitals* (Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic) with in-depth live-event news coverage. NBCSports.com will provide comprehensive online coverage of the playoffs with online-only video, contributions from Comcast SportsNet insiders, and constant news updates from ProHockeyTalk.
*Have not yet qualified for the playoffs

******************************************************************************

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS CONFERENCE CALL

NBC Sports Group will host a conference call with members of its NHL on-air team following the regular season either Monday, April 14 or Tuesday, April 15. An advisory will be distributed when details are final.

*******************************************************************************

NEW PLAYOFF FORMAT FEATURES EMPHASIS ON DIVISION RIVALS PRIOR TO CONFERENCE FINALS

The NHL is employing a new playoff format for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs that allows for a fixed bracket and emphasizes division rivals in the first two rounds. Following is a breakdown of the official format:

  • The top three finishers in each Division automatically qualify and are designated No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds. Among the remaining teams in each Conference, the two teams with the best records qualify as Wild Cards and are designated No. 4 seeds.
  • The first two rounds are divisional brackets. No. 1 plays No. 4, and No 2. plays No. 3, with winners advancing to play each other.
  • Within each Conference, the Wild Card team with the better record will be assigned to the bracket of the Divisional leader with the lesser record.
  • Home-ice advantage through the first two rounds goes to the higher seeded team, regardless of regular-season records.
  • For the Conference Finals and the Stanley Cup Final, home-ice advantage goes to the team with the better regular-season record

FIRST ROUND

Every first-round Stanley Cup Playoff game will be televised on a national platform.

In order to televise as many as four games on a given day/night, the NBC Sports Group will utilize NBC, NBCSN, CNBC and the NHL Network to carry first-round games.

NBCSN will be the primary home of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, offering coverage of one or two games virtually every night of the first round. NBC will present exclusive afternoon coverage during the weekends of April 19-20 and 26-27.

CNBC and NHL Network will also provide live coverage in primetime. Games airing on NBCSN, CNBC and the NHL Network will be subject to local blackouts in the first round.

SECOND ROUND

NBC Sports Group’s Stanley Cup Playoff exclusivity originates with the second round. Beginning in the second round and continuing through the Stanley Cup Final, all games will air exclusively on NBC, NBCSN, or CNBC.

NBCSN will serve as the primary home for second-round coverage, offering one or two games virtually every night. When necessary, CNBC will provide live coverage in primetime, although more infrequently than in the first round. NBC will present exclusive afternoon coverage during the weekend of May 3-4.

CONFERENCE FINALS

NBC and the NBCSN will provide exclusive coverage of the Conference Finals. NBC will broadcast Saturday afternoon games on May 17-18, and on Saturday, May 24 at 8 p.m. ET in primetime. The remaining games from both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals will be televised exclusively on NBCSN.

STANLEY CUP FINAL

For the eighth consecutive year, NBC and NBCSN will provide exclusive coverage of the Stanley Cup Final. NBC will broadcast Game 1, Game 4, and Games 5-7 (if necessary), with NBCSN televising Games 2-3. Emmy Award-winning play-by-play commentator Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, analyst Eddie Olczyk and ‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst Pierre McGuire will call the Stanley Cup Final.

STUDIO COVERAGE

Robust pre-game, post-game and intermission studio programming throughout the 2014 NHL postseason will originate from NBC Sports Group’s state-of-the-art International Broadcast Center located in Stamford, Conn., except during the Stanley Cup Final, when the studio will be live from the game sites.

During the first round, NBC Sports Group will operate two studio shows. On most weeknights, fans can expect NHL studio programming for games airing on both NBCSN and CNBC, sometimes simultaneously. NHL Live will usually begin one hour prior to game time, with post-game coverage airing immediately after the final game of the night.

NHL Live, NBC Sports Group’s pre- and post-game studio show, will feature a combination of hosts Liam McHugh, Russ Thaler and Kathryn Tappen, and analysts and former players Mike Milbury, Keith Jones, Jeremy Roenick and Anson Carter.

ENCORES

Beginning on Thursday, April 17, and continuing nearly every morning throughout the playoffs, NBCSN will air cut-down versions of the previous night’s most exciting game of the night. Encores will air daily at 7 a.m. ET.

COMPREHENSIVE LOCAL COVERAGE

Through the NBC Sports Regional Networks, comprehensive coverage of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will be provided daily via NBC Sports’ lineup of Comcast SportsNet RSNs, available in more than 50 million U.S. households. Comcast SportsNet serves the hometown fans of the Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins and the Washington Capitals. In-depth coverage for those teams advancing to the postseason includes exclusive regional coverage of first-round games, pre- and post-game shows and extensive on-line coverage via Comcast SportsNet’s team of NHL Insiders.

For teams that advance past the first round, NBC Sports Regional Networks will deliver extensive pre- and post-game coverage as well as breaking news and analysis throughout each team’s playoff run.

NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA COVERAGE

NBC Sports Live Extra — the NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will stream all Stanley Cup Playoff games that air on NBC, NBCSN, and CNBC, including comprehensive streaming coverage of the Stanley Cup Final. The vast majority of games will be live streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play. Games airing on:

  • NBC will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra;
  • NBCSN will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra, and to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs;
  • CNBC will live stream exclusively through NBC Sports Live Extra via “TV Everywhere.”

NBCSPORTS.COM

In addition to its live stream coverage via NBC Sports Live Extra, NBCSports.com’s ProHockeyTalk, will anchor NBC Sports’ online and mobile coverage of the NHL playoffs.

ProHockeyTalk provides unique, informative and entertaining news, commentary and analysis — updated around the clock — on all the stories surrounding the NHL playoffs. Other NBCSports.com features will include:

  • PHT Extra, a multiple-times-a-week online-only video segment.
  • Online-only videos featuring NBC Sports and NBCSN hockey commentators previewing upcoming playoff games and wrapping-up all of the NHL action that day.
  • Content provided by Comcast SportsNet NHL insiders.
  • An NHL Playoffs Channel Finder tool that will help fans locate the times and stations for every NHL playoff broadcast.

MARKETING CAMPAIGNS – “ONE GOAL” AND “CUPNAPPERS”

NBC Sports Group and the NHL have collaborated to produce a new ad campaign for the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The “CupNappers” TV campaign stars comedian Nick Kroll (The League on FX, Kroll Show on Comedy Central) and a cast of characters who conspire to steal the Stanley Cup. The spot debuted on Tuesday, April 1 (April Fools’ Day) and will run across NBC, NBCSN, NHL Network and many NBCUniversal cable channels.

As part of the “CupNappers” campaign, a 90-second trailer will run in 20,000 movie theaters across the country. The trailer features NBCUniversal personalities David GregoryJim Cramer, Carl QuintanillaJeremy Roenick and Kayla Tausche as they report on the stolen Stanley Cup. Link to the “news” trailer -http://wdrv.it/1dmCaYW

To complement both of these elements, NBC Sports is airing a footage-based campaign that is already running across NBC Sports and NBCU cable assets. The footage campaign, titled “One Goal”, features several 30-second iterations which highlight various aspects of the playoffs.

SOCIAL MEDIA

In addition to broadcast, cable, regional and digital platforms, NBC Sports Group will connect with NHL fans via numerous social media initiatives, including social interaction, on-air integration and news:

  • Making Stanley Cup Movie Magic with Magisto:
    • For the first time, NBC Sports is partnering with Magisto, a video creation and sharing app that allows hockey fans to effortlessly create their own edited movies, with music and effects, from their desktop or mobile device.
    • During the Stanley Cup, fans will be asked to create Magisto movies showing how they are celebrating their teams, whether it’s at the game, in their favorite bar or at home with friends.
    • The best videos will not only be featured on air during the broadcast, but also be entered for a chance to win prizes along the way.
  • Twitter Handle Takeovers:
    • New to this season, during each round of the playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals celebrity hockey fans, NHL on NBC talent and/or former players will take over @NHLonNBCSports on Twitter or act as guest tweeters from their own accounts providing context and analysis around the games through their perspective. Fans can follow the action and interact with the Takeover participants throughout the playoffs coverage. Takeover participants to be determined.
  • #CelebrateStanley Photo Campaign for the Fans:
    • New to this season, we are celebrating the ultimate fans through photos via, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
    • Throughout the weeks of the playoffs, NBC Sports will ask fans to submit themed pictures via social media using #CelebrateStanley (for example: show us your best team tattoo, cutest baby in hockey gear, your watch parties).
    • During the broadcast, we will showcase our favorite photos across each theme throughout the weeks of the playoffs and Stanley Cup Finals.
  • #StanleyCup: For the third year in a row, and in conjunction with the NHL, fans can use #StanleyCup to join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
    • #StanleyCup will be displayed on-air throughout each game to remind fans watching each round
  • NHL on NBC All-Access Social Media Hub:
    • The NHL on NBC All-Access hub located at NBCSports.com/NHLonNBC will be one stop shopping for fans that need to know everything around the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Finals from the schedule of games to social media chatter.
    • Fans can access Twitter feeds from the players, teams, NBCSports.com experts and @NHLonNBCSports in one, easy to access curated hub.
    • Top videos from around NBCSports.com will be featured on the site
    • #CelebrateStanley photo stream – fans who submit themed photos using #CelebrateStanley can see all of the pictures submitted in one cohesive stream on this section of the site.
    • Magisto Made Fan Video Showcase – Throughout the playoffs fan made videos through our partnership with Magisto, will be featured on this page.
  • News:
    • Fans can engage with Twitter (@NHLonNBCSports) and Facebook (facebook.com/NHLonNBCSports) to receive the most up to date tune-in information, scores, reports and stories from around the NHL and ProHockeyTalk.

–NBC SPORTS GROUP–

Transcript of Masters on ESPN Media Conference Call

Masters_Logo-espnApril 3, 2014

Transcript of Masters on ESPN Media Conference Call

ESPN golf analysts Andy North, Curtis Strange and Paul Azinger participated in a media conference call today to discuss next week’s Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. ESPN will have live telecasts of the first two rounds at 3 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday, April 10-11, as well as extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPN.com and other ESPN platforms. Full details HERE.

A transcript of the conference call follows:

Q.  All three of you, I looked at your records the first time you played Augusta, Zinger at T‑17 and Andy with a beautiful 66 followed by an 81 in the second round and Curtis as an amateur missed the cut.  Why is it so hard the first time around and are you surprised that it’s been so long since a first‑timer won?

CURTIS STRANGE:  I’ll start this.  The reason it was hard for me, because they paired me with Jack Nicklaus and I couldn’t breathe for about four and a half hours, so that was my excuse.

PAUL AZINGER:  Probably the most sophisticated and most complicated set of greens in 18 holes ever put together.  I mean, every hole right out of the gate, starting with No. 1, and it takes a long time to understand the greens.

There is this invisible pull or whatever towards Rae’s Creek and then you have a lot of uphill shots and downhill shots there which also complicate matters at Augusta National and then you factor in the history and the ‑‑ there’s nobody going there naïve.  Everybody who has qualified, if you’re referring to a Jordan Spieth‑type, he’s probably watched the Masters a dozen times or more.  So they all know and feel the pressure but the golf course is just plain hard.

ANDY NORTH:  To expand on what Paul was saying, my situation where I shot 66 the first day, and then 81 the second day, this is going to sound really stupid saying this, but I didn’t play much differently either day.  The first day, I had it below the hole every single hole.  You couldn’t have drawn it up any better.

And then you’ve got to see Augusta from the wrong side every hole the next day, and that’s pretty much what happened.  Balls that ‑‑ at a five‑par stayed on the green trickled off the green on 15 into the water, that kind of stuff which Augusta can do to you so quickly.

Yeah, you watch it on television but it’s a whole different animal when you get there and it’s a totally different golf course than you imagine in your head because of the elevation changes.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Let me expand on what Paul and Andy both said.  There’s not a level lie out there, maybe one or two.  That, as you know on TV, TV doesn’t do that justice and it’s so tough.  It is really a hard golf course now, and you’re off balance the entire day I think.

Q.  On that topic, I have to wonder if the fact that players could start bringing their own caddies in ’83, might have anything to do with this.  You’ve lost some of that local knowledge from ’83 onward, for a first‑timer.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Could be.  The guys are so professional now, learning the courses.  Could be a little bit for a first timer but I don’t think a whole lot.

ANDY NORTH:  In the past there have been only a few players and caddies who have actually hired a local to go out and be with them when they saw the golf course the first couple of times, which isn’t a bad idea.

Q.  This is a question for all of you.  Who do you see as the favorite?

PAUL AZINGER:  The favorite here?  I think probably would look at Adam Scott who is actually playing well.  He’s dealt with a little bit of heartache there at Bay Hill but letting that tournament get away.  Rory McIlroy who plays a natural draw, which is ‑‑ the fact that he’s so powerful is big for him.

You know, I don’t know if you want to go off Vegas odds like who is the favorite, but if I’m going to pick a dark horse to play well at Augusta, I’m not even sure you could call him a dark horse but I think people feel Sergio García is done as far as majors are concerned; that it’s in his head and he can’t do it, but I really feel for some reason, he led The European Tour in putting last year, he’s played well at Augusta before and there’s probably not five guys that hit it better tee‑to‑green that have the length and the finesse around the green.  It’s just on the green where he struggles, and he had a great putting year last year.  So he’d be my dark horse pick.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Yeah, I like Rory McIlroy.  He didn’t play well last year for whatever reason.  This year he’s playing better.  He hasn’t won.  I think he could be hungry.  He looks like he’s getting plenty of confidence back and this could be the adrenaline rush that he needs.  We certainly know that he has plenty of the length and he has all the game in the world, and I like him.

ANDY NORTH:  It one might be one of the most open Masters we’ve had where there are so many different guys that could win, and I just think that you look at Phil, he’s been a mess lately, he’s hurt a little bit, but he was there practicing the last couple of days.  He drives down Azalea Lane and the switch goes on, and there’s no better place for him to play than there.  And if his back is doing well, I think he’s going to be a threat there before the week is up.

Q.  Curtis, as someone with sons, can you imagine what it’s like to be Craig Stadler next week and be perhaps even paired with your son in this historic place?

CURTIS STRANGE:  I think Jay Haas, I talked to Jay Haas, and I actually talked to Craig a couple weeks ago at the Senior Tour event about that.  He was excited.  It’s something that’s never been done before, and you know, I just think that they will relish the practice rounds together and hanging out together, and God, I hope they don’t put them together, but I just think it’s an experience that ‑‑ well, they have only experienced and I think it’s something they should always treasure, because it’s got to be something special for them?

Q.  Why do you hope they are not paired together?

CURTIS STRANGE:  I think it would be horrible (laughing).  No, I just think they need to go their own way.  Kevin is playing well.  Can he win here?  I don’t know.  But his experience, his first time at the Masters, he should have his own life and his own story to tell and separate it from his dad, because his dad is a past champion and kind of just enjoying the moment being there with his son.

PAUL AZINGER:  Can I add to that, if they are paired together, my eyes are getting bad enough that from a distance, I might not tell them apart, because it looks like Craig just spit out that boy.  He looks ‑‑ I mean, their mannerisms and everything, it’s really fantastic (laughter).

Q.  A clean.  Circling back to what Fergie was alluding to in the young guys, a whole slew of guys in the field this year under age 25, some of them for the first time, Spieth, Reed, English, Dubuisson. I’m wondering, A, whether you can see any reason ‑‑ I know that’s kind of an organic question for this large group of guys winning so early and so often.  It’s a jump‑ball for any of you three.  And secondly, why there seems to be no fear factor with these guys because I can imagine what you guys must have been like back in the day playing in a tournament of this magnitude, probably not quite this young.

CURTIS STRANGE:  It’s just part of the evolution of the game that the younger players ‑‑ there’s periods where you just have young guys winning and then the next year it’s guys in their 40s winning and everybody wants to know the answer as to why that is and there is no real answer.  Just give the young guys their due.  Usually it takes a few years on TOUR before a player can win, but that seems to be less and less the case.  These guys come out more ready.

Q.  Why do you suppose they are more ready?  Just instruction video, TV?

PAUL AZINGER:  Who knows.  I’m not even sure that guys hit it better now than they did back in the day.  Generationally, sometimes the more knowledge you have, the worse you are.  I always go back to the Byron Nelson quote, there’s two kinds of players:  Those that need to know a little and those that need to know it all, which one do you think is easier.

It’s pretty evident that sometimes you can know too much.  So there was always the idea that you need to be just dumb enough to be great.  So it’s hard to, there’s no answer for that, really.

But the fear factor, I think may be some of these guys ‑‑ there’s less to fear when Tiger’s not playing as well, I can tell you that.  The idea that the idea that somehow Tiger raised the bar and players are catching up, in my opinion is just not true.  There’s no records are falling that he set.  He’s fallen.  So that’s the difference.

CURTIS STRANGE:  I agree completely with what you just said, Paul.  I don’t think they are any better.  I think he’s not playing as well.

Fear factor might be a little bit of a strong statement but I do think that the Patrick Reeds and the Jimmy Walkers and the young kids there, they have played well, and everyone that has played well and is in the Masters is confident.  But it is a different animal as you know there at Augusta.

You might be calm, cool and collected and comfortable until you get to the weekend and if you are playing well, it’s a completely different animal there, and I experienced it at my first time to try to win there and everybody did.  It is amped up, on steroids, everything how you can describe it on the back side on the weekend.

We’ll see who the men really are come Saturday and Sunday on the back side.  It doesn’t mean they can’t win but I think everything has to go their way, much like what Andy was saying earlier, 66 to 81; I can relate to that.  Everybody can.  There’s not that big a difference sometimes.  You have a bad hole, you have a couple bad breaks, you short‑side yourself, you 3‑putt and it adds up to 81.

I think they are prepared more than they were, they are more knowledgeable than we were but still the Masters brings on a lot of anxiety.

PAUL AZINGER:  They say golf is a game of degrees and inches.  Normally that has to do with your swing plane or your clubface at impact, but it’s really degrees and inches at Augusta.  On the wrong side of the hole, the grade up the slope that he has to deal with is different.

An inch here or there at Augusta, like on 15, your ball stays on the precipice there and you have to putt for eagle or else it rolls back in the lake and you’re on the other side of the lake.  More so than ever, degrees and inches play a big part at Augusta National, simply because of the golf course.

ANDY NORTH:  Can one of these young players win ‑‑ I think they can, because you look at this group of Harris English and Patrick Reed and some of the other guys who are coming there for the first time, they all hit it a mile.  Augusta National is a golf course that if you figure it out a little bit and you can drive the ball really long, you can carry over a lot of the hills.

Harris English just absolutely murders it.  You give a guy, you go back to Tiger Woods in ’97, he drove it in places where he was hitting wedges and stuff to the greens.  They have changed it since then obviously, but if you’re hitting three clubs less to a lot of those greens than the rest of the field, what an advantage that is, because it’s so hard to put your ball in the right position.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if one of these young guys has a chance at the end.  Is he going to win?  Who knows, but as Curtis says, you get to the last nine holes of this event, and you’d better have it all together because it’s a lot of pressure.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Just one other thing, what Paul said, too, and I can’t believe we haven’t talked about it yet, is degree of inches.  How about Tiger Woods at 15 last year, okay. Flagstick.

Q.  What do you make of what’s going on with Tiger’s body and now that he’s got the dreaded back issue, what’s the future going to hold?  Is he ever going to be healthy again to mount his assault on Jack?

ANDY NORTH:  Let’s just start with the operation.  I think the fact that he had it done is very positive for his future.  The worst thing you can do as a player is to keep fighting these injuries as he’s done in the past and then you end up making it much worse.  I went through a back issue ‑‑ we have all gone through back issues.  I had surgery.

The surgery he had, basically just trim the disk to take the pressure off that nerve.  It should heal in four to six weeks, it should be pretty decent, he should be able to start hitting some shots.

It could take two months; it could take four months before he’s tournament ready, who knows. Everybody’s bodies are a little bit different but I think this gives him a chance to be more successful the next ten years by having the surgery than if he wouldn’t have had it.  I think that’s very important.  I think we will see a different Tiger Woods when he comes back this fall.  He has not been right for almost a year.  So, you know, looking forward to that and hopefully we’ll get the guy back that we all think that he can be.

Obviously the 39‑year‑old version is not going to be the same as the 29‑year‑old version or the 19‑year‑old version, but it doesn’t mean he still haven’t be great.  Look at what Vijay Singh and Steve Stricker did in their 40s.  Some incredible golf they did.  Doesn’t mean that Tiger can’t be dominant again.

CURTIS STRANGE:  I think the odds are, I guess to get to where we always ask, can he break Jack’s record.  I think with all this being said, and I agree with Andy, it’s all speculation and I think he will come back stronger.  You know, being off for a couple months, three months, the rest of his body will get healthy, as well.

But the odds are against him breaking Jack’s record simply because it is a health issue.  That’s the one thing that can bring any athlete down.  Will he do it?  We don’t know.  There’s only two players that ever won five majors after the age of 38, and that’s Jack Nicklaus and Ben Hogan.  He’s certainly in their class.  But there’s only two of them have ever done that, so keep that in mind.

You know, I think so much is going to be his motivation.  You know, how badly he wants this.  And will he modify his work out regime; will he modify his practice regime, because of the body.  Everybody has to modify as we get older.  And you know, the swing changes, has that put more pressure on back and joints?  Who knows.  It’s all speculation, but the fact of the matter is, he is breaking down.  You know, is there a next problem?  Who knows.

But we’ll just have to wait and see.  I think he will come back pretty strong, I really do, because this back procedure was not that big of a deal, it wasn’t that major.  Of course, I can say that; it wasn’t my back.  But I expect still good things out of Tiger Woods.

PAUL AZINGER:  I’ll just add to that.  I shared this the other day, but the real irony here is that he’s arguably the most fit golfer who has ever played the game, and now he’s kind of at the mercy of an unfit body.  Maybe not an unfit body but a body that’s breaking down.

But Tiger has ‑‑ I think he has ‑‑ his issues are going to be as much emotional as they are physical, and let’s face it, he’s had some physical issues, whether it just be his health or his body but he has not hit the ball very well and sometimes because you don’t feel well, you don’t hit the ball well.  There’s probably not one player that would have said, going into the Masters, I wish I hit it like Tiger Woods.

But he’s still the favorite to win the tournament, because he’s still the best player.  I guarantee you, at age 38, there’s still plenty of people that wished they hit it like Jack Nicklaus and there’s a big difference in where they are at age 38 in any opinion health‑wise and ball‑striking‑wise, and that’s a big difference.

I got sick when I was in the prime of my career, and Tiger is a little bit past his prime.  I was out for six months or so, and I tell you what, I lost my edge, and it was nice to be at home.  I was the kind of guy, I played with a chip on my shoulder.  Tiger plays with a chip on his shoulder a little bit for whatever reason, and as Curtis said, his challenge will be, how self‑motivated is he going to be.

You know, his dad said, when Tiger was an amateur, Tiger Woods will win 14 majors.  Well, you know, he’s won 14 majors.  I don’t know why Earl didn’t say 19, but he said 14.  Who knows, maybe that’s something that’s ‑‑ well, I did what my dad said.  I’m just saying, there’s a lot going on here beyond just the physical.  And as Curtis said, it’s going to come from within, but he wasn’t exactly hitting it great going out, either.  So we’ll see what happens.

CURTIS STRANGE:  He has not hit it well in years, Paul, you know that.  So elaborate on what Paul is saying, it’s so true, we have all gone through this.  Every male in America goes through this.  When you’re 38 years old, your kids are getting older, he’s a single dad, trying to be a good dad.  When they look at you and say, “Don’t leave, Daddy,” let me tell you something, that pulls at your heart.  And you’re on the road, you want to be home; you’re home, you want to be on the road.  It’s an issue for everyone, and he’s at that age and his kids are at that age, that it’s tough to keep your focus and keep that drive and keep that self‑centered attitude that you need to have.

And you know, everybody goes through it.  Nicklaus admitted it, all of them.  And that’s why it gets tougher as you get close to 40.

Q.  Since everybody else has talked about different subjects for the most part, let’s finally get the Tiger not going to be there during the broadcast this week.  How different will it be trying to present a Masters for the first time in a couple decades without Tiger as part of the main story come Sunday?

PAUL AZINGER:  It’s a huge disappointment I feel for us in the business of TV.  You as media, I think it makes it ‑‑ it takes away an obvious easy story to write about Tiger and one that you know people are going to be interested in.  But it’s still the Masters and it’s still this epic event.  It’s the great Masters Tournament with the great ‑‑ all the history and the familiarity and all that.  There’s going to be a day when Tiger is just not around anymore, period.  The shock, disappointment and the reason he’s not here, I think it will present a little bit of a challenge possibly at first, but once that tournament gets going, the Masters carries its own weight and everybody will be fine.

CURTIS STRANGE:  You know, he will be some of the story leading up to Thursday because of all of our SportsCenter hits, and he is somewhat part of the story early in the week.  From my perspective, I still do the same job, and from Paul’s perspective, he still does the same job.  It’s disappointing for us because it’s certainly not going to be as big of an audience.  It’s disappointing for the fans because certainly he’s the No. 1 draw.  But we still do our same job.  We prepare the same.  We talk the same.  And quite frankly, I didn’t think he was going to be a big part of the picture anyway come the weekend, so I was already preparing for that.

It is a difference because the interest level is not quite the same but we still do our same jobs.

ANDY NORTH:  Probably affects the viewer more than anybody else.  I’ve had multiple people come up to me the last couple days and say, gee, for sure, I would be watching if Tiger is there, but I probably still will be.  If there’s not something I really care about, maybe I won’t.  I mean, those are the kind of things that it will affect ratings.  It always does.  He’s the one player that does move the needle, so we will all miss him.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Don’t you think that if there’s a tournament, more so than the U.S. Open or The Open Championship, if there’s a tournament that will carry it better without him than any other tournament, I think it’s the Masters, and I don’t say that because we are talking about the Masters.  But the Masters, because the golf course, because of Bobby Jones, because of Clifford Roberts and because of Arnold Palmer.  That’s a story within itself.

ANDY NORTH:  I agree with you.  The Midwest is coming out of the worst winters in the world and they are just looking for something pretty and warm on television.  The Masters is the first ‑‑ we all in the Midwest, when we finally get to Masters week, it’s like, okay, spring is officially here.  We can start living again.

So I agree that this will have the least effect but I still think at the end, it will affect the numbers.

PAUL AZINGER:  It’s arguable, but there’s probably not another player in the history of sports, I say arguable, but has had as big an impact on his sport as Tiger as far as viewership and ratings and money, maybe Muhammad Ali in boxing.  I just can’t think of anybody that when he’s not here, the void is any greater in any sport.

Q.  From a competitor’s standpoint, when you have Tiger not in the picture and you have Phil not playing up to his usual standards so far this year, do you have to guard against trying to attack so much, thinking, wow, this is a great opportunity for me to win this Masters, and maybe getting too pumped up to try to think that this is too big a moment for you?

ANDY NORTH:  No, I don’t think so at all.  If you’re out there on the golf course thinking about, gee, I’ve got to do this or that because Tiger, Phil or whoever is not playing well, you’ve got no chance.  That course will eat you up.  So you’d better be worrying about what you’re doing.

CURTIS STRANGE:  That will have no impact at all.  Obviously if Tiger was in the hunt Sunday afternoon and you were playing head‑to‑head against him, it would be a little different, but early in the week and as the week progresses, that won’t affect the way somebody plays or their strategy, anything like that.

Q.  Paul, you had mentioned Adam Scott being among the favorites and that would put him in very elite company as a repeat champion.  What about his game and where he’s at with his game right now would recommend him to that sort of status?

PAUL AZINGER:  Well, there’s horses for courses and Adam Scott had a couple of chances to win at Augusta prior to winning last year and it just seems to suit him and his style, his power, and the way he flights the ball.

I think his confidence took a little bit of a hit there at Bay Hill, but it will all be, you know, water under the bridge once that bell rings, and if he’s solid tee‑to‑green like he has been; and then of course the mystery now is how does he do on the greens.  His putter failed him big time at Bay Hill but it was his putter that made the difference when he won the tournament, the 25‑footer that he made on 9, and then the putt he made in the playoff to win, those were two of the greatest putts you’ll ever see under pressure.  It’s not his strength, but he has a real good chance of being a repeat winner.  There are horses for courses and generally a lot of times these power guys at Augusta contend year in and year out.

Q.  An abstract, aesthetic question, I was thinking when the Eisenhower tree went down, just wondering if there’s only one spot on that course that you could visit, where would it be?  What is your favorite place on that course or is there a landmark that you would ‑‑ if you had to have one last view of Augusta National, you would want to see?

PAUL AZINGER:  For me personally, I would just like to walk behind the clubhouse and stand under that tree and take the whole thing in.  Some say go down to Amen Corner and look at the azaleas on 13, but just put me behind that clubhouse.

CURTIS STRANGE:  You know, standing out in the middle of the 13th fairway, looking at your second shot, and I don’t say this because I screwed up, but there’s no prettier, more dynamic shot, that you can play, I don’t think anywhere in the world.  You know, the club selection, the strategy, the options you have, the options of where to hit it around the green.  I think it’s the best par 5 in the world, and maybe not so much now because they hit it so bloody long. But back in the day there was so many options on the tee, on the second shot, where you play your second shot, I think it’s a second shot, that just everything about it is fantastic.

ANDY NORTH:  For people that have never been there, the most important thing or one of the coolest things you can do is get there very first in the morning and go down and walk 10,11, 12 and 13 before the people get there.  Particularly 11, 12 and 13, it’s down through those trees.  It’s so quiet back in there, people go to the redwoods and talk about experiencing a religious experience.  Well, it’s a little bit that way walking down through those holes when no one is around and to see it later in the day when people are making birdies and explosions of noise come out of those same areas, it’s incredible.

Q.  I’ve got my annual Steve Stricker question.  Steve has played five competitive rounds of golf this year and we both know his heart is probably more in Dallas with the Badgers than it is in Houston.  Considering how little he’s played, how realistic is it to expect him to play well next week?

ANDY NORTH:  I think you have to throw out everything that he’s done so far this year, because of his brother’s situation.  He was literally had divorced himself completely from the game for two or three months there.  His brother is doing better.

I actually played some golf with Steve last week in L.A., and he’s hitting it very, very well.  He’s putting it much better than he did his two early starts and he’s really excited about playing.  As we all know, if you’re not 100 percent invested emotionally, you’re not going to play very well.  I think he is there.  I think he is excited about playing in Houston and then is obviously looking forward to Augusta and he’s planning on coming down here (Dallas for Final Four) Saturday night.  Even if he was leading the tournament, he was going to be here Saturday night to see the Badgers.

So the big question mark is if they play Monday, then do you blow off going there another day.  So he’s excited about playing.  He’s even talked about maybe adding another tournament after Augusta between Augusta and the U.S. Open and THE PLAYERS, in there someplace.  I think he’s really excited about playing and he’s finally able to think about golf and not worry so much about his brother.

Q.  There’s another young player from Wisconsin, Mequon’s Jordan Niebrugge, what have you heard about him?  Is there any buzz about him at all?

ANDY NORTH:  I had a chance to meet him last fall, and he’s really accomplished an awful lot.  It will be interesting to see how he handles it.  It’s going to be a great experience.  And I didn’t get a chance to play here as an amateur, Curtis did, but I can’t imagine how much fun that would have been.  It’s going to be a great experience.  You want to enjoy and play well but at the same time you have to take in everything and enjoy it to its fullest.

Q.  Sunday is the final of the very first Drive, Chip & Putt Championship and Augusta National has created the Asian Amateur and now the Latin amateur, and now letting kids watch free with ticket holders and a state‑of‑the‑art website.  Curious how you think of the new ‑‑ under Billy Payne’s out reach that Augusta National has made in recent years.

ANDY NORTH:  I think it’s unbelievable.  I think it’s awesome what they are trying to do, growing the game, exposing the game to so many different countries.  I believe that we are in 53 or 54 countries this year ESPN‑wise, which is great for the fan and the golfer and the person that wants to learn about playing this game; I salute Billy Payne and his ability to think outside the box.  It’s going to be great for our game.

CURTIS STRANGE:  They are one of the very few ‑‑ we talk about growing the game and bringing the game to the Masters, and you know, I guess growing the game worldwide, and they are one of the few that are actually doing it, okay.  They really are doing it.

PAUL AZINGER:  I was going to say, what better platform than Augusta National.  They are really almost leaders in the industry in growing the game believe it or not.  They back up their talk with their walk when it comes to what they have done here to expand the ability for people actually even on site to come watch the event.  It’s just fantastic.

Q.  Henrik Stenson won that double last year and is up to No. 3 in the World Rankings, and people say they still have to get their minds around him being No. 3 in the world; what do you think his chances are coming up this week or even winning a major this year.  His game seems to be coming around again finally.

PAUL AZINGER:  Personally I feel he has the most simple, uncomplicated golf swing that there is.  He can be volatile emotionally and Augusta National will test that.  And you know, his putter is maybe not his strength but tee‑to‑green, I just think he’s as good as there is, and I actually forgot to mention Henrik Stenson earlier as one of the favorites.  But I’ve been thinking about Henrik Stenson here for a long time.  I really admire his skills.

CURTIS STRANGE:  I agree with Paul.  I think he’s had a down first part of the year and that’s certainly understandable with the energy and all that good play and the adrenaline that went through his body the entire year last year.  It was an incredible year he had.

It’s human nature to have a down period but if there’s anything that can get you going, it’s a big tournament, obviously, the Masters is the next step.  And it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see him really play well.  I think more than anything else, he probably has been emotionally exhausted and you know, a couple months or a month off ‑‑ hell, he didn’t have much of a year off at all I guess in the off‑season.

But I think that it’s human nature and it wouldn’t surprise me at all for him to play well here at the Masters.  I think this is probably what he needs to get the blood going a little bit.

ANDY NORTH:  I think if you look at the fact, also, that here is the No. 3 player in the world and no one talks about him.  He can go out and play practice rounds at Augusta National and no one bothers him.  What a wonderful position to be in; he’s so under the radar that that’s got to take some pressure off of him, and I think that’s the one thing that could possibly change this week with Tiger not around.  Some of these other players are going to be in the spotlight and we’ll see how they handle it.

Q.  As a pro from Virginia beach, what do you think of Marc Leishman?

CURTIS STRANGE:  I do know something about him.  I do know he lives at the beach.  He has not played as well I guess the last year or so ‑‑ it his rookie season he played so well.

You know, when you talk about a guy like Marc Leishman, and there’s many players in the field like this, incredibly talented, it wouldn’t surprise some in the know of the game, players that know ‑‑ you know, the guys that really know the players are the players themselves, because they are out there every single day with them on the practice tee playing with them, just 30 weeks a year.

But he’s the type of guy, and again, there’s a lot of them in the field, that it wouldn’t shock us, it might shock the world, that they do well and they are there Sunday afternoon, and as you said, he finished fourth there last year, or even won.

But, you know, it’s just I go back to what we talked about earlier, that guys that borderline talented to win a major, okay, and I’m not saying he’s borderline.  But if you get in that position, especially Sunday afternoon, it’s a feeling unlike anything you’ll ever go through before.  Not taking anything away from Bay Hill or Honda or Doral or L.A. or wherever it might be on TOUR.  It’s no feeling; it’s nothing like what you’re going to go through on the weekend, especially Sunday afternoon at the Masters.

So you’ve got to have everything together and the stars have to be aligned if you’re not a superstar, and you’ve got to be able to control your emotions, and it’s tough, because everybody that’s ever played this game, knows what it looks like, they know the ghosts going through the pine trees, they know the stories, they know the victories and the defeats on the last nine holes, and so that’s hard to put out of your mind, and if you can do that and you can control everything then you can come through.  It doesn’t happen very often at Augusta, though.

As we talked about, it’s a hard golf course, the greens, the pressure, the whole thing.  But you know, what there’s no reason why he couldn’t, though.  Hit it in the fairway, put it on the green and make a few putts.  It really doesn’t get much more complicated than that.

Q.  Could you talk about the strategy of the 15th hole and if the competition may have changed over the years, as well.

PAUL AZINGER:  The 15th hole has changed dramatically through the years.  They have added a bunch of pine trees on the right‑hand side that have actually made it a very tight tee shot.  It’s been lengthened, probably as far as it could ever be lengthened.  The tee bumps up to the 10th green now almost.  It’s a dramatically downhill second shot.  If you lay up, I say the third shot to that par 5 is the most difficult shot on the golf course off the downslope to that green.  It’s kind of unforgiving.  I always think about 1986 when Jack made eagle there, and then you’ve had scenarios where balls have rolled back in the water.  I think its place and the close of Augusta National, the Masters Tournament, the close on that hole is every bit as significant as it’s ever been; overlooked maybe if there’s not making eagles.

And you factor in what Curtis said earlier, Tiger hit the flag there.  I mean, it is a scary, scary hole.  That second shot is not easy, and then if you are forced to lay up, you know, you’ve got to hit a great drive now.  Used to be just bombs away down the right side, but it has really become a more difficult hole.

ANDY NORTH:  I think the fact that you know when you’re standing on the tee, if you hit a great drive, you have an opportunity to knock it on the green in two, and there’s nothing more frustrating that when you know that you probably shouldn’t go for it.  So now do you want to lay up or do you go ahead and take that chance, that maybe one in five chance of putting it on the green versus laying up, and there’s quite often the player will take that chance because if you lay it up down the fairway, the 70‑ and 80‑yard shot is as difficult as the 225‑yard shot into that green.

I think it’s the scariest wedge shot you have to ever play because if you over‑spin it, you can spin it back in the water.  If you goose it a little bit, you knock it over that green and make a bogey that way as easily.  It’s just a beautifully‑designed, tactical hole that you can make a 3 or you can make a 7 and you almost won’t see the difference in the shots you hit.  It’s a terrific par 5 and it comes at a really nice place on the back nine.

CURTIS STRANGE:  It’s your last chance.  You always figure at Augusta that you have to play the par 5s well.  You have to if you’re going to win and that’s your last chance.  But don’t think they are easy by any stretch.

PAUL AZINGER:  I’ll just add real quick, the committee has really figured out, we keep talking about how hard it is and the pressure, and you’ve got to deal with that and blah, blah, but man, they have somehow, they have really figured out how to make it so exciting on Sunday.  You see birdies flying right and left, and you see this great, I don’t know, just these great performances when the pressure is on.  Adam Scott’s finish; Schwartzel finishing with four straight birdies.  They know where to put the flags on Sunday to create drama, and it’s the greatest stage in golf.

Q.  Looking at the field, it’s surprising how many young guys that we know could compete, the Jordan Spieths, Russell Henleys, Harris English, who are some guys that could be in contention on Sunday.

ANDY NORTH:  I really like Harris English’s game.  I think he is a true star in the making.  Hits it really long.  He’s made himself into a good putter.  Patrick Reed has had an unbelievable start and is a very, very confident player.  He actually bombs it and he’s got a terrific putting stroke.  I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if either one of those guys are in the hunt come Sunday afternoon.

CURTIS STRANGE:  Patrick Reed, it’s hard to pass him without mentioning his name, three wins in the last ten or 11 months.  You know, I like his attitude.  Not so sure you say all those things sometimes because it backs you into a corner but I like the attitude and I like the way he believes in himself and that’s a huge part of playing the PGA TOUR in big events.  It wouldn’t surprise anyone I don’t think right now, because he and Jimmy Walker have been playing better than anyone.

PAUL AZINGER:  My favorite guy to watch is Jordan Spieth.  I love his golf swing.  I love the way ‑‑ the look in his eyes, and I think he’s going to be a real breakthrough player.  I think all of the above, when you ask any of those guys that can get in contention, it’s one of those, all of the above.  They could all surprise or actually meet expectation.

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SiriusXM Offers Live Coverage from Dallas for NCAA Final Four

SIRIUS XM RADIO LOGOSiriusXM College Sports Nation features analysis from Bobby Cremins, Mateen Cleaves, Steve Lappas, Tom Brennan, Tim Brando and others

Final Four® matchups and National Championship game will air live on SiriusXM channel 91

SiriusXM will offer subscribers comprehensive coverage of this weekend’s NCAA Final Four® and the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s National Championship game with live broadcasts from Dallas from today, April 3, through Tuesday, April 8.

SiriusXM College Sports Nation, channel 91, will showcase a daily lineup of shows featuring a cast of college basketball experts that includes three-time ACC Coach of the Year Bobby Cremins, Hall of Fame Michigan State guard Mateen Cleaves, former Villanova and UMass coach Steve Lappas, former University of Vermont coach Tom Brennan, plus Tim Brando, Mark Packer, Chris Childers and Jason Horowitz.

SiriusXM College Sports Nation Schedule: (All times ET)

Thursday, April 3

o    9 am-12 pm: Tim Brando Show

o    12-3 pm: Inside College Basketball with Mateen Cleaves and Chris Childers

o    3-5:45 pm: College Sports Today with Tom Brennan and Mark Packer

o    5:45-6:45pm: Basketball and Beyond with Coach K with Mike Krzyzewski (show does not originate from Dallas)

Friday, April 4

o    9 am-12 pm: Tim Brando Show

o    12-3 pm: Inside College Basketball with Tom Brennan and Jason Horowitz

o    3-6 pm: College Sports Today with Bobby Cremins and Mark Packer

Saturday, April 5

o    9 am-12 pm: Tim Brando Show

o    12-3:30 pm: College Sports Today with Tom Brennan and Mark Packer

o    3:30-12 pm: Programming and play-by-play provided by WestwoodOne

o    12 pm-2 am: College Sports Nation Postgame Show with Tom Brennan and Chris Childers

Sunday, April 6

o    10 am-12 pm:  College Sports Sunday with Bobby Cremins and Chris Childers

o    12-3 pm: College Sports Today with Tom Brennan and Mark Packer

Monday, April 7

o    9 am-12 pm: Tim Brando Show

o    12-3 pm:  Inside College Basketball with Steve Lappas and Jason Horowitz

o    3-6:30 pm: College Sports Today with Tom Brennan and Mark Packer

o    6:30-12 pm: Programming and play-by-play provided by WestwoodOne

o    12 pm-2 am: College Sports Nation Postgame Show with Tom Brennan and Chris Childers

Tuesday, April 8

o    12-3 pm:  Inside College Basketball with Mateen Cleaves and Jason Horowitz

o    3-6 pm: College Sports Today with Tom Brennan and Mark Packer

SiriusXM College Sports Nation, channel 91, will feature live play-by-play of the Final Four games on Saturday night and the National Championship game on Monday.  Broadcasts are provided by WestwoodOne.

For more info visit www.siriusxm.com/collegesports. Follow the channel on Twitter @SiriusXMCollege.

###

Notes from TNT’s NBA Coverage – Thursday, April 3, 2014

nba-on-tntTNT’s NBA coverage continues Tuesday, April 8, with doubleheader action featuring the Brooklyn Nets @ Miami Heat at 8 p.m. ET and the Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles Lakers at 10:30 p.m.

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TNT NBA Tip-off presented by AutoTrader.com

Matt Winer, Shaquille O’Neal, Steve Smith and Chris Webber

Steve Smith on Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard: “We all know to win championships you’re going to have to defend. And they don’t have the lockdown defenders other than Kawhi Leonard that you can put on somebody and make it hard… They need a guy that they can just take [an opposing player] out of a ballgame, and Kawhi Leonard is one of those guys.”

Chris Webber on the Oklahoma City Thunder: “I still believe you have to have three great players, two Hall of Famers, to win a championship in this league…That third great player could be [Serge] Ibaka, defensively.”

Shaquille O’Neal on Oklahoma City: “The difference between OKC and Miami is you can look at Miami and say, ‘they’re going to win because they do everything right.’ With OKC you have to say, ‘if their jumper is falling, then they’ll win. If they can score on the inside, then they’ll win. If [Thunder point guard] Russell Westbrook is playing under control, then they can win.’”
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San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder 
Kevin Calabro (play-by-play), Mike Fratello (analyst) with David Aldridge (reporter)

Mike Fratello on Thunder guard Reggie Jackson: “He takes some of the pressure off [Russell] Westbrook. They have developed so much confidence in him, and he has developed so much confidence from when he took over for Westbrook. He’s a terrific defender, can penetrate and get to the rim; he’s another weapon on the floor.”

Fratello on Thunder forward Kevin Durant: “It’s just too easy for him to score because at his size he can run the floor, he can handle the ball; he can beat you off the dribble; he shoots the ball with incredible range.”

Fratello on Oklahoma City’s defensive focus: “Give Oklahoma City credit, when they get down in their stance, when they’re engaged, all five players on the floor, they’re a terrific defensive team.”

Fratello on the upcoming NBA television schedule: “There’s hardly a game that you can look at on the schedule and say not one of the two teams aren’t involved somehow in the playoff race.”

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Sprint Halftime Report
Winer, O’Neal, Smith and Webber

Webber on Spurs forward Tim Duncan: “This is what I love about him, the fact that right now he’s averaging close to 10 rebounds. There are guys seven-foot that aren’t doing that, and they’re in their 20s. I think a lot of it is just being boring, just playing the same way, like a drill.”
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Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Clippers
Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Brent Barry (analyst) with Craig Sager (reporter)

Brent Barry on the Dallas Mavericks trying to make the playoffs: “Their fate is in their hands. They just have to play better basketball. They have struggled in fourth quarters. They got to keep getting themselves in that position to win games.”

Barry on Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul: “He plays both ways. He knows how to take over games. Defensively, [he is] the steals leader in the league. He probably uses more energy than anybody who plays this game, talking, moving and communicating. He’s a special, special player.”

Barry on the Mavericks adding players during the offseason: “I think the Mavericks’ brass, in looking at free agency in the offseason, talked about what they needed to compliment Dirk Nowitski’s game. These guys fit together. Jose Calderon is a set up point guard, a great spot up shooter… And Monta Ellis causes all kind of matchup problems at his size.”

Barry on Glen “Big Baby” Davis’ role with the Clippers: “There are going to be some times I think quite frankly that “Big Baby” is going to be important for the Clippers, just in terms of the emotional energy he brings to the game.”

Barry on Dallas winning on the road: “[They had] some struggles in the fourth quarter but overall Rick Carlisle has got to be very pleased with this performance… They got this road trip started the right way by winning against one of the best of the West.”
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Sprint Halftime Report
Winer, O’Neal, Smith and Webber
Webber on Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis: “I played with Monta Ellis when he was a rookie. You would have never seen him have the stats he has tonight… He’s become one of the best finishers in the game… When he’s keeping everyone on their toes, on ice-skates, on their toes, he gets guys involved.”

Smith on Ellis: “I like the way he’s distributing. It seems like he’s looking to win basketball games right now. And he’s playing with Dirk Nowitzki, who’s playing out of his mind at his age.”
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Inside the NBA presented by Kia
Winer, O’Neal, Smith and Webber

Smith on Dallas’ veteran contributors off the bench: “I take my hat off to Shawn Marion and Vince Carter. Old guys still getting it done, [they] still want to make the playoffs. I think to win championships… you have to have these vets. Vets know how to play at the end of the year. That’s when they get to going.”

Webber on the Clippers’ inconsistency: “This is why Doc Rivers probably isn’t getting all the sleep he should during the year because sometimes the Clippers go back to being the old Clippers from last year in the middle of the game. That’s the only thing that worries me about them.”

O’Neal on Thunder guard Russell Westbrook: “I think he could play linebacker in the NFL.”

Smith on Spurs guard Manu Ginobili: “I think they’re going to have to have Manu [Ginobili] play at a high level… We all know great scorers don’t want to really guard [other] great scorers.”
Visit the Turner Sports online press room for additional press materials; follow Turner Sports on Twitter at @TurnerSportsPR

- 30 -

Bruce Feldman, Renowned College Football Journalist, Joins FOX Sports

fox-sports-logoAs Senior College Football Reporter & Columnist, Feldman Contributes

Across Multiple FOX Sports Platforms

New York – Bruce Feldman, one of the nation’s leading college football journalists and New York Times best-selling author, has joined FOX Sports as senior college football reporter and columnist it was announced today by John Entz, Executive Vice President, Production, FOX Sports.

Feldman’s contributions to FOX Sports’ college football coverage include reporting and writing columns regularly for FOXSports.com, a robust presence on social media, as well as appearing on FOX and FOX Sports 1 college football related programming.

“Bruce has huge credibility and tremendous contacts within the college football community,” said Entz.  “No question, he’s one of the most respected voices in the space, and he’s a huge addition to the depth, quality and integrity of our college football coverage.”

Feldman joins FOX Sports from CBS, where he covered college football for CBSSports.com for the past two years. Prior to that, he spent 17 years at ESPN.com reporting on college football, covering breaking news as well as major events. Feldman’s articles have been cited in several editions of The Best American Sports Writing and nominated for numerous national magazine awards. He has also won first place awards in contests sponsored by the Football Writers Association of America.

Based in Los Angeles, Feldman has authored or co-authored three college football books, including Swing Your Sword, which reached number five on The New York Times Bestsellers list in 2011.  He also wrote Meat Market: Inside the Smash-Mouth World of College Football Recruiting and Cane Mutiny: How the Miami Hurricanes Overturned the College Football Establishment.

Earlier in his career, Feldman reported for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times. In addition, he was previously an associate editor of College & Pro Football Newsweekly. Feldman is a 1992 graduate of the University of Miami.