Paul Finebaum works for ESPN and the SEC Network, but his bread is buttered with the SEC product as a whole. This week, he wasn’t shy in voicing his displeasure with how SEC on CBS has handled the sport this year.
During his regular appearance on JOX 94.5‘s “The Roundtable” in Birmingham, Finebaum went in on everything from the broadcast duo of Brad Nessler and Gary Danielson (to the delight of SEC fans, no doubt), to the choice of games the network has made.
The biggest mistake, he said, was making the play to grab Georgia vs. Notre Dame earlier in the year, and not locking up the Alabama-LSU game, which is on track to be an epic No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup.
He did it all while giving some shine to his ESPN colleagues, though it is hard to really argue that the Chris Fowler/Kirk Herbstreit team is the defining duo in the sport right now.
Via Saturday Down South:
“I have to say, the CBS approach to the game is getting tiresome. There’s no comparison to that primetime game on Saturday night, then you flip over and watch the Alabama-Texas A&M game. I still forget that Verne Lundquist is not doing the games. Brad Nessler is a very professional broadcaster, but he doesn’t distinguish himself like Verne did, or Keith Jackson did. Gary, what can you say about Gary that hasn’t already been said by 1,000 of your callers. Fowler has grown into the preeminent voice in college football and Kirk Herbstreit’s been that way for a long time.”
Finebaum also took the chance to flex about ESPN’s two major SEC broadcasts of the weekend—South Carolina’s huge upset of Georgia, and a very entertaining top 10 battle between LSU and Florida—both of which felt more impactful than the midday SEC on CBS game between Alabama and Texas A&M.
He lambasted the choice of Georgia vs. Notre Dame over the November Alabama-LSU matchup in Tuscaloosa for the CBS primetime slot. This is the first time that SEC West rivalry game will be played in the afternoon since 2010. Obviously LSU is far better and more entertaining than anyone could have imagined, and the chance to get a Notre Dame game is a rare one for CBS, but clearly it looks like an oversight now.
“How stupid does that look now,” he said.
The Nov. 9 LSU-Alabama game would have been a better primetime choice, he said, as he pointed to the narrative that this is the best LSU team in recent memory with the chance to beat Alabama.
“This LSU team is different. They’re the most exciting LSU team I can ever remember,” Finebaum said. “You make your chops in this business by making the right call, and CBS blew it. They’re sitting there right now with the game of the year, one of the biggest games in the 10 years, and they could have had it in primetime as the biggest game of the college football season and it’s literally buried at 2:30 (Central Time) in the afternoon with 4,000 other games on.”
I’m not sure Finebaum would have predicted Ed Orgeron’s team to make the leap it has, but he also isn’t in charge of programming for ESPN.