Prose Bowl Game: What if….?

LTP is proud to add another stellar contributor to its ever-growing roster. Today, Jeffrey Eisenband takes a tough first assigment and creates a mock telecast combining NU and SU alums in what would be one heck of an entertaining TV event. Jeffrey is a junior at Northwestern and a member of the student radio station, WNUR, has anchored the student sports telecasts (NNN) and been a contributing writer to Yahoo! Sports. Please welcome, Jeffrey to the team!

Before we go in to Jeffrey’s post, the big news of yesterday was NU’s injury report:

    • Venric Mark and Kain Colter are listed as “questionable”, which you can read in to any way you want to. To me, I’m still GUESSING that Kain doesn’t play and that Venric doesn’t return kicks.  Questionable is less promising than “probable”. 
    • That title goes to Chi Chi Ariguzo, Will Hampton and Damien Proby, the three defensive players who were implicated by Sonny Dykes of being part of NU’s conspiracy cheating ring for faking injuries. While Sonny Dykes never said that, his on-field actions and post-game insinuation led you right down that path.  Rodger Sherman at SippinOnPurple had the line of the week by stating this triumverate on the injury report is “Pat Fitzgerald’s way of drawing a middle finger on a piece of paper, then faxing it to Sonny Dykes.”
    • As a set-up to the Prose Bowl post, here is yet ANOTHER several minutes of free NU football marketing by Mike Greenberg of ESPN Radio’s famous Mike & Mike show as he gets in to it with Syracuse alum, Sean McDonough. Mike Greenberg is the (Golic, say it…) HONORARY captain for tomorrow’s game and will be speaking to the team tonight and leading NU on to the field. We think. Here is a teaser of Greeny’s ESPN College Gameday feature for tomorrow:

Prose Bowl

For the second straight season and eleventh time in all, Northwestern and Syracuse will go head-to-head on Saturday (BTN, 5pm ct). For a sect of each university’s student body and alumni, the game is more than just a September non-conference matchup.

Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and Syracuse’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications are two of the top undergraduate and graduate journalism/communications schools in the world. Thanks in part to the two schools also having Division I athletics, NU and SU hold a strong presence in the sports journalism world.

What if the best of the best in sports journalism from Northwestern and Syracuse joined forces to cover the game this Saturday? The Evanston and Syracuse faithful would experience the ultimate college football game broadcast.

Below is a hypothetical casting for what the day would look like.

As for the game, poetically, Northwestern and Syracuse are 5-5 in the all-time series. Northwestern won at Syracuse 42-41 in 2012.

Both Wilbon and Greeny graced a 'Cats playcalling sign in 2012
Both Wilbon and Greeny graced a ‘Cats playcalling sign in 2012

Syracuse-Northwestern Pregame Show: Mike Greenberg (NU), Rich Eisen (NU), Donovan McNabb (SU), Rachel Nichols (NU), Seth Meyers (NU), Aaron Sorkin (SU)

With no on-air members of ESPN’s College GameDay hailing from Evanston or Syracuse, the on-site pregame crew game would need a full overhaul. Dave Salerno, a Northwestern alum (’97) is, however, a former producer for College Gameday now working on E:60, so we can rely on him to help tint this thing purple.

Greenberg, known for his radio work on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, brings a necessary passion for college football to the main hosting job (in real life, he is NU’s honorary captain for the game). Eisen, who attended Medill as a graduate student, was a pioneer at the NFL Network and has done his fair share of on-site work. McNabb joined the NFL Network last year and is a founding member of Fox Sports Live on Fox Sports 1 as an analyst. Nichols, now at Turner Sports and CNN, conquered NFL reporting as a member of ESPN. As for GameDay’s celebrity analysts, Meyers, NU’s 2011 homecoming king, provides quick-witted jokes on desk. Sorkin draws up a fantasized script of his expectations for the game.

TV Play-By-Play: Brent Musburger (NU)

No one paints a better picture than Musburger when it comes to broadcasting college football. Although he spends most Saturdays with the traditional big dogs of college football, Northwestern’s rise could reel him back to Evanston. This fantasy may become a reality when NU hosts Ohio State in prime time October 5. Long-time Northwestern officials may be reluctant to see Musburger return to campus. He was kicked out of school for a year as punishment for owning and operating a car without a license.

TV Color Commentator: Daryl Johnston (SU)

Long before he was part of the “Kenny, Moose and Goose” NFL on Fox team with Kenny Albert and Tony Siragusa, Johnston was a fullback for Syracuse. Johnston’s college football broadcasting experience is limited, but he did perform color for the 2010 and 2011 Cotton Bowl Classics.

TV Sideline Reporters: Craig Sager (NU), Steve Tasker (NU), Lisa Byington (NU), Ann Werner Kreiter (NU)

Putting Sager on the radio would take away his most useful tool: the odd-colored suit. In this situation, Sager would undoubtedly go with a purple suit. Unlike many of his colleagues, “Mr. Fancy Suit” was not in Medill and earned a bachelor’s degree in speech.

Steve Tasker, the Wildcat standout (’85) and Buffalo Bills great is considered by many the best special teams player of all-time. Tasker’s day job is currently an NFL sideline reporter for CBS Sports telecasts.

Lisa Byington is currently a sideline reporter for BTN. This is already her day job and she’d easily step right in and kill it.  Ann Werner (now Ann Kreiter), a ’93 NU graduate, was a fixture on ESPN for several years as a feature reporter.  She had many high-profile assignments, and she is a football junkie, having grown up a diehard Packers fan.  Ann currently produces for WTTW-11, the PBS affiiliate in Chicago.

Radio Play-By-Play: Mike Tirico (SU)

Tirico, the current voice of Monday Night Football, called ESPN’s Thursday night college game from 1997-2005. In radio, Tirico broadcasts the NBA Finals for ESPN Radio. In many sports, Tirico could overtake Musburger for the TV spot, but not in college football.

Radio Color Commentator: Jim Brown (SU)

Brown did limited color commentating for the NFL on CBS in the late 70s, teaming with Vin Scully and George Allen. In the early 90s, he also did some color work on pay-per-view for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His acting experience is also a résumé booster for the Hall of Famer to analyze his old college team. Despite his spotty on-air track record, who would argue against Brown in the broadcast booth.

Radio Sideline Reporter: Beth Mowins (SU)

Mowins, who attended Newhouse as a graduate student, is a trailblazer for female broadcasters. In 2005, she became the second women to call a nationally televised football game for ESPN. The Syracuse native did play-by-play for the NU-SU game last September at the Carrier Dome.

Online Stream Play-By-Play: Marv Albert (SU)

Adding a third method of watching/listening to the game may be a stretch, but it’s too tough to leave Albert off the list. Although he is known more for his coverage of professional sports, Albert has made journeys down to the college ranks in the past three NCAA Basketball Tournaments. There is no reason he could not bring college football back into his repertoire. ‘Cats fans can here it now: “Colter to Mark, yes!” or “Siemian to Vitale! And the foul!”

Online Color Commentator: Chris Martin (NU)

Martin, a four-year letterman with the ‘Cats, was part of the 1995 Rose Bowl team. Martin played one game and had one career tackle with the Bears, but he has made a name for himself in the Midwest doing color for the Big Ten Network. The former All-Big Ten cornerback was a fixture on BTN as an analyst until his sports agency conflict precluded him from returning to the booth this year. He’s LTP’s favorite BTN analyst.

Online Sideline Reporter: Sean McDonough (SU)

Maybe known more for his baseball and golf broadcasting, McDonough has called college football for both CBS and ESPN. He has also done obscure sports such as bobsled, luge and lacrosse. His versatility gives him the final spot as a sideline reporter.

Broadcast On-Call: Dick Stockton (SU), Dave Pasch (SU)

Stockton, who has done national play-by-play for the NFL since 1976, the NBA since 1981 and the MLB since 1990, could have easily replaced Tirico or Albert as play-by-play men. He called the 2010 Orange Bowl and has dipped his feet into college sports. Pasch, a 2012 addition to the ESPN college football broadcasting team, could also give it a go if necessary.

Halftime Host: Bob Costas (SU)

He started as a play-by-play commentator, but Costas evolved into America’s studio host. He has been the prime-time host of nine Olympic games, and since 2006, Costas has been the studio host for The NFL on NBC. It would be interesting to see him breakdown the ‘Cats and Orange from a fireside seat or a Times Square studio.

Halftime Analyst: Gary Barnett (NU)

Although he was forced to resign at Colorado, Barnett is forever engrained in Evanston culture thanks to his Rose Bowl trip in 1995 as NU’s head coach. In his post-coaching career, Barnett has worked as a commentator for Fox Sports Net and Sports USA Radio Network.

Post-Game Highlights: Dave Revsine (NU) and Steve Weissman (NU)

This pairing matches old and new Wildcats. Revsine spent a decade at ESPN before joining the Big Ten Network. He was the first man to speak when the network debuted in August 2007. Weissman is quickly rising through the ranks as an ESPN anchor. The two would be a power NU team on highlights.

Late Night Highlights: Anish Shroff (SU), Steve Bunin (SU)

Shroff was a contestant on Season Two of ESPN’s Dream Job, but he was the second-to-last contestant cut. He eventually landed a job on ESPN in 2008 and currently is an ESPNU host and the play-by-play announcer for ESPNU’s Thursday Night Football Game. Prior to last year’s NU-SU game, Shroff and Weissman made a bet with the loser being forced to wear the opposing team’s color tie on-air.

Bunin worked at ESPN from 2003-2012 and is now an anchor for Comcast SportsNet Houston. Although Bunin is probably known best for prompting Stephen A. Smith’s famous Kwame Brown rant . Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated called him “one of the most underrated talents in sports journalism” in 2012. Like Revsine and Weissman with NU, Shroff and Bunin could be a power ‘Cuse team.

Northwestern Column 1: Stewart Mandel (NU)

Since 1999, Mandel has worked for and became an early member of the online sports journalism world. He focuses on college football and basketball for SI. As part of this year’s College Football Preview in the magazine, Mandel wrote a “Revenge of the Nerds” piece, giving the ‘Cats some national press.

Northwestern Column 2: Luke Winn (NU)

Winn has worked at SI since 2002 mainly as a college basketball writer, but ‘Cats fans would not care about his lack of football experience. After Winn’s piece this July on Northwestern’s basketball revival, the Evanston faithful will listen to whatever Winn says.

Northwestern Columns 3-300: Adam Rittenberg (NU), Teddy Greenstein (NU), Doug Lesmerises (NU), John U. Bacon (NU) etc…

This listing is sure to provoke “what about….?” responses. Both schools could list hundreds of print, online, local TV media personalities to cover the game.’s Adam Rittenberg is the beat reporter for the B1G and a proud Wildcat alum. Teddy Greenstein covers NU and the B1G beat for the Chicago Tribune. Doug Lesmerises (NU) covers Ohio State and the B1G for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. John U. Bacon, author of a just-released new book, Fourth and Long (which LTP is reading and will soon be posting an interview) has NU ties. The list goes on and on.

Syracuse Column 1: Pete Thamel (SU)

Thamel left the New York Times last summer to join forces with Mandel at Sports Illustrated. The Newhouse graduate sat on the 2012 “Beyond the Box Score” panel at Medill with Mandel, Nichols and Pat Fitzgerald, so he gets the rivalry.

Syracuse Column 2: Greg Bishop

Bishop is a national college sports enterprise reporter for the New York Times, who graduated from SU with a degree in journalism and finance in 2002. He recently wrote “The Legend of Jadeveon Clowney” for the paper. Bishop, known for his long-form writing, could paint the full picture of the events at Ryan Field Saturday.

National column: Christine Brennan (NU)

Brennan, a USA Today columnist and on-air contributor to ABC News, CNN, PBS NewsHour, NPR and Fox Sports Radio, paved the path for many female sportswriters. Much of her work involves women’s sports issues, as she stirred the pot of Augusta National Golf Club’s lack of female members in 2002 and then broke the story of the club’s first two female members in 2012. In football, Brennan became the first woman to cover the Washington Redskins while at the Washington Post in the 1980s. In 1988, she became the first president of the Association for Women in Sports Media. She could also turn Syracuse at Northwestern into national news.

Monday afternoon panel: Michael Wilbon (NU), J.A. Adande (NU), Kevin Blackistone (NU), Craig Carton (SU), Ryan Burr (SU)

No Tony Reali, no Tony Kornheiser, no problem. After the weekend dust settles in Evanston, NU and SU can put together a loaded cast for a roundtable discussion. Michael Wilbon of Pardon the Interruption and J.A. Adande and Kevin Blackistone of Around the Horn are three print minds that bring their creativity to television. Craig Carton is not yet a national face, but New Yorkers know him as the wacky voice of Boomer and Carton in the Morning on WFAN with Boomer Esiason. Ryan Burr, a former host of College Football Live on ESPN and current member of NBC Sports and the Golf Channel, has the track record to serve as host and keep the big guns in line.

Insider: Adam Schefter (NU)

Not much explaining necessary here. Schefter, a former Medill graduate student, is the all-knowing brain of ESPN’s NFL reporting. Schefter has over 2.4 million followers on Twitter, as he breaks NFL news seconds after general managers shake hands. Without trades and free agent signings to deal with, Schefter would find ease covering the college game. It would be like NFL receivers going into a league where they only need to keep one foot in bounds.

Business reporter: Darren Rovell (NU)

Rovell virtually created his own profession when he worked as a sports business reporter for in the early 2000s. He moved to CNBC from 2006-2012, but has been back at ESPN for a year now. Rovell was honored at Northwestern basketball’s “Social Media Night” last February.

Behind The Scenes: Countless (NU & SU)

This game may mean the most in Bristol, Connecticut. The amount of Northwestern and Syracuse alums that work at ESPN behind-the-scenes is pretty staggering. We don’t have an official count, but odds are that Syracuse (1) and NU (2) are the top feeder schools in the country to the Worldwide Leader.ESPN talent like NY-based Willie Weinbaum (NU), Karl Webb (NU), Antoine Lewis (NU), Michael Diesenhoff (NU), Elida Witthoeft (NU) and a ton more work behind the scenes as producers, executives and a host of roles that make the whole place work.

Back to the Real World

LTP reached out earlier this week to ACTUAL ESPNers with NU ties to get their quotes on what this game meant within the walls of ESPN. Here is what they had to say:

“Coach Fitzgerald would say every game counts the same, but let’s not kid ourselves, this is the Prose Bowl. Going 1-0 here is vital. In the halls of Bristol, the Syracuse brethren think last year’s win was ill-gotten or lucky. A good throttling will go a long way to getting the flock of Newhouse grads off our backs.” – Darren Rovell, ESPN (NU)


Purple is the color of royalty. Orange is a fruit. That is this game broken down into the simplest of terms so our Syracuse brethren can understand they have no chance. While Newhouse is a school of Communications, Medill is a school of Journalism. Journalists are held to a higher standard and that is why we must be victorious! – Steve Weissman, ESPN SportsCenter anchor (NU)

A Wildcat is a cunning predator, known for taking down larger and stronger foes. An orange is crushed into a pulp and consumed for breakfast. Etan Harmelech, ESPN production (NU)

“Tops in journalism. Tops in football. Enough said. And at least we don’t have to wear orange.” – Elida Witthoeft, ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer (NU)

This is simple…This is a preseason game for Northwestern to get the ‘Cats in shape for the Legends Division of the Big Ten, which is all this Northwestern Wildcat is concerned about.
Syracuse is already looking ahead to basketball season…
Good luck, Orange (you’ll need it) – Karl Webb (NU) – ESPN producer/editor

“Saturday’s game is vital to the Wildcats and to ESPN, as Mike Greenberg is the Cats’ honorary captain and a 4-0 start is likely to bring GameDay to Evanston for the nationally televised Homecoming game against The Ohio State University.   So I’d say to the many respected Orange Bristolers that the Big East’s, I mean ACC’s visitors to Big Ten country have to go home with an L or Greeny will be winless and GameDay won’t experience the purple pageantry and tropical climate NU nation cherishes.” – Willie Weinbaum (NU) – ESPN  producer

I feel a lot better about my alma mater’s chances, the Harvard of central New York, after hearing you’re (Mike Greenberg) the HONORARY captain….if this were a communication school vs communication school game, Syracuse would be a 17-point favorite, but unfortunately, on the football field it is the other way around. Sean McDonough, ESPN play-by-play announcer (SU)

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  • NUMBalumDave

    I may be the only one in the universe, but I cannot stand Brent Musberger. There, I said it.

    • LTP

      “You are looking live…” Can’t believe so few comments on this one. Thought it would provoke all sorts of “what about?” comments or at least some SU smack talk.

    • Expect Victory

      You are not the only one. I keep wishing that we could trade him to another school for, like, a bratwurst or something.

  • Raymond Chuang

    That’ll be great until you realize the University of Missouri–who plays in the SEC–has its own formidable school of journalism. There has to be a good amount of MU graduates at ESPN, too.

    But seriously (I think), the game between Northwestern and Syracuse is getting important because Northwestern has in recently years become a respectable football power. They’re like Vanderbilt and Stanford–top-notch colleges with surprisingly good football teams.

    • Philip Rossman-Reich

      We will get to them. #RememberTheAlamo

  • sermie

    How could you leave off ESPN’s Cassidy Hubbarth (NU)?

  • Flagdaddy

    Have you ever heard of Scott Hanson (SU) the host of NFL REDZONE? The most continually watched live NFL FOOTBALL PROGRAM EVERY SUNDAY

    • Lake The Posts

      Thanks for the add!