Olbermann heads back to ESPN

Keith Olbermann

On Wednesday, ESPN announced that Keith Olbermann would be rejoining the network in a new show called — what else? — "Olbermann'' next month.

If you were a betting person, bet that it will end in a disaster.

After all, there is a track record. Olbermann left ESPN in 1997 under what the New York Times described as "emotionally charged circumstances.''

He described ESPN's Bristol, Conn., headquarters as a "godforsaken place.''

After that, he was fired by Fox Sports Net in 2001, MSNBC in 2011 and by Current TV in March, 2012.


Olbermann, 54, who worked at ESPN from 1992 to 1997, said that his time will be different.

"Apart from the opportunity to try to create a nightly hour of sports television that no fan can afford to miss, I'm overwhelmed by the chance to begin anew with ESPN,'' he said this week in a conference call.

"I've been gone for 16 years and not one day in that time has passed without someone connecting me to the network. Our histories are indelibly intertwined and frankly I have long wished that I had the chance to make sure the totality of that story would be a completely positive one.

"I'm grateful to friends and bosses — old and new — who have permitted that opportunity to come to pass. I'm not going to waste it.

"I don't want that (the way it ended at ESPN) to be in my obituary. I don't want that to be the end of the story..... "I could apologize a thousand times but all that's going to make a difference is how I conduct myself. I don't have to be, in theory, apologetic or hoping to make amends. But I can just go out and do it now — and I intend to."

We'll see, of course.

New sports show

Olbermann's new show will be presented at 10 p.m. daily from ABC's Times Square studios in New York City. He has a two-year deal.


The program will focus on the day's relevant sports topics through a mix of perspective and commentary, interviews, contributors, panel discussions and highlights.

But no politics, even though contractually he's allowed to comment on any subject. But, he said, he will steer clear of politics — he's been known to have an opinion or two — unless it relates to a sports issue.

Olbermann said he had a "heart to heart'' talk with Chris Berman before the All-Star Game earlier this year. He said he put out feelers of his interest to return to ESPN over a year ago.

In a nutshell, the show will focus on what's happening in sports on a particular day. He has a two-year contract.

It will debut on Aug. 26. Some see Olbermann's signing as a way to combat Fox Sports, which launches its new station Fox Sports 1 on Aug. 19.

An alumus of Cornell, Olbermann worked at CNN and local news in Boston and Los Angeles before joining ESPN.

"Keith brings a blend of editorial sophistication and unpredictability — you can never be sure what you'll get," ESPN president John Skipper said. "Olbermann on ESPN2 gives viewers the quality late-night complement to ESPN's SportsCenter in the same way we've developed distinct show options across our networks the rest of the day."

Similar to SportsCenter on ESPN, "Olbermann'' will often immediately follow live events on ESPN2 (starting with U.S. Open tennis Aug. 26), leading to some flexibility in the show's start times depending on the length/timing of the events.


It should also be noted that in June, Turner Sports signed Olbermann as host of its postseason baseball coverage with Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.

Whether he will still be involved remains to be seen.

Around the tube

• Former University of Minnesota football coach Glen Mason will be on one of the primary college football broadcast teams for the Big Ten Network this fall. Mason will work alongside Matt Devlin (play-by-play).

Mason will also make frequent studio appearances.

• The British Open is entirely on ESPN, with coverage at 3 a.m. today, 6 a.m. on Saturday and 5 a.m. on Sunday.

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