Catching up on a few media notes this week:
• In a move that surprised no one, Max Kellerman will replace Fox-bound Skip Bayless as Stephen A Smith’s new sparring partner and co-host on First Take, the weekday morning debate show on ESPN2.
Kellerman already has significant name recognition with ESPN viewers, as a boxing analyst, the original host of Around The Horn and a SportsCenter contributor. He will relinquish his current gigs as co-host of ESPN2’s Sports Nation and a radio host on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Los Angeles.
“Max is smart, quick on his feet and is never -- ever -- afraid to go at anyone,” Smith said. “Just the kind of partner I wanted.”
ESPN wanted to keep Bayless, but he accepted a more lucrative offer from Fox Sports 1, which reportedly will pay him $5.5 million annually for four years, plus a $4 million signing bonus.
South Florida native Jorge Sedano, who hosts an evening ESPN Radio show with another familiar name to South Floridians (Israel Gutierrez), had been a finalist for The First Take co-host job.
• Mike Tirico will make his NBC debut as host of the network’s British Open coverage this weekend. Tirico left ESPN last month for an NBC job that also includes calling the network’s Thursday night NFL games in November and December, alongside Cris Collinsworth.
NBC will produce nine of those Thursday games, with five airing on NBC and NFL Net and four others airing on NFL Network.
Al Michaels will continue to call NBC’s Sunday night games with Collinsworth.
Other personnel moves:
• Heather Cox left ESPN, where she was a sideline reporter on the NBA and college football, to become NBC’s sideline reporter on the new Thursday night NFL package. She also will handle golf and Olympic assignments.
• Former Alabama, Jets and Bengals quarterback Greg McElroy will shift from a studio job at SEC Network to an ABC/ESPN game analyst role, with Dave Pasch.
• Former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Hines Ward left NBC Sports Network to become a sports correspondent for CNN.
• Couple other quick things: Pat Riley's Heat news conference at 1 p.m. Saturday will be streamed live on heat.com. We'll have the transcript here upon conclusion... Tirico, Al Michaels and Dan Patrick will share daytime NBC host duties during the Olympics, with Bob Costas naturally handling prime time... The 6.4 rating for the All-Star game was the lowest ever...
WQAM, which landed Dolphins rights, is still mulling who to use on pregame and postgame programming. Jimmy Cefalo, Joe Rose and Bob Griese return in the booth.... This will be a surprise for fans who like to watch Texas-Oklahoma every year in October: After 18 years in a row on ABC, Fox Sports 1 gets the game this year.
Remember when Ricky Williams shocked the Dolphins by retiring before training camp in July 2004, two months after receiving a four-game suspension for marijuana use?
Williams, appearing Friday with Donovan McNabb on Sirius XM’s The Source, said McNabb was the reason that he retired from football in 2004.
Williams cited a 34-27 Monday Night Football loss to the Eagles in Game 14 of the 2003 season and said “I was so devastated that night that even though I was in the NFL’s drug program I smoked that night. And the next morning is when I failed the test that actually got me into trouble. So thank you, Donovan.”
Lots of Canes news today, including Lawrence Cager's season-ending knee injury and UM touring the Orlando stadium as a potential site for its home opener. Click here for that.
Two other UM notes:
Four days after lifting Mark Walton’s suspension, Richt strongly suggested that Walton will not miss any games as the result of a legal issue that ended with charges against him being dropped.
“Game one is 49 days away!” Richt said, via Twitter, on Friday. “Looking forward to Mark Walton joining his team mates versus Florida A&M on September 3! Be there! U Family!”
On Monday, the State Attorney’s Office dropped the two charges against Walton: driving under the influence of alcohol and driving with a suspended license.
• UM is in the midst of a two-day “Paradise” football camp for 9th through 12th grade prospects, with guest instructors including former UM standouts Antrel Rolle, Jeremy Shockey, Brett Romberg and Phillip Buchanon.
One highlight today was Marc Richt jumping off a diving board. (Check out my twitter account, @flasportsbuzz, for video of that.)
And UM picked up a big oral commitment from Miramar High's Brian Edwards, a four-star prospect rated the 17th best safety (by Rivals) in the 2017 class. He had offers from Florida, Syracuse, Mississippi State and several others.
UM now has 16 oral commitments for 2017.