When he was a player, Booger McFarland never envisioned himself as one of those talking heads on television.
Now, he’s going national in that role.
McFarland, LSU's former All-American and a first-round NFL draft pick, is being elevated from the SEC Network to ABC. He’ll serve as the national network's in-studio analyst during college football Saturdays, working alongside former Texas coach Mack Brown and new anchor Kevin Negandhi.
“Very excited,” McFarland told The Advocate on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve enjoyed the last three years getting to talk about the schools in the SEC. This is the next step, expanding and being able to discuss more teams around the country. It’s still going to be the same me in the studio: honest and informative and entertain people.”
ESPN announced the move Tuesday, also revealing a handful of other significant changes to its college football coverage. Former Oregon coach Chip Kelly will join ESPN2 on Saturdays as a studio analyst and will have spots on "SportsCenter" on Fridays and Sundays. Former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer will move from the booth, where he called ESPN’s Thursday night games for the past decade, to an in-studio analyst role Thursday through Saturday.
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McFarland’s promotion to the national stage is a sign of his success in the broadcasting industry through just three short years. He joined the SEC Network in 2014, quickly leaving his stamp on the new, regional network with his affable personality and blunt criticism.
“I think people understand what they get when they listen to me,” McFarland said. “I don’t try to give too much jargon. Whether you don’t know the game or played for 20 years, you can learn something. Just be a straight shooter. Most fans want their analysts to be honest.”
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McFarland doesn’t know Brown well, but the two have worked together some, he said.
“Mack’s a football coach,” McFarland said. “It’s going to be two football coaches talking football led by one of the most professional broadcasters I know in Kevin Negandhi.”
McFarland played at LSU from 1995-98 and won Super Bowls with Tampa Bay and Indianapolis during his nine-year NFL career. The Winnsboro native hosted a radio talk show in Tampa, Florida, and did spot work on the NFL Network before landing with the SEC Network. He still lives in Tampa.
Broadcasting keeps him closer to the game he played and the game he loves, he said.
“My locker room now is in a studio instead of being inside a stadium,” he said. “All the guys, we eat together, joke around. My locker room has changed places, but it’s the same in a lot of ways. It allows me to keep closer to the game.”
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