Multiple outlets are reporting popular SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt is the clear frontrunner to be named the next host ESPN’s Monday Night Football Countdown. He would be replacing longtime host Suzy Kolber, who was let go in early July as part of the network’s cuts that affected on-air talent.
The news of Van Pelt being the front-runner to host one of ESPN’s marquee programs was confirmed by The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch and first reported by The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) July 19, 2023
According to Marchand, Laura Rutledge, who hosts ESPN’s afternoon studio NFL Live, is also in the running to replace Kolber as the host of Monday Night Countdown. In addition to her studio work, Rutledge is a sideline reporter for some of ESPN’s NFL games.
Van Pelt has hosted the midnight edition of SportsCenter since 2015, with his show consistently drawing large audiences, especially after marquee matchups.
On January 2, after Monday Night Football this year, Van Pelt’s SportsCenter had 5.17 million total viewers, its largest audience ever. Also, his show drew large audiences in January following the College Football Playoffs and after ESPN’s NFL Wild Card telecast.
In a recent appearance on the podcast SI Media with Jimmy Traina, Van Pelt spoke about how he doesn’t see himself hosting SportsCenter in three years. His move to hosting Monday Night Countdown could be the start of that process.
For ESPN, the network is starting to plug holes that emerged after its most recent layoffs, which affected personalities that had been with the network for a considerable period of time and had contracts that had become too expensive for ESPN.
The network is also looking at who will take over as the play-by-play analyst for its NBA games following Jeff Van Gundy’s exit, with names being floated, including Doris Burke, Richard Jefferson, and rapidly-rising star J.J. Redick.