Why are Kirk Herbstreit, Chris Fowler calling ‘Monday Night Football’?

College football fans tuning into “Monday Night Football” will hear a familiar pair calling the Steelers-Giants game.

Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler, ABC’s leading college football broadcast team, will make their way to the pros on Monday to call the first “MNF” game of the season. ESPN, which owns “MNF” broadcast rights and is a part of the ABC family of networks, announced the move in mid-August.

“Chris and Kirk are commentators at the top of their game and have thrilled college football fans for many years,” Connor Schell, ESPN’s executive vice president of content, said in a statement. “We are looking to add new opportunities to their expansive portfolios and are confident that NFL fans will be just as excited to hear one of the most prolific broadcasting duos on ‘Monday Night Football.'”

The move isn’t permanent, of course. ESPN — which was down a broadcast team after reconfinguring its “MNF” lineups — needs more than one broadcast crew as it takes on the traditional doubleheader to start the season. Herbstreit and Fowler, who will be joined by college football sideline reporter Maria Taylor, will comprise the “B team” of Monday’s doubleheader. The top broadcast team of Steve Levy (play-by-play) and Brian Griese and Louis Riddick (color commentators) will take care of Titans-Broncos.

Levy, Griese and Riddick, who called the back half of the 2019 Week 1 “MNF” doubleheader, were upgraded to the top team this season in replacement of Joe Tessitore and Booger McFarland. Those two will head back to the college football side of things in 2020: Tessitore will call college games on ABC and ESPN, while McFarland will take over for Riddick as a pre-game analyst on “Monday Night Countdown.” He will also be an in-studio analyst on college football telecasts.

Moreover, it made sense for ESPN to move Herbstreit and Fowler to the “MNF” call as the 2020 college football team continues to fluxuate around the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless, the pair has over two decades’ worth of chemistry to rely on heading into their “MNF” broadcast. The two worked together on “College GameDay Built by the Home Depot” from 1996-2014 and then took over their current assignment, ABC’s “Saturday Night Football,” in 2014. Their work each year also extends into the College Football Playoff semifinals and championship game.

They bring more than just their chemistry to the Monday broadcast, however.

Herbstreit in August was honored with his third Sports Emmy for Outstanding Event Analyst, and second in three years. He also has five individual Sports Emmys, making him the most-honored commentator in ESPN history. Fowler received five Sports Emmys for Outstanding Studio Show Weekly College for his work on “GameDay.” He also has multiple Sports Emmys for his work on “SportsCentury.” Fowler has also been ESPN’s lead play-by-play announcer for tennis.

Speaking of which, Fowler’s appearance on “Monday Night Football” will cap quite a busy weekend for the sports broadcaster: He called the US Open women’s final between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka on Saturday, then the men’s final between Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev on Sunday.

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