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Southlake Style

Talking on air: Greg McElroy takes his winning ways to ESPN

Oct 10, 2014 10:27AM ● By Dia
As a young boy Greg McElroy quickly learned what it took to succeed. He patiently watched and learned from a long list of talented players and coaches in Southlake. Years of dedication and preparation were rewarded. When it was his turn to shine under Friday night lights he was ready. After high school he accepted a scholarship to Alabama and it was more of the same. Watching. Waiting. Learning from the games best. Once again he would shine, this time as a BCS National Champion, Academic All-American and lastly, as an NFL draft pick. When it was all said and done, McElroy solidified a reputation as a thinking man’s quarterback— one who never shied away from, but rather excelled in the spotlight. This football season he once again stepped into the spotlight, however this time he’s doing so from the sidelines as a college football analyst for ESPN’s latest endeavor, the SEC Network.

How he got the job:

 In the fall of 2010, after a heartbreaking 28-27 defeat at the hands, and feet, of Cam Newton’s Auburn Tigers, Alabama had tallied a 9-3 record playing in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). A Florida Citrus Bowl invitation followed with an uneventful matchup against Michigan State. Alabama won in a 49-7 route of the Spartans, a full week before Oregon would face Auburn in the 2011 BCS National Championship game.

As fate would have it, McElroy’s collegiate career ended a little earlier than even he would have originally liked; however, in hindsight, the timing could not have been better. A stellar student from his first days on campus, he completed both his Bachelor’s in Business and his Master’s in Sports Administration weeks ahead of hanging up his crimson #12 helmet. Just days after his collegiate career had come to an end, the next challenge in life would make itself available.

With two degrees, a Rhodes Scholar nod and plenty of recent Iron Bowl experience under his belt, Greg was invited by ESPN to make a series of cameo appearances during the network’s 2011 BCS football coverage. Once again, when the opportunity arose, he was ready and took control. Articulate, well-schooled and always up for a challenge, McElroy made the most of his on-air appearances garnering the attention of ESPN executives. However, with NFL prospects and dreams in his immediate future, talks with ESPN were sidelined.

Why he’ll keep the job:

 Becoming a seventh round draft selection of the New York Jets was a dream come true. McElroy, would join Mark Sanchez and fellow SEC alum Tim Tebow becoming part of a trio of quarterbacks that would tackle the bright lights of the New York media circus. Half way through his first NFL season as a third string backup McElroy had already seen more losses than he did his entire football career dating back to middle school. Comments were made to the media about the Jets lack of locker room leadership, and McElroy found himself in the NFL doghouse.

He had yet to prove himself on the field, but it was certain to ESPN that he could, and would, voice his opinions no matter the stakes. ESPN was tuned in and when NFL retirement was imminent they made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

In March of this year he accepted the role of College Football Analyst in the inaugural season of ESPN’s SEC Network. With the acceptance, he joins an impressive roster of on air talent that includes two Heisman Trophy winners, four National Championships and two Super Bowl Rings. And as in college and the NFL, he once again is face to face with Tim Tebow.

By most accounts it seems like a perfect fit. ESPN gets to add another recent SEC stand out and familiar face to its lineup. And at the age of 25 with his on air capabilities still not fully known, McElroy earns the chance to grow his television career at a premiere institution with a wealth of first-rate resources— a familiar game plan from McElroy’s own perpetually winning playbook.

McElroy joins the partnership between the SEC and ESPN who have signed a 20-year agreement through 2034 to create and operate a network that will air SEC content 24/7. Its no small affair; they plan to program more than 1,000 events across a variety of collegiate sports in its first year. As part of the network McElroy will be a member of the team that will televise approximately 45 SEC football games. Additional football programming will include studio shows, original content such as SEC Storied, spring football games, and coverage of signing and pro days.

On Greg’s potential and multi-year contract, ESPN’s SEC Network Executive Stephanie Druley told Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated, “He’s smart, he knows the game, and we think Greg has potential to be an exceptional broadcaster. He’ll not only be able to break down the X’s and O’s, but he’ll be able to tell fans what it’s like to play on Saturday in the SEC.”

The Tides have Turned

As the quarterback and team captain of a perennial football powerhouse, he was asked a never-

 ending series of questions. Now the tides have turned, and he will be the one holding the microphone. During the SEC media days he told a group of assembled reporters, “I’ll be honest with you guys. It’s tough asking questions. It’s a lot easier to respond to questions being asked towards you.”

“I knew about Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas,” he admitted to SEC reporters, that growing up in north Texas and attending an SEC school has given him an acceptable head start, but to be on the other side of the microphone he realizes there is a lot of work ahead of him. He still has to get up to date on the rosters, coaches and playing styles of 11 other SEC teams. The good news is, he’ll have the resources of ESPN backing him up.

On his new post he acknowledges the level of resources that ESPN has put into the launch of their latest endeavor. He admitted, “I really think it’s going to be outstanding. I’m so thrilled to have the opportunity to work with all these guys.”

As he steps into the spotlights of the SEC Network’s set in Charlotte North Carolina, McElroy embraces the first steps of a career off of the playing field. “I am thrilled to be joining the ESPN family. College football has always been one of my greatest passions, and I am tremendously grateful for the opportunity to take part in the launch of the SEC Network,” said McElroy. “The SEC provided me with five of the best years of my life, and the fact I will be able to cover its 14 outstanding universities was extremely appealing and exciting!”