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The Benefits and Challenges of Nepotism in Sports Broadcasting: Leveraging Connections, Managing Expectations

At just 27 years old, Jac Collinsworth made his debut as NBC’s play-by-play voice for Notre Dame football in September 2022, taking over from the renowned Mike Tirico.

While his appointment suggested he was a prodigy in sportscasting, his performance in his first game, where Marshall upset Notre Dame, did not live up to expectations. Collinsworth lacked precision and rhythm, often punctuating his commentary with “Mmm, hmm,” a habit that usually fades with experience.

Criticism of Collinsworth intensified, especially after a lackluster showing alongside Jason Garrett in a Notre Dame-USC prime-time game in October.

The shadow of his father, Cris Collinsworth, NBC’s top NFL analyst, added to the scrutiny. Jac’s association with his father drew accusations of nepotism but gained more attention as his struggles persisted.

Despite previous successes at ESPN and NBC Sports after graduating from Notre Dame in 2017, Collinsworth’s inadequacy in his role led Sam Flood, NBC Sports’ president of production, to remove him from the position last month.

Collinsworth, Cris Collinsworth, and Flood declined requests for interviews.

Jac Collinsworth working the Chargers-Bills game before Christmas with Tony Dungy, center, and Rodney Harrison. (Kirby Lee / USA Today)

Sportscasting has seen many instances of family succession in the field. Jac Collinsworth’s story is just one example, and at 29, he still has room to grow. Similar stories include Chris Caray in Oakland and Ben Shulman in Toronto, both following their family legacies in broadcasting.

The trend of parental influence in sportscasting is long-standing, with notable cases like Joe Buck, son of Jack Buck, who has carved out a successful career despite accusations of nepotism.

Collinsworth’s demotion paved the way for Noah Eagle’s rise at NBC, where, at just 27, he has excelled in various broadcasting roles, showcasing his talent and hard work.

Eagle’s success highlights the complexity of nepotism in the industry, emphasizing the importance of credibility and skill in one’s broadcasting career.

Joe Buck, often cited as a prime example of sportscasting nepotism, has navigated a successful career following his father’s footsteps. His early exposure to broadcasting and dedication have propelled him to significant accomplishments in the field.

Joe Buck

Joe Buck (right), with Cris Collinsworth (left) and Troy Aikman on the call for Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla., in February 2005. (Frank Micelotta / Getty Images)

Buck’s journey in broadcasting, while influenced by his father, showcases his determination and talent in carving out his own path in the industry.

Noah Eagle, following his own passion for sportscasting, has risen to prominence through hard work and dedication. His success at a young age highlights the importance of individual merit and skill in achieving success in the field.

Noah Eagle

“For Noah Eagle, he’s been meteoric, and he’s obviously worked really hard at this and put in the hours,” fellow broadcaster Joe Buck says. (James Black / Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Each broadcaster’s journey is unique, shaped by individual efforts and dedication in the pursuit of their passion for sportscasting.


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