Mike Tirico replaces Bob Costas as NBC Olympics prime time host
Announcement comes seven months after Tirico enjoyed nice 25 year career at ESPN
A record 11 Olympics in prime time including 157 straight nights from Barcelona 1992 to prior his eye infection at Sochi 2014 (which includes the last nine Olympiads consecutively), coupled with 27 Emmys for sports, news, and entertainment are records that will stand the test of time, no matter how we consume our media. Since 1980, Bob Costas has pretty much done it all for the one time Chicago Bulls voice for road games on WGN in Chicago. Even going back to his days covering DePaul in men’s college basketball and the wild Saturday afternoon staple of baseball’s original Game of the Week, he would go on to later do the NFL, NBA, horse racing, and of course the late night staple talk show, Later with Bob Costas.
According to John Ourand of the Sports Business Daily website, the announcement comes one year to the day when the next Olympics begins in PyeongChang, Korea. Costas, age 64, will still remain at NBC Sports in a limited capacity. According to a statement released by the network and posted on NBCSports.com, Costas reflected on a truly remarkable era in television history:
“It has been both a privilege and an incredible personal and professional experience to have been part of NBC’s Olympic coverage all these years. I’m especially appreciative of all the talented and dedicated people I worked for and with on those broadcasts. I always felt that, in a certain sense, I was carrying the ball for them. It’s been a wonderful run, but I just felt now was the right time to step away and I’m grateful that NBC left that decision to me.”
Consider the rigors of travel across several time zones, it wears out many people. His eye problem notwithstanding from Sochi in 2014, this announcement was not like the recent retirement of Brent Musburger leaving ESPN (of which that you can read more in my college basketball blog).
Costas has thought all along that Rio was the right time to say, despedida or farewell to the biggest staple of American sports programming. He will no longer be traveling to stadiums during Sunday Night Football and instead will cover the Kentucky Derby horse race (the New York Times reported that starting in 2018, he would only cover the Belmont Stakes if a horse has a chance to win the Triple Crown). He will file taped sports pieces on occasion and especially during future coverage of the NFL Playoffs. With Tirico, age 50, stationed in Korea, Costas will return as the primary host in Minneapolis for NBC’s coverage of Super Bowl XLII, which will air five days before the next Olympics. Costas will also continue to file taped pieces for NBC News on occasion. This announcement also means Bob will be doing his first love on MLB Network, and that is he will continue to broadcast baseball games in addition to voicing documentaries and hosting the long-form programs that he has been famous for.
The SBJ online article simply stated:
“NBC Broadcasting and Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus said Costas first brought up the idea of stepping down from the host role during his contract negotiations in 2012. At that point, according to Lazarus, Costas said, “I’m good to go through Sochi and Rio and do everything that I’ve been doing. After Rio, let’s reassess.” Fast forward to early in the fall before an “SNF” telecast this (2016) season, Costas told him that he decided to pass the torch. “I said, ‘Are you sure? Why don’t you think about it a little bit,’” Lazarus said. “He thought about it for another couple of weeks. We sat down again, and he said, ‘Yeah, that’s what I want to do.’”
It did not take long for Lazarus, NBC Olympics Exec Producer Jim Bell and NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood to settle on Tirico as Costas’ replacement. NBC hired Tirico from ESPN in July 2016. He almost immediately traveled to Rio to help host some of NBC’s coverage. “It was always something we contemplated when we hired Mike,” Lazarus said. “After getting to know him and his work a little closer, it became clear to us that he was the guy. It wasn’t a difficult decision at all. We didn’t wrestle with it or contemplate it very long.”
In a full circle moment, Mike Tirico was the first recipient of the Bob Costas Scholarship Award while attending Syracuse in the late 1980’s. As we all found out with his rather unique pairing with the versatile Al Michaels on the pristine sand of Copacabana Beach in Rio this past August, Tirico is as smooth and prepared as far as covering several sports in a short amount of time.
Even better news came from the annual Major League Baseball Winter Meetings on December 13, 2017–when the Modern Era Committee voted Costas as the 2018 Ford C. Frick Award Winner for Media and Broadcasting. He will be enshrined forever at the National Baseball Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Mel Allen, Red Barber, Jack Buck, Harry Caray, Jack Brickhouse, and Denny Matthews on the weekend of July 28-29, 2018 in the always quaint and sleepy town called Cooperstown, New York.
Let this statement sink in for a while:
Mike Tirico will lead NBC’s Olympic coverage in 2018 and possibly all the way through the rest of the network’s current Olympics contract until 2032.
“The level and longevity of Bob’s tenure have left an indelible mark on American television and the Olympic Games. I am honored to call him a friend, humbled by this opportunity, and thankful to the many people who have helped make this possible.”
Statement by Mike Tirico on the NBC Sports Group website
What a remarkable run, which also included leading the late night coverage from Seoul, Korea way back in September 1988. Costas has that unique ability to cover many sports almost seamlessly and with seeing and hearing Tirico cover many sports from college football/basketball and the NBA to presently covering The Open and Ryder Cup golf tournaments and hosting Football Night in America, things will turn out fine.
Here is a great interview they both did with Niko Tamurian, which can be found on the CNYCentral page on YouTube:
The full article at Sports Business Daily can be accessed via paying for an online subscription, but the press release at NBC Sports Group and thoughts from the New York Times can be found here: