College football fans looking for popular reporter Sam Ponder on College Gameday will have to tune into to ESPN on Sunday mornings. In part of an ESPN reshuffling over the summer, Ponder replaced a retired Chris Berman as host of ESPN’s pro football pre-game show Sunday NFL Countdown.
Ponder wrote a heartfelt letter to both college football fans, and her old crew at Gameday. The whole letter is worth your time, but here is an excerpt from the note.
On the surface, going from contributor/sideline reporter to host in sports television is a no-brainer. For me, it wasn’t.
It’s not that the offer to host Sunday NFL Countdown wasn’t an incredible opportunity with more responsibility and space to grow. It’s that it requires me to leave the best job I’ve ever had and the best group of people I’ve ever worked with.
…And lastly, to my college football family – you are my people. It was the signs (O.K., some of them), the cheers, the songs we sang, and even the arguments we engaged in on Gameday that made me happy to get up at 3 a.m. to hang with you. From Clemson to Fargo to Eugene and everywhere in between, because of you, a college football town will always feel like home.
Maria Taylor moves into Ponder’s old role on both College Gameday and ABC’s Saturday Night Football. Taylor was previously a host on various SEC Network shows.
Expect Taylor to conduct interviews with coaches and players live on College Gameday. She’ll also be working the sidelines for ABC’s marquee game of the week where Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit will be in the booth.
“In a very short time, Maria has demonstrated versatility, presence and ease in her many roles,” Gameday producer Lee Fitting said in a press release. “She is the rare ‘triple threat’ in this industry and we look forward to having her on the road with GameDay and SNF come fall.”