Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Outspoken Trev Alberts Fired as ESPN College Football Analyst

Outspoken Trev Alberts, formerly of Cedar Falls, Ia., finally found a football argument he couldn't win.

ESPN fired Alberts after the college football analyst failed to show up for work at the network's studios in Bristol, Conn., according to John Walters of

"He phoned and said that he wasn't going to show up," Mark Shapiro, ESPN's vice-president of programming and production, said, "and when he didn't, he was in breach of his contract and we terminated him."

Alberts, a former all-America defensive end at Nebraska and member of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, was embarking on his fourth season as part of ESPN's popular College Football Scoreboard and College Football Gameday team.

But on Sunday morning, in the midst of college football's first big weekend of the season, Alberts phoned ESPN's coordinating producer of college football, Ed Placey, and voiced his discontent.

"He phoned us and told us that he was unhappy with his role on College GameDay," said Shapiro. "He felt that he was playing second fiddle."

As the day wore on, according to both Shapiro and Alberts, there were several conversations between Alberts and ESPN senior vice presidents Jed Drake and Norby Williamson. Finally, Alberts announced that he would not be reporting for work that afternoon [ESPN and ESPN2 aired three college football games between 3:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.]. Once Alberts failed to appear for his studio show assignment with host Rece Davis and fellow analyst Mark May, he was fired.

"They first wanted me to resign," Alberts said from his Atlanta home. "Then they fired me. I obviously have a serious problem with the word 'breach', but that's something my attorney will work out."

Alberts joined ESPN's studio show in 2002 after five years of working in a similar capacity at CNN/SI. Cantankerous, passionate and opinionated, Alberts often feuded with May about issues relating to the sport, but the feud never turned [or even appeared to seem] personal. Davis played the role of genial arbitrator to a tee.

"We were just trying to be three guys in a frat house talking football," said Alberts.

As far as his discontent and the phone calls to management, Alberts said that both began long before Sunday.

"It wasn't just this weekend," he said. "There were conversations for awhile. I fully understood the privilege of the seat I sat in. And it was never about wanting to be part of the GameDay crew. But no matter what business you're in, if you're not respected internally, you're going to have a hard time being respected externally."

Alberts declined to elaborate. The GameDay crew, with Chris Fowler as host and sidekicks Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit, has evolved into a wildly popular cult phenomenon. Each Saturday the trio's visit to a college campus is cause for pre-game pandemonium among the tailgating set.

Alberts claims that he never aspired to that, nor does he begrudge Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit their widening popularity.

"The GameDay guys have earned that," Alberts said. "Mark, Rece and I, we had searched for something we could call ours. All we wanted was something we could take ownership of. We felt like the midnight wrap-up show was ours, but as the season began I could see that we'd be more of a support crew for [Fowler, Corso and Herbstreit].

"Never once did I say, Why aren't I on commercials? Why aren't I making more money? I'm a huge fan of all these people who work at ESPN, including Mark [Shapiro]. It's just a matter of not wanting to be marginalized."

Shapiro concurred that the ESPN stable may have had a few too many thoroughbreds.

"Over the years there's been some discomfort over how to integrate the two teams," he said on Tuesday. "But, it's like a coach who has a lot of good backs and receivers. Everyone has a role to play."

Everyone except Alberts. He has been dismissed from the team. Shapiro said that in the short term a replacement will come from in-house, but as for a fulltime replacement for Alberts, "essentially, we're open for business."

[RON MALY'S COMMENTS: I liked Alberts' work on the network. He liked to shoot his mouth off in a business that generally wants its people to shoot their mouths off. However, it appears Trev's mouth got in the way at the wrong time. But don't expect him to be out of work for long].


Former ESPN reporter Adrian Karsten, who was supposed to report to federal prison in Minnesota for tax evasion, apparently killed himself instead.

Karsten, 45, was supposed to report to prison in Rochester, Minn., Thursday but never showed up, the New York Post reported.

His former wife told the newspaper Sunday that Karsten was found dead in his Green Lake, Wis., home and investigators labeled the death a suicide.

Karsten pleaded guilty in July to charges of failing to file tax returns from 1999 to 2002, when he made about $607,000 as a sideline reporter for ESPN college football games.

He was sentenced to 11 months in prison and nine months home confinement.

--United Press International. The website also has information on both Alberts and Karsten.