Calling it “the hardest decision” he ever made, Doug Gottlieb has left the security of ESPN for a multiyear deal with CBS, the CBS Sports Network and the new CBS Sports Radio Network.
“Frankly, it was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Gottlieb said Tuesday after CBS Sports announced his arrival.
Gottlieb’s plum assignment will be covering the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, and the former Oklahoma State point guard is expected to have a major role in Final Four coverage.
“To be part of the NCAA Tournament is any broadcaster’s dream,” Gottlieb said. “To be part of the Final Four, in basketball that’s what you play for. In broadcasting, that’s what you broadcast for.”
He also will be going home. His radio and TV shows will be based out of the Los Angeles suburb of Orange County, where he grew up and his parents still live. Gottlieb, 36, made his broadcasting debut with the Sports Animal radio network before joining ESPN in 2002. As a college basketball expert, he moved up steadily in the network and was given his own radio show, displaying his overall sports expertise.
Among the CBS platforms that Gottlieb will be featured on are:
— Hosting an afternoon show (2-5 p.m. CDT) on CBS Sports Radio, a new national network that debuts Jan. 2. Reaching an audience of nearly 10 million listeners, it will be heard across nearly 90 CBS Radio and Cumulus Media radio stations.
“Doug is well-versed in today’s sports landscape and for years has entertained audiences with his unique blend of wit, honesty and outspokenness — traits essential for creating great radio programming,” said Dan Mason, president and CEO of CBS Radio in a news release.
— Serving as a studio and game analyst for CBS Sports’ coverage of regular-season college basketball and joint coverage with Turner Sports of the NCAA basketball tournament.
— Hosting an 11 p.m. CDT show, which will debut in mid-October, on the CBS Sports Network. He also will be an analyst for regular-season college basketball for the network.
— Contributing to CBSSports.com, including columns and podcasts.
Gottlieb also said he was excited about joining CBS Sports Radio on the ground floor, even though his audience will be smaller. He will be going from more than 300 full-time ESPN Radio stations to 90, but he will be in more major markets.
“It will be the same show with a little different philosophical beliefs than ESPN Radio has,” he said. “I’m the same storyteller. I’m the same interviewer.”
Gottlieb said his new work schedule will provide him more time to spend during the day with his wife, Angie, and his young children — 6-year-old twin daughters Harper and Grace and 3-year-old son Hayes.
He said the lure of returning to Southern California, where his parents, Bob, 72, and Jane, 66, live, also was big. He also has a brother and sister who live in California.
“I have two places I call home in this world,” Gottlieb said. “Orange County is one and Oklahoma is the other.”
Gottlieb has mulled the decision for weeks, noting it was difficult for him to leave ESPN and its campus atmosphere.
“It is as good and as heartfelt a parting as I think there’s ever been. I loved the place,” he said. “Even though I will wear a different badge, I will always carry a kind of banner as a guy who grew up and learned the profession at ESPN. I didn’t take journalism school. I went to the ultimate journalism school, ESPN.”
Gottlieb said ESPN has pulled him off the air even though his contract doesn’t expire until mid-September.