ESPN’s Charissa Thompson does the splits: video


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ESPN SportsNation host Charissa Thompson seems to send the internet abalaze whenever she does anything. Among media personalities, she’s internet gold. So we present to you this video of her doing the splits on her show; it’s making the internet rounds. As you would expect anything with Charissa Thompson would. Every time she’s on tv, search engines are active.

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ESPN’s Charissa Thompson (Ultimate Photo Gallery)


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31-year-old Charissa Thompson has left ESPN for Fox Sports 1, which launches in August. Charissa Thompson used to c0-host  Numbers Never Lie and Sports Nation on ESPN.

Charissa Thompson also did a lot of NFL sideline reporting for Fox. And a whole lot of college football and college basketball games for Big Ten Network and Fox Sports Net. She also appeared on the college football shows Friday Night Tailgate, on Big Ten Network; as well as BCS Breakdown and The BCS Show on FSN. Friday Night Tailgate was pretty awful. Sure, we had the hotness of Charissa Thompson, but it was juxtaposed against those two annoying dorks!

Charissa Thompson also co-hosted FSN’s The Best Damn Sports Show Period alongside Chris Rose and John Salley. The show was canceled in July of 2009.

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So is Erin Andrews leaving ESPN or not?


Now that Michelle Beadle is leaving ESPN, and Charissa Thompson is replacing her as the host of “SportsNation,” the question is…who replaces Charissa at “Numbers Don’t Lie?” I’m sure both the people who watch that show are very interested to find out.

No seriously, the real question is what will become of Erin Andrews? Her star power isn’t what it once was, so is she gonna stay at ESPN when her contract expires? Check out this tweet exchange between EA and Hot Clicks proprietor Jimmy Traina from a couple hours ago:

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Midwest Swing: Big Ten Tournament Edition


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By Paul M. Banks

INDIANAPOLIS- It was easily the most exciting Big Ten Tournament in history. The first day brought us rumors about coaching changes. The second day we had (for the first time in history) all four games come down to the wire; including one in overtime. And on the third day, we saw the first OT game in tournament semi-finals history and the first multi-overtime game in Big Ten tournament history. And on the final day, the greatest individual performance in BTT history saved his best effort for last, solidifying his MVP status.

In addition to all the great basketball we watched, there were some fun ancillary experiences. Here are some of the best.

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Does Northwestern Leapfrog Wisconsin in Bowl Picture?


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By Paul M. Banks and Jake McCormick

(PMB) Well Jake, I guess we both we wrong in our predictions for this game. The team I cover ended up besting the team on your beat in in one of the most exciting Big Ten games of the 2009 season.

To make all our readers and fans of both team jealous, David Kay and I (I guess you could call this game the TSB bowl) saw quite a lot of cool stuff on the sidelines of the game in the 2nd half. A lot more than just sideline princess Charissa Thompson. Although seeing the Big Ten’s hottest reporter up close is always a treat. We saw NU Athletic Director Dr. Jim Phillips nervously pacing back and forth behind the end zone during the extremely tense final minutes, we heard Pat Fitzgerald screaming at the refs about how they were calling holding penalties, and in the end, we almost got trampled by the students storming the field celebrating with the team around the 50 yard line of Ryan Field.DSC03149

Like I predicted the crowd had more red than a Trotskyite convention, so this was kind of like a neutral site game or quasi-home game for Badger fans. How are the Wisconsin fans dealing with this loss? How do they feel?

(JM) Like they had too much pure grain alcohol and distilled water last night. I’m still fuming at Wisconsin’s inability to grasp the 70-30 passing to rushing split of the Northwestern offense. They simply weren’t ready to play, took Northwestern for granted, and did everything in their power to make it harder to pull out a win. Even when the Wildcats were giving away field position and making their own mistakes we somehow found a way to one up them. I’ll give the Northwestern offensive line some credit for practically neutralizing O’Brien Schofield and JJ Watt, although I think that is made easier with Kafka’s quick release and the lack of under center snaps. Given the lack of a home field advantage and Wisconsin’s higher level of overall depth and talent, this one is really tough to swallow. Fitzgerald is definitely an intense guy. He reminds me of a quasi-successful Todd Haley with all his strained facial expressions, minus the lack of respect for his players.

(PMB) The title of this post is also my next question to you. Your take?

Here’s what Fitz had to say on that subject, very intensely to the media in the post game presser.

“Although you will write other things, our fan base travels OUTSTANDING to bowl games, so make sure you check your facts. If you need any, you see Dr. Jim Phillips. He’ll make sure you have them, and they are crystal clear, when you write about the facts of our bowl attendance tomorrow. So, at the end of the day, I think we are a very attractive group of Wildcats that would go down to any destination that we are honored to have the opportunity to participate in.”

I greatly enjoyed that pre-emptive strike against scribes who say the Purple Hearted fans don’t travel well. But two things: 1.) In the internet age we write our stories today, not tomorrow 2.) It reminded me a bit of Mike Gundy’s infamous GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT just not as angry.

(JM) Fitzgerald tends to get a little high and mighty after wins against ranked opponents. I’m sure you remember that comment about how Northwestern has been a better program since 1995 than Notre Dame and Stanford. There’s some truth to that, just like the statement above, but those definitely are embellished bragging points after emotional wins. Northwestern fans probably do travel well, but I would say Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio State fans top the Big Ten in bowl fan support. Then again, the Wildcat fan base is much smaller than those three.

I think Northwestern has made their case for a better bowl placement, but I think at the end of the day Wisconsin will still be playing in January, mostly because of money. I have no problem if it’s the other way around though, because I feel like they took two giants steps back after putting their best foot forward for three straight weeks.

Here’s are some interesting stats that may help explain why things ended the way they did today: In the last 26 games where the margin of victory/defeat is seven points or less, Northwestern has won 24 of those games. Since 2000, Wisconsin is 4-7 in road conference games in November. Both are definitely interesting, and seemingly overlooked, pieces of information.

(PMB) All of NU’s talking points begin with “since 1995…” If you look at the history of the program, you’ll see why. However, in their defense, most people don’t remember much beyond 5-10 years anyway, so it makes sense. I’ve heard that Notre Dame and Michigan won a bunch of national titles 50 years before I was born, but they’ve been mediocre in my lifetime, so I don’t care.

Fitz also said that he thought the Big Ten MVP would come down to either John Clay or Mike Kafka, and that after today he (naturally, as expected vote for Kafka) I myself would vote for neither, and pick Penn State’s Darryl Clark. However, I can see people making cases for all sorts of different players, as this year there is no clear front-runner. Kind of like NL Cy Young was this year. Your pick?

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(JM) I would probably take Clark as well. John Clay would come next for me, but I can’t put him first because of his equally successful ability to lose a game for Wisconsin with his butter fingers. Clay will have some big expectations for this award next year, but he was too inconsistent with his ball handling and play in big games for me to consider him the frontrunner. As for Kafka, his 10/7 TD to INT ratio doesn’t really jump out at me as being impressive. He plays in a pass-first system, and although it’s not completely his fault that the Wildcats usually don’t put up 33 points per game, 10 touchdowns for a player of the year is too low; unless you’re Jesus Tebow, of course.

(PMB) Right, tebow could complete 20% of his passes for the season, and the media would still hand him the Heisman. So where do the Sconnies go from here? How do you think they’ll respond out in Hawaii, and in their bowl game?

As for the Wildcats, and whatever bowl game takes them, I’m predicting their performance will be reflective of their Coach, who also gave us this gem in post.

“Well I assume we’re going to be playing some champion from some other league like we did last year, so 99.9% of the country is going to pick us to lose like they did last year, so I don’t have to motivate our guys a whole lot. Obviously, we’re a couple miles away from the crest of the mountaintop, and that’ll happen whichever bowl opportunity we are privileged to play in. This is a mountaintop that we’ve talked about now for a couple of years, and something we need to get over to eliminate all the naysayers and the negativity towards our program, and obviously to represent the great Big Ten conference the way we want it to be talked about and represented throughout the nation.”

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(JM) I think the Badgers are still destined for the Outback Bowl. They have one of the best traveling fan bases in the nation, are regular New Year’s Day bowlers, and boast the top offense in the Big Ten. Coach Bret Bielema won’t let them take two teams lightly in a row, so I would expect a nice bounce back from Sconnie in the Aloha state. At least the weather will be a nice break from the typical Northern United States chill that apparently kills them in November.

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Big Ten Network Registers Ratings Records- Due to Hiring Hotties?


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By Paul M. Banks

On Saturday the Big Ten Network, a national network dedicated to one collegiate athletic conference -one that leads the nation in Men’s basketball attendance every year- posted the highest total number of viewers of any day in the network’s history. Yesterday, the Big Ten Network released a public statement about that fact, and included the following information:

The Big Ten Network on Saturday had the most-watched college football games of the day across the nine metered markets within the Big Ten area. The network also broke its own local viewing records in five of those markets, including The noon ET games, which featured the Michigan-Michigan State overtime thriller and Northwestern’s come-from-behind-win at Purdue, averaged a combined 4.7 household rating (HH) in the nine metered markets, the highest rating in the region throughout the day, exceeding all other football programming.

The Ohio State-Indiana game in prime-time attracted a 4.5 HH rating, to lead all college football prime-time games in the region. while Northwestern-Purdue was the highest-rated program across all cable networks in Indianapolis.

Charissa Thompson

Charissa Thompson

So clearly this television experiment, which launched August 30th, 2007, is starting to work. The first cable network dedicated to a single collegiate athletic conference is starting to catch on, but when you consider the level of play has seen much better days, you have to wonder why. The year before BTN launched, the conference’s premier rivalry Michigan-Ohio State, played an extremely hyped up #1 vs. #2 regular season finale. The talent level has been in free fall since. Today, the conference has only three teams ranked in the top 25, and only one- the Buckeyes are in the top ten. The SEC boasts 3 of the top 4, and 6 teams in the overall poll. The Big 12 has five in the AP top 25. Clearly, it’s not great football being played as the reason for all the new viewers.

BTN Women's Volleyball analyst Eilzabeth Moreau, in her Butler playing days

BTN Women's Volleyball analyst Eilzabeth Moreau, in her Butler playing days

Another cause is the strong Midwestern affinity for college football. Today, most people first associate college football with the South, “Red-States,” and the SEC. (And now country music, since every network broadcasting college football integrates a well-known country artist into promoting their broadcasts these days) However, the Big Ten has three programs: Penn State, Michigan and Ohio State in the top 6 for victories all-time. Number 3 on that list is another school in the region, Notre Dame. So obviously the college gridiron is a way of life in the Upper Midwest, but I don’t think this fact tells the whole story.

The Network itself is rather new, and it took some time to be partnered properly with cable companies and distributed effectively into markets. The increased ratings are partially due to the network being in the midst of a product’s natural growth cycle. But I think another reason might offer a possible alternative explanation.

Lisa Cornwell, BTN women's show anchor

Lisa Cornwell, BTN women's show anchor

In the past year, the network has hired as much eye candy as it could find, which adds publicity. It’s reminiscent of ESPN’s Erin Andrews, and how anything she touches is a publicity machine. Leading the way is Charissa Thompson, who’s been called the next Erin Andrews, no doubt in partial thanks to the fact she wears “painted-on pants” about as often as EA. The extremely-tight-pants- wearing Thompson has gotten more national recognition than the rest of BTN’s sideline princesses because she’s done some national NFL work for Fox too. She’s also on an awful network program, “Friday Night Tailgate” where she’s paired with two frail and annoying geeks that we’re supposed to find charming and funny.

Placing her beside two nerds, (this week’s promo especially heightens this juxtaposition) is a rip-off of the premise behind pretty much every sitcom of the past 25 years. You know, the pathetic yet somewhat lovable doofus partnered with a woman who’s WAY OUT of his league on every dimension possible. The dorky writers’ fantasy created so many sitcoms (“World According to Jim” and “The King of Queens” being the most extreme) that cartoons like “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” have gone to extreme lengths to exaggerate it.

Melanie Collins at work

Melanie Collins at work

There’s a quite a few other hotties on the network, but the only one which instantly screams egregious hire is newcomer Melanie Collins, a former bikini model who is easy-on-the-eyes, but far from good at broadcasting, reporting, and reading her lines. It’s a good bet that this is what the buzz surrounding Big Ten Network is all about- because it’s sure not about football. This fall hasn’t given us much reason to forget about last year’s 1-6 conference record in Bowl games.

(note: if you are watching the network, or reading this post solely to look at pretty girlies- then you should vote in the poll below)

Big Ten Network Playing Erin Andrews Card in Talent Selection


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By Paul M. Banks

Everyone knows “sex sells” and the “news business is actually show business,” but there are still instances when a network overwhelmingly panders to the frat house demographic. Like hiring a bikini model to be a journalist, as the Big Ten Network just did with Melanie Collins. Sure, she did have a stint at NBA TV, but I still just can’t take her seriously as a college football reporter.

For the same reasons, I never took former Playboy Playmate Lisa Dergan seriously as an anchor for Fox Sports West. You can call me sexist, narrow-minded, chauvinistic, socially backwards etc. for what I believe, but I don’t care.thompson

If a woman rises to fame and her position by holding a job which is essentially little more showing T&A and being an inspiration to male self-gratification, how seriously can you view her authority to inform the general public?

When a political leader comes to power through illegal or criminal means, how legitimate do you take the individual’s ruling capabilities?

It’s not that I think Collins or Dergan are/were awful at their jobs, I just don’t think they are/were very good. I think Erin Andrews is ok at her job, but nowhere near deserving of the publicity she receives. I think EA is a very attractive woman, but again, nowhere near deserving of the publicity she receives. So much so that the practice of “hottie tokenism” in sports media has become synonymous with her. I don’t think she consciously sought that title, but she certainly doesn’t do anything to shy away from it either.

I probably watch more Big Ten Network that any human being reasonably should. It’s unhealthy, I admit it. I can recite, line for line, all their annoying programming promos- they do run the exact same spots during EVERY commercial break. But I just can’t, and never will, take Melanie Collins seriously. Because I know there are hundreds, maybe thousands of female and male applicants that could/should easily taken her place.

It may be unfair to compare Collins to fellow network denizen Charissa Thompson, because Thompson is a much more accomplished journalist with better credentials. And you won’t find raunchy pictures of her kissing another girl online, like you would in Collins’ case. But Thompson, like Collins is so attractive that they are distracting. There’s eye candy all around the Big Ten Network talent pool, but these two reporters just jump out at you because they distract you from the content. If you held a poll between who was “hotter,” Collins or Thompson, it’s a toss-up. Now BTN’s hottie tokenism has one-upped that of every other network.

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Both of them, whether they want to be or not, have become the story instead of reporting it. And that’s a very bad personnel decision on the Big Ten Network’s part, because now people are talking about the rail-thin blonde delivering the information, instead of the information. Or maybe it’s not a bad decision, as it gets people talking about the network. They did get me.

But I’d still probably watch that network, even if something as visually disgusting as Charlie Weiss hosted every show. Ultimately though, it’s about timing and development. I can take reporters like Jill Arrington and Jillian Barberie seriously because they did the racy photo spread in a raunchy lad-mag AFTER they had already established themselves, not BEFORE.