ESPN Replacement For Erin Andrews: What About Samantha Steele?

By Jason McIntyre

The early, obvious choices to replace Erin Andrews on ESPN’s wildly popular College Football Gameday show and as the sideline reporter for Saturday night games this Fall are Jenn Brown and Tom Rinaldi.

Brown was previously the sideline reporter for Thursday night college football games on ESPN, but recently was moved to a different crew on Saturdays. Rinaldi is already a staple on Gameday and a pro in the field. A longshot option could be Charissa Thompson, but it appears her sideline reporting days are over, and that she’s moved into a hosting role, something Andrews wanted more of, but the feeling from ESPN apparently wasn’t mutual. Other names supposedly in the hopper: Holly Rowe and Wendi Nix (but she’s more of a host now, too.)

The darkhorse to fill Andrews’ spot, according to sources in Bristol: Young Samantha Steele, a sideline reporter you may be familiar with if you have the Longhorn Network. Since nobody has it, you’re probably not aware of Steele, who previously worked at Fox Sports. Earlier this week, she was “promoted” to the Thursday night team (taking the place of the newly-married Brown) of Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer and David Pollack. Two promotions in a week? Seems unlikely, but ESPN is in scramble mode following Andrews’ exit, and if ESPN is looking to make a big splash with a talented fresh face, Steele’s the right pick.

Since whoever is chosen likely will also inherit Andrews’ hosting job on the pre-Gameday show on ESPNU (Saturday mornings, 9 am), the early guess here is Rinaldi. It is unclear yet if ESPN would have one person fill all the roles, or split them up (ie, Rinaldi hosts, is on Gameday, but then Steele is the Saturday night sideline reporter).