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Last season, Mike Hall outlasted 11 others to win the holy grail of sports fans' dream jobs... a one-year stint at the Sportscenter desks.

Now the dream continues for 12 more potential sportscasters.

Recaps by Chris Wolvie, GSNN

Stuart Scott
Judges: Al Jaffee, Stephen A. Smith, Kit Hoover, Woody Paige
EP: Mary-Jane April, Mark Shapiro
Packager: Jumbolaya Productions
Airs: Tuesdays at 7pm ET on ESPN

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Episode 1 - September 14

At the beginning of this year, Mike Hall lived a dream: he outlasted thousands of contestants and became an ESPN sportscaster (complete with
a new car and a $95,000 'salary' for a year-long contract).

Well, apparently, ESPN needs more than one new face on "SportsCenter" because the call for the next DREAM JOB started not too long after Mike received his contract. Thousands of wannabes gathered in cities across America for the slow process of chipping away the stragglers. In the end, ten people were chosen by ESPN experts and two wound up in the competition via "Wendy's Wild Cards". Now this dirty dozen starts the task of EARNING a one-year contract for ESPN and a Mazda 6 5-door SUV!

And these twelve anxious men and women are:

Arnish Shroff, 22, student and radio host at Syracuse University
Whitney Scott, 24, sport info assistant in Lockwood, MO
Brian Startare, 33, health care manager from Glassboro, NJ
Winston Bell, 35, banker from Cleveland, OH
Grant Thompson, 28, Harvard grad and actor from Los Angeles
Stephanie Rich, travel coordinator from Arlington, TX
Jason Ashworth, 23, "Hoop It Up" Asst. Tour Manager and MC from York,
Joe Voyticky, 37, attorney from Carmel, NY
Valerie Hawrylko, 31, management consultant from Fairfax, VA
Jason Horowitz, 21, from West Bloomfield, MI
K.C. James, 44, Wendy's Wild Card and salesperson from Los Angeles
David Holmes, 22, Wendy's Wild Card and Kent State student from
Uniontown, OH

This year, our esteemed judging panel consists of two veterans and two

Woody Paige - sports reporter; regular on "Around the Horn" and "Cold Pizza"
Stephen A. Smith - rather vocal basketball analyst for ESPN
Kit Hoover - one of the stars of ESPN2's morning show, "Cold Pizza"
Al Jaffe - VP of Talent; the one who has hired every sportscaster on ESPN

And, of course, your host is veteran sportscaster Stuart "BOO-YEAH!" Scott.

Like last year, six of the anchor-wannabes will participate tonight, while the other six play next week.

The way the judges (and the American people) decide who advances is through "My SportsCenter". This week, the task is "Highlights". Each of the six participants have been given a highlight reel of two games in football and baseball and a "shot sheet", telling how long each individual play is in the clip. They will do the highlights as any anchor would do, using a teleprompter for their lead-ins and a monitor for the highlights. They will be judged on knowledge, writing ability, personality and delivery.

Our first victim... er, contestant is Grant Thompson, who thinks there's a connection between acting and sportscasting. He has his shot sheet ready and his intros in the teleprompter... and away he goes. His first highlight is the season premiere of "Monday Night Football" between the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers. He's... well... he seems better suited for Comedy Central than ESPN. And he draws out his intro and outro for WAY too long. He doesn't improve much in his second highlight, the Florida Marlins paying a "home game" against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field thanks to the rash of hurricanes that hit the state. Oh, his jokes are MILDLY clever... but hardly "Last Comic Standing" material. And the judges clue him in on this, starting with Woody actually acting like he was ASLEEP. He felt Grant didn't project FEELING in the delivery, though he admits the writing was creative. Kit commented on the length of the intros and outros. Stephen A., like he does ALL the time on ESPN, picks on EVERYTHING Grant did wrong. And Big Al agrees with the others about it just being way too long and way too "shticky".

K.C. James is next up, and he used to talk BACK to SportsCenter broadcasts as a kid (some of us still do, K.C.). His first highlight is the Cleveland Browns vs. the FORMER Browns, now known as the Baltimore Ravens. He doesn't do anything exciting; no catch phrases, no stats, no nothing... and he overplays the highlight read. He even keeps his head down as the second highlight, New York Yankees at the Baltimore Orioles, cued up. He tosses a FEW clichéd phrases in... but his energy is WAY low. Woody thinks, as I did, that the energy was low until the outro and has a lot of work ahead. Kit agreed abut the energy, but feels he SOUNDS like a sportcaster (I disagree). Stephen A. comments that his highlights were slow and he shouldn't copy other people's catch phrases. And Big Al agrees that K.C. should just be himself.

Anish Shroff is next up, who's from the same school that produced NBC Olympic anchorman Bob Costas... so he has a lot to live up to. His first game is Denver Broncos hosting Kansas City Chiefs (on ESPN, no doubt). He has a decent intro to it and did the highlights well, though without too much flash. "From Redskins to red birds" is his transition to the St. Louis Cardinals at the San Diego Padres and he talks about Rick Ankiel's return to the majors after over four years.  He stumbled on the outro and "basket weaving"... but it seemed like a solid performance. Woody thought he was very creative and was impressed. Kit said he "hit it out of the park" in almost every aspect. Stephen A. had only had one complaint about energy at the right time during the football highlight... but, other than that, he was
solid. And even Big Al is impressed. In fact, he says he was "perfect" and had "not much to improve on". Can you say "early favorite"?

It's half-time, which means it's time for another sports-related game. This time, it's "Get Off the Fence"! The six are split into pairs and Stuart will give a recent sports topic. One must argue a point about the topic and the other - even if they really AGREE with the point - must do a counter-point of it. It's basically a sports debate and they'll be judged on knowledge, quality and persuasion.

Anish and Joe Voyticky start us off by discussing the Texas Rangers' pitcher James Francisco tossing a chair into the crowd the other night and whether or not he should serve jail time. Anish says he does because it was essentially assault, and Joe thinks it's the FANS' fault for not being under control and yapping to the pitcher to start. Then they talked about whether there should be instant replay in tennis, since there were a number of bad calls during the U.S. Open match with Serena Williams. Joe says they should to keep the line calls honest, but Anish thinks human elements play an important part in sports.

Next up is Valerie Hawrylko and K.C. Their first debate is whether or not the San Francisco Giants will win the National League Wild Card. Valerie says they won't because their pitching staff is busted up and all they really have left is Barry Bonds, and K.C. retorts by saying the relief pitching is starting to "come around" and they WILL hold on to win. The next topic is whether Tyrone Willingham is off the "hot seat" as head coach of Notre Dame football after their win against Michigan. K.C. says he still is because their offense is too complicated for their players, and Valerie says he's off it because they beat a Top 10-ranked team for the first time in two years.

Finally, we have Grant vs. Brian Startare. First, Brian argues against accredited "Football 101" classes at Ohio State and Kansas State, saying that the NCAA brings in the most money for the schools already.

But Grant rebuts that football players need classes to graduate as well... so why NOT a class on football? Lastly, they argue about if anyone will care if there's an NFL lockout. Grant says no, since the commissioner turns ice hockey into a "niche sport". Brian argues that the expansion brought hockey to places that didn't even have ICE (like Florida and Southern California)... but he stumbles near the end.

Now, the judging. Woody thinks Anish was worst - calling him a "hanging judge" concerning the chair-throwing incident - and Valerie was best - thanks to forceful opinions. Kit says Brian was the worst due to the stumbling, and Grant was the best with persuasion. Stephen A.'s worst is Brian due to stuttering and sweating and his best was Valerie... which makes him wonder how a woman "took out" five males. Big Al agrees with Stephen A. that Brian was worst and Valerie was best.

OK, back to "My SportsCenter" and Joe Voyticky, who says sports saved his life. His first game is the Washington Redskins and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (specifically Joe Gibbs' return to coaching for Washington). He tossed in a few phrases like "The Bucs' defense parted like the Red Sea" but was fairly accurate. His baseball game is the Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks. Upon Barry Bonds hitting his 41st homer of the season, Joe asks, "Is it surf or is it turf?" Too cliched, too much stumbling, and FAR too slow. Woody talks about the cliches and includes his own: "Say it ain't so, Joe!" Kit says her voice was monotone on the prompter read and the transition was way to long. Stephen A. says he was slow on the prompter and that he was boring. And Big Al agrees with the lack of energy and the lack of specificity in stats.

Next in the electric chair is Valerie Hawrylko, who had a crush on Thurman Munson of the Yankees as a girl. Her football game was the Philly Eagles and the NY Giants... but not before she starts by saying the Eagles' wide receivers were "as suspect as a mushroom cloud over North Korea" (you don't see politics and sports merged like THIS, people). She stutters a bit on a TD pass, but recovers with a nice "Schoolhouse Rock" reference. She was slow to look up once the highlight ended, but she tried again with the Anaheim Angels playing baseball against the Chicago White Sox. She stumbled a little more, but tossed in "kicking it around like Mia Hamm" when an outfield bobbled the ball. This didn't help her, though, as the judges let her have it. Woody says, though she recovered near the end, she still needs a lot of work on that. Kit says she started off well but was "too cutesy" and needs more stats. Stephen A. says it was a decent performance... but TERRIBLE on the prompter work. And Big Al says she mispronounced Terrell Owens' name, which was a BIG faux pas in his book, and she needs to be less shaky.

Our last torture victim is Brian Startare, and he impressed his math teacher as a kid by rambling off Philly Flyers' jersey numbers. He starts with food references leading to the Dallas Cowboys/Minnesota Vikings highlight. He's a little slow... and says "same play" for a whole DIFFERENT play, even though the same QB and receiver were involved. He also overran the highlight by a WIDE margin. He does school references before the Boston Red Sox/Oakland A's highlight and cliches and stumbles his way through it (complete with "The Gap" for a shot into a gap in the outfield). He has decent stats... but Woody says it was "brutal" and couldn't "get into it". Kit disagrees, since he has good energy, though the references went over her head a bit. Stephen A. says he made mistakes but it wasn't THAT horrible; he was fluid and saved himself. Big Al agrees that he sounds like a sportscaster (I agree this time), but mistakes in facts are unforgivable in later rounds. Oh, yeah, and NEVER use "The Gap" reference again!

The first impressions out of the way, it's time to kick someone out. Each of the four judges have one vote, the majority of America (who voted on line and on their Verizon(TM) phones) have another. The one with the most votes packs up and splits. It there's a tie, the producers get the final word.

America cuts... Brian.

Woody Paige cuts... Joe. Brian represents "every man", according to him, and Joe needs to work on his transition from written words to spoken words... but Joe had no energy and no enthusiasm.

Kit Hoover cuts... K.C. Joe & K.C. were her final two, but K.C.'s information in his writing was too old.

Stephen A. Smith cuts... Joe, after once again narrowing it down between him and K.C. K.C.'s enthusiasm saved him. Joe has two votes. One more for him, Valerie, Anish or Grant and he's gone.

It's down to Al Jaffe. Valerie was disappointing with the highlights, but the debate was fine. Again, Joe & K.C. are his final two. But the bottom line is... K.C. was SLIGHTLY better. Therefore, he cuts... Joe!

That's three votes, and that's all she wrote for Joe Voyticky. Head back to the locker room and pack up your briefs.

11 remain... who will be cut NEXT?

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