Neuheisel, Lott, Sanders join network

The Pac-12 Networks announced Wednesday the hiring of Ronnie Lott, Rick Neuheisel and Summer Sanders as on-air personalities and the "faces" of the network, which is schedule to start broadcasting in August.

A couple of quick notes:

  • The network is likely to release its schedule -- including 35 football games -- in the middle of June.

  • Neuheisel said he was "gung ho" with his "new direction" but wouldn't rule out a return to coaching.

  • Best line from the teleconference came from Neuheisel: "I told [Lydia Murphy-Stephans, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Pac-12 Networks] when we met that if your resume require that you've either been fired or booed by every team in the conference, then I'm certainly your leading candidate."

  • Murphy-Stephans said there will be no Pac-12 news program -- such as a Pac-12 Network "SportsCenter" -- this first year but it remains a possibility for the future.

From the release:

Lott played four years at USC (1977-80) and helped lead the Trojans to two Rose Bowl victories and the 1978 national championship. He was a consensus All-American as a senior before being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the 1981 NFL Draft. During his 14 years in the NFL, he developed the reputation as one of the most feared defensive players in league history, leading the 49ers to eight division titles and four Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and two years later was part of the 2002 I-A Class of the College Football Hall of Fame. Lott previously worked as an NFL analyst with FOX Sports from 1996-98.

Sanders is one of the most prolific swimmers in Pac-12 and U.S. history who has become a popular on air personality. In her two years competing at Stanford she compiled six NCAA individual titles and four relay championships. She became the first swimmer in Stanford history to win back-to-back NCAA Swimmer of the Year honors (1991-92) and helped lead the Cardinal to the national championship in 1992. Later, Sanders became a national sensation at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, winning four medals, including two golds in the 200-meter butterfly and 400-meter medley relay. Following the Olympics, the Roseville, CA native launched a successful broadcasting career that brought her to all four major networks – ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC – covering the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, the NBA and WNBA and tennis, among other sports. She hosted NBC’s NBA Inside Stuff for seven years and has worked as a correspondent for the Today Show and Good Morning America. She also served as the host of Nickelodeon’s hit game show Figure It Out.

Neuheisel was a walk-on quarterback at UCLA, who became a starter as a senior in 1983. After a slow start, he rallied the Bruins to six wins in their last seven games, including a big one over cross-town rival USC to clinch the Conference title and a berth into the Rose Bowl. His four touchdowns led UCLA to a 45-9 win over No. 4 Illinois and earned him Rose Bowl Most Valuable Player honors. Following his playing career, which included two years in the USFL, Neuheisel went into coaching and he served as the head coach at three Pac-12 universities: Colorado (1995-98), Washington (1999-2002) and UCLA (2008-11). During his head coaching tenure, he posted an 87-59 record, went 4-3 in bowl games, including guiding Washington to a Rose Bowl title in 2000.

The Pac-12 Networks consist of one national and six regional networks that will provide 24/7 access to Pac-12 teams and universities. The networks will televise approximately 350 live events nationally, including 35 football games, more than 100 men’s basketball games, 40 women’s basketball games and hundreds of Pac-12 Olympic sports.