ESPN has reached multiyear contract extensions with SEC Nation host Laura Rutledge and Thinking Out Loud’s Marcus Spears to continue in their multifaceted roles with ESPN and SEC Network. The duo, who share the SEC Nation desk on Saturday mornings, will continue to contribute across a number of high-profile network shows and programming.
Rutledge, who expanded her portfolio at the network to include occasional stints as a SportsCenter anchor and a red carpet host at the Home Depot College Football Awards and the ESPYs, finished her first year as SEC Nation host last fall and her second year with the show overall. She also contributes to ESPN and SEC Network’s live-event programming for college football, basketball, gymnastics, baseball and softball. She was a mainstay in ESPN’s extensive championship coverage surrounding the College Football Playoff, NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships, and both the Women’s College World Series and College World Series.
“Laura is the ultimate utility player,” said Tom McCollum, SEC Network senior coordinating producer. “Turn on your television on Saturday mornings during the fall, Friday nights during the winter or throughout spring weekends in May and June, and, more often than not, you will see Laura. She gives everything she has to her colleagues and her craft, and we’re better for it. She truly connects with the subjects whose stories she shares, and it’s something we’ll benefit from for years to come.”
Spears continues to shine as an analyst, adding a multitude of studio shows to his repertoire since joining the network in 2014. In addition to his weekly seat at the SEC Nation desk, Spears served as one half of SEC Network’s debut studio show, Thinking Out Loud. Getting out from behind an anchor desk and moving into an office cubicle desk with co-host, Greg McElroy, the duo brought fun and fanfare to their weekly rundown of all things SEC football every Monday night throughout the fall. The pair pulled off a special edition of Thinking Out Loud surrounding the bracket reveal for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, because “you can’t spell bracketology without TOL.”
“Marcus is invaluable to our football coverage for a myriad of reasons, most especially because of his knowledge of the game and his connection to our audience,” McCollum noted. “The passion you see from him on our shows is genuine, and it only adds to his popularity as an analyst. He doesn’t hide his love for SEC football and it’s part of what makes him so fun to watch. We know our viewers are just as excited as we are to have Marcus return as a member of the SEC Network family.”
Spears is a regular on College Football Live and makes several appearances throughout the week on SportsCenter and SEC Now. He contributed to SEC Network’s coverage of National Signing Day and was a field analyst for several SEC spring football games in 2018.