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With a 9-year extension at ESPN, Chris Fowler is now the voice of college football

What was speculated yesterday has become fact today: Chris Fowler is now the voice of college football. Okay, no one has given him a badge declaring him as such, but Fowler is now the lead college football voice on college football's lead network. That much is indisputable.

Fowler inked a nine-year deal with ESPN on Thursday, keeping him at the Worldwide Leader through 2023. The new contract will keep Fowler with ESPN through his 37th year with the network and beyond his 60th birthday. 

It's also a massive promotion, naming him the play-by-play voice for ABC's "Saturday Night Football" package, the College Football Playoff championship as well as one of the semifinals. Pairing with Kirk Herbstreit in front of college football's biggest audiences for Saturday morning and Saturday nights, the pair has a chance to become the sport's version of Pat Summerall and John Madden. Fowler will also continue his duties as host of "College GameDay", plus his off-season work calling major tennis events for ESPN.

“I am very excited about hosting GameDay for a 25th year and extending my work with Kirk Herbstreit for a 19th season and beyond,” said Fowler. “There is a strong legacy of top college football voices on ABC, from Chris Schenkel to Keith Jackson to Brent Musburger. I’m looking forward to returning to the booth and being a part of that incredible tradition. As for tennis, I can’t wait to continue and expand my role in ESPN’s industry-leading coverage.”

 In real-life terms, this was a bit of fortuitous timing for Fowler, as ESPN saw the contracts for its top two college football voices - Fowler and Brent Musburger - expire just as the network became the rights holder for the College Football Playoff package. Fowler is 51. Musburger is 75. ESPN did the math, and now Fowler is the network's top voice. 

After joining ESPN at age 24, Fowler has now risen to a point where he will be the voice for college football's pre-game show, college football's biggest prime-time game, the most prestigious individual award in sports (the Heisman), college football's version of the Oscars (the College Football Awards Show), and shepherd the sport into the Playoff era. Simply put, Fowler is positioned to become the Keith Jackson of the Playoff era.