TSN makes safe but smart move with CFL line up

Photo courtesy: TSN

Since long-time play-by-play man Chris Cuthbert left TSN for Sportsnet to fulfill his dream of calling the Stanley Cup Final, broadcast nerds like myself have been wondering who would become the voice of the CFL on TV?

We now have our answer.

After the news was broken by 3DownNation‘s John Hodge, TSN announced that Rod Smith will be moving to the booth to join a roster of play-by-play talent for the CFL on TSN that continues to include the likes of Rod Black and Dustin Nielson.

Smith had previously been working as the host of the CFL on TSN panel since Dave Randorf left the three-letter network to join Sportsnet in a hockey play-by-play role. Randorf has since moved on and is now the television voice of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The move itself was an easy one for Bell Media as Smith is familiar to CFL fans from his time on the panel along with his work calling Thursday Night Football for the last few years.

This move shouldn’t be all that surprising, as it’s one I expected TSN to make over a year ago when Cuthbert left TSN for Sportsnet. It hasn’t been an easy year for broadcasters in this country as their bottom lines have been greatly affected like many other industries during the pandemic. As much as I would have loved to see Bell make a pitch to try and secure Sportsnet’s Tim Micallef for the role, the money probably just isn’t there right now.

So, in the meantime, Smith will act as a solid stop-gap as the likes of Neilson become more comfortable and well-known on the national football stage. Smith is a steady play-by-play professional who will come prepared, knows his stuff, and calls a strong game.

Replacing Smith is another familiar name to CFL fans in Kate Beirness.

Beirness has been the host of Thursday Night Football for the last few years and has seen her role at TSN grow from Sportscentre anchor to include hosting a number of sports for the network.

Beirness will bring something the CFL on TSN has been lacking over the years — a younger, female voice to the panel. She’s a well-respected sports mind who I have no doubt will fit in and bring a new perspective to pre-game shows, half-time, and post-game analysis on Sportscentre.

Ultimately, TSN didn’t make any groundbreaking, unexpected decisions with their CFL on TSN line-up, but these moves should make the most of the talent currently available.