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Cotton Bowl marks end of Jeannine Edwards’ remarkable career

From horse racing to football and basketball, it’s been an exciting career path for Jeannine Edwards.

Edwards, a familiar face to ESPN viewers since she joined the network in 1995, is retiring at the end of the year. Her final assignment will be covering the Dec. 29 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas for SportsCenter (see sidebar).

“I’ve made this decision after a lot of thought and careful consideration,” said Edwards, who indicated she was offered a new contract with ESPN. “It wasn’t easy, and I still can’t believe I’m saying the word ‘retire,’ but I felt the time was right.”

Edwards, whose husband Glenn Spencer is the defensive coordinator for Oklahoma State, said that spending more time with her family is the main reason for her decision. Both she and Spencer have parents who need extra care, and her father passed away in June.

Edwards looks forward to Cotton Bowl

Jeannine Edwards will report from Dallas for SportsCenter leading up to the Cotton Bowl (Friday, Dec. 29, 8:40 p.m. ET, ESPN). No. 5 Ohio State and No. 8 USC will clash in the game.

“I think it’s definitely the third-best game of the postseason,” Edwards said. “I had the pleasure of covering both USC and Ohio State this year during the regular season and unfortunately saw both teams lose because I covered Ohio State’s game against Oklahoma in Columbus and I covered USC’s game at Notre Dame.”

Her husband, Glenn Spencer, is coaching the Oklahoma State defense as the Cowboys take on Virginia Tech in the Camping World Bowl (Thursday, Dec. 28, 5 ET, ESPN) in Orlando. With the help of Oklahoma State’s athletics department, he sends his wife a special surprise message in the video above.

“When anyone gets of a certain age and your parents are elderly, I think you maybe start to rethink your priorities, so that’s what I’ve been doing the last year or so,” she said. “We’re both struggling to find the time to be there for our families who need us most right now.”

Edwards was hired by ESPN as a horse racing analyst in 1995, then later branched into college football and basketball sideline reporting. She added general reporting nine years ago and later became a fulltime SportsCenter bureau reporter.

There have been so many stories and interviews that Edwards found it hard to pick career highlights. But she said the opportunity to cover Duke versus North Carolina in basketball, Ohio State versus Michigan in football and American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win are all very memorable, especially the interview she did with Bob Baffert, American Pharoah’s trainer.

“That interview and that whole moment of seeing a Triple Crown winner was a long time coming and I’m happy it happened during my career,” she said.

Another memorable assignment was Shaquille O’Neal’s retirement, for which the announcement took place in O’Neal’s home, and the NBA star photo-bombed Edwards’ live shot by dancing through in his pajamas.

As she heads into retirement life in Oklahoma, Edwards fondly recalls the years of working with her college football crew on the 3:30 p.m. ABC games (“Those guys became like a second family.”) and the team of ESPN bureau reporters and producers.

“The bureau group is some of the most talented people in television – so dedicated, so professional, so hard-working,” she said. “Long hours, tons of traveling and they really take pride in what they do. I’ve been inspired, challenged, and rewarded in so many ways, and heartened by the friendships.”

Oklahoma State University Athletics provided the Glenn Spencer video.
Jeannine Edwards provided the photos in the gallery.