Jalen Rose (Getty Images)With Hubert Davis trading his seat behind the "College GameDay" desk for one on the North Carolina bench last month, ESPN has an opening to fill on its popular weekly college hoops pregame show.
The network has yet to officially announce its choice, but TheBigLead.com reports that Jalen Rose has emerged as the front runner.
Primarily an NBA analyst for ESPN the past five years, Rose is nonetheless a recognizable face for college basketball viewers. The former Fab Five member helped lead Michigan to back-to-back appearances in the national game in 1992 and 93, accomplishments that no longer are acknowledged by the NCAA as a result of rules violations.
The always opinionated Rose might be more apt to spar with fellow analysts Jay Bilas and Digger Phelps than Davis was, but the question will be whether he's knowledgeable enough about the college game. As Turner Sports' Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith have proven the past two NCAA tournaments, all the charisma in the world doesn't make a show worth watching if its analysts aren't familiar with the players and teams they're talking about.
The other option for ESPN would have been to reward one of its young, up-and-coming college basketball analysts with a more high-profile role.
Doug Gottlieb, who is always knowledgeable, opinionated and well-prepared, would have been an obvious choice. Jay Williams, who has improved considerably during his ESPN tenure, also seemed like a strong candidate. Even someone like Sean Farnham, a lesser-known but sharp, candid analyst, might be worthy of consideration.
Ultimately, however, it appears ESPN will go with Rose. And as he grows more acclimated to the college game again, that may not be a bad choice.