ESPN Prepares For Life Without Erin Andrews; A New Sideline Princess Waits In The Wings

The end of the Erin Andrews era, as of right this minute, appears moderately imminent. Some insiders think she's crazy to leave. Some think she's crazy to stay. But whatever decision Team Andrews makes, ESPN comes out victorious.

Money and fame are the two dividing lines right now, and it's tough to come up with a salary figure for Andrews commensurate with her fame, but equally challenging to carve out a role for her beyond the sidelines to justify what some say would be a healthy — if not substantial — raise. Low-end numbers put her currently around $200k per year. Right now, people at the WWL think it would be foolish for Andrews to stay for less than $750k per year, especially since it's rumored that Oprah's production company, Harpo, is one of the many suitors vying for an open-ended development deal which could bring her seven figures.

But there's one problem with that scenario that many, many people who have worked with her at ESPN have spelled out: she's just not cut out to host her own talk show. Her persona, although charming and smiley, "lacks depth," said one insider. This opinion also puts an added burden on ESPN to find a proper vehicle for her, now that her fame outshines many of the anchors (and athletes) she'd work with. ESPN loves to give Andrews as much airtime as possible, but notice that they've never stuck her behind the big desk as a fill-in during the slow season to give her some reps off the teleprompter. Plus, according to one source, the WWL's most coveted stage, Monday Night Football, is an unlikely destination right now, since the WWL is very happy with Michele Tafoya and Suzy Kolber. (Also, they're both locked in for a couple years.) On the other hand, there's the Norby factor. The senior VP adores her and wouldn't mind overpaying to keep her in Bristol. Plus, most importantly, Andrews loves working at ESPN.

If Andrews does decide that, at age 32, the Sideline Princess life is just not as appealing as it once was and that she should take advantage of the fame the peephole saga and Dancing With The Stars brought her, she'll have plenty of options to do so. And ESPN has her replacement already lined up. Meet Jenn Brown, the presumed heir apparent, according to several sources.

ESPN Prepares For Life Without Erin Andrews; A New Sideline Princess Waits In The Wings

Yes, this is the girl you'll eventually see chasing down Steve Spurrier on the sidelines, posing for pictures with college students and grilling nervous 12-year-olds at the Spelling Bee.

But back to Erin Andrews: While the contract talks hold moderate interest for some of her colleagues, most of them prefer to gossip about her private life — specifically about what happened between her and dancing partner Maks. Because the latest EA romance gossip circulating around the Bristol cafeteria right now involves not Maks, but Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The two were spotted by other ESPN people last week drinking (closely) at the bar underneath Boston's Liberty hotel.

"Well, he's not the first athlete," said one bold ESPN TV guy who's sick of the Erin Andrews Machine. "She always wanted to just be a star." To be continued ...