SEC Network rising star Laura Rutledge has been tabbed as the new host of the national network's traveling pre-game show SEC Nation, featuring Tim Tebow, Marcus Spears and Paul Finebaum. Rutledge was a reporter on SEC Nation last season and hosted the network's studio show SEC Now year-round. She will replace the show's previous host Maria Taylor.
"Laura's work ethic and energy will be great for the show," said Tom McCollum, senior coordinating producer. "She has excellent chemistry with the SEC Nation team and a track record of success in the hosting chair. We anticipate a seamless transition this fall."
Rutledge joined ESPN and began working on SEC Network in 2014. She has covered a wide range of college sports as sideline reporter including football, basketball, softball and baseball. In addition to traveling with SEC Nation last fall, Rutledge was the sideline reporter for ESPN's Thursdays Night Football Game. She also hosted more than 200 SEC Now shows and became an unofficial co-host on The Paul Finebaum Show, joining Finebaum in-studio several days a week.
"I have never worked with anyone quite like Laura. She is wickedly smart, incredibly talented and shockingly funny. She is simply the best and I think will be extraordinary in this role," said Finebaum. "Now, if the college football season could only hurry up and get here so we can start the show."
SEC Nation has been traveling the Southeastern Conference for three seasons. The show has brought national viewers the sights, sounds and tailgating taste of every SEC campus on game day, as well as flavor from the neutral site Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville, Fla. and an annual trip to the SEC Football Championship game in Atlanta. ESPN's Joe Tessitore was the show's host at launch, 2014, and Taylor hosted last season. Taylor will now contribute to ESPN's College GameDay and provide sideline reporting for ABC's Saturday Night Football Game.