SPLATT!!! …. Colin Cowherd Out At ESPN…. to the surprise of Absolutely No One…. Colin Cowherd joins the ever-growing ranks of Former ESPN high-profile / high-priced on-air talkers. In what has become a weekly ritual for ESPN Grand Poobah John Skipper (UNC’75); Skipper issued his standard “….. and we wish ____ the very best in his future endeavors” press release. Cowherd sign-off is next Friday.
Skipper has been ordered by his bosses at Disney to “slash operating costs” and that means jettisoning the high-priced on-air talent…. Cowherd, Bill Simmons, Keith Olbermann, Jason Whitlock (demoted) and likely more to come.
As with his previously “let-go” provocative peers, Cowherd’s departure elicited hoots of derision from ESPN’s target audience of google-eyed mouth-breathing no-lifers. ESPN’s no-lifer audience hate ALL the ESPN yakkers because at some point they all “dissed their team”. Whatever cheap talent ESPN brings in to replace Cowherd will also quickly be despised for the same reason. Other than being his favorite school’s AD or his pro team’s GM, every no-lifer is convinced he would be a terrific sports talk show dude.
Cowherd will be joining FoxSports in some similar yet-to-be-specified role.
The Big Lead is reporting that ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd will be leaving the company. The Hollywood Reporter says Cowherd’s last show will air next Friday, July 24. All indications are that he’ll move to the West Coast and join Fox Sports for a reunion with former ESPN producing wunderkind Jamie Horowitz who created SportsNation and Colin’s Football Show.
ESPN President John Skipper confirmed Cowherd’s departure in a statement:
“We’ve enjoyed a mutually beneficial run with Colin for over a decade.He came to national prominence on ESPN with his unique perspective on sports and society. Endings also bring new beginnings, for ESPN and Colin, and we thank himand wish him the best.”
It marks the third high profile personality to leave ESPN after Bill Simmons and Keith Olbermann. It also leaves ESPN Radio in transition with Scott Van Pelt leaving and now Cowherd.
The Big Lead cites that Cowherd was frustrated over his radio simulcast on ESPNU and wanted it to be on either ESPN or ESPN2 but it wasn’t going to replace either SportsCenter and First Take.
Cowherd began at ESPN Radio in 2003 replacing Tony Kornheiser in the midday slot. With Michelle Beadle and then Charissa Thompson, he co-hosted SportsNation from 2009-2012 and began hosting Colin’s Football Show on Sunday mornings during NFL season during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
If Cowherd goes to Fox and does a radio simulcast on Fox Sports 1, will he run into the same issues that have befallen Mike Francesa with soccer and NASCAR pre-emptions or will he get a guarantee of airtime? That’s something that has to be worked out before he hits the air.
But in the meantime, ESPN has to deal with another high profile departure.
Colin Cowherd’s imminent departure from ESPN is still hot on everyone’s minds, just hours after the initial news broke. And while his future home hasn’t been officially confirmed or announced, all signs point to him heading to Fox Sports.
But while Cowherd and Fox may seem like a fit on paper, how much of a fit are they in reality? The Herd airs at 10 AM on ESPN Radio, but that wouldn’t work at Fox Sports Radio – Dan Patrick is on from 9 AM until noon, and Rich Eisen has a hold on the airwaves from noon until 3 PM. A later slot wouldn’t work too well because of Fox Sports 1’s live event coverage, and preempting that coverage for a radio simulcast would be a much bigger problem than preempting a radio simulcast for live game broadcasts. Cowherd could also join an outlet like SiriusXM and have the radio show simulcast on FS1, but then Fox would be looking at the odd situation of two radio shows under their banner airing TV simulcasts on opposite networks at the same time.
Could I be putting an undue focus on radio? Sure, but that’s always been Cowherd’s bread and butter – one of the main reasons he was frustrated with ESPN was their refusal to shift his radio simulcast from ESPNU to either ESPN or ESPN2 (which, let’s be honest, was never going to happen). While I think Cowherd understandably wants more of a presence on TV, I don’t think he’d be too thrilled to give up his radio show to do it.
As for TV, Fox Sports 1 has plenty of time slots that could work well. The Big Leadhypothesized about a 6 PM show to go up against SportsCenter, which would be quite ambitious on Fox’s part. A 6 PM weekday should would likely spell the end of America’s Pregame (and not NASCAR Race Hub, which has been the one consistent studio show to draw solid ratings in the nearly two year history of Fox Sports 1). A 6 PM show doesn’t come without risk – say what you want about SportsCenter’s shifting focus, but the 6 PM show is still a force, and with another studio show as a lead-in, Cowherd could get brutalized.
*Something* on weekend mornings related to football also could work, but without knowing Fox’s broadcast plans for the Bundesliga this season, we’re left speculating. A Cowherd-led college football pregame show could end up working much better than the two vastly different Saturday pregame shows Fox has run over the past two seasons, as could adding him to the NFL pregame show with Randy Moss and company.
What do I think will end up happening? It’s tough to say, because of the sheer amount of options Fox has in regards to Cowherd. I doubt he would go for it, but I think a 6-9 AM radio/TV simulcast could do wonders for Fox Sports 1 – there wouldn’t be any unfortunate preemptions, and Cowherd wouldn’t exactly have a brutal slate of competition. That would also free Cowherd’s weekends up for more football pregame coverage, and maybe even some sort of #EmbraceDebate style show after his radio show.
It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how this plays out.