The effect of Colin Cowherd’s upcoming departure from ESPN


Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.

It was a well-speculated topic among the sports media as well as among the radio trade publications, but last week, word came out that it would be official: Colin Cowherd would be departing from ESPN.

It is almost a given that Cowherd will take his show (and his sometimes outlandish sports takes) to Fox Sports later this year, if reports are true and at this point, there is all the reason in the world to believe they are.

Say what one wants about Cowherd, he definitely is the kind of personality that will get people talking. In radio, he’s what a person will call an equal opportunity offender. He does not care what topic it is or who he is talking to, he is not afraid to say what is on his mind.

I know what some are thinking: Fox Sports is about to get a serious dose of pro-Tom Brady talk as well.

But aside from that, this appears to be another case of Abandon Mothership as we experienced a few years ago when Jim Rome, Erin Andrews, and Michelle Beadle all left ESPN as well.

Rome went to CBS where he moved his radio show to CBS Sports Radio, and would host new TV shows on CBS Sports Network and Showtime. Beadle got her own show (The Crossover) on NBCSN and was a prominent feature during NBC’s coverage of the 2012 Olympics in London.

Of course, she has since returned to ESPN.

Andrews, who is not a favorite of Beadle’s, supposedly, became a reporter for Fox Sports. One of her most infamous interviews of course was with the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman after tipping the winning interception for his team in the 2014 NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Yeah, the “I’m the best corner in the game!”—that one.

This year along with Cowherd leaving ESPN for supposedly greener pastures on the West Coast with Fox Sports One, two other notable personalities also will be leaving the four-letter network.

The first is Bill Simmons, of course. He and ESPN have gotten into their share of disagreements in the past. He was one who was not afraid to criticize those who ESPN may have business/financial arrangements with, such as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Simmons ripped into Goodell for his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. He was also at one point in time suspended from ESPN for comments critical of one of its “flagship” programs nowadays—ESPN’s First Take.

Along with that, ESPN will also be saying “Bye, Felicia!” to another one of its most outspoken personalities later this month.

That of course is Keith Olbermann, who some believe was primarily hired by Bristol because of the looming competition from Fox via FS1 and FS2. He, as evidenced by his notable disagreements he had with his bosses at MSNBC and the former Current TV is not afraid to get into with anyone.

And he was another one who was not afraid to criticize Goodell at a moment’s notice. In fact, speculation has already been that Olbermann was almost entirely let go by ESPN because of his takes on Goodell and that the NFL punished ESPN with a less-than-stellar slate of Monday Night Football games because of Olbermann’s relentless criticism of Goodell.

And speaking of First Take, it isn’t a given Skip Bayless will be staying either and Stephen A. Smith has prominently said he would no longer do the show without him.

So, it is a thing when ESPN loses yet another high profile and highly-paid personality in the timespan of about a month or two. Cowherd is arguably the biggest radio departure from ESPN since they lost Dan Patrick a few years ago and he signed a new deal with the Content Factory and Premiere Radio for a new show.

So, that to 10-1 spot on ESPN Radio now has to be filled. There will certainly be some who turn in their listenership of ESPN Radio given his audience, but ESPN is ESPN and they have the ability to make a major star out of anyone.

The major get for Fox Sports could be the shot in the arm they need even though it does appear Fox expected too much too quick and is starting to cut back on its newsgathering arm. There has also been cost-cutting at ESPN as well, but if Cowherd does indeed go to Fox Sports Radio it certainly makes things more interesting in terms of scheduling.

And if there’s a television component to his deal (which there likely is), he becomes yet another ESPN personality who built a name in Bristol and is now looking for greener pastures elsewhere.
Between Cowherd and Mike Francesa, Fox Sports One could now be “The One for Controversial Opinions.”

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