I hope you took the under in your “how long will it take for Colin Cowherd to start taking shots at ESPN” bets, because it took him all of 15 days.
On Wednesday’s broadcast of “The Herd,” now located at Fox Sports, Cowherd ran through a laundry list of complaints about his former employer in light of the news that a.) it’s reportedly going to lay off around 300 employees in a cost-cutting move; and b.) it no longer will provide “cover updates” on its college football telecasts:
But I saw something yesterday where ESPN is putting an end to their, quote, ‘Cover Alert,’ unquote, that they brought in to start the season. Basically you watch a football game on ESPN, they had cover alerts, “Hey, your team just covered.” And the bottom line is the NCAA executives came out, were not happy and they said ‘We don’t like it.’”
If I can be critical of ESPN, they’ve become incredibly reactionary over the last three or four years for a variety of reasons. They’re going to have 300 layoffs here, it’s incredibly sad. There’s a lot of executives protecting their space and their pensions, and they’ve become incredibly reactionary, but there’s a lot of great people over there. But here’s the thing: sports gambling’s not going anywhere. But ESPN’s in a very odd place with this, because they wanted to buy DraftKings. This company owns 10 per cent of DraftKings, ESPN wanted to own 10 per cent of DraftKings. They made a bid for it, Disney came in and said ‘No, you don’t.’ There is a struggle with that company, the former employer, right now, about gambling. Because ESPN is owned by Disney. When you think of Disney, you think of Lion King, you think of Frozen, you think Dancing With Stars, and you think Pocahontas, and you think kids, and theme parks.
Cowherd’s quotes make for an interesting companion piece to Scott Van Pelt’s comments Thursday night on “SportsCenter,” in which he urged that everyone give up the daily-fantasy-isn’t-gambling charade.
And then Cowherd went straight after “Mike & Mike in the Morning,” the anchor of ESPN Radio’s morning lineup:
You know, their morning show, Mike and Mike, we used to call it ‘Mickey and Mickey in the morning.’ It’s very Disney, it’s very safe, it’s very likeable, nobody’s going to get yelled at. It’s a very easy place for advertisers to come in, park their insurance commercial and nobody’s going to be offended. That’s the culture; it’s Disney-owned. Fox is owned by a family, The New York Post, Bill O’Reilly, Sons of Anarchy, some strong political opinions, Family Guy can be offensive. So you have different cultures. This culture’s very, very…they don’t care what you put on your Twitter account. They don’t give a rip.
Cowherd is one of three big-name ESPN personalities to depart the network this year. Keith Olbermann is another, and he’s never been shy about his love/hate feelings for ESPN. And then there’s Bill Simmons, who was dumped by ESPN earlier this year after a long relationship that can be most charitably described as “complicated.”
His first HBO podcast comes out in six days.