When Bob Knight took a job with ESPN as a college basketball analyst in 2008, the career shift reminded one of the Groucho Marx line about not wanting to belong to any club that would have him as a member. The Hall of Fame basketball coach joined the same group of people he once described as “one or two steps above prostitution.” He became one of the “damn people from television” he famously critiqued.
On Thursday night, his run as one of the “damn people from television”—at least as far as being a damn person from ESPN—is officially over. SI.com has learned ESPN will not renew its contract with Knight. His last broadcast for the network will be Thursday night’s NIT’s championship between Stanford and Miami, which tips at 9 p.m. ET.
When contacted by SI.com on Thursday afternoon, ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys declined comment.
Knight, 74, was hired by ESPN in February 2008 shortly after he announced his resignation from Texas Tech. During his time with ESPN, he worked in a number of capacities, including as an on-site analyst (notably with Brent Musburger on Big 12 broadcasts) as well as appearing on select shows and platforms, including ESPN’s Selection Sunday Specials, SportsCenter, ESPN Radio and ESPNEWS. He was an interesting and distinctive voice early on, but he had some hiccups as a broadcaster, including in 2012 when he remarkably declined to utter the word “Kentucky” on air, opting instead for that “team from the SEC.” He took on fewer games in the past couple of years—he called American Athletic Conference games this year with Mike Patrick and Len Elmore—but still had a propensity to tell people to get off his lawn.
Prior to Knight’s hire by the Bristol-based network, ESPN enjoyed favored nation status with him. Longtime supporters such as Dick Vitale and Digger Phelps shouted his virtues to audiences for years. Of course, part of Knight’s ESPN legacy also included walking off the set of ESPN’s Cold Pizza when asked about the resignation of his successor at Indiana University, Mike Davis, verbally smacking ESPN reporter Jeremy Schaap during a 2000 interview, and later calling Schaap a “chicken—-little —-sucker” in Jim Miller’s best-selling book on ESPN, These Guys Have All The Fun.
“He’s always been the type of person that if you were flipping through the channels and you saw him in a long-form interview or a press conference or during one of his games, you stopped and watched it,” ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson told Sports Illustrated upon hiring Knight. “There are very few people like that. It was a fairly easy decision. Our goal is to inform and entertain sports fans, and when you look at somebody of the stature of Bob Knight, he is one of the most compelling sports figures of the last half century. I realize a lot of people are going to say he is a very polarizing figure. But again, I go back and look at the body of work, the intellect, the success, the graduation rates, the programs he has run. When you put everything together, it is an easy decision to hire Bob Knight for your college basketball coverage.”
Could Knight catch on with another sports network? Nothing is impossible when it comes to sports television executives handing out cash. He’s one of the major names in the history of the sport, and the inventory of live games out there is plentiful. But he also comes with considerable baggage.
Credit to Sports Illustrated who originally published this story
Kirk Herbstriet Wants To Be Held To Same Standard For NFL As College Football
“Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.”
The NFL schedule was released last week, and Thursday Night Football has a lot of interesting matchups for its first year on Amazon Prime. It is also a new broadcast booth with Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit on the call.
With Herbstreit now adding Thursday Night Football to College Gameday, he has already started preparing for the upcoming season. Herbstreit was on The Pat McAfee Show on Friday and he said he is already at Pro Football Focus in Cincinnati doing his research.
“I’m just trying to lay a foundation,” said Herbstreit.
Herbstreit told McAfee that whenever anyone asks him to talk about a college team, he can quickly tell them what the DNA of that team is. Now he wants to bring that level of preparation to his NFL broadcasts. He will look at a different matchup every week this summer to get a more detailed idea of what each team is about:
As for his connection with Al Michaels, Herbstreit mentioned he has gone out to dinner with him a couple of times and he wants to make going out to eat with his broadcast partner a frequent deal.
“Hung out with him 2-3 times. Had a chance just to get to know him. When you go into a new deal, I love like Wednesday night dinner, I want to make a staple and just hang out and get to know him and hopefully he will get to know me. When you do that, it allows you to have natural chemistry.”
Andrew Mason To Succeed John Clayton At 104.3 The Fan
“Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.”
John Clayton passed away earlier this year. That left 104.3 The Fan without a lead Broncos writer for the 2022 season. On Monday, the station announced that it had hired a successor in Andrew Mason.
Mason comes to The Fan from DNVR, a digital outlet where he provided written and audio content for the last three seasons.
“Mase’s work speaks for itself as one of the market’s most respected analysts when it comes to writing about and discussing the Broncos,” Raj Sharan, The Fan’s program director, said in a press release. “Replacing someone of the legendary stature of John Clayton was not something we took lightly, and we believe Mase is the perfect person to pick up that mantle and bring tremendous credibility and content to our rapidly growing digital platforms.”
Andrew Mason has a lot of credibility with Broncos fans. He has covered the team for 19 years. He has also written a book called Tales from the Denver Broncos Sideline.
The Fan won’t be his first foray into Denver radio either. Mason has previously been a host on Mile High Sports Radio and the defunct KDSP- AM.
“I’m thrilled to join The Fan team and add what I can to the efforts of building Denver’s premier online destination for Denver fans,” said Mason. “Being tasked with replacing a legend like John Clayton is a responsibility I take very seriously, and I’m honored The Fan has entrusted me with this opportunity.”
Gregg Giannotti: ‘Drew Brees Isn’t Used To Not Succeeding’
“He’s succeeded at everything he’s ever done and then he gets into the booth and they kick him out after one year. It’s a tough spot.”
What does the future hold for Drew Brees? Andrew Marchand reports that he is set to leave NBC. Brees himself says nothing is decided yet.
On Monday morning, Boomer & Gio discussed why the former quarterback is in this position just one year after making his broadcasting debut. Gregg Giannotti noted that if Brees was brought to NBC with the idea that he would eventually be the top game analyst, the criticism he faced last year and the network’s decision to stick with Cris Collinsworth in the Sunday Night Football booth were likely unexpected blows to his ego.
“That’s a tough spot, man, for him,” Gio said. “The guy’s been beloved his whole career. He did go through a little bit of it when people were all over his ass for saying the wrong thing one time, but here he goes. He’s succeeded at everything he’s ever done and then he gets into the booth and they kick him out after one year. It’s a tough spot.”
Boomer Esiason added that the criticism Drew Brees received for his work in the broadcast booth did not apply to his work on Football Night in America or the Sunday Night Football halftime show.
“He was good in the studio,” Boomer Esiason said. “I saw him in the studio and I liked him.”
Brees prefers calling games to work in the studio. According to Marchand’s report, that is what is at the heart of his potential exit from NBC.
The color commentator role may come with more prestige, but it isn’t easy. Esiason has experience with both positions. He calls games on the radio for Westwood One and has been a staple of CBS’s The NFL Today since 2002.
“Some guys are not meant to be game analysts, that’s all.”