Can the cancellation or resumption of a college football season influence who wins the 2020 presidential election? The answer can be debated, but President Trump isn’t taking any chances.
While it was widely reported President Trump had a phone call with Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren on Monday, Michael Smith and John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal are reporting POTUS can thank FOX Sports Radio’s Clay Travis for organizing the chat.
The president’s “one yard line” claim in the tweet above has been disputed, with Yahoo’s Pete Thamel claiming that his sources at the Big Ten Office “heartily laughed at it.” Nonetheless, a conversation with the Big Ten commissioner did take place.
Aug. 11, the same day President Trump appeared on Travis’ FOX Sports Radio Show Outkick The Coverage, the Big Ten announced the cancellation of fall sports, including the football season because of COVID-19. The Pac-12 followed, but the other Power Five conferences announced plans to play the 2020 fall sports seasons. In response to the cancelled seasons, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden began running commercials in Big Ten markets, blaming Trump’s handling of the pandemic as the cause of no football.
President Trump has aggressively worked to convince all sports, schools and industries to reopen amid the global pandemic, and similarly, Travis has been outspoken in his belief that the country’s response to COVID-19 has been an overreaction. Travis has also continued to highlight media biases, likely winning fans within the White House.
To help handle the negative reaction from cancelling their football season, the Big Ten hired Carrie Cecil, CEO of the media strategy firm Anachel Communications. According to SBJ, Cecil contacted Travis about easing his criticism and claimed hypocrisy in the decision making by first-year Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren. In those discussions, Travis reportedly accelerated contact between the two parties. After being contacted by the White House and weighing the pros and cons, Cecil, Warren and the Big Ten agreed to speak with the president.
Following the conversation, Travis was involved in a conference call with Cecil and White House aides, with everyone agreeing they were hopeful for a Big Ten season. Big Ten football being on the “one yard” line might be a stretch, but if the federal government expressed a willingness to provide more rapid testing for athletes, the conference’s fall sports seasons might be nearing.
Brandon Contes is a former reporter for BSM, now working for Awful Announcing. You can find him on Twitter @BrandonContes or reach him by email at Brandon.Contes@gmail.com.
Barstool’s Big Cat Recalls Awkward Moment of Aaron Rodgers Interview
“If there’s one thing I know how to do well, it’s to reroute a conversation when a guest is like, ‘Oooh, I don’t like you guys.'”
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers recently appeared on the Barstool Sports podcast, Pardon My Take, and the interview seemed to go well.
Podcast co-host, Dan “Big Cat” Katz, who is a die-hard Bears fan and well-documented Aaron Rodgers hater, relished in the fact that Rodgers agreed to take trash talk from him.
But there was one moment where things almost derailed.
Big Cat, in his weekly appearance on ESPN Chicago with Tom Waddle and Marc “Silvy” Silverman, talked about asking Rodgers how many grandmothers he had killed (A reference to Rodgers not being vaccinated against COVID-19 and his beliefs on vaccine mandates).
“That was a good lesson that PFT and I sometimes have to learn,” Big Cat said, before saying he saved the interview by finding a way out of the subject. “If there’s one thing I know how to do well, it’s to reroute a conversation when a guest is like, ‘Oooh, I don’t like you guys.'”
Katz said it was a moment where they had to pause and understand what they were actually asking and insinuating with Rodgers.
“That was one of those ones we really don’t live in the real world, so when we go out into the real world and we say something that we’ve been joking about within the confines of our studio on ears that haven’t heard those jokes before, it’s kind of like, ‘Wait what did you guys just say? Are you really joking about grandmothers that died from COVID?'” he said. “And then when you get it repeated back to you, you’re kind of like, ‘Oh, yeah that is kind of messed up. Right, good point.”
Katz mentioned Rodgers went with the whole bit for the interview the entire time. So while there was a brief second where things could’ve gone south, everyone just let it go.
“Score one for Aaron, but he was smiling,” Big Cat said. “It was all in good fun.”
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett News Media. He also works for ABC8 News and Newsradio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond, Virginia. His prior experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and iHeartradio Richmond. He can be reached by email at Jordan.E.Bondurant@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Fescoe in the Morning: ESPN Has a History of Ignoring Non-Partner Leagues
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
ESPN is out of the running for the Big Ten football and basketball media rights. Those will be awarded to a combination of other networks and likely a streaming service. ESPN appears to be focusing on NCAA Championships next.
Josh Klingler, co-host of Fescoe in the Morning on 610 Sports Radio in Kansas City, took time on their show on Tuesday to break down what that might mean for the Big Ten in terms of coverage.
“You’re (Big Ten) going to network television, which is better; more eyeballs and what have you,” noted Klingler. “But also, let’s not forget ESPN has a history of ignoring you when you’re not on their air. That’s the risk they are going to run.”
Klingler would add, “They are going to take the money. They are going to get network viewers, which is good. I guess the highlight and the hype and all those things that we are accustomed to doing that ESPN provides. We’ve already seen they ignore you if you’re not on their network.”
Bob Fescoe chimed in a reminder about another prominent league that chose not to partner with ESPN.
“Ask the National Hockey League what happened when they took the money from NBC and ran,” said Fescoe.
“They are risking being ignored by ESPN now,” replied Klingler.
“Right, but I think they are willing to do that for a billion dollars per year,” Fescoe responded.
Fescoe then said that the Big Ten might make up for the perceived shortcomings of not being on ESPN by being on network television.
“If you’re going to be on network TV in all three windows, Josh, quite honestly all your marquee games are going to be free,” said Fescoe.
“That’s exposure,” said Klingler.
NESN’s Dave O’Brien Says National Networks “Blew It” By Not Hiring Dennis Eckersley
“I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”
On Monday, Dennis Eckersley decided to make it known that this season would be his last with NESN in the booth. He mentioned that after 50 years in baseball, it was time to go be with the grandchildren in San Diego.
His broadcast partner for a lot of those years in the NESN booth was Dave O’Brien. On the latest Sports Media Mayhem podcast, O’Brien joined show host Alex Reimer to talk about the retirement of Eckersley. Reimer pointed out that it took awhile before Eckersley became the main color analyst for the team. O’Brien remembered the time well.
“When he started, he was pre- and post- and he did that most of his career at NESN,” said O’Brien. “It was really, only the last six or seven years that he really started to get on as a game analyst.”
O’Brien was named the lead play-by-play announcer for NESN’s Red Sox coverage in 2016 which is about the same time Eckersley slid into the role of game analyst. In the time since, O’Brien has seen the work of Eckersley up close and is floored that he was working for a regional sports network and not somewhere more nationally prominent.
“I think the national people totally blew it on Dennis Eckersley,” blurted O’Brien. “And that includes Turner. They had an opportunity, I can say that because a lot of those people there now didn’t make the decision. He should have been the lead analyst doing national games. He should have been on ESPN on Sunday Night Baseball or FOX. I don’t know how they blew it as badly as they did but Dennis Eckersley should have been a national icon… they made a mistake on that. I hope somebody regrets it.”