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Bob Knight Out At ESPN

Jason Barrett

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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

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Tyler Polumbus: ‘I Couldn’t Talk About Colorado Football On Denver Radio Before Deion Sanders’

“You are now a cultural icon for kids all across the country.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Over the weekend Deion Sanders was formally announced as the new head football coach at Colorado University after three seasons at FCS Jackson State.

The hall of fame defensive back transformed Jackson State in his short stint at the HBCU, and the hope is that Sanders will be able to make football in Boulder relevant again.

Talking to Pete Medhurst and Chris Russell on The Team 980 in D.C. on Wednesday, Altitude Sports Radio host Tyler Polumbus explained how Deion’s hiring alone has already started to make an impact on the Buffaloes program.

“In 48 hours, Colorado’s social media accounts grew by 150,000 people,” Polumbus said. “And that’s the Deion Sanders effect. You are now a cultural icon for kids all across the country.”

Polumbus, a Denver native who played football at Colorado and recently joined Altitude Sports Radio after a stint at rival 104.3 The Fan, said the hiring has even made the school’s program a relevant topic on the radio.

“I couldn’t talk about CU on my radio show. CU is never talked about,” he said. “And Colorado is a one-sport (state). It is the Denver Broncos – that’s it. And from here on out until Deion Sanders is no longer the head coach at CU, they will be the top story here in Colorado.”

Medhurst mentioned how USC and UCLA exiting the Pac-12 for the Big Ten starting in 2024 could open the door for Colorado under Deion’s leadership to make some noise in the conference. But despite all the excitement from the Sanders hiring and not having seen what he can do with the team on the field, Polumbus said he’s trying to keep things in perspective.

“We already got catfished once this offseason with Russell Wilson,” he said of the Broncos quarterback. “So we’re trying to not let our hopes and enthusiasm get all too high with Deion Sanders, because I can’t let myself get catfished twice in one year.”

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Colin Cowherd: Baker Mayfield Isn’t That Interesting To Me Anymore

“Carolina’s weak, and he has proven to be over-drafted. The Rams right now are boring, I don’t think with a bad o-line and limited weapons he’ll find it any easier than he did in Carolina.”

Jordan Bondurant

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Former Cleveland Browns top draft pick Baker Mayfield’s stint with the Carolina Panthers ended after this past week, with the team placing him on waivers. On Tuesday, news broke that the L.A. Rams claimed Mayfield.

On FOX Sports Radio, host Colin Cowherd said Wednesday he didn’t have a hot take on the news.

“For a couple of years, three years or so, I talked about Baker Mayfield I swear to God every other day during the football season,” Cowherd said. He was considered one of Mayfield’s most vocal critics even going back to his playing days at Oklahoma.

“But I said when he left Cleveland I wouldn’t talk about him as much, because he’s just not that interesting,” he added. “Carolina’s weak, and he has proven to be over-drafted. The Rams right now are boring, I don’t think with a bad o-line and limited weapons he’ll find it any easier than he did in Carolina.”

Despite the fall from grace for Mayfield, Colin Cowherd said he hoped for the best for Baker moving forward.

“I honestly wish him well. I don’t root against professional athletes. Russell Westbrook can drive me crazy. Baker Mayfield drove me crazy, but he’s a nice kid.”

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Bobby Belt: ‘Pat McAfee Butchered The Name Shan and RJ’

“I mean, it clearly says on the graphics ‘Shan and RJ’.”

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Shan and RJ is a show that routinely finds itself in the media spotlight. They may be a Dallas show, but when Jerry and Stephen Jones routinely appear on your airwaves, you are going to draw attention from outside of the market.

On Tuesday, Pat McAfee played a clip of the hosts talking to Jerry Jones. McAfee threw to the clip introducing the show as “Shan, RJ, and Chop.” On Wednesday morning, the 105.3 The Fan’s morning show had some fun with the former Colts punter’s struggles.

“There’s a lot to unpack here,” newly added co-host Bobby Belt said after listening to McAfee and his crew take three unsuccessful cracks at naming the show.

“Reggie made a good point yesterday when I was talking to him about this,” Belt said. “Reggie was like ‘I think McAfee was going to the clip, saw three faces and didn’t know a third name, and so he’s like ‘well, that must be RJ and Chop.’”

Belt delighted in the idea that in McAfee’s mind, RJ Choppy goes by “Chop” on air and even pointed out that one of the producers said that RJ “looks like a Chop.”

Pat McAfee called the show “Shan, RJ, and Chop,” “Shana, RJ and Chop,” and “Shannon and RJ” on different occasions according to Belt. He didn’t think it was disrespectful. He just didn’t understand how McAfee got it so wrong so often.

“They butchered this three ways to the weekend. I have no idea. I mean, it clearly says on the graphics ‘Shan and RJ’.”

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