As LSU heads to the Sweet 16, Dick Vitale joined Jordy Culotta and T-Bob Hebert’s Off The Bench on ESPN 104.5 in Baton Rouge to discuss the Tigers men’s basketball head coach, Will Wade. Earlier this month, Wade was indefinitely suspended by the school after being named in an FBI investigation regarding payments to recruits.
Wade and LSU was not the only program named in the investigation, but Tiger fans feel Vitale has been particularly hard on their coach, while showing leniency toward others. With that being the background for the interview, the fireworks that ensued between Culotta, Hebert and Vitale were no surprise.
After being welcomed to the show, Vitale quickly jumped into explaining his stance, controlling the first four minutes of the interview before the hosts asked any questions. From the start, Vitale seemed agitated that he needed to defend his opinion, specifically with fans on social media who wished him ill will in profanity laced tweets.
Half way through the interview, the hosts clarified that they’re not defending Will Wade, but they do wonder why Vitale is zoning in on the LSU coach and not others involved in the scandal.
The iconic ESPN college basketball analyst became especially tense when the word hypocrisy was mentioned. “I come on your damn show, and I’m gonna be on it for you, but don’t sit there and tell me its hypocrisy when I’m telling you play the tape! Let your people hear the tape of that coach!” said Vitale.
Throughout the interview, Vitale would yell at the hosts to “play the tape,” which isn’t possible considering the tape hasn’t been made public while the federal investigation ensues. At least three times, Culotta and Hebert asked Vitale if he heard the tape, but he never gave a clear and definitive answer.
Vitale wasn’t amused when he was asked, “how much did Duke pay for Zion, in your opinion?” The hosts were confused as to why Vitale was defending certain coaches, even supporting the idea of paying players, but dug his heels in when claiming Wade committed “one of the biggest sins and crimes in all of sports.”
More than once, the interview sounded as if it was about to end on bad terms, but credit Vitale for sticking with the show for 20 minutes. Although the trio never reached an agreement, the interview ended cordially.
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.
Eli Manning: The ManningCast Is Not Supposed To Be Scripted & Polished
“It’s kind of off the wall, off the fly, let’s go wing it like we’re sitting on our coach at home.”
Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli on ESPN2 has been a major success for the network the last two seasons, and one of the big things that everyone points out about what makes the show between the Manning brothers work is how organically things flow.
Eli was a guest on The Anthony Gargano Show on 97.5 The Fanatic in Philadelphia ahead of Saturday night’s Eagles/Giants NFC divisional playoff game, and Gargano said he was a huge fan of the ManningCast.
“I wish they would do it and replay it during the week, because it’s so much fun,” Gargano said. “I never would’ve guessed that you guys would be this great at it.”
Eli said it took some tweaking to really hammer out kinks from the first season of the MNF alternate feed, but he and Peyton both really enjoy getting the chance to put on a show for fans.
“We have a blast, and that was the idea of it to not make it like the normal telecast of a football game,” he said. “To make it very different and where you can just be very relaxed, you can take shots at each other, you can talk over each other. There’s still just a rawness to it we don’t want to lose.”
Eli said there’s never any real organization to the show, like putting together a rundown of topics ahead of time. That’s one of the things that makes the ManningCast unique, and Eli wants to keep it that way.
“It’s not scripted,” he said. “It’s kind of off the wall, off the fly, let’s go wing it like we’re sitting on our coach at home.”
Manning added that this past week for the season finale, he and Peyton were chatting a couple minutes before air time figuring out who was going to open the show and who was going to talk about which team. They book guests ahead of time, but often there’s never a set list of questions they want to ask.
Jordan Bondurant is a features reporter for Barrett Sports Media. He works full-time as a multimedia specialist at the Virginia State Corporation Commission, while also putting in part-time work for News Radio WRVA and 910 The Fan in Richmond. Additionally, you can find Jordan contributing coverage of the Washington Capitals for the blog NoVa Caps. His prior media experiences include working for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Danville Register & Bee, Virginia Lawyers Weekly and ABC 8News. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @J__Bondurant.
Mike and The Mad Dog Reunion Set For First Take on February 1
“I can tell you this, no other people, the three of us for two hours. Think about that.”
It’s not a rumor or a wishful thought anymore. According to Chris Russo, we are getting the long-awaited Mike and the Mad Dog reunion. Russo and Stephen A. Smith will be joined by Mike Francesa for the entire two hours of First Take on February 1.
Russo made the announcement on his SiriusXM show Thursday afternoon. It is possible that it was a mistake though.
“Did anybody catch the reunion we’re going to have on February 1?” he said. “Did everybody see that? Stevie did say it on Howard, didn’t he?”
Stephen A. Smith told Howard Stern earlier this week that he intends to reunite Mike and the Mad Dog, but he did not set an official date. Russo acknowledged that he may not have been authorized to say it yet, but now that the cat was out of the bag, he gave more details.
“It sounds like the big guy will return and we’ll have the three of us in there,” he told the audience. “I can tell you this, no other people, the three of us for two hours. Think about that. You talk about me being a fraud, Mike hated ESPN for 100 years!”
If Russo is correct, that means no rotating analysts and no Molly Qerim. If the goal is to give the audience more Mike and the Mad Dog, then ESPN is making sure nothing gets in the way.
An interesting question now is what is Stephen A. Smith’s role in the reunion. He likely played a pivotal role in closing the deal to get Francesa on ESPN for a day, but what will he do on camera on February 1?
Shan & RJ Defend GBag Nation After Christian McCaffrey Comments
“Somewhere we lost the ability to know what irreverence sounds like.”
It’s no secret that San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey has been injury prone during his NFL career. 105.3 The Fan’s GBag Nation said it would benefit the Cowboys for McCaffrey to come down with an injury ahead of the team’s NFC Divisional Round playoff matchup this week, and that message wasn’t well received by 49er fans.
A Twitter user –calling the comments “pathetic” — captured a 15-second clip of the show discussing McCaffrey, in which hosts Gavin Dawson and Bryan Broaddus said “We could use an injury, we really could” followed by saying “a hamstring would be good”. The clip has since garnered nearly 50,000 views.
On Thursday, Shan Shariff of Shan & RJ defended his colleagues by calling out 49er fans.
“Want another example of how soft and whiney these Bay Area fans are? Check out the complete meltdowns and crying over @gbagnation joking about Christian McCaffrey. Charles Barkley was right about everything he’s every said about your city and fans”, before tagging 95.7 The Game –sister station of 105.3 The Fan — and that station’s morning host Bonta Hill.
RJ Choppy, Shariff’s partner on the 105.3 The Fan morning show, continued the defense of the station’s afternoon show. He believed the comments from the show were sarcastic in nature.
“I would say I’m surprised that people are unable to pick up on the clear sarcasm” of the two hosts, before saying “but I’m not. Somewhere we lost the ability to know what irreverence sounds like”.