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Todd Wright Unloads on Booger McFarland

“Wright said the only one who enjoyed working with McFarland less was Jason Witten. Marc Ryan though disagrees with Wright’s assessment.”

Brandon Contes

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The first Monday Night Football broadcast of the season also marks the beginning of Booger McFarland as ESPN’s lead analyst in the booth.  McFarland’s former Tampa Bay radio co-host, Todd Wright used MNF’s season debut as an excuse to record a podcast bashing the now ESPN analyst.

“Break a leg tonight Booger – seriously, break both,” Todd said and titled the podcast episode.  Wright is a longtime sports radio host with decades of experience at both the national and local level.  Currently hosting his Todd Wright TODDcast podcast, Wright once shared a radio show with Anthony ‘Booger’ McFarland.

Wright’s tenure with McFarland lasted just seven weeks when the two partnered on Tampa Bay’s short-lived CBS Sports Radio station, 98.7 The Fan in 2012.

“The only man who didn’t want to work with Anthony McFarland less than me – Jason Witten,” Wright said as he called for Booger to receive more criticism for ESPN’s Monday Night Football booth failure last season.  While the entire Monday Night Football broadcast was criticized, much of the blame was placed on Jason Witten.  Witten’s return to the Dallas Cowboys this season paved the way for McFarland to depart the often mocked “BoogerMobile,” and join play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore inside the booth. 

During his podcast, Wright called out McFarland’s analysis as being empty, also noting many successful football analysts have been offensive minds, such as Aikman, Romo and Collinsworth.  McFarland’s defensive background makes it difficult for him to offer anything in terms of reading the field during the pre-snap according to Wright.

Wright referred to Booger as a “fraud,” not only questioning his ability as an analyst, but also his character as a person, placing blame on the former Buccaneer defensive tackle for the lack of success with their radio show and 98.7 The Fan as a whole.

“He’s really nice to the people who can potentially do something nice for him, then there’s everyone else,” Wright said.  “If you can’t do anything nice for him, or you’re in his way of achieving what he wants professionally – and I’m sure Jason Witten felt this as well – he’ll do anything he can to walk all over you.”

Wright left his radio show with Booger after just seven weeks, stating on his podcast that the two co-hosts who followed him wanted to fight McFarland physically.  The sports radio host was also critical of Booger’s “obsession” with nicknames.  Instead of referring to Todd Wright by name, Booger would call him “T-Dub” a trend that his co-host wasn’t fond of.  Last season on MNF, Booger used the nicknames “Tess” and “Witt” instead of Tessitore and Witten which Wright found childish.

When Wright joined 98.7 The Fan he expected the gig to take him into retirement.  He thought the time was right to challenge Tampa’s premium sports station, WDAE, but the show lasted just seven weeks because as Wright put it, he was “saddled with Anthony McFarland.”

“I’m sure when [98.7 The Fan] went under, a big portion of that was [McFarland’s] failure to generate any sort of consistent audience and have any kind of accountability in afternoon drive with three different hosts,” Wright said.  “I walked, the other two wanted to, or fought him – he just brushed it aside, he didn’t care about the people at the station when the station went down, I still care about a number of those people.”

While Wright doesn’t look back at his seven weeks with Booger fondly and seemingly roots for the ESPN analyst to fail, another one of McFarland’s co-hosts offered a different sentiment.  When reached for comment by BSM, Booger’s former partner on The Fan and current ESPN Upstate host, Marc Ryan had positive things to say about his time with McFarland.

“I have a different experience and I think Todd comes off sounding angry, sore and thin skinned,” Ryan said about the Booger-centric episode of the TODDcast.

Ryan gave credit to Booger for his media achievements, noting the former NFL defensive tackle auditioned for all of his opportunities, having never been handed anything. 

“I’ve never worked with a co-host who prepared harder than he did,” Ryan said, adding that McFarland is insightful and entertaining behind the mic. 

Former Assistant Program Director Jerry Petuck, who’s now involved with Radio Influence, posted on social media that he witnessed many of the issues firsthand between Booger and Wright and still considers both friends. He did not put any blame for the pairing not working out on either co-host. He did share that Wright’s points about the station’s demise were on target.

While Wright viewed McFarland’s time with The Fan as a failure that contributed to the station’s downfall, Ryan called on the successes Booger has had with the current Monday Night Football analyst. 

“You need to be able to laugh at yourself when you work with Booger.  Because I can do that, I really enjoyed my time working with him,” Ryan said.  “Booger and I took the ratings of that station to new heights, we made the TALKERS Heavy Hundred list together and the competing station in the market told me they had meetings about the gains we were making.”

The main reason The Fan was unable to find sustained success and challenge Tampa’s WDAE according to Ryan?  The station signed what he considers to be the “worst rights deal in the history of radio,” agreeing to a five-year broadcast partnership with the University of South Florida Bulls. 

The program director at the time, USF graduate Mike Pepper, gave the Bulls first right of refusal, making it impossible for the station to attract one of the city’s professional teams, the Buccaneers, Lightning or Rays.  Once CBS traded 98.7 to Beasley Media, new ownership saw the suffocating USF broadcast agreement and decided to flip the format away from sports.

Petuck said it goes even deeper than that, adding “There was a lot that was supposed to happen at 98.7 The Fan. I was privy to those plans. Had they happened, it would’ve shocked people and changed sports radio in Tampa forever. But promises were broken, and a lot of lives and careers were damaged as a result of it.”

According to Ryan, the station’s downfall doesn’t fall at the feet of McFarland.  He points out that Booger sought coaching, wanted to create content and be great, and participate in the planning of the show.  After spending nearly a decade as a sports broadcaster, Ryan says it’d be hard for his former partner to have faked his way to where he is today as the lead analyst on Monday Night Football.

Brandon Contes is a freelance writer for BSM. He can be found on Twitter @BrandonContes. To reach him by email click here.

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Tom Crean Added to SiriusXM NBA Draft Coverage

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine.

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NBA Draft logo, SiriusXM logo and a photo of Tom Crean

The 78th edition of the NBA Draft will be the first to be held over two days. The first round will take place on Wednesday June 26 and will be followed by the second round on Thursday June 27. The draft will be held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. SiriusXM will provide full coverage on SiriusXM NBA Radio channel 86, and they have announced Tom Crean will take part in a preview show prior to each round.

The former Marquette, Indiana, and Georgia men’s basketball coach will co-host SiriusXM’s NBA Draft Preview Show, alongside Eddie Johnson and Justin Termine, on Tuesday, June 25 on Wednesday, June 26 prior to Round 1 at 4 p.m. ET, and on Thursday, June 27, prior to Round 2 at 2 p.m. ET.

Crean returned to ESPN as a college basketball analyst in December 2022 after having worked for them previously during the 2017-2018 season. Crean was fired after four seasons at Georgia, prior to his ESPN return.

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Dan Woike: ‘I Can’t Imagine’ JJ Redick and LeBron James Podcast Will Continue

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JJ Redick
Courtesy: Phil Ellsworth, ESPN Images

Following the conclusion of the 2024 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks, JJ Redick has reportedly agreed to a contract to serve as the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. Redick, who recently broadcast the best-of-seven series for ESPN on ABC with play-by-play announcer Mike Breen, analyst Doris Burke and reporter Lisa Salters, is reportedly in the process of compiling his coaching staff for his first season leading the Lakers. Although Redick does not have any NBA coaching experience, he played 15 seasons in the league with six teams and has been an analyst for ESPN over parts of the last four years. Outside of his work with ESPN, Redick also built his ThreeFourTwo Productions company and co-hosted The Old Man and the Three podcast.

This past March, Redick launched a new podcast with Lakers forward and four-time NBA champion LeBron James titled Mind the Game. Episodes of the show contained nuanced basketball discussions that some people feel gave Redick an inherent edge in the head coaching search. Dan Patrick recently had Dan Woike, Lakers beat writer for the Los Angeles Times, on his program, the Dan Patrick Show, and asked about the future of the podcast with James.

“I can’t imagine it’s going to continue,” Woike said. “Sad, right? We might get a season finale episode…. Who knows what’s going to happen here.”

Woike spoke about Redick’s eclectic interests that include basketball, broadcasting, golf, wine and fancy suits. Part of this transition that Woike will be watching is how Redick makes the adjustments and focuses the energy that he has. The organization, he stated, is not hiring a podcaster and believes that Redick has an aptitude and shrewdness towards basketball and is serious about the endeavor. While Redick and James have a good relationship with strong rapport, it is relatively new and something Woike perceives as critical to everything going on. Nonetheless, he does not think they can continue the show because it would be an “unnecessary distraction” to the team.

“They’re paying him to coach, they’re not paying him to podcast,” Woike said. “His divestment from his podcast empire is sort of an interesting media side-note to this to see kind of how much he steps back and kind of what happens to it because it’s been really successful for him.”

Rather than asking him another question, Patrick presented Woike with a sentence and asked him to complete it. The statement was, “If he doesn’t have the podcast with LeBron…,” and Woike proceeded to outline that the Lakers would then have more questions about his ability to coach James. Patrick then immediately followed up by asking if he still would have landed the Lakers’ head coaching job if he did not have the podcast, to which Woike replied that he believed it would still be possible. Former Duke Blue Devils men’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski was reportedly advising the organization throughout its head coaching search, and Redick previously played for him at the university.

Woike referenced a specific clip from the podcast in which Redick and James were discussing analytics and three-point shooting. At one point, James pushed back against the analytics by asking what would happen if a team missed 27 straight three-point shots, as the Houston Rockets did in Game 7 of the 2018 Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. Redick quickly replied by asking if it had happened since, leading James to admit that he was right.

“Now how that plays in the locker room at halftime when you’re down 17 to the Charlotte Hornets and everybody’s tired, who knows,” Woike said. “That is a huge question, but I think, to be quite fair, there was going to be elements of question with that with Dan Hurley too.”

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ESPN LA 710 Announces New Fall Lineup

This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

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Logo for ESPN LA 710 and a graphic for their new fall lineup
Graphic Courtesy: ESPN LA 710

ESPN LA 710 announced more news today, introducing a new lineup which will start on Monday, September 9. This follows announcements made earlier in the week which saw play-by-play partnerships added with USC and the LA Kings and a new contract for afternoon show co-host Scott Kaplan.

The new lineup will see morning drive start with Mike Greenberg’s Greeny , followed by Travis Rodgers and Allen Sliwa moving back an hour to start at 9a PT. Steve Mason and John Ireland will then air from 12p to 3p PT followed by the afternoon team of Jorge Sedano and Scott Kaplan moving to 3p-6p PT.

In addition to USC and the Kings, the station has play-by-play agreements with the Lakers, the Rams, the Angels and LAFC.

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