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Kayce Smith Has Never Had More Freedom

“A lot of times when people say they hate Barstool, I can guarantee they’ve never actually consumed what we do.”

Chrissy Paradis

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Barstool Sports star Kayce Smith signed an extension with the sports and entertainment media hub, announcing the news alongside Dave Portnoy early this year. The announcement of Smith’s future with the online powerhouse has been met with excitement (of all ways, shapes, and forms) from Barstool’s fanbase and crew, alike. 

Smith was an immediate favorite with fans and the innovative content creators, producers, directors and fellow hosts/analysts that she works with. The Stoolie team have become some of the best follows on social media and most relatable personalities in the industry as they follow the blueprint laid out by Dave Portnoy. That is transparency. 

Kayce Smith | Podchaser

She’s also been one of the most dynamic and wonderful people I’ve had the pleasure of working with since her TexAgs days. The star that you hear daily on Clancy and Carribis with Kayce Smith shines just as brightly off the air which is a depreciating asset. 

I spoke with the Texas native and Barstool Babe for a Q&A about her experience in sports media, finding the perfect fit with her career and what she thinks about her Barstool colleagues. 

Chrissy Paradis: With a résumé including ESPN/SEC Network, SB Nation, Gridiron Now, NBC Sports, now Barstool—Your journey has involved a lot of hard work in stakes environments in various capacities- what advice have you learned in your career that has been most helpful? 

Kayce Smith: I think the best advice I can give is that when you’re pursuing a job, the worst thing you can hear is “no.” And more importantly, that doesn’t mean you will always hear “no.” This industry can be brutal to crack into and a lot of people give up if an opportunity doesn’t come immediately or if it’s not exactly what they envisioned doing.

If this is your dream, it’s worth the grind. You may have to take a different job to get your foot in the door, but you never know where that door will lead you. And always be yourself. That’s how you stand out. Nobody wants a clone of something that already exists. 

CP: You also hosted a podcast with Johnny Manziel—what was it like working with a Heisman Trophy Winner from your alma mater?

KS: It was a total full circle moment for me. My first job out of college was covering A&M for TexAgs and it happened to be Johnny’s Heisman year, which as you can imagine was WILD. Actually, my only ESPN audition was a live TV hit talking about covering him on the local level. He won the trophy, I got the job and then we did a podcast together and became friends. Very cool career storyline. 

Audibles with Reggie McNeal | TexAgs

CP: Dave Portnoy said “Barstool is the best place in media at building stars and building personalities. If you are funny, interesting and opinionated we let you flourish. Kayce is all of the above.” Which I couldn’t agree more with, and in terms of highlighting talented men and women, Barstool truly offers a variety of shows/columns/podcasts including Chicks In The Office, and your shows, Clancy & Carrabis with Kayce Smith & Unnecessary Roughness. What do you want people to know about Barstool?

KS: If you can’t find content that entertains you on our platforms, I’m convinced that you just can’t be entertained. Between the blogs, the podcasts, video and radio shows…. there is something for EVERYBODY. A lot of times when people say they hate Barstool, I can guarantee they’ve never actually consumed what we do. Oh and also, as a woman in this company, I feel very safe and have never been treated better. So that whole “Barstool treats their women employees poorly” narrative is just flat out incorrect. 

CP: What are some highlights from your time working with the team at Barstool Sports?

KS: By far my favorite moment is my first live College Football Show in 2018. We were on the road at Michigan for the Wisconsin game and when I walked up on stage and saw the gigantic crowd cheering for us, I realized I was exactly where I wanted to be.

Our fans are INSANE and honestly, those live shows give us life. Getting to sit next to Dave, Dan and Brandon every week – and be the one who gets to host the entire thing – is a dream come true. It mixes my TV background with the Barstool flavor covering my favorite sport… and maybe a beer or two thrown on us. 

CP:I know that you‘re great friends with ESPN’s Laura Rutledge outside of work—There is a stereotype about women not necessarily being supportive of other women, given the competition in the sports broadcasting industry. How has Laura been as an ally/resource in your career? 

KS: Laura and I became FAST friends. Sure we were both trying to climb the same ladder at the time, but it’s not like there’s only ONE job for women in sports. There are plenty of jobs!! I’ve never understood why people play into that stereotype.

The way I see it is why wouldn’t I want to become close to someone who loves the same things that I do and is in the same industry and understands what I go through on a day-to-day basis?? Fun fact that not many people know: when I left ESPN, Laura was my biggest cheerleader and it was actually her idea to start my own radio show which ended up landing me a job with NBC Sports in Boston. I’m forever thankful for her and she’s absolutely KILLING it at ESPN. I’m so proud of her and vice versa. 

CP: Who else has had a significant influence on your career, as a whole?

KS: Gabe Bock at TexAgs has been one of the most important people to me – not only for my career but in my personal life as well. He gave me my first shot on radio when I graduated college and has helped me create a brand that I never would’ve known I wanted. I always thought being a sideline reporter was my end goal, but Gabe helped me fall in love with radio and I’ve clearly never looked back. The show I did in Boston was three hours long, five days a week. Without my radio background, there’s zero chance that I could’ve succeeded the way that I did. Radio is something I think everybody in sports should do at some point in your career. If you can talk for hours on air about sports and be interesting/entertaining, I think you can make it anywhere. 

CP: With a beginning in college sports, was it difficult to make the choice to transition into covering all sports, especially in the middle of Patriots Nation?

KS: It actually wasn’t because I took on the challenge head on and treated it like I was going back to school and studied like CRAZY. I fell in love with Boston immediately. I spent my days listening to local radio, reading every book I could and leaning on my coworkers. It’s the best sports city in the world and it’s not close. I just wish they liked college football a little more!

CP: Working in a predominantly male industry, in a predominately male demographic at Barstool, what’s the biggest misconception(s) that you’ve seen/heard about Barstool that you would like to set straight?

KS: I mentioned it earlier, but anyone who thinks that Barstool treats women who work here poorly is just flat out wrong. I know we can’t change everybody’s minds – nor do we try to – but I promise being a woman at this company is not what the headlines tell you it is. I’ve never had more freedom to create content AND been treated with more respect than I have here.

Sure there are certain things that have been said in the past that I definitely don’t agree with, but as far as how I’m treated, I have no complaints. I love these guys and I’ll defend them until kingdom come, both as coworkers and friends. Erika Nardini has been an unbelievable piece of that as well. She’s amazing to work for and is just flat out a boss at everything she does.

How Erika Nardini became CEO of Barstool Sports - Business Insider

CP: What would people be most surprised to know about you?

KS: I grew up playing the harp! I started taking lessons in kindergarten and have played dozens of weddings and parties. Weird hidden talent of mine.

CP: Co-worker word association: one to four words, whatever comes to your mind first, about the following Barstool teammates…

CP:Big Cat? 

KS: Best In The Game

CP: Dave Portnoy?

KS: Unapologetically authentic   

CP: KFC / Kevin Clancy?

KS: A MISERABLE sports fan (but incredibly talented)

CP: Jared Carrabis?

KS: One of a kind 

CP: Brandon Walker?

KS: A hilarious walking encyclopedia 

CP: Feits? 

KS:My idiot best friend (but really… a weird, super creative brain)

CP: What’s your favorite thing about Barstool listeners/fans?

KS: How ridiculously diehard they are! We get recognized everywhere we go. It still seems weird when I’m walking on the streets of Manhattan and someone stops me. I’ve always said that Dave is a cult leader because of the following we have. We are basically a reality TV show at this point and that’s not something we take for granted. 

CP: What’s your favorite thing about being a part of the Barstool team? 

Kayce Smith Wiki, Parents, Net Worth, Boyfriend, Husband, Age, Height

KS: The freedom to do and say whatever I want. Dave and Erika don’t put rules on us as personalities. They also don’t care if we publicly disagree with them, which is incredibly rare. Where else can you argue with the CEO or President of the company you work for without being worried about losing your job?? We are a gigantic, f***ed up family and I love being a part of it. 

BSM Writers

NBC Must Develop a Real No. 2 NFL Crew for Playoffs

Is the network’s only other option Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett?

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Several years ago, the NFL objected to NBC wanting to employ Mike Tirico as the lead play-by-play voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts. The league preferred Al Michaels because he was NBC’s No. 1 NFL play-by-play announcer and wanted the TNF telecasts to carry the same prestige as Sunday Night Football.

Following the network’s heavily-criticized broadcast of Saturday’s Wild Card playoff game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Jacksonville Jaguars, the NFL may want to impose its authority again and insist that a top-tier broadcast team call the action of an important postseason game.

The consensus among fans and media watching Saturday’s broadcast was that Michaels and analyst Tony Dungy were surprisingly low-energy for an NFL playoff game, let alone one that became so exciting with Jacksonville rallying from a 27-0 deficit for a 31-30 victory on a last-second field goal.

Such a lackluster broadcast led to questions of whether or not Michaels was now past his prime after a season of calling subpar TNF games for Amazon and what initially appeared to be another snoozer when the Jaguars fell behind by 27 points. Pairing him with Dungy, who was a studio analyst all season, certainly didn’t help.

Dungy was as basic as a game analyst could be, typically narrating replays viewers could see for themselves while adding little insight. Worst of all, he demonstrated no enthusiasm for the action, leaving Michaels to fill most of the airtime. The veteran broadcaster showed that he can no longer carry a broadcast by himself. He needs the energy and back-and-forth that Cris Collinsworth or Kirk Herbstreit provide.

So how did NBC get here?

Most football fans know that the network’s top broadcast team is Tirico on play-by-play alongside analyst Cris Collinsworth. But they had their own assignment during Super Wild Card Weekend, calling Sunday night’s Ravens-Bengals match-up. With the postseason field expanding from 12 to 14 teams, resulting in six games being played on Wild Card weekend, NBC was awarded one of the additional playoff broadcasts.

Thus, another broadcast team was needed for that second Wild Card game. Fortunately, NBC had a renowned play-by-play man already in place. Michaels finished out his final season as SNF‘s lead voice by calling Super Bowl LVI, part of a powerful one-two combination for NBC Sports coming toward the end of its 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics coverage.

Ending his legendary career with a Super Bowl broadcast would’ve been a wonderful final note for Michaels. That appeared to be a natural path when Tirico moved from ESPN to NBC in 2016. Network executives admitted that a succession plan was in mind for Tirico to take over SNF eventually. At the time, Michaels also likely thought he would retire by then.

But when confronted with the possibility of retirement, Michaels realized he wasn’t interested. He was still enjoying broadcasting the NFL. His skills were still sharp. And perhaps most importantly, he was in demand. Amazon wanted Michaels as the lead voice for its Thursday Night Football broadcasts, bringing instant credibility to a streaming venture that drew some skepticism. ESPN considered him as its Monday Night Football play-by-play man.

As it turned out, ESPN made a bold move for MNF, swiping Fox’s No. 1 NFL crew of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. That left Amazon for Michaels, and the streaming giant paid him a commensurate salary with the top broadcasters in the industry as part of his three-year contract.

Yet Michaels wasn’t done with NBC either. After his agreement with Amazon became official, NBC announced that its relationship with Michaels would continue in an “emeritus” role allowing him to broadcast the network’s Olympics coverage and that additional Wild Card playoff telecast.

NBC can’t have been happy that most of the social media chatter afterward focused on the broadcast, rather than the game result. Especially when the discussion centered on how poorly Michaels and Dungy performed in what turned out to be a thrilling playoff game. That’s a pairing that the NFL probably doesn’t want to see again.

Michaels will likely call at least one more Wild Card playoff game for NBC since he intends to work on the 2024 Paris Summer Olympics. He’s also under contract with Amazon for another two seasons unless he decides to retire before that deal expires. So perhaps the simple solution is keeping Dungy out of the broadcast booth and giving Michaels a better partner.

But can NBC drop in another analyst who hasn’t worked with Michaels all season? Anyone would arguably be an improvement over Dungy. Is it at all possible for Herbstreit to be hired on for a one-off playoff broadcast, thus ensuring that the broadcast team will have some on-air familiarity and chemistry?

Otherwise, NBC’s only other option may be its Notre Dame broadcast team of Jac Collinsworth and Jason Garrett. (The network tried that last season with Tirico and Drew Brees, only for Brees to wilt under the harsher NFL playoff spotlight.)

The pair also called USFL broadcasts for the network, so at least there would be familiarity rather than trying to figure each other out during a telecast. Yet Collinsworth and Garrett aren’t terribly popular with viewers. And as with Brees, that crew will face intense scrutiny with a larger playoff audience.

Unfortunately, NBC appears to be stuck here. Unless the new Big Ten broadcast team of Noah Eagle and Todd Blackledge gets a shot. That might be the best option! Other than Notre Dame or USFL games, where are the other opportunities for NBC to develop a No. 2 NFL broadcast team? No one wants to put Al Michaels through Chris Simms in the broadcast booth, right?

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BSM Writers

Al Michaels Has Options But He Has To Make a Choice

“It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.”

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I don’t ask much out of game announcers; get excited when appropriate, get the simple information correct, don’t get so caught up in your shtick you put yourself above the game. Al Michaels has been doing all those things well for the better part of half a century and few would argue that he’s not one of the best to ever do it. That doesn’t mean he can’t lose his fastball.

Before you read any longer, I am not here to say Al Michaels has lost his fastball. What I am here to say is Michaels has all too often this season seemed upset with and disinterested in the game he is calling. That isn’t entirely surprising when you consider some of the Thursday night action he called on Amazon Prime where the average margin of victory was almost nine points per game.

On top of that, the Amazon schedule had a dreadful two week stretch with Colts 12-9 win over the Broncos in Week Five and the Commanders 12-7 win over the Bears the next Thursday. It was in that Broncos-Colts game Michaels asked Herbstreit if a game “can be so bad it is good?” Herbstreit’s answer was “No”, by the way. It was the full 15 game schedule that Michaels told The Athletic’s media critic Richard Deitsch was like trying to sell a used car.

All of that is fine, the inaugural Amazon Prime season was not a smashing success. The streaming giant missed audience projections and will lose advertising revenue because of it. The lackluster schedule did not help that. But Michaels was given a second life; he was the NBC play-by-play announcer for the Saturday Night Wildcard Playoff game between the Chargers and Jaguars. It initially looked like Michaels might be the problem as five first half Jags turnovers had them in a 27-0 hole. But the home team staged a nearly unprecedented comeback for the win.

It was the performance by Michaels and, to a lesser degree, his analyst Tony Dungy that has led to criticism. Criticism might be too soft of a word, Michaels was roundly dragged for his lack of enthusiasm during the comeback and specifically on his call of the Jacksonville game winning field goal. The enthusiasm of the call of the game winner had a mid-3rd quarter of week four feel to it.

Me telling Al Michaels how to do play-by-play of an NFL game would be the equivalent of me telling a physicist how to split an atom. So, this isn’t just a Michaels criticism, few things bother me more than hearing a game announcer complain about the length or quality of a game as if he’d rather be anywhere else. It does all of us in the sports industry well to remember 99% of our audience would gladly trade places with us.

How many NFL viewers would sit in the seat Michaels, or any NFL announcer occupies, for free? They’d feel like they won the lottery if they also were getting the money those announcers are getting paid to be there. The guy that works a 12-hour Thursday construction shift just to get home and crack a beer for the NFL game probably doesn’t want to hear how tough that game is to announce.

On top of all of that, Michaels was given the gift of one of the wildest NFL Playoff comebacks you’ll ever see and, at times, sounded as if he was completely disinterested in being there. Pro tip: the best NFL announcer in those moments is Kevin Harlan (see: Miami at Baltimore from earlier this season. That has nothing to do with my lifelong Dolphins fandom). Michaels’ lack of enthusiasm was compounded by the exact opposite from Mike Tirico on the very same network for the Bengals-Ravens Wildcard game Sunday night. 

Tirico, like Michaels, has a sterling resume of play-by-play accomplishments. The difference is Tirico sounded like he was having the time of his life on Sunday night. 

To be fair, their two styles are different. Michaels has a very old school, Pat Summerall approach. Summerall, Vin Scully and Dick Enberg came along at a time when announcers were far more likely to let the pictures tell the story. More new school guys like Harlan and Tirico approach it differently.

Look, Al Michaels helped us believe in miracles. His place in the Sports Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame has long since been cemented. Being a hall of fame inductee doesn’t mean your style will forever be accepted by the masses. That leaves you with a few options; you can continue your style and accept or ignore the criticism or you can ride off into the sunset and enjoy the fruits of your decades of labor.

Al Michaels has what we all want; great options. He can choose any of them and be a winner in the game of life. It doesn’t matter if he enthusiastically embraces them, or not. 

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BSM Writers

Bernie Kosar Was the Victim of a Policy That Doesn’t Work Anymore

“The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.”

Demetri Ravanos

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One week ago, Bernie Kosar lost his job on the Browns Radio Network for placing the first legal sports bet in the state of Ohio. Kosar, just like Jets coach Miles Austin weeks earlier and Calvin Ridley last year, violated a league policy that forbids team employees from placing a bet on any NFL game.

The integrity of the games still matters. The belief that what we are all seeing is being fairly contested is what gives those of us that like to have a little vested interest in the outcome the desire to lay our money down in the first place. I get the league’s discomfort with a coach on the staff of a team in the middle of the playoff hunt making bets. I get its fear of the message it sends to have players making bets.

Roger Goodell and the 32 team owners are well within their rights to object to men that can potentially control the outcome of a game or postseason seeding doing anything that even appears to jeopardize its fairness. Even perceived impropriety can compromise the league’s tremendous value.

But Bernie Kosar doesn’t have that kind of influence on the outcome of a game. He is just a broadcaster and not even a game analyst. He is part of studio coverage.

I am far from the first to point this out, but in 2023, the NFL has three official sports betting partners. Just last week, it approved the first ever in-stadium sportsbook, which Fanatics is set to open inside of FedEx Field. If the NFL is comfortable enough with the reality that its fans like to bet to make those things a reality, then Kosar losing his gig is absurd. It is the result of nothing other than “well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking.

Maybe Kosar was terrible on the radio and the team was looking for a reason to move on. I don’t live in Cleveland and I am not a Browns fan, so I have no idea.

How many times have we heard that NFL owners hired Goodell to “protect the shield”? I’m not even really sure what it means or when it applies anymore. If I had a vested interest in the public perception of the league, I know that I would want someone to do the PR math on this situation.

Bernie Kosar isn’t an addict that can’t watch a game without the high of winning or the emotional distress of losing everything at stake, at least not as far as we know. This was a bet made through an advertising partner, to benefit charity. He even said on his podcast this week that the purpose of making the bet was to generate some money for former players in need of help.

This is like Disney threatening daycare centers with lawsuits for painting Mickey Mouse on a classroom wall. The NFL has bigger fish to fry than Bernie Kosar. Hell, it has more pressing issues in Cleveland alone.

Surely you have seen Garrett Bush’s impassioned rant on the Ultimate Cleveland Sports Show about the obstacles facing Damar Hamlin because of how many hoops the NFL makes former players jump through in order to get some kind of pension.

On January 2, we were all united in our concern for a guy that hadn’t even completed his second full NFL season. We didn’t know if he was going to live, but if he did, we all knew that the NFL had done everything it needed to in order to protect itself from ever having to pay a dime for his medical care. Less than a week later, Bernie Kosar was fired for what amounted to a charity stunt that was meant to raise money and attention to very similar issues.

At both the league level and the team level, there was incompetence that lead to a man unnecessarily losing a gig and to the Browns and the NFL looking horribly out of touch with reality.

Are we acknowledging that people gamble or not? Are we acknowledging there are responsible ways to bet on football and are interested in generating revenue off of it or not? Because it doesn’t seem to me that the same league that just gave the thumbs up to open a sportsbook inside of a stadium is really that concerned with people that cannot affect the outcome of games betting on those games.

Has the NFL come out and said that it is going to cover every medical bill for everyone that has ever played the game? We know that this is a brutal game that leaves a physical and physiological impact on the men that played it. Why would we make it harder for someone that knows that pain to help others do something about it?

I feel awful for Bernie Kosar. Whether he needs the money or not, it is embarassing to be at the center of a controversy like this, particularly because in the NFL in 2023, there is no reason for a controversy like this to exist.

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