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It’s Time For ESPN To Tell Tim Tebow He Can’t Have It All

It is time for ESPN to look the Heisman Trophy winner in the eye and say “What is going on here? Are you a broadcaster or are we still cosplaying as an athlete? It is a little hard to do both well.”

Demetri Ravanos




I will admit that I am not a Tim Tebow fan. That comes from being a Bama fan. Tebow, Urban Meyer, and those Florida teams were the first dragons to be slayed in order for the Saban era to reach the level of dominance that was promised when the University first shelled out all that money to lure Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins.

I’ve never unabashedly hated Tim Tebow either. I never thought he was a good quarterback, but it was always clear that he was an exceptional athlete and locker room presence. I got why a coach would want the guy on his team and would invest a lot to help Tebow succeed.

The 10 best plays of Florida Gators legend Tim Tebow's college career

Now though, it is time for Tebow’s newest team to hold his feet to the fire. It is time for ESPN to look the Heisman Trophy winner in the eye and say “What is going on here? Are you a broadcaster or are we still cosplaying as an athlete? It is a little hard to do both well.”

First, the network made exceptions and worked around schedules so it was possible for Tebow to sign a minor league contract with the New York Mets. Now, after “retiring from baseball,” the 33-year-old wants to go back to the NFL, only this time he plans to listen to scouts that said he should have converted to tight end more than a decade ago. And hey, wouldn’t you know it! His old college coach just so happens to be the new coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. What a happy coincidence!

Don’t be surprised that Tim Tebow got a tryout with the team. You can be annoyed by it, like FOX Sports Radio’s Rob Parker was. Just don’t be surprised by it. Tim Tebow has a way of getting what he wants.

Remember, this is a guy that had an entire state change its laws to allow him to play football at a public high school even though he was homeschooled. He got signed to play professional baseball at age 29, after not having played the sport since he was 16. Tim Tebow has never really had to learn what disappointment feels like. Sure, his plan was to be an NFL quarterback, but that didn’t work out and he keeps finding very comfortable ways to cushion that particular fall.

When Parker talked about this on FOX Sports Radio, he didn’t mince words. He called Tebow “a FAILURE on the pro level” and “a loser”. He said Tim Tebow even getting to try out for a tight end role at age 33 is “the ultimate “White Privilege.”

Rob Parker (@RobParkerFS1) | Twitter

I sent Parker an email to ask him why he thought the Mets didn’t tell Tebow they weren’t interested in having him as a baseball side show. Why did he think the Jaguars weren’t willing to say that they weren’t interested in developing a tight end that at best could give them maybe three seasons.

“It seems unfair that opportunities are always open for Tebow and not other athletes, especially when he’s getting chances after being far removed from sports,” Parker told me. “He hasn’t played in NFL since 2012 and has never played tight end, but Jacksonville has a spot for him.”

It also seems unfair that Tebow gets to jump from sports fairytale to sports fairytale while holding down a job most former college football players not on NFL rosters would be willing to devote their whole lives to. 

ESPN made a major investment in Tebow after his NFL days were done. It made a lot of sense because it coincided with the launch of the SEC Network. Paul Finebaum was going to be the network’s anchor, but Tim Tebow was going to be its face. And what better face could you find really? This is one of the league’s biggest stars of the last decade and he was available.

Tebow re-ups with ESPN to be analyst for SEC Network

The problem is Tim Tebow is as good of a broadcaster as he was an NFL quarterback. I get that the guy is a cult of personality. I just don’t ever feel like I am learning anything when he is speaking. Whereas guys like Dan Orlovsky, Kirk Herbstriet, and Desmond Howard are great at telling me why plays are run or decisions are made, Tebow just sort of delivers platitudes. Is that really worth making concessions for?

Lauren Brooks, who co-hosts The Frangie Show and Helmets and Heels at Jacksonville’s 1010 XL disagrees with me.

“I think Tebow is an excellent college football analyst,” she told me. “He brings a tremendous amount of energy and you can tell he is very well-prepared. I always enjoy his work on TV.”

Brooks is a Florida fan. I asked her if the constant flirtations with “getting back in the game” had ruined Tebow’s reputation with a fan base that holds him up as something of a second mascot (third if you count Alberta Gator and fourth if you count Steve Spurrier).

She told me that it doesn’t change her opinion of Tim Tebow at all, but the timing feels odd.

Lauren Brooks on Twitter: "@1010XL I'm so grateful to be a part of the  station!!!"

“I would have loved for Tebow to switch to TE when he was still on an active roster so we could see whether he would have a penchant for the position.  I wasn’t surprised that he wanted to try his hand at baseball since he had played that before, but I was very surprised to hear he wants to play football again, especially that he’d be willing to play TE since he is involved in many philanthropic efforts and also works for SEC Nation.”

Parker also isn’t surprised and he isn’t so sure that ESPN should be upset about Tebow being interested in playing again, even if it means that he isn’t always available to them.

“Tebow bouncing from TV to the field isn’t new. A lot of former athletes/executives go there and wait for a chance to get back in the game,” he said.

That is true. Just look at coaches alone. In its history, ESPN has lost Mack Brown, Herm Edwards, Jon Gruden, Chip Kelly, Urban Meyer, and Bob Davie to the sidelines. That’s a lot of guys and that is just what popped into my head.

I get that coaches that enter the media usually come into their first job with the idea that it is only temporary. TV or radio is a waiting room until the next “real” opportunity comes along. That never felt like what ESPN was selling with Tim Tebow.

Look, I think if Tim Tebow were operating with just his brain, he would devote himself to broadcasting. He has natural charisma. Remember when Clay Travis asked him if he was a virgin at SEC Media Days in 2009? The dude handled it better than anyone would have ever expected a 21 year old to. If he put in the time and took the coaching to heart, he could be an absolute super star.

Unfortunately, we don’t always think with our heads. Most people, particularly those that are über-competitive, tend to let their hearts get in the way. In his heart, Tebow is still a football player and he wants another shot to suit up on Sundays.

“If the story had broken any other day/time, it would have been gigantic; however, it broke around 3 pm on Draft Day, a.k.a. Trevor Lawrence Day in Jacksonville,” Brooks told me when I asked how Jacksonville reacted to the idea of Tim Tebow in black and teal. “Plus, right after the Tebow tryout news came out, the news broke that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t want to play for the Packers anymore and swallowed up the story that the former Florida QB could possibly switch to TE at age 33.  Local sports radio is still discussing the story since additional comments have been made that lead many to believe that Tebow will at least be practicing with the Jaguars at training camp, especially since the Jaguars didn’t draft a pass-catching TE in the Draft.”

Tim Tebow has painted himself into an odd corner right now. He is 33, so while Florida fans and college football fans may want to see him make the Jags’ roster, it feels like a long shot at best. He also treats TV like a part-time job, so if ESPN wants to play hardball, he is expendable.

Tim Tebow Official Website | The Online Home of Tim Tebow

In football years, 33 is ancient and Tebow is starting from zero in this new venture. In broadcasting years, 33 represents the sun just beginning to peak over the horizon. Tebow has shown that while he still has plenty of room to improve, he has the tools to do it. The choice should be obvious.

BSM Writers

Is There Still a Place for Baseball Talk on National Sports Shows?

“Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance.”

Demetri Ravanos




Last week at the BSM Summit, I hosted a panel focused on air checks. I wish I could say we covered the topic thoroughly, but we got derailed a lot, and you know what? That is okay. It felt like real air checks that I have been on both sides of in my career. 

Rob Parker of The Odd Couple on FOX Sports Radio was the talent. He heard thoughts on his show from his boss, Scott Shapiro, and from his former boss, legendary WFAN programmer Mark Chernoff. 

Baseball was the topic that caused one of our derailments on the panel. If you know Rob, you know he is passionate about Major League Baseball. He cited download numbers that show The Odd Couple’s time-shifted audience responds to baseball talk. To him, that proves there is not just room for it on nationally syndicated shows, but that there is a sizable audience that wants it.

Chernoff disagrees. He says baseball is a regional sport. Sure, there are regions that love it and local sports talk stations will dedicate full hours to discussing their home team’s games and roster. National shows need to cast a wide net though, and baseball doesn’t do that.

Personally, I agree with Chernoff. I told Parker on stage that “I hear baseball talk and I am f***ing gone.” The reason for that, I think, is exactly what Chernoff said. I grew up in Alabama (no baseball team). I live in North Carolina (no baseball team). Where baseball is big, it is huge, but it isn’t big in most of the country. 

Now, I will add this. I used to LOVE baseball. It is the sport I played in high school. The Yankees’ logo was on the groom’s cake at my wedding. Then I had kids.

Forget 162 games. Even five games didn’t fit into my lifestyle. Maybe somewhere deep down, I still have feelings for the sport, but they are buried by years of neglect and active shunning.

Its struggle has been the same since the beginning of television. There is too much baseball for any regular season baseball game or story to have national significance. 

Me, and millions of sports talk listeners like me, look at baseball like a toddler looks at broccoli. You probably aren’t lying when you tell us how much you love it, but damn it! WE WANT CHICKEN FINGERS!

A new Major League Baseball season starts Thursday and I thought this topic was worth exploring. I asked three nationally syndicated hosts to weigh in. When is baseball right for their show and how do they use those conversations? Here is what they had to say.

FREDDIE COLEMAN (Freddie & Fitzsimmons on ESPN Radio) – “MLB can still be talked nationally IF there’s that one player like Aaron Judge or Shohei Ohtani can attract the casual fan.  MLB has definitely become more local because of the absence of that SUPER player and/or villainous team.  I wonder if the pace of play will help bring in the younger fans that they need, but the sport NEEDS that defining star that is must-see TV.”

JONAS KNOX (2 Pros & a Cup of Joe on FOX Sports Radio) – “While football is king for me in sports radio, I look at baseball like most other sports. I’m not opposed to talking about it, as long as I have an angle or opinion that I am confident I can deliver in an entertaining manner. A couple of times of any given year, there are stories in baseball that are big picture topics that are obvious national discussions. 

“I think it’s my job to never close the door on any topic/discussion (except politics because I don’t know anything about it).

“But also, if I’m going to discuss a localized story in baseball or any other sport for that matter – I better have an entertaining/informed angle on it. Otherwise, I’ve let down the listener and that is unacceptable. If they give you their time, you better not waste it.”

MAGGIE GRAY (Maggie & Perloff on CBS Sports Radio) – “While I was on WFAN there was almost no amount of minutia that was too small when it came to the Mets and Yankees. On Maggie and Perloff, our baseball topics have to be more centered around issues that can be universal. For example, ’Is Shohei Ohtani the face of the sport? Is Ohtani pitching and hitting more impressive than two sport athletes like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders? Do you consider Aaron Judge the single-season homerun king or Barry Bonds?’ Any baseball fan or sports fan can have an opinion about those topics, so we find they get great engagement from our audience.”

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BSM Writers

Who Can Sports Fans Trust Once Twitter Ditches Legacy Verified Blue Checks?

The potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

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As of April 1, Twitter will finally make a dreaded change that many will view as an April Fools’ prank. Unfortunately, it won’t be a joke to any user who cares about legitimacy and truth.

Last week, Twitter officially announced that verified blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that have not signed up for a Twitter Blue subscription. Previously, accounts whose identity had been verified were allowed to keep their blue checks when Twitter Blue was implemented.

But shortly after Elon Musk purchased Twitter and became the social media company’s CEO, he stated his intention to use verification as a revenue source. Users would have to pay $8 per month (or $84 annually) for a Twitter Blue subscription and blue checkmark verification. Paying for blue checks immediately set off red flags among users who learned to depend on verified accounts for accredited identities and trusted information.

The entire concept of verification and blue checks was simple and effective. Users and accounts bearing the blue checkmark were legitimate. These people and organizations were who they said they were.

As an example, ESPN’s Adam Schefter has faced criticism for how he framed domestic violence and sexual misconduct involving star NFL players, and deservedly so. But fans and media know Schefter’s tweets are really coming from him because his account is verified.

Furthermore, Twitter took the additional step of clarifying that accounts such as Schefter’s were verified before Twitter Blue was implemented. He didn’t pay eight dollars for that blue checkmark.


The need for verification is never more vital than when fake accounts are created to deceive users. Such accounts will put “Adam Schefter” as their Twitter name, even if their handle is something like “@TuaNeedsHelp.” Or worse, some fake accounts will create a handle with letters that look similar. So “@AdarnSchefter” with an “rn” in place of the “m,” fools some people, especially at a quick glance when people are trying to push news out as fast as possible.

Plenty of baseball fans have been duped over the years by fake accounts using a zero instead of an “o” or a capital “I” instead of a lowercase “l” to resemble Fox Sports and The Athletic reporter Ken Rosenthal. That trick didn’t get me. But when I covered Major League Baseball for Bleacher Report 10 years ago, I did fall for a fake Jim Salisbury account that reported the Philadelphia Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants. Capital “I,” not lowercase “l” in “Salisbury.” Pence was, in fact, traded to the Giants two days later, but that didn’t make my goof any less embarrassing. I should’ve looked for the blue checkmark!

But after April 1, that signifier won’t matter. Legacy blue checkmarks will be removed from accounts that haven’t paid for Twitter Blue. Some accounts that were previously verified might purchase a subscription to maintain that blue check. But those that were deemed legitimate prior to Musk taking over Twitter likely won’t. (There are also rumors that Twitter is considering a feature that would allow Twitter Blue subscribers to hide their blue check and avoid revealing that purchase.)

That could be even more true for media organizations, which are being told to pay $1000 per month for verification. Do you think ESPN, the New York Times, or the Washington Post will pay $12,000 for a blue check?

We’ve already seen the problems that paying for verification can cause. Shortly after Twitter Blue launched, accounts pretending to be legacy verified users could be created. A fake Adam Schefter account tweeted that the Las Vegas Raiders had fired head coach Josh McDaniels. Users who saw the “Adam Schefter” Twitter name went with the news without looking more closely at the “@AdamSchefterNOT” handle. But there was a blue checkmark next to the name this time!

The same thing occurred with a fake LeBron James account tweeting that the NBA superstar had requested a trade from the Los Angeles Lakers. There was a “@KINGJamez” handle, but a “LeBron James” Twitter name with a blue check next to it.

Whether it’s because fans and media have become more discerning or Twitter has done good work cracking down on such fake accounts, there haven’t been many outrageous examples of deliberate deception since last November. But the potential for Twitter chaos after April 1 is looming.

If that seems like an overstatement, it’s a very real possibility that there will be an erosion of trust among Twitter users. Media and fans may have to take a breath before quickly tweeting and retweeting news from accounts that may or may not be credible. False news and phony statements could spread quickly and go viral across social media.

Even worse, Musk has announced that only verified Twitter Blue accounts will be seen in your “For You” timeline as of April 15. (He can’t claim it’s an April Fools’ Day joke on that date.)

Obviously, that carries far more serious real-world implications beyond sports. Forget about a fake Shams Charania account tweeting that Luka Dončić wants to be traded to the Lakers. It’s not difficult to imagine a fake Joe Biden account declaring war on Russia and some people believing it’s true because of the blue checkmark.

We may be nearing the end of Twitter being a reliable news-gathering tool. If the accounts tweeting out news can’t be trusted, where’s the value? Reporters and newsmakers may end up going to other social media platforms to break stories and carry the viability of verification.

When Fox Sports’ website infamously pivoted to video in 2017, Ken Rosenthal posted his MLB reporting on Facebook prior to joining The Athletic. Hello, Instagram. Will someone take their following and reputation to a fledgling platform like Mastodon, Post, Spoutible, or BlueSky, even if it means a lesser outlet?

If and when that happens, Twitter could still be a community but not nearly as much fun. Not when it becomes a matter of trust that breaks up the party.

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BSM Writers

There’s a Lesson For Us All in Florida Atlantic’s Elite 8 Broadcast Struggle

“It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.”

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Ken LaVicka and Kevin Harlan probably don’t have a ton in common. Both of them were announcing an Elite Eight game over the weekend, that is one thing tying them together, but their experiences were wildly different. Harlan is on CBS with a production crew numbering in the dozens making certain all goes smoothly. LaVicka, the voice of the Florida Atlantic Owls, is a production crew himself, making certain those listening in South Florida heard the Owls punch their Final Four ticket. At least, that was LaVicka’s plan.

The Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Men’s Final Four. Even while typing that sentence, it still seems odd to say. Do you know how many college basketball teams are thinking “how can Florida Atlantic make the Final Four and we can’t?” These are the types of stories that make the NCAA Tournament what it is. There is, literally, no barrier stopping any team from this tournament going on the run of their life and making it all the way.

Everyone listening in South Florida almost missed the moment it all became real for the Owls. With :18.6 to go in Florida Atlantic’s Elite Eight game against Kansas State, the Madison Square Garden Ethernet service to the front row of media seating went completely dark. 

It was on that row that Ken LaVicka was painting the picture back to South Florida. Well, he was until the internet died on him.

Nobody does a single show away from their home studio anymore without trying to avoid the nightmare of Ethernet failure. Gone are the days of phone lines and ISDN connections, all the audio and video is now sent back to the studio over the technological miracle that is the internet. It is a ton of faith our industry has been forced to place in a single mode of delivery.

Take that anxiety and multiply it by 1,000 when that Ethernet line is connected to a Comrex unit for the most important moment of your career. LaVicka had the great fortune of a Kansas State timeout to try something, anything, to save the day. In his quick thinking, he spun around and grabbed an ethernet cable from row two which, as it turns out, still had internet access flowing through it’s cables. That cable, though, was the equivalent of an iPhone charging cord; never as long as you need it to be.

One of LaVicka’s co-workers from ESPN West Palm held the Comrex unit close enough to the second row for the cable to make a connection and the day was saved. LaVicka was able to call the last :15 of the Florida Atlantic win and, presumably, get in all the necessary sponsorship mentions.

It was an exciting end to the FAU v. Kansas State game, a great defensive stop by the Owls to seal the victory. LaVicka told the NCAA’s Andy Katz he tried to channel his inner Jim Nantz to relay that excitement. The NCAA Tournament excitement started early this year. In the very first TV window 13 Seed Furman upset 4 Seed Virginia with a late three pointer by JP Pegues, who had been 0-for-15 from beyond the arc leading up to that shot. It is the type of play the NCAA Tournament is built upon.

It was called in the manner Kevin Harlan’s career was built upon. Harlan, alongside Stan Van Gundy and Dan Bonner, called the Virginia turnover leading to the made Furman basket with his trademark excitement before laying out for the crowd reaction. After a few seconds of crowd excitement he asked his analysts, and the world, “Did we just see what I think we saw? Wow!” Vintage Kevin Harlan.

One reason we are so aware of what Harlan said, and that he signaled his analysts to lay out for the crowd reaction, was a CBS Sports tweet with video of Harlan, Van Gundy and Bonner in a split screen over the play. It gave us a rare look at a pro in the middle of his craft. We got to see that Harlan reacts just like he sounds. The video has more than six million views and has been retweeted more than 6,000 times, a lot of people seem to like it.

Kevin Harlan is not in that group. Harlan appeared on Richard Deitsch’s Sports Media podcast after the video went public and said he was embarrassed by it. Harlan added he “begged” CBS not send the tweet out but to no avail. Harlan told Deitsch “I don’t know that I’m glad that they caught our expression, but I’m glad the game was on the air. I think I join a chorus of other announcers who do not like the camera.”

There’s a valuable announcer lesson from Harlan there; the audience is almost always there for the game, not you. Harlan went on to describe the broadcast booth to Deitsch as somewhat of a sacred place. He would prefer to let his words accompany the video of the action to tell the story. Kevin Harlan is as good as they come at his craft, if he thinks that way, there’s probably great value in that line of thought.

We can learn from LaVicka, as well. You work in this business long enough and you come to accept technical difficulties are as much a part of it as anything. They always seem to strike at the worst times, it is just in their nature. Those who can find a way to deal with them without everything melting down are those who can give their audience what they showed up for. Those who lose their mind and spend time complaining about them during the production simply give the audience information they don’t really care about.

The Final Four is an unlikely collection of teams; Miami, San Diego State, Connecticut and Florida Atlantic. You all had that in your brackets, right? Yep, the Florida Atlantic Owls are going to the Final Four and Ken LaVicka will be there for it. Now, if the internet will just hold out.

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