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Countdown to Coverage: College Football’s Best National Sports Radio Show

“If you can keep fanbases of multiple teams playing for wildly different stakes engaged with the same conversation, you are doing something right.”

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College football season is nearly here.

Forget last Saturday. It’s called Week 0 for a reason. Do you really want to believe the first game of the 2022 season was 3-9 Northwestern and 3-9 Nebraska playing halfway around the world?

Here at Barrett Sports Media, we are celebrating college football from a media angle. All week long, our editors and resident college football superfans, Arky Shea, Demetri Ravanos and Garrett Searight, will be looking at the best the media has to offer in terms of college football coverage.

The entire schedule is as follows:

MONDAY: Best Local Show

TUESDAY: Best National Radio Show

WEDNESDAY: Best College Football Podcast

THURSDAY: Best TV Show

FRIDAY: Best TV Play-by-Play Booth

The national college football conversation is all about the headliners. Who has the most unique way of saying “Alabama is good”? Who can deliver a take so well-thought-out and nuanced that you walk away convinced that Kirby Smart just may be on the hot seat?

College football, like Star Wars, happens across vast geography with storylines that are only loosely connected. If you can keep fanbases of multiple teams playing for wildly different stakes engaged with the same conversation, you are doing something right.

Here are our choices for the best nationally syndicated sports radio shows covering college football.

THE PAUL FINEBAUM SHOW by Arky Shea

You are allowed to say whatever you want about The Paul Finebaum Show but unless it’s a compliment, it’s going to fall on deaf ears with me. Finebaum is who introduced me to sports talk radio over twenty years ago and I absolutely see how he is still a powerhouse today. No one is more for the fans of college football than Paul Finebaum and his show. No one talks to more fans of college football than Paul Finebaum. The rapid pulse of the sport is measured in sound bytes recorded on his airwaves.

Finebaum has long been a very good interviewer that asks the most important questions a wandering mind might fancy. He’s also a very funny, self-deprecating host. His flare is for taking the listeners on a ride with the callers being the driver. He allows for the caller, the college football fan, to scream all of their most passionate battle cries without judgment while maneuvering them alongside callers of their rivals, all in attempt to show that this sport, college football, is NOTHING without its fans. It’s genius radio and a doorway for those unaware of the constant hustle, that is daily, to be a fan of a team in the South.

THE DA SHOW by Garrett Searight

In a radio world hyper-polarized by roughly 4 teams per league — outside of the NFL — The DA Show bucks all the trends. Damon Amendolara doesn’t subscribe to the theory that you should only talk about the Lakers, Warriors, Nets, and Celtics, just like he doesn’t believe college football talk should only be about Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, and USC.

Many will say you shouldn’t have an interview with Wake Forest’s Dave Clawson or Tennessee’s Josh Huepel. “Nobody is talking about them. They’re not relevant nationally,” is the argument frequently given. Well, they’re not relevant nationally because nobody is talking about them. So DA talks about college football as a whole, not just the power players, and interviews more coaches than anyone. If you’re a college football fan, not just a fan of a team or a conference, The DA Show is a must-listen during the football season.

THE HERD by Demetri Ravanos

Colin Cowherd talks to big names and he asks unique questions. What more do you want from a national sports radio show when it covers college football? He gives opinions that are interesting, maybe not always right, but interesting. Isn’t that valuable in a sport where being right has meant picking Alabama, Ohio State, Georgia or Clemson every week of every year?

Colin may not talk about everything in the world of college football, but it is so clear that he likes the sport a lot. And I really like that in a time when everyone is bemoaning so much change, he is asking people to justify and explain their bitching. He is the one national voice that genuinely likes college football that isn’t constantly telling me that the sport is about to go down the toilet.

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Sports Media Reacts to the Possibility of Losing ‘Inside the NBA’

“It’s must-see television, it always is.”

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Photos of Shaquille O'Neal, Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley
Photo Courtesy: TNT Sports

Many in sports media have reacted to the news today that NBC will claim the final NBA media rights package. This means that longtime NBA partner TNT is out after next season and, most likely, Inside the NBA will come to an end next year as well.

On 670 The Score in Chicago, Dan Bernstein said, “I’m genuinely unhappy about it because it appears that the last season of the NBA on TNT and Inside the NBA is next year and then it’s over. Unless somebody just throws a ton of money and picks that whole show up and grabs it and says, ‘What’s your number’ for everybody we want to just take the whole show, everybody involved and make it part of what we do…it sounds like it’s over and that sucks. That’s the best sports studio show ever.”

Steak Shapiro from 92.9 The Game in Atlanta said upon reading the news, “That stinks… What great entertainment does is allow you to be entertained and take a deep breath and say, ‘I just enjoy this, this is my hour and a half or two hours watching Shaq, Kenny, Charles and Ernie Johnson Jr. hanging out.'”

Rich Eisen spent time on his show talking about it and said, ” I’m telling you guys I would be stunned if they were all a package deal going somewhere else.” He later added, about the show, “It’s must-see television, it always is.”

Several others took to social media to post about the show:

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Andy Gresh: ‘Greg Olsen Got Pushed Out for the Greatest Player in the History of the Game’

“Even in the world of tight ends he doesn’t scratch the surface of where Tom Brady has been.”

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Photos of Andy Gresh and Greg Olsen and a logo for WEEI
Gresh Photo Courtesy: Audacy Olsen Photo Courtesy: FOX Sports

The Sports Emmy Awards were handed out last night and one particular award caught the attention of WEEI’s Gresh & Fauria show in Boston. Hosts Andy Gresh and Christian Fauria talked about the category of Outstanding Personality/Event Analyst where the nominees were Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Greg Olsen, Bill Raftery, John Smoltz and Tom Verducci.

Olsen won the award, and the show played the audio from his acceptance speech. “I think there’s a lot of people wondering what I’m going to say right now,” Olsen said. “Coming into tonight, people asked me, they say, ‘What’s your biggest threat to your future in the business?’ And everyone’s like, ‘Oh, Brady and this,’ and I think it’s Andy from ‘Toy Story.’ If he gets in, (Cris) Collinsworth, (Troy) Aikman, we’re dead. But I really appreciate it.”

Olsen later added, “I don’t know what the future holds, all I know is I love talking football, I love talking ball, I love studying it, I love seeing where the game is going. Wherever that takes me, whatever level it is, I’m more committed to the game of football now.”

It was the “I don’t know what the future holds” part of what Olsen said that caught the host’s attention. They took that as Olsen pouting and not being happy to be on the No. 2 FOX Sports NFL team. Fauria used the term “pushed out” and Gresh wanted to make a point about that.

“Again, Greg Olsen got pushed out for the greatest player in the history of the game,” Gresh said. “And they’re not firing him, they’re moving him to the No. 2 spot… and guess what, if you don’t keep that gig, the only thing that’ll be on the epitaph of the career resume is that you got bumped by Tom Brady. You’re good, settle in for No. 2, wait your turn somewhere else…but even in the world of tight ends he doesn’t scratch the surface of where Tom Brady has been.”

Fauria painted the picture a little differently as he is not of the belief Tom Brady is going to be a great NFL analyst. “It’s funny because here comes a guy who was just recognized by all his peers…deciding between all these guys, he was the best one,” he said. “And he got pushed out for a guy who has never done it before…and there is not some sort of given that he is even going to be good at it. He could suck at it.”

Gresh replied back, “If you are at the FOX upfronts and you got a chance to go in a room, are you going to pick the one with Greg Olsen or the one with Tom Brady? …Brady is not going to let himself fail at this. He is not going to look like a big idiot.”

“Just the assumption that Brady is going to be great at this I think is a stretch” replied Fauria.

As for Olsen, Fauria believes if he continues the way he has started, he will come out on top in the end. “I guarantee you at some point in time, when his contract runs out, and he tells all the streaming services that all exist now, he ends up being the guy. He’s fine. And he lost his job to the greatest football player ever.”

Gresh is not nearly as big of an Olsen fan and said, “If Greg Olsen was so great, are the other networks going to fall all over themselves to try and hire this guy? Will ESPN say, ‘maybe we will get rid of Aikman and put Olsen in there?'”

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Charles Barkley: ‘I Would Listen’ Before Making Decisions About NBA Broadcast Future

“For the people I work with, man, it just sucks right now.”

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Charles Barkley
Courtesy: Stephen Lovekin, Getty Images

The NBA is reportedly formalizing deals with The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal and Amazon for its next television media rights contract that would take effect beginning in the 2025-26 season. If Warner Bros. Discovery is unable to match or decides not to engage in such discussions, the company would lose broadcasting rights to the NBA and terminate a 40-year relationship that dates back to the 1984-85 campaign. At the same time, this has caused many sports fans to ponder over the future of Inside the NBA, a multiple-time Emmy Award-winning studio show featuring Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny “The Jet” Smith and Shaquille O’Neal.

Barkley, who signed a 10-year contract extension along with his colleagues on the show, confirmed in a recent interview on ESPN Cleveland that he has an opt-out in his deal should TNT Sports lose broadcasting rights to the NBA. Smith and O’Neal reportedly hold a similar clause with the future of Inside the NBA and the NBA on TNT remaining unknown. Barkley appeared on SiriusXM NBA Radio following the report from Tom Friend of Sports Business Journal on Wednesday morning and described the sentiment surrounding these negotiations.

“It sucks right now,” Barkley said. “For the people I work with, man, it just sucks right now. There’s nothing I can say because I worry about all the people I work with.”

Barkley explained that he enjoys golfing and/or fishing on a daily basis and does not look at losing the NBA as being fired. In fact, he hopes the Western Conference Finals quickly conclude so he can go back to playing golf every day over the next four months. The part that concerns him is the fact that he estimates 200 people could lose their jobs at the company should the relationship with the NBA come to a close. Although it remains unknown if anyone would sign with another network, the widespread perception is that all four members of the show would be coveted free agents.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with Amazon, ESPN or if we lose it to NBC, so I’m not sure how to answer that question,” Barley said. “I just don’t know. Ernie [Johnson] would not go to another network – I’m damn sure about that. But I would listen; I would listen before I made any decisions.”

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