As the NCAA’s Power 5 close in on a decision on the future of college football in 2020, one key name has been missing from the conversation: Mark Emmert’s.
The NCAA president has remained in the background as conferences deliberate regarding whether or not to play in 2020. That led ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum to dismiss Emmert as a “complete embarrassment” in an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up!” Monday morning.
“It’s easy for Mark Emmert to pass the buck. But he’s the single most influential person — at least image-wise and perceptively — in the system of intercollegiate athletics, and he hasn’t offered one thing,” Finebaum said, via Riley Gates of 247 Sports. “He has been a complete embarrassment. And part of this is his fault. He has not spoken out, he has not said anything but passing the buck.”
Emmert has essentially left the decisions on the season to schools and conferences, and none of the Power 5 are particularly eager to be either the first or the last to officially cancel fall sports. The reality is that it looks increasingly likely that college football season will at least be postponed, but it does not appear that Emmert has been front and center in those discussions at any point.
It’s a good thing Paul Finebaum has a sense of humor, because Will Muschamp burned him pretty good on Thursday.
The South Carolina head coach appeared on Finebaum’s radio show Thursday and was asked about keeping players safe. Muschamp’s response was that players needed to live “boring lives” in order to reduce their chances of infection — and that, apparently, means living like Finebaum.
Will Muschamp jokes that his players need to lead "boring lives" to avoid contracting the virus. “I look back to your high school days and your college days. I can’t imagine you had many dates. Our guys need to lead their lives like Paul Finebaum did in college."
Paul Finebaum has been central to ESPN’s coverage of college football and the SEC for years, but he added to speculation that his time at the network may be ending.
Finebaum said Monday during an interview with radio station WJOX that he isn’t sure about his future with ESPN, adding that the network does not like speculation without a formal statement.
“I’m not really sure,” Finebaum said when asked about his ESPN future, via Brad Crawford of 247 Sports. “Obviously, everything depends on what happens. But I’ll probably be the last to know. Here’s the problem and you guys know me pretty well. The company doesn’t like us talking about things until they issue their formal statements.”
It would be fair to say signals are a bit mixed right now. People have been paying attention to Finebaum’s future when it was reported that he may go independent when his contract expires next summer. His departure from SEC Network’s “SEC Nation” only fueled the speculation, and these comments won’t silence any doubters either.
Is time running out on Nick Saban? Paul Finebaum thinks so, but not for the reason you might expect.
Finebaum made comments about Saban that quickly made the rounds earlier in the week, saying “time is running out on a national championship” for Saban and that other programs “catching up” have made it no longer inevitable that Alabama wins multiple titles in the coming years.
What Finebaum meant by that became the subject of some speculation, which he clarified on Thursday in a radio interview on WNSP 105.5.
“I think he needs to win soon,” Finebaum said, via Mark Heim of al.com. “My argument was his age. Age is relative. It’s not like I’m 25 years old, and I’m still holding on for dear life. Everyone knows Saban turns 69 (in October) and he still looks great.
“I think he has a fairly narrow window. … I think the clock is ticking, and I think that is obvious.”
Saban seems set on coaching for a while, and one former assistant thinks the Alabama coach has another decade in him. Will that decade be as successful as the previous one? You wouldn’t bet against it, but Finebaum is right that the gap seems to have narrowed a bit in recent years. Still, there’s something to be said for being a perennial contender, which the Tide still are. Time does not seem to be running out on that.
College football analyst Paul Finebaum seems unimpressed by Taulia Tagovailoa and the family as a whole in terms of their decision-making.
After it was reported that Taulia, the younger brother of Tua, would be transferring from Alabama, Finebaum said recently on Alabama’s WJOX 94.5 FM that he felt Taulia never should have gone to Alabama and listened too much to the rest of the family when making the decision.
“Well, there’s an old line in journalism that’s called follow the money, in this case, it’s follow the family,” Finebaum said, via Michael Wayne Bratton of Saturday Down South. “I don’t think it’s hard to figure out. I think it was doomed from the beginning. He should have never gone to Alabama, he did for reasons which I’ll let his parents explain – and it didn’t work out, and good for him. He’ll probably go to South Florida or somewhere down there and play football and I hope he does better than he did at Alabama.”
Finebaum thought Taulia should listen to himself over his family in deciding where to transfer.
“I don’t understand all the inner workings of that family,” Finebaum said. “I’ve read enough articles, as you guys have, and I don’t know them, I know Tua. I don’t know Taulia, I hope he goes wherever he wants. I mean, I think he had to have learned that following the family didn’t work at Alabama.”
Taulia Tagovailoa has entered the transfer portal. He looks destined to leave Alabama due to having little path to playing quarterback there, and ultimately won’t have made much of an impact there — certainly nowhere close to his older brother.
Paul Finebaum’s tenure with ESPN could be coming to an end.
The radio host and college football analyst could leave ESPN to start his own sitcom. According to Michael Smith of Sports Business Journal, Finebaum is pitching a show about his life and his call-in show to all four major networks, and there is interest. If that show were to come to pass, Finebaum would leave ESPN and the SEC Network, with his contract expiring next summer. There is some belief that Finebaum could leave the network at the end of the 2020 college football season.
In addition to a sitcom, Finebaum is looking at other opportunities. Those include Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, and DAZN. DAZN is run by John Skipper, who originally hired Finebaum at ESPN. Finebaum has also been spoken to about a startup akin to Bill Simmons’ “The Ringer,” which would put Finebaum at the top of a podcasting and editorial endeavor.
Finebaum has become highly influential, and his call-in show is a huge deal in SEC country. His takes have been noted and used as bulletin board material by various teams. Clearly, that high profile has given him options, and it certainly sounds possible that he may move on from ESPN quite soon.
The College Football Playoff committee is going to have some difficult decisions to make after the conference championship games conclude this weekend, and Paul Finebaum may play an indirect role in how things play out.
After some comments he made about Dabo Swinney drew a strong reaction from the Clemson coach early in the week, Finebaum decided that the next program he wanted to insult was Utah. During an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up” Wednesday morning, Finebaum bluntly stated that Oklahoma will get into the CFB playoff over Utah if all of the favorites win this weekend because “the country does not want to see Utah in the College Football Playoff.” Utah Football responded on Twitter by thanking Finebaum for the motivation.
Finebaum isn’t wrong. Most fans would much rather see a one-loss Oklahoma team get into the CFB Playoff over a one-loss Utah team, and a lot of that probably has to do with East Coast bias. That said, Utah is currently ranked No. 5 in the College Football Playoff, which might suggest they will be the next team in if they beat Oregon this weekend and Georgia loses to LSU. Or, perhaps the committee will argue that the winner of the Big 12 Championship Game between No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 7 Baylor had to defeat a much tougher opponent than Oregon, which would allow them to justify putting the Big 12 champion in the playoff over Utah.
No matter what happens, a very tough call will have to be made after Saturday. We’ve already laid out how a number of crazy scenarios could play out, and some of them would rightfully leave either Utah (assuming they beat Oregon) or the Big 12 champion feeling slighted.