The Big Lead Dishes Dirt On First Take’s Internal Issues
You'd be hard-pressed not to find a pair of co-workers who've spent years working in close proximity who don't kinda/sorta secretly hate each other. This one's lazy, that one's bossy, her cubicle is a mess, he's always taking vape breaks -- we've all been there. But just imagine what it'd be like if your job revolved around a dramatized debate with said work buddy. How much easier would it be to harbor resentment towards that person?
(Answer: much easier.)
According to The Big Lead's Jason McIntyre, the on-air tension between Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith extends off camera, as well.
[TBL] As the stories in Bristol go, Skip Bayless is less than thrilled with the current setup of First Take. He shows up hours before the show goes on air and huddles with producers to go over topics they will cover, as it usually works in television. According to several people at ESPN interviewed for this article, Smith is said to regularly saunter into the morning meetings a half hour before the show, leading Bayless to ask colleagues at the network why he has to do all the work. On more than one occasion, Smith has called into said meeting from his bed.
In recent years, Stephen A. Smith has appeared on "First Take" from remote locations with increasing frequency, which speaks to both his hectic schedule and his commitment to a show that pays him $3 million a year. (Sometimes they have to start the live show without him.) And while Smith undoubtedly brings immense value to "First Take" as their defacto NBA/NFL insider -- something he could not be if he stuck around Bristol, Connecticut, all day -- controversies that put his insider status in question (read: the Kevin Durant to L.A. rumor) likely add to Bayless' frustration with his colleague.
Excuse us for speculating, but let's be honest here: when someone leaves work to go get lunch for everybody and comes back with a coffee, it pisses people off. When Bayless has to argue with Smith essentially via Skype because S.A.S. is out and about collecting intel, and it turns out that intel might be bullshit, well, you see where we're going with this.
McIntyre floated the idea that Bayless' reported growing dissatisfaction with Smith -- in conjunction with ESPN's track record of parting with controversial employees -- could lead him to jump ship and join a rival network, much like Colin Cowherd did two months ago.
[TBL] The man who put Smith and Bayless together at ESPN, Jamie Horowitz, is now running Fox Sports 1. He already made one significant move by plucking Cowherd, which shook up ESPN’s radio/mid-day TV lineup. Could Horowitz lure Bayless away from ESPN to further bolster Fox Sports 1 programming?
Skip Bayless on Fox Sports. Sounds perfect. You can basically say whatever the hell you want over there. We're in.