Who Will Replace Skip Bayless on “First Take”?

Rumors spread earlier this week that Skip Bayless would be leaving ESPN, a channel you watch, for Fox Sports 1, a channel you don’t watch, proving that money is sometimes the root of a good thing. Bayless is the co-host of the dearly beloved[Citation needed] program “First Take,” in which he and Stephen A. Smith yell at each other for what feels like twelve hours every morning. With that chair opening up later this year, here’s a look at who could be next on the throne:

Colin Cowherd

Pros: Colin Cowherd is basically the unholy lovechild of Skip Bayless and Keith Olbermann. His peculiar brand of smarm has been rubbing people the wrong way for decades. I think Stephen A. would harbor actual hatred for this man, as opposed to trumped-up, showy, Hamilton-esque hatred.

Cons: Colin Cowherd was brought to FS1 to, in part, try to get sports fans to think FS1 was a television network and not a strain of swine flu. People aren’t flocking to his show, but he’d still be a bad fit because he’s annoying in his own way. Cowherd tries to be clever and cutesy with his bad ideas, while Bayless tries to hit you over the head with them, and that’s the sort of pundit this show really needs.

Bomani Jones

Pros: Keeping things in house will save lots of paperwork, and the fact that he’s still around after that “Caucasians” shirt incident means he must be doing something right. He certainly isn’t one to keep his feelings under wraps.

Cons: The innumerable differences in opinions between these two would force white America to think of Bomani and Stephen A. as people, and not just slightly different mouthpieces of the homogeneous blob that is blackness. People will expect them to say the same thing about, say, Laremy Tunsil, but they’ll say very different things, and I’m not sure we’re ready for that yet.

Donald J. Trump

Pros: Very passionate, outspoken, and good at yelling. He tweets before he thinks. He is the Skip Bayless of politics in every sense of the term.

Cons: He may know slightly more about certain sports than Ted “Basketball Ring” Cruz, but he seems too busy to follow much in the sports world. And they’d have to avoid any discussion of British soccer, any Hispanic baseball player, or the WNBA.

Mary-Kate Olsen

Pros: We can swap her out for her twin as needed. It also leverages the massive success of the Netflix “Full House” spinoff “Fuller House.”

Cons: Probably a pretty expensive pull for ESPN. Also, a quick Google of “Mary-Kate Olsen Sports” pulls up primarily results that use “sports” as a verb in reference to wearing jewelry, and this 1999 film, so I’m sure we could expect a long tirade from Merrill Hoge about getting passed over.

Hologram Stephen A. Smith

Pros: The future! Holograms are the coolest thing ever. Except for birds that eat human foods.

Cons: Are holograms even real? There was that Tupac thing at Coachella few years ago, and we’ve heard nothing about them since. Also, it would probably get kind of confusing after a while.

Condoleezza Rice

Pros: A massive sports fan who can also bring her knowledge of geopolitics into a discussion about whether or not Andrew Luck is a “winner.”

Cons: Could almost definitely still call in an airstrike, if needed. Stephen A. best be careful. Unfortunately, her negotiating skills, though finely tuned, are probably meant only to be used with people who think rationally.

No One; Stephen A. Smith Thinks Skip is Still There But He Isn’t

Pros: Because so many episodes of “First Take” are recorded with the hosts coming in via satellite, it would be easy enough to tell Stephen A. that there are technical difficulties with the video feed to his location, slip him a “transcript” of what Bayless is “saying,” and have him respond to that. It would be an easy cost-saving measure, plus it would play out to the audience like a weird existential crisis.

Cons: It would only take, what, eleven weeks for him to figure out what’s going on. Plus, I’m not sure host Molly Qerim, or anyone for that matter, will be able to kill enough of the show’s bloated runtime to make it work. Skip is the king of treading water and making things take way too long, so I’m not sure the show could survive without him.


Raynell Cooper is a writer who’s usually free on weekday mornings, just sayin’. You should follow him on Twitter.