Skip Bayless is one of the most provocative and outrageous sports analysts there is, often stating bold opinions on the NBA. He is known for his hot takes and is one of the star pundits on Undisputed on Fox Sports. The show is fairly popular, in large part due to Skip Bayless.
Prior to his time on Fox Sports, Skip Bayless was a friend and colleague of another pundit, Stephen A. Smith. Together, the two featured on ESPN’s First Take, prior to Bayless taking the Fox Sports job.
Recently, it has come out that Skip Bayless has signed a new deal with Fox Sports worth $32 million. It has also come out that prior to the deal, ESPN tried to bring Skip Bayless back into the fold to reunite him on a show with Stephen A. Smith. Andrew Marchand reported on the situation.
ESPN made a full-court press to reunite Skip Bayless with Stephen A. Smith, The Post has learned.
The duo would have done a daily ESPN+ show together, while being splashed over ESPN, including weekly spots on the “Monday Night Football” halftime show.
After lengthy negotiations, it culminated in Fox Sports retaining Bayless with a four-year, $32 million contract, according to sources.
Smith, who makes close to $8 million per year, was a driving force in ESPN’s recruitment of Bayless. The long negotiations went over several months and did not conclude until late fall.
Even when Fox Sports had an agreement with Bayless to stay, ESPN was still determined to add a Smith and Bayless show to ESPN+. This is the area that Disney, ESPN’s parent company, is focused on and looks at as its future.
ESPN executives broached the idea of having Bayless stay on FS1 in the mornings, debating on “Undisputed” with Sharpe, while Smith continued on ESPN’s “First Take” in the mornings with Max Kellerman.
Then, in a rare cross-pollination between ESPN and Fox Sports broadcasters, Smith and Bayless would still team up for their ESPN+ program.
Ultimately, there were too many hurdles to make such a cross-corporation setup feasible.
It would have been fun to see two of the most provocative pundits in sports to re-unite on the same show: they make a great duo and have kept up a relationship even after Skip Bayless left ESPN. Despite the connection with Stephen A. Smith, Bayless ultimately will stay on Fox Sports. While this deal may have fallen short of the mark, there could be a chance that we see Bayless and Smith on the same show again in the future.