ESPN's "First Take" has easily become one of the biggest and most recognizable sports-talk shows in the business.
For years, fans got to watch Stephen A. Smith, Max Kellerman, and Molly Querim-Rose debate some of the hottest topics in sports.
But recently, "First Take" announced the departure of Max, signaling their first major crew change since Skip Bayless left in 2016.
And while the reasons for his goodbye are not fully known, Stephen A. recently confirmed the rumors that he wanted Max gone, perhaps validating the idea that he played a hand in his co-star's departure:
"The rumor's accurate in terms of me wanting him off the show. Let's get that out the way -- yes, I did," Stephen A. said on a recent appearance on Ebro in the Morning. "We don't have a bad relationship. I think he's a real good guy, I appreciate what he did for the show, we were number one for five years, we stayed number one, and I appreciate that. It wasn't really about asking him to be off the show, it was about the fact that I knew that we, together -- as far as I was concerned -- was not a great partnership anymore and that was something that needed to change."
There doesn't seem to be any hard feelings, but Stephen A. (for whatever reason) doesn't feel like he and Kellerman have much chemistry.
While the decision itself might be shocking, it really should be no surprise that Mr. Smith has so much control over who appears on First Take. Not only is he the star of the show, but he's also the star of ESPN -- being their most widely-known and respected face.
For now, it seems the network has opted to feature a rotating panel of analysts to debate Stephen A., which should no doubt keep things fresh and enticing throughout the next few months. Michael Irvin and Tim Tebow have already been announced as regulars.
As for a more permanent partner, nobody is sure who might get the job. Kendrick Perkins? Marcus Spears? Dan Orlovsky?
The only thing we know for certain is that Stephen A. Smith will be the one making the final decision.