Fox adds Clay Travis to college football coverage

Fox Sports 1 has made some big hires ahead of the network's August 17 launch, including Bill RafteryJay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, Andy Roddick and Julie Stewart-Binks, but their latest move may be their most controversial to date.

Jason McIntyre reports at The Big Lead that two sources have told him Fox will be revamping their college football coverage this fall by hiring Clay Travis to replace Joey Harrington on the post-game show with Erin Andrews and Eddie George and also launching a two-hour pre-game show Saturdays at 10 a.m. on Fox Sports 1 with the same cast.

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While Travis has a substantial following with some college football fans thanks to his work for AOL Fanhouse, Deadspin and his own Outkick the Coverage site, amongst other places, what he wrote about Andrews for AOL in 2009 in the wake of the release of a video Michael David Barrett filmed of her changing through her hotel room's peephole (Barrett later got two and a half years in prison for interstate stalking) makes the juxtaposition of them on a TV set interesting. Here are the highlights of that 2009 Travis piece (H/T to Busted Coverage for the find): 

I'll begin by answering this question: Can a very attractive woman ever be so good at what she does for a living that her attractiveness is ignored by men? I think the answer is no. No matter how equal the sexes ever become. And I get why that totally sucks for professional women. …

Which ties right in with Andrews. Let's be clear, she's smart. She's good at what she does on the sideline; she's well-prepared, hard-working, professional, and always ready when the camera cuts to her. But, and this is the kicker, how many people in America could do Andrews' job for ESPN every bit as well as she does? I'll tell you, tens of thousands. Maybe even a million. Put plainly, Andrews wouldn't have her job if she looked like YouTube signing sensation Susan Boyle. No matter how good she was. She just wouldn't. Her looks open doors for her that no one else gets to walk through. 
 
Now, once she's through that door she can demonstrate that she deserves the opportunity, that she's actually good at her craft. But it's her looks that open that door. And ESPN put her on television for one reason, because viewers, mostly male, are sexually attracted to her. Put it this way, if Andrews comes on the screen and the television is muted while I'm doing work, am I more likely to turn on the television to hear what she says than if it's an unattractive woman or Chris Berman?
 
Yes. 

So, yeah, that could be an awkward working environment (although Andrews has appeared on Travis' Nashville radio show, so perhaps she doesn't have a problem with him). It's far from the only controversy Travis has gotten himself into, though. Consider this past weekend's Twitter feud with Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, which included these tweets from Travis taking jabs at Deitsch covering women's sports:



What's also interesting about the hire is the contrast in Travis' background and what he'll be covering. Travis is famed for his SEC fandom, and he wrote a book about the conference, but Fox's rights are primarily to the Pac-12 and the Big 12. Given Travis' penchant for the SEC, it doesn't seem like the best fit.

But it is Travis' history of controversial remarks that will raise eyebrows. This is a guy who once theorized that the most logical explanation in the Manti Te'o case was Te'o being gay, a guy who's held a boob draft (a draft of actual women's breasts, not a draft of idiots), and a guy who prompted James Franklin's controversial comments on coaches' wives needing to be conventionally attractive, so it's not like Travis only restricts himself to talking about what happens on the field. And he started as a FoxSports.com columnist last week with a controversial column about Urban Meyer. Oh, and he was the one who infamously asked Tim Tebow about his virginity at SEC media days.

All that aside, though, Travis is in some ways a Bill Simmonsesque figure in the college football world, and adding a nontraditional guy like Simmons worked out quite well for NBA Countdown, so perhaps this will be a successful gamble by Fox. Travis is highly polarizing, though, with as many detractors as he has fans, so it's going to be interesting to see how that ratio changes once he gets on TV. If Travis carries the same persona onto television that he has online and makes more questionable comments, it could turn out to be a Baylessian disaster for Fox. It's yet another unconventional move by Fox, but it's one that carries the potential to offend many more people than most of their hires so far.

Andrew Bucholtz

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing. He also covers the CFL and other sports for Yahoo! Canada.

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