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The Most Notorious ESPN Personalities… are they really worth it?

Mark May - Conspiracy theorist, worst tweeter alive

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Why is he here?

Sucks the enjoyment out of the sport of college football and has been a major contributor to the coarsening of the culture around the sport.  And not only that, he encourages and eggs on the feuds with fanbases like Ohio State to the point that his credibility as an analyst is shot.  Also happens to be the worst tweeter alive.

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Propagates ridiculous conspiracy theorieshas obvious bias against certain teams and has childish fights with those fansexhibits hypocritical tendenciestakes college football debates to pretend courtdid we mention he doesn’t get Twitter.

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What value does he bring ESPN?

Once I turned on FS Live and there was a panel about something having to do with college football.  I said to my friend “Why would I care what Andy Roddick has to say about college football?” to which she replied “Has to be better than whatever Mark May has to say.”  Go on Mr. Roddick…..

Is he worth it?

May really adds nothing but toxicity to college football coverage for ESPN and there are dozens of analysts at the network who get less airtime that are better and more palatable than him.  Unlike some of the others on this list, there are a near unlimited supply of individuals that could replace May and make ESPN better.   I’ve never met a college football fan who had anything positive to say about him.

The clip below will suffice.

Bobby Knight - Curmudgeonly former coach

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Why is he here?

Bob Knight got an analyst job at ESPN because of his name recognition.  Although there’s no questioning his basketball mind, it was quickly apparent that he was never a good fit on television… what with his cheery disposition and all.  His ESPN career has been marked by high-profile mistakes, instances where his personal vendettas made himself the story, and protection from ESPN on potentially sensitive issues.  For some bizarre reason, ESPN re-signed Knight to a new contract to stay on the far periphery of their college basketball coverage.

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Fell asleep on airswore toorefused to say the word “Kentucky” for a timeroutinely gets protected by ESPN management… was a jerk to Jeremy Schaap.

What value does he bring ESPN?

Big name with big opinions.  He also knows a thing or two about basketball.

Is he worth it?

Frankly he isn’t even that good as a television analyst.  Much like May, at the end of the day there just has to be former coaches dotting the landscape who would be better than Knight.  No.

Jason Whitlock - Chasing that Pulitzer

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Why is he here?

Jason Whitlock once said, and I kid you not

“I will put my first two years as a columnist at The Kansas City Star, working with Dale Bye, up against any columnist in the history of American newspapers,” Whitlock said on the radio program. “It’s a horribly arrogant statement. It’s a factual statement.”

That, in addition to his highly dubious pursuit of an award he will never win, is why he’s here.

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Thinks Canadian athletes are lazyalready reined in by ESPNneeds to save new website from himself…. and let’s not forget about the Jeremy Lin tweet…. controversy follows him wherever he goes.

What value does he bring ESPN?

“Black Grantland” could be interesting although we’re not really sure why Whitlock was pegged as the guy to head that project.  The lack of progress over the last year for the site is a concern.  The belief exists that he is at ESPN only because FS1 was planning on making him a personality on their network before he left for greener pastures.

Is he worth it?

We’d say no, but “Black Grantland” is an interesting initiative and if it finds success in the ilk of Grantland and 538, then maybe Whitlock’s baggage will be worth the roll of the dice.  To be determined.

Keith Olbermann - Former cable news talk show host

Keith Olbermann-NY Times

Why is he here?

Olby is here more for his first ESPN tenure and a trail of destruction across his former employers that resembles Sherman’s march to the sea.  His return to ESPN has seen him showcase the talent that made him one of the foremost sportscasters in the days of The Big Show, but there are still legions of ESPN viewers that will always boycott his show because of his highly-polarizing career as a far-left political commentator.  His Twitter feed showcases that polarization on a daily basis as Olbermann collects more blocks than Dikembe Mutombo.

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Mike Francesa arch-nemesispolarizing figure from his political daysbridge napalmerangry tweeter.

What value does he bring ESPN?

Olbermann is one of the most talented sportscasters of the last generation and his eponymous ESPN2 nightly show has been outstanding from a quality standpoint, mixing highlights, essays, and interviews.  Additionally, many of Olbermann’s essays have gone viral due to the strong arguments he makes on a nightly basis.  Olbermann The Show was a counter-play to the launch of Fox Sports Live to try to give ESPN the #1 and #2 late night shows in sports.  It’s worked.

Is he worth it?

Keith Olbermann is always a ticking timebomb, but as long as he stays on his best behavior, and doesn’t call anyone a fascist, certainly he is worth it.

Skip Bayless - Carnival barker/monorail salesman

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Why is he here?

There’s not enough time or space to list all of Bayless’ misdeeds so just read this and this to get the entire picture.

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Fibbed about high school basketball resumebaits athletes into fightsmade a career out of trolling LeBron Jamestakes credit for professional sports team’s victoriesegotistical maniacalmost singlehandedly responsible for desecrating ESPN’s brand… #WhenSkipMeetsTebow.

What value does he bring ESPN?

In her defense of Bayless and First Take, ESPN executive Marcia Keegan pointed to one thing and one thing only.

Ratings.

Richard Deitsch allowed a question from our managing editor during a Q&A at SI.com and Keegan’s answer to the question about the effect on ESPN’s brand opened up the worldview inside Bristol.

SI.com: From Matt Yoder [who is also the managing editor of Awful Announcing]: How has “Embrace Debate” positively and negatively affected the ESPN brand?

Keegan: I think it has positively affected it in almost every way you can think of.

SI.com Why?

Keegan: It has been great for ratings. If you told me five years ago when I first had responsibility for this that we could regularly do a 0.4 [350,000-450,000 or so viewers.] at 10:00 a.m. on ESPN2, I’d say what are you smoking? It is a great for ratings. I will not share with you the financials but it is good for financials. And I think it is good for the brand.

What does Bayless bring ESPN?  The only thing ESPN needs.  Revenue.

Is he worth it?

Financially, yes.  But so many people have turned off ESPN in the past few years because of Bayless’ antics and the Embrace Debate movement that ESPN has sacrificed too much of their respectability in the process.  How much ratings points does it take for a network to sell their soul?

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