In this election year, Americans will make a decision on the future of the country over the next four years. For Stephen A. Smith, he’ll have the final say on who will replace Skip Bayless shaping the future of First Take for years to come. According to Mike McCarthy at Sporting News, ESPN will give co-host Stephen A. Smith in essence, the last word on the person who will sit in Bayless’ chair on the ESPN’s debate program:

Smith doesn’t have an actual veto clause in his contract, Sporting News sources confirmed. But barring any surprises, ESPN brass will give Smith practically the last word on who sits across the “embrace debate” table from him.

“They gave Skip the same power — and he picked Stephen A. as his partner. So it’s only fair they give Stephen A. the most input in picking his partner,” one person with knowledge of the show’s hierarchy told Sporting News. An ESPN spokesman declined to comment.

Bayless is leaving ESPN in August and it’s expected that he’ll join Fox Sports for an opinion-driven show of his own at FS1. The candidates to replace him at First Take are reported to be HBO boxing analyst Max Kellerman who’s also a co-host of SportsNation and Will Cain of ESPN The Magazine.

It’s not known who Smith has in mind, but whether the show goes in a Live With Kelly and Michael direction and bring in various candidates to sit next to SAS until he decides, or if he has a solid candidate to fill the Bayless role, we shall find out soon enough.

[Sporting News/Picture courtesy Marcus Matthews, ESPN]

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013.

He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television.

Fang celebrates the four Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.