In a world that has embraced debate, there are many hot sports takes out there in any given week, and they’ve been termed “one of America’s greatest exports.” But which takes can stand out in that crowded environment? And which personalities consistently bring the most heat? That’s what we’ll track with a new Awful Announcing feature, This Week In Hot Takes, counting down from the fifth-hottest to the hottest. We’ll be keeping an ongoing leaderboard where we’ll eventually crown a king or queen of Hot Takes. Here’s the latest edition, from your friendly neighborhood keyboard bully

5. Colin Cowherd calls North Dakota State “Roast Beef Tech” before Iowa loses to them: Scheduling opponents from lower tiers is apparently frowned upon in Cowherd’s world, and he’s particularly upset at Iowa, “college football’s fake ID.” That’s illustrated by this rant he went on Friday about Iowa playing North Dakota State, or “Roast Beef Tech”:

Rants about “cupcake” scheduling are relatively commonplace, but it’s Cowherd’s choice of target here that’s especially peculiar. North Dakota State is far from a cupcake team, and that was known long before they beat the Hawkeyes on the road. The Bison have won the last five Division I FCS championships, and they’ve now won six games in a row against Division I FBS schools, beating Kansas, Minnesota, Colorado State, Kansas State and Iowa State before their 23-21 win over Iowa Saturday.

Analytical estimates suggest NDSU would be extremely competitive in a Group of Five Division I FBS conference and better than some teams in Power Five conferences, Bruce Feldman has argued they should be ranked in the AP Top 20, Rodger Sherman has repeatedly warned teams against scheduling the Bison, and an athletic director at a top-20 ranked school told SB Nation’s Steven Godfrey “absolutely not” when asked about scheduling NDSU.

Oh, and these guys also had the second overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz (who’s off to a great start there); they’re not exactly off the map.

Complaining about scheduling FCS or Group of Five games in general is understandable, but targeting NDSU is relatively fiery and poorly-informed. Oh, and after the loss, Cowherd somehow implied that this was karmic punishment for “fake ID” Iowa for playing a weak (?!) team?

Rating: 🔥🔥

4. Clay Travis: “This is ESPN’s death knell. ESPN in my opinion has become MSNBC. Everything is so absurdly left-wing and liberal.”

On his Fox Sports Radio morning show Wednesday, Travis argued that poor Week 1 NFL ratings are because “A lot of people are choosing not to watch the NFL because of all the politics that’s being foisted upon them,” and then went on to blame ESPN for getting politics in his sports:

“This is ESPN’s death knell. ESPN in my opinion has become MSNBC. Everything is so absurdly left-wing and liberal in the way they cover sports that a lot of you are just sitting back and thinking I just want to know if somebody’s hit a home run. I just want to know who won the game. I don’t want to know what Colin Kaepernick thinks of racial oppression in America.”

There’s a whole lot going on in there, from spotlighting anthem protests over absent stars, the Deflategate mess, and some less-than-stellar matchups to later calling Kaepernick “a spoiled brat,” but the hottest take is suggesting that anything is “ESPN’s death knell.” ESPN’s hardly become all-politics, all-the-time, and their household and audience numbers have been quite good lately.

It’s also worth pointing out that the trend Travis is citing here (increased viewership for college football, reduced viewership for the NFL) would actually help ESPN more than anyone else, as they have more college football content than any competitor and only one NFL game a week. So, a “death knell” suggestion is pretty fiery.

Rating: 🔥🔥

3. Bart Hubbuch’s account-deleting hot take on the Patriots and Jacoby Brissett: New York Post sports columnist Bart Hubbuch has taken plenty of shots at Boston over the years and taken criticism as a result, but he took particular flak from everyone from Katie Nolan to Barstool Sports to anonymous New England fans after tweeting Tuesday that it’s “a totally not-shocking fact” that Brissett is set to be the first black starting quarterback in Patriots’ history. Here’s the screencap of his tweet, from Barstool Sports:


After all that criticism, Hubbuch literally deleted (or suspended) his Twitter account, only to reemerge a day later:

The presentation of that tweet, and the furor it caused, gives this a decent amount of fire.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

2. Ray Lewis: Police shootings “aren’t race-driven, they’re hate-driven”: Lewis has been making the rounds as a guest on Fox Sports 1’s various shows for the last couple of weeks, and his response to the Terrence Crutcher shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Wednesday’s Undisputed With Skip and Shannon was particularly something:

Lewis starts by talking about a loss of respect for life in all arenas, but goes off on a number of tangents, then says he doesn’t think the Critcher shooting was race-driven, says Kaepernick’s protests aren’t solving the issues (“since he’s been kneeling, we’ve still had numerous murders of cops”), and then gets into talking about “black-on-black crime,” saying “until we understand that we must stop killing each other to really bring the issue to this.”

Lewis is pretty all over the map here, but saying the Critcher shooting “was not race-driven” is a fiery take, and one that’s drawn plenty of criticism, including a strong reaction from Shannon Sharpe after Lewis’ comments.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

1. Jason Whitlock: “Deadspin, SJW agenda is to bring football down. Kaepernick is a Useful Idiot.”

Ah, so it’s Deadspin that’s causing Kaepernick and other athletes to protest in order to bring football down? I wonder why that kind of influence and resources wasn’t listed in Gawker Media’s bankruptcy hearings. Surely brainwashing devices would have boosted the company’s value a bit? Or, if football is “what’s right about America,” perhaps this is all a conspiracy from the Russian minority investor Whitlock has claimed controls Deadspin? Or the Chinese Communist Party and “Marxists movement” that runs the American media?

It’s a good thing we have Whitlock around to warn us of these conspiracies. Hopefully he’ll star in the next Red Dawn remake.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Notable absences this week: Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith

Hot Take Standings

Jason Whitlock – 9
Clay Travis – 6
Frank Isola – 5
Ray Lewis – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Stephen A. Smith – 3
Skip Bayless – 3
Bart Hubbuch – 3
Colin Cowherd – 2
Don Cherry – 2
Dan Wolken – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. You can send submissions to me here.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.

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