Ric Flair Paul Finebaum An Awful Announcing rendering of Ric Flair and Paul Finebaum

Earlier this month, Ric Flair made his return to the pro wrestling world when he signed a multiyear contract with All Elite Wrestling (AEW).

But The Nature Boy’s latest feud isn’t with Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega or even Sting. Rather, it’s with ESPN college football personality Paul Finebaum.

As you may have noticed on social media, Flair has spent the past few weeks attaching himself to Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh amid the Wolverines’ high profile sign-stealing scandal. The 16-time heavyweight champion even took a trip to Ann Arbor for an in-person visit with Harbaugh, who revealed to reporters that he’s been friends with Flair dating back to his playing days with the Chicago Bears in the late-1980s.

(Suffice it to say, social media soon filled with jokes about Harbaugh being friends with a pro wrestler known as “The Dirtiest Player in the Game.”)

Days after Flair’s visit to Schembechler Hall, Harbaugh was once again in the headlines as the Big Ten suspended him for the Wolverines’ final three regular-season games as a result of the scandal. Taking to social media on Tuesday, Flair called out Finebaum — who has been critical of Harbaugh — and thanked Wolverines legend Desmond Howard for his vocal support of Michigan on ESPN airwaves.

“Thank You @DesmondHoward For Putting @Finebaum In His Place!” Flair wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “You’re Right Michigan Is America’s Team! And The Only Person With Personal Issues Is A Non-Athletic SEC Journalist That Should Leave The Great @CoachJim4UM & @UMichFootball Alone. Can You Imagine Paul Finebaum Having The Nerve To Debate Football With Heisman Trophy Winner Desmond Howard? OUTRAGEOUS! Go Blue! WOOOOO!”

“WOOOOO!” Howard responded, as one does. (He’s been taking his own criticism for his coverage of this.)

Like a good heel — or face, depending on how you feel about Michigan — Finebaum was ready to respond. In an interview with AL.com, the longtime SEC pontificator pointed out that Flair has an interesting track record when it comes to his college football fandom.

“Flair, in his Michigan fandom, is still chasing the success of the SEC as indicated by his behavior a couple of years ago with Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs,” Finebaum said. “I guess he is right about one thing: ‘If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man.’”

Finebaum’s comment came in reference to Georgia’s 34-11 victory over Michigan in the 2021 College Football Playoff. Prior to the game, Flair took to social media to reveal that he’d be cheering for the Wolverines after what he perceived to be a personal slight from Smart during a previous trip to Athens.

To Finebaum’s point, prior to his current Michigan fandom, Flair had attached himself to multiple college football programs. Those included the SEC’s Georgia Bulldogs and Florida Gators. It seems unlikely, however, that the SEC Network analyst will wind up getting the last word. And it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him on the wrong side of a Figure Four Leglock in the near future.


About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.