The selection of ESPN College GameDay‘s guest picker each week often draws some comment. But some of the most discussion in a while came around this week’s pick for the show’s trip to James Madison for the Dukes’ home game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers. The person they chose there is Barstool Sports personality and Pardon My Take co-host PFT Commenter:
— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 17, 2023
That’s an interesting pick on a couple levels. For one thing, it’s unusual to see the show tab someone who goes by an alias (in a non-musician, non-actor way). While PFT Commenter’s real name is out there for those who care to look, his sports discussion is still mostly done under that alias.
Beyond that, PFT Commenter is a former (albeit exceptionally brief) ESPN personality. In 2017, ESPN put a lot of hype behind the launching of Barstool Van Talk, a new show featuring Pardon My Take‘s PFT Commenter and Dan “Big Cat” Katz. But that show was quickly cancelled after one episode (by then-ESPN president John Skipper, intervening over the heads of his content chiefs) following internal protest against ESPN associating itself with the often-controversial Barstool Sports. And while some of that was about Barstool in general, some of it was specifically about comments from Pardon My Take. (And this is also interesting considering how PMT’s interview with Charissa Thompson is currently blowing up.)
Obviously, the sports landscape has changed since 2017. And notably, ESPN is now into gambling, signing a betting deal with Penn Entertainment (who formerly had a deal with Barstool, whichled to Penn selling Barstool to founder Dave Portnoy for $1 and a bunch of non-compete clauses). ESPN also now features more unusual personalities, including former Barstool figure Pat McAfee (now a GameDay regular, at least for the moment). So this move stands out less than it would have years ago. But it’s still a remarkable move, considering the way PFT Commenter and ESPN parted ways in 2017.
[College GameDay on Twitter]