[UPDATE: An earlier version of this story said that ESPN wanted to change the name of “Pardon My Take” to “Barstool Van Talk.” That was an incorrect interpretation of what was discussed on the podcast.]
The second episode of Barstool Van Talk was set to air Tuesday night at 1 a.m. ET, but as you surely know by now, ESPN abruptly canceled the show on Monday after just one episode, citing the program’s connection with Barstool Sports’ content.
But Big Cat and PFT Commenter still have Pardon My Take, the podcast which spawned Barstool Van Talk, and on Wednesday’s episode (which also includes the interview with Dan Patrick that would have been on Van Talk‘s second episode), they addressed what happened with ESPN, sharing several behind-the-scenes details. Whether you’re a PMT fan or just a general sports media follower, the conversation is worth listening to for the insight that it allows into a situation that was always controversial and escalated quickly.
The show began with a disclaimer listing all of the ESPN programs that PMT is not affiliated with for legal reasons. But the kicker was that Barstool Van Talk has now been added to the list. And Big Cat got a joke comparing Rick Pitino to how long Van Talk lasted out of the way quickly before the discussion got a little bit serious.
“We’re very disappointed. I’d say it’s a combination of disappointed, heartbreak and embarrassment,” Big Cat said. “I know embarrassment sounds ridiculous, but we were very excited. And this whole process, it was never our dream to be on TV. It was something that was kind of presented to us, and we thought it was going to be a really cool opportunity to give you guys more content, different content. So to have that kind of ripped from us, it sucks. There’s no sugarcoating it. It fucking sucks.”
— PFTCommenter (@PFTCommenter) October 25, 2017
PFT then explained that it was an eight-month conversation between ESPN and Barstool Sports (specifically CEO Erika Nardini) to develop a Pardon My Take show for the network. As a potential air date neared, a name change for the show was suggested, which PFT says he was against from a branding standpoint. But Barstool Sports’ founder Dave Portnoy wanted “Barstool” in the title and Big Cat agreed because the intention was just to attract more people to their site, even if that caused some problems.
Big Cat then followed up by revealing that Barstool Van Talk was supposed to have a 20-week run on ESPN2, going through late February. (Awful Announcing had heard that the show was originally intended to run until the Super Bowl.)
As the PMT hosts feared, attaching the Barstool brand to the ESPN show stirred up controversy — notably from Sam Ponder, who brought up offensive remarks that had been said about her in the past. Big Cat apologized for his role in that discussion and the insult directed at Ponder, saying it was stupid to say such a thing but the overall show in question was what Barstool Sports does. Katz also mentioned that neither he nor Barstool could directly respond to the controversy because Van Talk was already “on thin ice,” and they didn’t want to jeopardize the show.
Pardon My Take 10-25 – we get real for a second about our cancelled TV show + an interview with Dan Patrick in Vanny Woodhead. Download and subscribe https://t.co/htoaCr8KQG pic.twitter.com/iaf9Hz3o76
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) October 25, 2017
Though Big Cat acknowledged what was said was wrong, he also felt the timing of Ponder’s tweets was intended to undermine Barstool Van Talk and get the show canceled. In his view, other people at ESPN had the same agenda and he’ll “never forgive” them for that. Katz added that he wishes the network had “stood tall” against that blowback because not doing so immediately put the show in a precarious position. Taking that into consideration, ESPN never should have put Van Talk on the air to begin with.
“To the two or three people at ESPN that fought so hard to keep us off the air,” PFT added, “if they had spent any period of time listening to Pardon My Take, reading the stuff that you and I write, knowing what we’re all about, they would probably agree with 99 percent of the shit that we say. They would think that we’re funny and it would be a really good thing to have on their air as a breath of fresh air. But instead, they chose to go with just kind of a lazy, ignorant point of view about it and lump us in with something that somebody said three years ago in an out-of-bounds rant. Yes, it sucked but it has nothing to do with what we produce.”
It’s intriguing that PFT was hoping that people could separate the TV show from Barstool Sports, but obviously the name of the show made that impossible (which is surely why PFT was against the name change from the start). If a different iteration of Pardon My Take makes it to TV again, will there be an attempt to keep distance from the Barstool brand and tout PMT as its own, distinct thing?
— Pardon My Take (@PardonMyTake) October 25, 2017