Paul Finebaum The Paul Finebaum Show. (SEC Network.)

Something that often gets lost in the discussion of the controversies ESPN courts with main-channel personalities such as Pat McAfee and Stephen A. Smith is the controversies they get into on their other networks. That includes SEC Network. And that network has aired The Paul Finebaum Show (also simulcast on radio) daily since 2014.

Finebaum, and his callers, have poked plenty of third rails over that time. And Wednesday saw Finebaum hitting the rarely-seen third rail of ESPN-on-ESPN crime with his response to a caller who questioned ESPN College GameDay analyst Kirk Herbstreit’s alleged involvement with quarterback Dylan Raiola shifting from a commitment to Georgia to one to Nebraska, with that claim of his involvement coming from Dylan’s father Dominic.

Here’s more on that, via Nick Schultz of On3 Sports:

Finebaum was asked about the situation by caller Bill from Florida, and he stressed he needed more information before commenting on the situation. Still, combining the allegations against Herbstreit with Pat McAfee’s remarks about Georgia fans, he thinks College GameDay could get an interesting reception if it heads to Athens next year.

…“Listen, I used to defend Herbstreit without even thinking, but I’m not gonna do that until I know information,” Finebaum said. “Being objective, this is a really bad look for Herbstreit.”

…“He ought to [put out a statement],” Finebaum said. “First of all, if it’s not true – and I remember Eli Drinkwitz said something about Herbstreit on our show a couple years ago, and Herbstreit texted me within five seconds. This story’s been out for two or three hours and I have yet to hear anything. He’s not shy. He’s pretty flippant on Twitter.”

…“Again, I just heard about that right before the show started,” Finebaum said. “I certainly think we need to find out what exactly happened. But if Herbstreit didn’t do that, then he’s welcome to call in and deny it. But right now, you have to believe he did it based on the fact it’s been a couple hours and we haven’t heard any denial. I know that’s not exactly logic, but it’s the way it usually works.”

It’s notable to see Finebaum’s commitment to turning controversy into content (“He’s welcome to call in and deny it”) here. But it’s perhaps more interesting still to see one of ESPN’s prominent college football personalities taking what sure looks like a notable shot at another one.

Of course, the idea of ESPN-on-ESPN crime as intolerable has decreased significantly recently. That’s especially true lately, with McAfee going after prominent executive Norby Williamson and both of them retaining their roles. So there’s nothing that says ESPN can’t employ both Finebaum and Herbstreit despite the former’s criticisms of the latter. But it is definitely notable to have an ESPN college football figure siding with a caller rather than a colleague.


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.