Ryan Leaf found another outlet for his harsh criticism of ESPN and College GameDay amid continued controversy around how the GameDay crew characterized the Washington State football program last weekend.
In a Thursday appearance on Good Morning Football, Leaf again spoke out against GameDay panelists Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Pat McAfee after doing so on X (formerly known as Twitter) earlier in the week.
Leaf bashed the show for turning the weekend’s Washington State-Oregon State matchup into a joke. Corso called it the “Nobody Wants Us” Bowl due to the schools being left on an island in the hollowed-out Pac-12. And Herbstreit defended the bit online and indicated Leaf was getting defensive due to his allegiance to his alma mater in Pullman.
Leaf believes GameDay should be a celebration of college football, and that turning the programs’ uncertainty into a comedic bit went against the spirit of the show.
“You just had an opportunity, you fell short,” Leaf said on GMFB. “Just like I did a bunch of times in my life. And I feel like I’m comfortable enough to call you out on it.”
The point of my criticism of @CollegeGameDay was simple. They had an opportunity to make it a celebration of #CFB and instead made it a joke. Direct, to the point, and also acknowledging that falling short is a human trait – it happens & we all do it! #CVE23 #GoCougs #GoBeavs pic.twitter.com/hs0Xq9Nfha
— Ryan D Leaf (@RyanDLeaf) September 28, 2023
GameDay has struggled with how to approach conference realignment all season.
McAfee made headlines for being critical of the conference’s inability to strike a broadcast deal with ESPN before encouraging fans to “enjoy the hell” out of the final Pac-12 season.
Combine all that with the fact that ESPN itself is a major player in how and why conferences have changed, and it’s hard to disagree with Leaf’s broader point that ESPN should lay off and be more careful with the perspectives shared on air.
Still, Leaf is an ESPN employee. He has called college football games for the network since 2019. That he not only criticized GameDay but appeared on another network to double down drew attention from college football media.
Leaf appears caught between his opinion as a Wazzu and Pac-12 alum, and his restrictions as an ESPN employee.
Time will tell which side wins out.