Colin Cowherd had the hottest take this week.

Welcome to another edition of This Week In Hot Takes. This time, we’re looking at the hottest takes from April 5 to 11.

5. Undisputed’s producers book LaVar Ball after the world’s forgotten about him and after their own hosts trashed him: Usually, FS1’s Undisputed shows up here for hot takes from Skip Bayless and (more rarely) Shannon Sharpe, but this time around, it’s their booking that’s highly questionable. The sports media world has largely moved on from LaVar Ball at this point, especially after his company flopped in such a way that even his son Lonzo removed his Big Baller Brand tattoo, and even long-time LaVar enablers Skip and Shannon both blasted him last Friday:

But then this week, after Magic Johnson’s sudden exit as the Lakers’ president of basketball operations, Undisputed‘s producers decided to bring on…expert analyst LaVar Ball.

Does no one on this show have any memory of what they’ve previously said? Of course, Fox has been even more LaVar-obsessed than the rest of the media, so if anyone’s going to give him a platform, it’s them. But booking LaVar Ball to spout nonsense while the rest of the world’s ignoring him and less than a week after both your hosts criticized him is a hell of a move.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

4. Stephen A. Smith on Virginia-Texas Tech: “I expect a very ugly, low-scoring game that’s going to be in the 50s, maybe barely.”: Speaking of hot-take artists on morning debate shows, let’s move over to ESPN, where long-time critic of the Virginia Cavaliers Stephen A. Smith told the First Take audience Monday morning just how ugly and low-scoring the NCAA men’s basketball national title game that night would be:

“I just didn’t want to see Virginia, and I don’t want to see Texas Tech for the same reason. These two teams are elite defensively, they know how to shut teams down. …When I look at Texas Tech play defense the way they did against Michigan State, I just think they’re going to do the same to Virginia tonight. Unfortunately, I expect a very ugly, low-scoring game that’s going to be in the 50s, maybe barely. I could see Texas Tech winning this somewhere along the lines of 55-51 to win the national title.”

Smith then continued on his radio show, starting around 2:55:

“As a result, we’ve got Virginia going up against Texas Tech, which has the potential to be one of the UGLIEST national championship games we’ve ever seen. Ladies and gentlemen, do you understand that there are some people predicting both teams will score less than 50 points? Do you realize that? …Do you have any idea what awful basketball, way back in archaic times, this has the potential to take us? This has the potential to take us back to Dean Smith and his four corners, when there was no shot clock, when you could spend all day passing the ball and not shooting! This has the potential to be that! I’m prayerful that it won’t be, but it has the potential to be. I’m not looking forward to tonight’s national championship game at all!”

That game wound up as an 85-77 Virginia victory, and Smith wound up being one of the many pundits the Cavaliers proved wrong.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥

3. Phil Mushnick discusses officiating in Virginia-Auburn without even mentioning the missed double-dribble call, then discusses Mike Francesa’s Virginia comments without touching on this week’s events: New York Post resident curmudgeon Mushnick does a lot of strange things in his columns, including repeated criticisms of rap music, sports celebrations, university student-athletes from foreign countries and late-starting games. But what’s particularly odd is when he relays some story and leaves out the part of it that everyone else is talking about, which he did twice this week in his latest column. That column starts by criticizing the judge who sentenced Craig Carton for using “first time, long time,” but the really strange part comes when it moves on to the notes section and discusses the Virginia-Auburn Final Four game:

Late in the NFC Championship game between the Rams and Saints on Jan. 20, a clear pass interference went uncalled, igniting a national calamity that inspired the foresight-barren NFL to add yet another replay rule that will unplug games to inspect microscopic evidence rather than to treat such rotten but rare decisions.

Saturday, another semifinal, this in the NCAA Tournament between Virginia and Auburn, was determined by a ref, one who did not care what was at stake. He did the job he was assigned.

With six-tenths of a second left and Auburn up two, Virginia’s Kyle Guy missed a 3-point try from the corner. As he shot, he was bumped off-balance by defender Samir Doughty. Ref James Breeding called it, as if there is no “good time” or “bad time” to call a foul.

Guy made all three free throws and Virginia won. One side and its supporters, including gamblers/bracket-bettors, loved that call, the other side detested it as a “ticky-tacky,” we-wuz-robbed job.

So the NFL official who didn’t call what was hard to miss is a thief and the NCAA ref who did call what he couldn’t miss is also a thief.

First off, there weren’t many people calling the referee a thief for that foul call. Everyone on the CBS broadcast said it was justified, from game analysts Grant Hill and Bill Raftery to rules analyst Gene Steratore to even noted Auburn fan and studio analyst Charles Barkley. And while some fans did criticize it, the wave of criticism there was hardly overwhelming. But what many Auburn fans did complain about, and what they had much more of a point criticizing, was a missed double-dribble call a few seconds earlier that could have ended the game in their favor. That’s what wound up dominating the post-game conversation, both on the broadcast and online, and Mushnick somehow manages to completely ignore it. Did he shut off the broadcast before that came up?

Similarly, later in that column, Mushnick winds up taking a shot at WFAN’s Mike Francesa. That’s not surprising; the two have long been adversaries, with Francesa even taking the rare step of calling in from vacation last summer to address Mushnick’s “wild lies and nasty ramblings” and Mushnick responding by bashing Francesa’s “daily disregard for the truth.” But what’s surprising is what he leaves out. Here’s that portion of the column:

That Virginia-Texas Tech NCAA final late Monday night was a terrific game. It’s a shame kids had to miss another to greed and TV money.

But the game didn’t need to be played, not after Mike Francesa, in February, picked the winner with his all-knowing claim — shouting over a caller who tried to tell him otherwise — that Virginia has no shot because the Cavaliers were short on shooters, when they clearly were not.

He then denied saying that, but the ever-vigilant Twitter account @backaftathis caught him saying — insisting — exactly that, thus adding to his load of lies WFAN management, ownership and 20 or 30 app lovers find acceptable.

In February he pretended to know everything about Virginia, but at the start of this tournament, he was the only one who didn’t know the sensational: Virginia last season became the first one-seed to lose to a 16-seed.

Yes, absolutely, roast Francesa for his February comments. But “denied saying that” is a pretty mild version of what Francesa actually said this week (which we’ll get to next), where he accused Funhouse of doctoring that video and others with “So don’t always go by that like it’s real, because they can edit stuff a million times on the internet. That’s one of the biggest problems on the internet.” You’d think a long-time Francesa critic like Mushnick would roast Francesa more for that, and for getting dunked on by Virginia player Ty Jerome, something even Mushnick’s own paper covered. Maybe he missed that too.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

2. Mike Francesa says he nevah said dat about Virginia, “they can edit stuff a million times on the internet”: As mentioned above, the zaniest Francesa thing this week came from not only his insistence that he never said that Tony Bennett couldn’t win a title with this team, but also that Funhouse fakes the embarrassing videos of him (which come from video on his own app).

“That guy changes stuff all the time! And Monz and I know it because we’ve caught him, we’ve caught him doing it! I know he does! And when he wants to make something really juicy, he can make it up too! So don’t always go by that like it’s real, because they can edit stuff a million times on the internet. That’s one of the biggest problems on the internet.”

Here’s the video of what Francesa said in February, which is not edited:

“Ugh. He’ll never win a championship with this team, though. They can’t play offense. Here’s the bottom line. There’s going to come a game in the tournament where they need to make a shot and get a shot and they can’t get it. I think they’re very defendable. I don’t like them, I don’t like them offensively at all.”

Nice try, Michael.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

1. Colin Cowherd rips Cleveland again, calling Browns’ fans “an insecure NFL fanbase who wants everybody to think they’re great fans” and saying they’re “a bunch of guys from Lima, Ohio wearing masks and barking in the end zone, about nine Budweisers in”: Fox personality Cowherd has long bashed Cleveland, such as with 2011‘s “I could argue that if you still live in Cleveland at this point, you’re bringing unemployment on, couldn’t I?” and with last week’s remarks that the Browns have a chance “to be a complete and utter dumpster fire” (which got him called out by Browns’ QB Baker Mayfield). Cowherd then responded to Mayfield’s criticisms, and to the Browns winning a Fox Sports Twitter poll on the best NFL fanbase, this week:

“They don’t like me much in Ohio, because I, unlike the rest of the American media and people, you know, with mostly a brain, do not think because Odell Beckham signed with the Browns and they were 7-9 last year, they’re going to take the NFL over. Zany. I think they’re just collecting talent. They were 7-9 last year, I think they’ll be about 9-7 this year as long as Odell Beckham stays healthy. But they’ve got a rookie head coach. And frankly, again, they’re really good at skill positions. We’ll see how it works out. They’re in a division with really well-run organizations, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, who I think both have a chance to finish ahead of them.”

“Baker Mayfield took a shot at me the other day, very hurtful, very painful for me to endure, as I came out and said ‘Nobody’s going to be honest about Cleveland, this thing could be a dumpster fire.’ Baker Mayfield fired a shot and said ‘Come to Cleveland and ask O if he actually likes it, your source is full of BS, and while you’re at it, come see if I’m a baby.’ What I said is ‘He’s a kid, he’s a baby.’ Second year in the league, he’s very young. Not like an infant. Very, very hurtful, very painful.”

“And then, Cleveland’s so gassed up right now, they can’t get over themselves. They’ve already scheduled the Super Bowl parade. A couple days ago, Fox Sports had a Twitter poll on the best fanbase. So we put it out there, it’s a Twitter poll. And you might as well have called this ‘The Most Insecure Fanbase Poll,’ because the finalists were Tennessee and Cleveland. Insecure NFL fanbases who want everybody to think they’re great fans. Neither is a top-10 fanbase in my opinion.”

“Let me give you some images of, let’s say, the Pittsburgh Steelers, over the Cleveland Browns in terms of fan participation. The Pittsburgh Steelers lead the NFL in terms of tickets sold for visiting teams. The Terrible Towel, maybe you’ve seen it at Super Bowls. …There are images of Cleveland Browns fans too, empty seats, bags on their heads, and a bunch of guys from Lima, Ohio wearing masks and barking in the end zone, about nine Budweisers in. So I don’t buy that Cleveland has the best fans. I think Cleveland has low self-esteem with its football franchise, so does Tennessee, so they rush to a Twitter poll and fill it out.”

What’s really amazing there is how Cowherd continues to find ridiculous ways to bash cities, players and organizations he doesn’t like. Sure, the Browns winning a Twitter poll for best fanbase doesn’t mean much; it’s a Twitter poll. But using that as an excuse for this sort of rant, and for this sort of depiction of a whole franchise, is pretty lame. That’s par for the course for Cowherd, though, and given how much he dislikes Cleveland and Mayfield (especially for Mayfield showing him up on his own show last year), this probably won’t be the last Browns-bashing we see from him.

Rating: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

Hot Take Standings:

Jason Whitlock – Hall of Fame
Stephen A. Smith – 242
Skip Bayless – 203
Phil Mushnick – 181
Colin Cowherd – 84
Rob Parker – 59
Doug Gottlieb – 53
Shannon Sharpe – 35
Don Cherry – 30
Albert Breer – 29
Dan Shaughnessy – 26
Ray Lewis – 25
Charles Barkley – 24
Darren Rovell – 20
Danny Kanell – 20
Britt McHenry – 20
JT The Brick – 20
Mike Francesa – 19
Dan Dakich – 18
Michael DeCourcy – 16
Jason McIntyre – 16
Andy Benoit – 15
Tony Massarotti – 15
Ben Maller – 15
Bill Plaschke – 14
Jason Smith – 13
Kirk Herbstreit – 13
Mike Felger – 13
The Sporting News – 13
Chris Broussard – 13
Rick Morrissey – 13
Michael Wilbon – 12
John Middlekauff – 11
Keith Olbermann – 11
Jeff Schultz – 10
Greg Gabriel – 10
Rob Rossi – 10
Bill James – 10
Joe Simpson – 10
Bob Brookover – 10
Jeremy Roenick – 10
Berry Tramel – 10
Kristine Leahy – 10
Graham Couch – 9
Chris “Mad Dog” Russo – 9
Ross Tucker – 9
Ryen Russillo – 9
Garth Crooks – 9
C.J. Nitkowski – 9
Bob Ford – 8
John Feinstein – 8
Steve Simmons – 8
Frank Isola – 8
Michael Rapaport – 8
Bart Hubbuch – 8
Howard Eskin – 7
Trent Dilfer – 7
Damien Cox – 7
Mike Bianchi – 7
Cris Carter – 7
Pat Forde – 7
Charley Casserly – 6
The Wall Street Journal – 6
Pat Leonard – 6
Luke Kerr-Dineen – 6
Terry Bradshaw – 6
Greg A. Bedard – 6
Jonathan Allen – 5
Dean Blevins – 5
Tony Rizzo – 5
Paul Sullivan – 5
Dan Wolken – 5
Dan Clark  – 5
Paul Daugherty  – 5
Michael Kay – 5
Tom Jones – 5
Max Kellerman – 5
Mark Readings – 5
Neil Warnock – 5
Patrick Bet-David – 5
Jared Stillman – 5
Jen Rainwater – 5
Matt Walsh – 5
Jon Steinberg – 5
Bill Welt – 5
Jack Todd – 5
Aaron Murray – 5
Chris Childers – 5
Mark Knight – 5
The Herald Sun – 5
David Booth – 5
Tom Nichols – 5
Keith Hernandez – 5
Bill O’Reilly – 5
Brandel Chamblee – 5
Michael McCarthy – 5
Mike “The Reputation Doctor®” Paul – 5
Dennis Dodd – 5
Rich Lowry – 5
Chris Reed – 5
The San Diego Union-Tribune – 5
David Hookstead – 5
Tomm Looney – 5
Alex Shaw – 5
Rick Reilly – 5
Randall Mell – 5
Ian O’Connor – 5
Michael Bamberger – 5
Bob Bubka – 5
Cathal Kelly – 5
Pete Prisco – 5
Bill Simons – 5
Christine Flowers – 5
Jason Lieser – 5
John Steigerwald – 5
Josh Peter – 5
Alexi Lalas – 5
John Moody – 5
Marni Soupcoff – 5
Ryan Rishaug – 5
Kurtis Larson – 5
Rod Watson – 5
Chuck Modiano – 5
Joel Klatt – 5
Steve Buffery – 5
Joe Morgan – 5
Nancy Armour – 5
Richard Justice – 5
Ameer Hasan Loggins – 5
Jesse Watters – 5
John McGrath – 5
Mike Sielski – 5
Gordon Monson – 5
Scott Fowler – 5
Terry Frei – 5
David Jones – 5
Sabrina Parr – 5
Abbey Mastracco – 5
Terry Cushman – 5
Rick Bozich – 5
Michael O’Doherty – 5
Simon Briggs – 5
Dan Wetzel – 5
Mike Parry – 5
Bob Ryan – 5
Robert Reed – 5
Pete Dougherty – 5
Dan Le Batard – 5
Marcus Hayes – 5
Kyle Turley – 5
Mike Ditka – 5
Erril Laborde – 5
Lowell Cohn – 5
Rosie DiManno – 5
Mike Schmidt – 4
Mike Bell – 4
Cody McDavis – 4
The New York Times – 4
Dan Crenshaw – 4
Mike Vaccaro – 4
Mike Klis – 4
Richard Keys – 4
Peter King – 4
Bruce Levine – 4
Malcolm Gladwell – 4
That’s Kappy – 4
Mitchell Nathanson – 4
The New York Daily News – 4
“Big” Jim Murray – 4
Jeff Diamond – 4
Marc Berman – 4
Evan Roberts – 4
Corbin Smith – 4
DJ Siddiqi – 4
The Express – 4
Mark Kiszla – 4
Greg Witter – 4
Myron Medcalf – 4
Bill Polian – 4
MJ Franklin – 4
Alex Reimer – 4
Joan Vennochi – 4
Matt Yglesias – 4
Bill Livingston – 4
Michael Irvin – 4
Shawn Windsor – 4
Brock Huard – 4
Byron Tau – 4
Maggie Gray – 4
Michael Powell – 4
Mark Spector – 4
Chad Forbes – 4
Gary Myers – 4
Mark Schlereth – 4
Andy Gray – 4
David Fleming – 4
Jeff Pearlman – 4
Tony Grossi – 4
FanSided – 4
Tony Kornheiser – 4
USA Today – 4
Nathan Ruiz – 4
Undisputed producers – 3
Pete Thamel – 3
John Kincade – 3
Brian Burke – 3
Doug Russell  – 3
Carl Steward  – 3
Jerry Coleman – 3
Jon Johnson  – 3
Trey Wingo – 3
Lance Zierlein – 3
Michael Salfino – 3
Tom Van Riper – 3
Andy Katz – 3
Tony La Russa  – 3
Jim Brady – 3
Bill Simmons – 3
Mark Teixeira – 3
Wally Hall – 3
Damien Woody – 3
Victor Cruz – 3
Andrew Walker – 3
Jim Kaat – 3
Jason Gay – 3
Steven J. Brams – 3
Aaron Isaksen – 3
Will Muschamp – 3
Buck Lanford – 3
Stan Fischler – 3
Sonnie Wooden – 3
Chris Jones – 3
Kelly Smith – 3
Reggie Miller – 3
Mark Madden – 3
Larry Brooks – 3
Dan Canova – 3
Steve Rosenbloom – 3
Stephen Jackson – 3
Mike Sando – 3
Walt Borla – 3
Nick Cafardo – 3
Ice Cube – 3
Justin Peters – 3
Elise Finch – 3
Kevin Skiver – 3
David Bahnsen – 3
Harold Reynolds – 3
Kevin Reynolds – 3
Mike Sheahan – 3
Steve Greenberg – 3
Matt Burke – 3
Malcolm Gladwell – 3
Mike Milbury – 3
Mac Engel – 3
Nick Kypreos – 3
Caron Butler – 3
Don Brennan – 3
Robert Tychkowski – 3
Mike Johnston – 3
Jeff Mans – 3
Joe Browne – 3
Mike Harrington – 3
Greg Mitchell – 3
The Palm Beach Post – 2
Karl Ravech – 2
Mike Florio – 2
Dari Nowkah – 2
Ella Dorsey – 2
The Hill – 2
John Kindt – 2
Bill Madden – 2
Tony Gonzalez – 2
Mike Greenberg – 2
Grant Paulsen – 2
Jeff Ermann – 2
Ed Werder – 2
Ben Mulroney – 2
Ron Cook – 2
Brian Kenny – 2
Barrett Sallee – 2
Craig Calcaterra – 2
Gareth Wheeler – 2
John Cornyn – 2
Tony Dungy – 2
Bruce Jenkins – 2
Chris Wesseling – 2
Seth Greenberg – 2
Doug Smith – 2
Newsweek – 2
Teddy Cutler – 2
Will Cain – 2
Bill Cowher – 2
Paul Finebaum – 2
Amin Elhassan – 2
Jim Henneman – 2
Mitch Lawrence – 2
Nick Wright – 2
Domonique Foxworth – 2
Gary Parrish – 2
Michael Farber – 2
Andy Furman – 2
Donovan McNabb – 2
Seth Davis – 2
Jon Heyman – 2
Jason La Canfora – 2
Booger McFarland – 2
Joe Schad – 2
Cork Gaines – 2

Thanks for reading! Tune in next week for more This Week In Hot Takes. As always, you can send submissions to me via e-mail or on Twitter.

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.