Greg McElroy and Colin Cowherd in August 2023. Greg McElroy and Colin Cowherd in August 2023. (ESPN College Football on YouTube.)

After a 12-year run at ESPN, Colin Cowherd jumped to Fox in 2015. Cowherd has since been one of the key personalities for FS1 and Fox Sports Radio. But there’s been a lot of talk lately about him perhaps returning to ESPN, maybe especially after his Fox contract ends in 2025. And an unusual guest appearance from Cowherd on an ESPN platform (Greg McElroy’s Always College Football podcast) this week added fuel to that fire, giving rumormongers that which they desire:

In general, a personality from one network going on a show on another network is not necessarily a huge deal. In the radio and podcast worlds in particular, most executives recognize there can be value in their shows bringing in notable guests from outside their particular sphere. But there are some particular complications to that around ESPN and Cowherd.

To start with, Cowherd’s exit from ESPN was not particularly smooth. At the time, he expressed some frustrations over his radio simulcast being on ESPNU rather than ESPN or ESPN2. (And, to be fair, if he had been there a few years later, that probably would have happened; ESPN2 made a particularly notable shift to reruns of ESPN programming instead of its own shows in 2017.)

Beyond that, though, ESPN suspended Cowherd when he was already leaving, following a controversy on his remarks on Dominican baseball players. So that wasn’t a clean break. And Cowherd has often trashed ESPN since.

But there’s also the dimension of ESPN sometimes seeming to limit appearances from media personalities not on their network. And that’s already come up with new hire Pat McAfee. McAfee has said he hasn’t been told to stick to ESPN guests, though, so the company approach there may be changing a bit. And maybe that factored in to Cowherd guesting with McElroy here.

In addition to all that, though, there’s been a lot of talk about ESPN maybe bringing Cowherd back. Including some from Cowherd. And this guest appearance certainly adds to that. So there are lots of possibilities to consider here.

Maybe this was just a one-off guest appearance with someone Cowherd likes, and it doesn’t mean any more than that. Or maybe it’s the first step towards an ESPN-Cowherd reunion. We’ll see. But it’s certainly notable that it happened.

[ESPN College Football on YouTube]

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.