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Full-disclosure, I’m a little bit of a sports media dork. While you were busy growing up worshipping people like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Rebecca Lobo (ok, maybe not the last one), I always found people like Keith Jackson, Michael Wilbon and Bill Raftery far more fascinating.
(In a related note, that’s also probably why I couldn’t get a girl to talk to me until I was about 19-years-old. But that’s another story for another day)
Anyway, over the last few months, I’ve been fascinated at the musical chairs that’s taken place in the college sports online print media. In particular, CBS.com has built itself a nice little juggernaut on both the college football and college basketball side, adding Brett McMurphy, Tony Barnhart and eventually Bruce Feldman in football, and Jeff Goodman in basketball. For sports media dorks like me, this was like the NBA’s free agent class of 2010 all over again. Only with notepads, tape recorders and side parts, instead of headbands and neck tattoos.
Well with all that said, the biggest domino to fall in the whole online sports media shuffle may have hit today, with the Big Lead’s report that Pat Forde - he of the Forde Yard Dash and Forde Minutes - is now leaving ESPN.com for Yahoo.
Pat Forde, the longtime ESPN.com columnist who is the Worldwide Leader’s foremost college football and basketball writer, is leaving ESPN for rival Yahoo Sports, according to multiple sources. Forde’s contract at ESPN expires Nov. 1, at which point he’ll move to Yahoo.
Forde didn’t answer a phone call or reply to a text, and ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Rob King refused comment when reached on his cell phone.
To stick with the NBA 2010 free agent analogy, this may not totally be LeBron going to Miami, but would probably be like, say, Carmelo going to the Knicks...
As to why Forde left, well honestly, it’s hard to say. The rumor is that he was not all too happy with the Bruce Feldman saga over the summer, and since then he has been waiting for his contract to expire. According to the Big Lead report, Forde was just one of many ESPN employees to privately admit his displeasure with how the whole situation played out.
Of course there are professional reasons why Forde left too. With Yahoo’s main college basketball writer Jason King moving to ESPN earlier this week, Yahoo needed a college basketball guy, and Forde more than carries his weight in that sport as well. I’ve got to assume that he’ll be writing columns in each going forward, and that he’ll be paid handsomely for doing so.
Still, despite whatever the true reasons were for Forde leaving, the news is a little surprising.
Simply put, Forde is just about the only college football writer I feel the need to read on a weekly, or even daily basis over at ESPN.com (sorry Ivan Maisel, but it's true). He is an excellent writer, but also pens his columns in a fun, easy-to-digest kind of way. Besides his Forde Yard Dash column, I always find Forde's game recaps to be as entertaining as anyone's in the business. Quite frankly, with him out of the mix, I’m not entirely sure that I will be compelled to ever go to ESPN.com for college football opinion going forward. In addition, Forde was a regular on quite a few ESPN platforms such as First Take and ESPN Radio, and his voice will likely be lost there as well.
But what is ESPN’s loss, is Yahoo’s gain.
They’ve got at least one new reader of their college football content, in me.
It’ll be interesting to see who- if anyone- ESPN can replace Forde with.