Fox Sports 1 has made some big hires ahead of the network's August 17 launch, including Bill Raftery, Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, Andy Roddick and Julie Stewart-Binks, but their latest move may be their most controversial to date.
Jason McIntyre reports at The Big Lead that two sources have told him Fox will be revamping their college football coverage this fall by hiring Clay Travis to replace Joey Harrington on the post-game show with Erin Andrews and Eddie George and also launching a two-hour pre-game show Saturdays at 10 a.m. on Fox Sports 1 with the same cast.
While Travis has a substantial following with some college football fans thanks to his work for AOL Fanhouse, Deadspin and his own Outkick the Coverage site, amongst other places, what he wrote about Andrews for AOL in 2009 in the wake of the release of a video Michael David Barrett filmed of her changing through her hotel room's peephole (Barrett later got two and a half years in prison for interstate stalking) makes the juxtaposition of them on a TV set interesting. Here are the highlights of that 2009 Travis piece (H/T to Busted Coverage for the find):
I'll begin by answering this question: Can a very attractive woman ever be so good at what she does for a living that her attractiveness is ignored by men? I think the answer is no. No matter how equal the sexes ever become. And I get why that totally sucks for professional women. ...
So, yeah, that could be an awkward working environment (although Andrews has appeared on Travis' Nashville radio show, so perhaps she doesn't have a problem with him). It's far from the only controversy Travis has gotten himself into, though. Consider this past weekend's Twitter feud with Sports Illustrated's Richard Deitsch, which included these tweets from Travis taking jabs at Deitsch covering women's sports:
@richarddeitsch If you were better at your job, I'd double your salary and hire you. Tough break for you. Profile will be fun for you though— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) July 6, 2013
SI Swimsuit issue pays your salary. And much more. RT @richarddeitsch: Clay, your misogyny obviously gets you page views...— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) July 6, 2013
Noted suffragist @richarddeitsch just insulted me by comparing me to a crazy woman. Patriarchal society claims another victim. Call N.O.W.— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) July 6, 2013
What's also interesting about the hire is the contrast in Travis' background and what he'll be covering. Travis is famed for his SEC fandom, and he wrote a book about the conference, but Fox's rights are primarily to the Pac-12 and the Big 12. Given Travis' penchant for the SEC, it doesn't seem like the best fit.
But it is Travis' history of controversial remarks that will raise eyebrows. This is a guy who once theorized that the most logical explanation in the Manti Te'o case was Te'o being gay, a guy who's held a boob draft (a draft of actual women's breasts, not a draft of idiots), and a guy who prompted James Franklin's controversial comments on coaches' wives needing to be conventionally attractive, so it's not like Travis only restricts himself to talking about what happens on the field. And he started as a FoxSports.com columnist last week with a controversial column about Urban Meyer. Oh, and he was the one who infamously asked Tim Tebow about his virginity at SEC media days.
All that aside, though, Travis is in some ways a Bill Simmonsesque figure in the college football world, and adding a nontraditional guy like Simmons worked out quite well for NBA Countdown, so perhaps this will be a successful gamble by Fox. Travis is highly polarizing, though, with as many detractors as he has fans, so it's going to be interesting to see how that ratio changes once he gets on TV. If Travis carries the same persona onto television that he has online and makes more questionable comments, it could turn out to be a Baylessian disaster for Fox. It's yet another unconventional move by Fox, but it's one that carries the potential to offend many more people than most of their hires so far.
Putting someone like Clay Travis on Fox is a big risk as he has a track record of ignoring the facts if they get in the way of a good story. I wish Fox the best of luck with this guy but my money says he gets them into a big lawsuit and they fire him.
Oh, and one more thing...here's the relevant commentary Fox (lets hope not) can get used to from someone not even close to sniffing the big leagues:
I rest my case.
Travis is a hack. A doucher that used the interwebs as a platform to be something he's really not. This opens the door and sets a bad precedent. What are his credentials? Some former lawyer who lives in SEC Country and wrote crap-ass articles for a bunch of lowly fan pages? Yep. The best "article" of his that comes to mind is the one of Les Miles at LSU...a Baton Rouge station did some special editing on purpose to make a point for THEIR post-game story on the LSU/Ole Miss blown finish and clock management issues a few seasons ago. Travis gleefully ran with it, writing a whole article blasting the coach and the game BASED ON THE EDITED FOOTAGE FROM THAT TELEVISION STATION. HE DIDN'T EVEN WATCH THE DAMN GAME. But, he stupidly used that video as "back-up" for his whole article. He very quickly removed the article when he was ripped in the comments section that is was FAKE. Come on Fox...you don't want to build a foundation on a hack like this. Seriously.
I don't know why FOX hired a guy who went to a school in a conference where they don't have TV rights it makes no sense to me. Unless they got this guy to be a lightning rod.
Erin is good at sideline reporting but hosting a studio show is a totally different animal. She's not good at it in my opinion, unless they can't find anyone else that can do it. Give Rece Davis or Chris Fowler any day of the week.
Someone told me this and I thought they were joking. He'll be thrown off quicker than Rush Limbaugh was on Countdown.
We are talking about the pre-game and post-game shows here, aren't we?
Pre-game shows are inane projects that help justify the enormous costs incurred by wanting to televise a sports event. They deliver very, very little.
Who is going to watch a post-game show when there is another game that has already started on another channel.
There are plenty of people that could do Clay's job, as well, so his critique of Andrews is a bit hollow. He's more Springer than he is Simmons. Not sure he's ready for TV though. I thought Andrews was good in her moments hosting on ESPN, however. She's well prepared and talented. She'll be fine.
Has Fox confirmed I find it too ridiculous to really believe. Guy goes from internet troll to a lead role with Fox? How the hell does that work?
clay travis is an idiot !!!so I guess that's makes fox1 stupid .what a way to start a sports network.
This is hard for me to believe. Andrews was poor in the hosting chair. Bringing in someone new to television, I don't think will help. His SEC ties make no sense on Fox and honestly what does he bring to the table? I don't really know anyone who is a fan of his.
I'll bite. I'm a journalist from an SEC school, and I enjoy Clay's columns. Thought provoking? Rarely. Entertaining? Often. I'll go as far as to say he had the best material on SEC expansion. I think he has the wit and love of college football to connect with a TV audience. He's not on Simmons level as a writer, but he's still a more interesting than most established college football columnists. Should he tone down some of the hot chick worship stuff? Probably, as a FOX employee. He and Andrews have friendly tweet conversations all the time, so I assume they're on good terms.
This could be a move that bites FOX in the ass. I mean if Clay Travis does anything stupid, I think he is canned and well we go back to square 1.
I think comparing this guy to Simmons is a bit of a stretch. It is clear that Travis would be a better fit on the shout-fest that is ESPN these days. It is sad to see FOX taking the easy way out by hiring this joke of a commentator. He does everything with a 'look at me attitude' and has yet to contribute anything substantial to the national discussion on any sport at all. Even the book he wrote was an exercise in going to games and partying. He offered nothing a college freshman with some extra cash could have done.
@Desert Elephant It sounds like he would enjoy working for ESPN.