Hill & Schlereth... or is it Schlereth & Hill? Whatever the case, the random pairing of SportsCenter anchor Mike Hill and NFL analyst Mark Schlereth are debuting tonight on ESPN Radio as the new primetime show weeknights from 7PM-10PM. There's a fancy video up on ESPN's PR propaganda website blog introducing listeners to the new pairing.
Great, so from what I gathered from that video the show will be part barber shop, part Alaskan fishing trip. For some reason, the decision makers at ESPN Radio have decided their latest offereing absolutely has to fit into the mold of Mike & Mike by combining one ex-jock with one non-descript anchor. Another "Odd Couple" premise, how original! But, can Hill & Schlereth develop the chemistry of Greeny & Golic? Who knows. Mike & Mike isn't the gold standard of sports radio by any stretch. But, they've been a success by appealing to a broad range of sports fans, even if their old, campy schtick and vanilla opinions doesn't motivate most passionate sports fans.
So why would this pairing of Hill & Schlereth succeed in replicating the formula? Personally, I find Mark Schlereth to be one notch below Trent Dilfer on the totem pole amongst ESPN analysts. Schlereth is barely tolerable when he's talking NFL on TV or making appearances on ESPN Radio. Will anyone nationally want to listen to his inflated views and ill-informed opinions for three hours? Can he talk about anything besides football and his son's baseball career? Mike Hill has actually impressed me when I've heard him on ESPN Radio on SportsCenter in the evenings, but why saddle him by making him play second fiddle to Schlereth?
On a larger scale, Hill & Schlereth could be doomed to be another bland radio copycat. For once, ESPN had a chance to be bold and develop a new Dan Patrick or Scott Van Pelt. Instead, they've decided to go to an overused formula once again. The new pairing likely won't be able to fill the intelligent shoes of Brian Kenny, who left his primetime radio show and ESPN as a whole to go to MLB Network. But, I'm sure it will be heavy on formulaic jokes and hijinx centered around the kooky chemistry between a washed up athlete and a hip sports anchor...