This story got several mentions last week.
Paul Finebaum’s, of the SEC Network, contract expires before football season.
ESPN has not renewed his contract as of yet, and he’s threatening to walk. He’s also stated that he will not be at SEC Media Days in Atlanta (it begins on Mon, July 16th) if ESPN does not finish up his contract.
Clay Travis at Outkick.com has reported the most information on the situation, stating it’s just another point in the ever-growing list of problems the SEC has had with ESPN since starting the SEC Network.
Apparently former ESPN president, John Skipper, told former SEC Commissioner Mike Slive (RIP) that ESPN would never partner with another conference to do a network… but then they went and announced the ACC Network just a few years later.
The SEC has told ESPN to get the Finebaum contract done… but one of the issues that Outkick did NOT report on is something that SECCountry.com brought up in one of their last pieces (their final day of publishing content was June 30th.)
Andrew Astleford reported that a source close to the popular college football commentator said a possible relocation to the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta for the analyst’s show “could be a major renegotiation sticking point.”
Finebaum, and ESPN’s college football universe, descended upon Atlanta for the CFP National Championship game between Alabama and Georgia, and Finebaum’s show was broadcast from the College Football Hall of Fame on January 5th.
A source close to Finebaum said “Basically, he’s on an island in Charlotte. It’s pro country, NASCAR country and ACC country. No ability to cultivate his sources. It makes a lot of sense to go to Atlanta. A lot of the advertisers [in Atlanta] want it, the city leaders want it, the Hall of Fame wants it.
“It makes a lot of sense, and I know the Hall of Fame already has technology and the wiring [in place].”
Amanda Brooks, an ESPN spokeswoman based in Charlotte, wrote in an email to SEC Country that the network has no interest in relocating The Paul Finebaum Show to Atlanta.
“It’s a baseless rumor,” Brooks wrote, “and we have no intention of moving the show.”
However, the source close to Finebaum said the show moving to the College Football Hall of Fame would be beneficial to the host and his current employer.
“It adds value all the way around,” the source said. “I can see it really not only giving the SEC Network a lift, but ESPN’s overall investment in college football a lift. And if they don’t want to do it, I know there are a lot of social media companies that are eager to talk to Paul about his market value.
“Certainly, he’s going to have some other options.”
To me, Finebaum provides all kinds of content to the SEC Network. He’s basically the face of the channel – he’s a co-host on SEC Nation every Saturday morning, he hosts a 4 hour show every day, he sometimes does a full hour on ESPN2 before his own show starts, and he’s a frequent guest on other ESPN programming.
And he’s one of the few ESPN employees that does not discuss politics during his show.
He sticks to sports, and it works out well for him.
I don’t believe ESPN should be willing to let Finebaum leave for another platform. Finebaum is the SEC, and the SEC Network should be his home.