ESPN’s impending layoffs could mean the end of personalities whom sports fans have associated with the Worldwide Leader for decades.
ESPN insider Jim Miller, co-author of the 2011 tell-all book “Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN,” offered alarming insight into the extent of the company’s upcoming cuts on a Sports Illustrated Media podcast Thursday.
Miller said ESPN is expected to lay off 40 to 50 employees, including popular on-air talent, after it was reported the Disney subsidiary was looking to reduce its budget by hundreds of millions of dollars. He then dove further into the talent pool, naming those employees he believes are safe and those who are on the hot seat, based on a hypothetical TV schedule he sees in ESPN’s future.
According to Miller, these icons aren’t going anywhere: early-morning SportsCenter anchors Neil Everett and Stan Verrett, late-night anchor Scott Van Pelt, radio host Mike Greenberg, “First Take” host Stephen A. Smith & Co., new “SC6” anchors Jemele Hill and Michael Smith and, finally, “Around the Horn” and “Pardon the Interruption” mainstays.
On the flip side, ESPN veteran Mike Golic likely will find himself limited to radio when his breakup with Greenberg becomes official, Miller said. “Mike & Mike,” which ESPN has simulcast on TV since 2004, is expected to come to an end after 18 years on-air once Greenberg moves on to his new morning TV show. Trey Wingo and Mike Golic Jr. stand as the leading candidates to replace Greenberg.
“If you’re ESPN talent and you’re looking at a schedule that’s something like that, based on the commitments they’ve made, if you’re not on that, then you’re starting to feel a little shaky,” Miller said. “That’s not to say everyone else is gone, but I think those are the people that should take a deep breath, and those are the people that should feel immune.”
One timeless personality who didn’t make Miller’s list, but…