ESPN said today that its popular radio and TV host Colin Cowherd is leaving the network, marking the third high-profile exit from the Worldwide Leader in two months. James Andrew Miller, who wrote the 2011 oral history of ESPN, tweeted that Cowherd will be joining Fox Sports, but neither network has confirmed that. No timeline was announced for his departure, though reports say it will be before the end of his current contract.
“We’ve enjoyed a mutually beneficial run with Colin for over a decade,” ESPN President John Skipper said in a statement this morning. “He came to national prominence on ESPN with his unique perspective on sports and society. Endings also bring new beginnings, for ESPN and Colin, and we thank him and wish him the best.”
News of Cowherd’s pending exit comes eight days after ESPN announced that it won’t renew the contract of Keith Olbermann, who hosts an eponymous nightly show on ESPN2. Just a week before, ESPN was dodging reports that it wanted the outspoken Olbermann to rein in his on-air commentary. And back in May, the company parted ways with Bill Simmons, who founded the Grantland site and was a popular fixture on TV and online. That split came eight months after Simmons was suspended for comments he made in a podcast that were critical of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. ESPN, of course, airs the league’s primetime stalwart Monday Night Football.
Cowherd since 2003 has hosted The Herd, a popular morning show on ESPN Radio. He also appears on the sports giant’s TV programming, including as co-host of SportsNation, whose three-year run on ESPN2 ended in 2012. Like Olbermann, the sports-media veteran offers thoughtful and often contrarian takes on stories on and off the field. Also like Olbermann, he often is snarky and not quite as funny as he thinks he is.
If true, a move to Fox Sports would make sense for Cowherd. The company’s president is Jamie Horowitz, who worked closely with Cowherd while working as a producer at ESPN. The network morning radio slot wouldn’t appear to be in play, however; it’s held by Dan Patrick, the former longtime ESPN host who famously was paired with Olbermann on its signature program SportsCenter — and with whom Cowherd had a testy Twitter feud over work ethics earlier this year.