Tuesday was the big debut for former ESPN First Take staple Skip Bayless on his new show Undisputed on Fox Sports 1. Bayless began at ESPN in 2004 and left earlier this year when former ESPN Vice President, Original Programming, and Production, Jamie Horowitz offered him a deal worth $ 22 million over four years with a signing bonus of $ 4 million, according to news reports.
From a reliable source: Fox Sports is paying Skip Bayless in neighborhood of $ 5.5 million per for four years, plus a $ 4M signing bonus.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) April 28, 2016
Horowitz, who now serves as the President of FOX Sports National Networks, had a large hand in developing First Take along with Olbermann, Numbers Never Lie, and SportsNation. During their time together working on First Take, Horowitz and Bayless formed a great relationship which resulted in FOX going hard after Skip prior to his contract ending with ESPN in August.
Unfortunately, the first episode of Undisputed looked an awful lot like a copy of First Take as Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe discussed Tim Tebow and his potential career in MLB, LeBron James and his alleged absent clutch gene, and Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys. All three topics were major topics over the years for First Take and ones that Bayless has talked about on end.
While the first show may not have provided any sort of exciting or original content, there were fireworks away from the television.
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Hall of Famer Troy Aikman isn’t a big fan of Skip Bayless and for good reason. Bayless spent 17 years as a columnist for The Dallas Morning News and in 1995, he released his third book titled, Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the “Win or Else” Dallas Cowboys.
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) September 6, 2016
In the book, Skip made some unsubstantiated claims about Aikman being gay. The speculation reportedly came from head coach Barry Switzer and some others within the Cowboys’ organization, but there ended up being no truth to the rumors and Aikman still fumes about it to this day.
Back in 2011, Aikman spoke about the issue during a radio interview and he didn’t mince words about his problems with Bayless.
“I will tell you this,” Aikman said on 1310 The Ticket, via the Dallas Morning News. “I’ve not seen — I’ve not physically seen Skip Bayless since that time. That was in ’95. And I still kind of wonder what I might do to him when I do see him.”
The radio host then asked Troy if he thought the altercation would become physical.
“Well, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know.”
With Bayless’ show debuting on Tuesday, Aikman unloaded once again on his new FOX Sports colleague.
“To say I’m disappointed in the hiring of Skip Bayless would be an enormous understatement,” Aikman told Sports Illustrated. “Clearly, [Fox Sports president of national networks] Jamie Horowitz and I have a difference of opinion when it comes to building a successful organization. I believe success is achieved by acquiring and developing talented, respected, and credible individuals, none of which applies to Skip Bayless.”
Hey, Troy Aikman – what are your thoughts on Skip Bayless????? pic.twitter.com/dGCAzyVJCO
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) September 6, 2016
Aikman has every right to be angry at Bayless and it would be understandable if he never spoke to the man again. That being said, the timing of these quotes may actually end up helping Skip instead of hurting him. If you think about it, with the show itself not providing much excitement this morning, what better way to get people talking or bring publicity to the show than to have Aikman’s quotes come out at the same time?
Now viewers may be tuning in on Wednesday morning to find out if Skip Bayless will offer Troy Aikman an apology or if he’ll even address the issue at all. Obviously, it was probably Sports Illustrated’s call of when to release Aikman’s quotes, but either way, it doesn’t seem like it will have the desired effect.[Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images]