If you believe the reports, the era of Stephen A Smith debating Max Kellerman on ESPN’s “First Take” will soon be coming to an end, since the network wants to expand the role of Kellerman across more than one platform. That means the “First Take” co-host seat that Smith glares at every Monday through Friday will soon have a vacancy. This, however, does not mean that we can’t dream and speculate about who could or should take over for Kellerman and debate Stephen A. Smith next.
Media reporters were flooding social media with links to their story about how Max Kellerman won’t be leaving ESPN but will be reassigned from his duties on “First Take,” a job he has held for five years since replacing Skip Bayless. Those same reporters are saying that ESPN is not expected to hire a full-time co-host to work with Smith, whose believed to be the network’s highest paid employee, and instead choosing to have a revolving door of people come in and debate Smith.
I can see the good side to this idea from ESPN’s standpoint, because they will be able to bring in new faces to talk about the news of the day. Which keeps things fresh for the viewers who have seen Kellerman and Smith hit each other with the same clichés for years, while also maintaining Smith’s status as the star of the show to all who enter his domain. Where ESPN runs a risk is people who are “visiting” the First Take set may feel the need to make a name for themselves by checkmating the often “fact challenged” Smith, putting them in the position to make a better soundbite for social media to enjoy.
I truly hope that having different First Take hosts from day to day or even week to week will force Stephen A Smith to become better informed about sports and issues he doesn’t normally follow. I also hope the network will allow their guest speakers, regardless of if they are in-house or outside talent, to come in there and have a no-holds barred debate, and not try to protect Smith in any way. That’s because it has been clear that other than a few people with as high a profile as Smith, most people who have been on First Take, including the show’s host, are hesitant to challenge him even when they know by the end of the show their colleague will be in trouble with one group or another.
Let’s hope that ESPN will have a bigger studio in mind for First Take when it airs after Labor Day, because I want the network to bring in people that will challenge Stephen A Smith. Because only then will First Take be entertaining.