As a former NFL journeyman, Mike Golic knows what it’s like to get dumped at a moment’s notice. Turns out, sports media can be just as cutthroat.
Golic’s decades-long tenure with ESPN ended this past year following the network’s decision to scrap Golic and Wingo, a short-lived experiment that couldn’t match the success of its predecessor, the universally beloved Mike and Mike. Even after Golic and Wingo met its demise last summer (that time slot is now occupied by Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin), Golic had hoped to continue working at ESPN, his on-air home since 1998, in some capacity. But rather than find a compromise, higher-ups decided it was time to put the radio vet out to pasture.
“I got cut from the Houston Oilers. I got cut from the Miami Dolphins. The reason was they didn’t want me anymore. It’s that simple. They didn’t feel I had worth to their team,” recalls Golic. “With ESPN, it was the same thing.”
After 20+ years on ESPN airwaves, Golic thought he at least deserved an explanation, though he never got one. “I said, ‘Why?’ The first response was, ‘We don’t have to tell you,” Golic relayed to Richard Deitsch of The Athletic. “Then it was, ‘We just felt it was time for a change.’”
Though Golic didn’t share quite the same chemistry with Trey Wingo as he did with Mike Greenberg (before their falling out), the show’s ultimate undoing was Wingo’s reluctance to work mornings. “It didn’t take long behind the scenes for Trey to let us know he didn’t like the mornings,” said Golic. “He said, ‘Listen, when this [his contract] is over, I just don’t like these hours.’ He was very forthright with [management]. Their end game for him was I guess, that’s it. You’re done here at ESPN.”
The final day of Golic and Wingo on July 31st was meant to be Golic’s ESPN sendoff, though the 58-year-old convinced the network to let him work college football games last fall. “They were just going to let me sit there for six months and collect a paycheck. I said, no, let me go and call college games,” said Golic, whose final broadcast occurred January 2nd at the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. “I love doing college. They were like, ‘Well, okay, I guess he wants to work, and he’s going to get paid anyway, so, yeah, we’ll have him do college games.’”
When it became clear that Wingo was ready to move on, Golic pitched the idea of continuing the show with his son Mike Jr. (who is still with ESPN) and frequent collaborator Jason Fitz. Obviously, that proposal never gained much traction with network heads. “I got a response back from one of them that said, ‘Thanks for your input.’ That was it,” said Golic, implying he would have taken a pay cut to stay on, though again, that opportunity was never presented. “When you’re there for as long as you are and all of a sudden it’s not even discussed to keep you there, yeah, that’s a blow to the ego. But that’s life.”
Golic has kept a relatively low profile since leaving Bristol, but is already percolating with ideas for his next, post-ESPN chapter. “I’m deciding between a couple of different podcasts, a couple of different college football things and something that I think will be a lot of fun. It’s not in the sports world, though it will involve some sports people,” teased Golic. “I should find out pretty soon.”