Skip Bayless is one of the most well known sports analysts in the American sports media. He is very (in)famous for his outlandish takes when it comes to players like LeBron James and Tim Tebow. He has had a very long and distinguished career in the world of sports media. Let’s find out more about this extremely entertaining sports media personality.

Skip Bayless: All You Need to Know

When was Skip Bayless born?

Skip Bayless was born on December 4th, 1951 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “Skip” isn’t the official first name of Skip Bayless, he was born John Edward Bayless II. However, soon after his birth, his father started calling him “Skip”. The name stuck with him and his parents never called him John. Eventually, Skip Bayless went on to get his name legally changed to Skip. Skip Bayless’ parents owned and operated the Hickory House restaurant in Oklahoma City, which specialized in barbecue. Bayless worked for the restaurant in his youth, but never considered it as a career path. His younger brother Rick Bayless carried on the family tradition and went on to become a chef, restaurateur and tv personality. Skip Bayless also has a younger sister but not a lot is known about her.

How did Skip Bayless start his career in sports?

Bayless’s interest in sports began at an early age and he played baseball and basketball. Bayless was the salutatorian of Northwest Classen’s class of 1970. He was also a politician within the letterman’s club. At the urging of his English teachers, Bayless became the first sports columnist for the varsity newspaper in his junior and senior years. Before his senior year, Bayless represented Northwest Classen at Oklahoma Boys State. Upon graduation, he was awarded the Grantland Rice Scholarship (named for the sportswriter of an equivalent name) to attend Vanderbilt University (Rice’s alma mater). While at Vanderbilt, he majored in English and history. He graduated from university with honors in 1974. He was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, serving two years at the position of the chapter’s “rho” (sports director). He was also the newspaper editor of The Hustler, the university’s student newspaper, and spent the summer of 1969 interning under newspaper editor Frank Boggs at The Daily Oklahoman.

Skip Bayless: Journalism Career

Print Media

Bayless went directly from Vanderbilt to The Miami Herald, where he wrote sports features for almost two years. He started writing for the LA Times in August 1976. There, he was best known for investigative stories on the Dodgers’ clubhouse resentment of “golden boy” Steve Garvey and his celebrity wife Cyndy, and on Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom’s behind-the-scenes decisions to start out different quarterbacks every single week. In 1977, Skip Bayless was the recipient of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Newspaper Writing for his coverage of Seattle Slew’s Triple Crown victory.

At 26, Bayless was hired by The Dallas Morning News to write its lead sports column, and three years later, he joined the Dallas Times Herald. This caught the eye of The Wall Street Journal, prompting the paper to try a story on the event. Bayless was voted Texas sportswriter of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association three times (1979, 1984 and 1986).

Skip Bayless published his first book in 1989. It was called God’s Coach: The Hymns, Hype and Hypocrisy of Tom Landry’s Cowboys. The book was about the rise and fall of legendary coach Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys. Following the Cowboys’ Super Bowl victory in 1993, Bayless wrote The Boys: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys’ Season on the sting, and following the third Cowboys Super Bowl win in four seasons, Bayless wrote a 3rd book about the Cowboys, Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the “Win or Else” Dallas Cowboys. Hell-Bent led to a lot of controversies. It chronicled the conflict between Cowboys coach Barry Switzer and star quarterback Troy Aikman. Skip Bayless reported on speculation by Switzer and other people within the Dallas organization that Aikman was gay.

Skip Bayless left Dallas after a 17 year career in 1998 and started writing for the Chicago Tribune. He didn’t miss a beat because of the change. In his first year in Chicago, Bayless won the Lisagor Award for excellence in sports column writing, presented by the Chicago Headline Club (the Chicago chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists). The National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association selected Skip Bayless as the Illinois sportswriter of the year in 2000. A year later, Skip Bayless departed from the Chicago Tribune.

Bayless’s work has also appeared in various national sports publications, including Sports Illustrated.

Radio

In 1991, Bayless began a two-year stint hosting a sports talk radio show from 6–8 PM Monday through Friday for Dallas station KLIF. In 1994, he became one among the first investors within the Fort Worth station KTCK (“the Ticket”), and hosted The Skip Bayless Show from 6–9 AM weekdays from 1994–96. In 1996, the first owners sold the station to Cumulus Media, which bought out Bayless’ contract. Also within the mid-1990s, he was a frequent guest on ESPN Radio’s first national weekday show, The Fabulous Sports Babe. In 2001, he became the first guest host of the syndicated radio program, The Jim Rome Show. Pretty soon, Skip Bayless was co-hosting an ESPN Radio weekend show with former SportsCenter host Larry Bell. He continued doing so until 2004 when he moved full-time into a television role.

Television

In 1989, Bayless joined host Dick Schaap as a panelist on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, and over the subsequent decade, he was a daily on the Sunday morning show. In 1992, Bayless became a member of the first debate team on NFL Prime Monday’s “Knights of the Roundtable” segments with Mitch Albom and Michael Wilbon.

In 1999 and 2000, he provided commentary for the Golf Channel from the main golf championships.

Between 2001 and 2002, Bayless was a regular on Jim Rome’s show on Fox Sports Net, The Last Word. He also made frequent appearances around the same time on Fox’s the simplest Damn Sports Show Period. After Rome switched networks and moved to ESPN in 2003, Bayless became a fixture on Rome is Burning. He was also featured during a weekly Sunday morning SportsCenter debate segment with Stephen A. Smith, “Old School/Nu Skool”.

ESPN hired Bayless full-time in 2004 to team with Woody Paige of The Denver Post in daily debate segments called “1st and 10” on ESPN2’s Cold Pizza, and to write columns for ESPN.com. In May 2007, the show, which had been produced by ESPN’s New York City based studios, was rebranded as First Take and production was moved to the network’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut. Around this point , Bayless stopped writing for ESPN.com until August 2012.

Movies

Skip Bayless had a cameo in the 2006 movie Rocky Balboa. He appeared alongside his ESPN co-workers Woody Paige and Jay Crawford. The trio enacted their “First and 10” segment discussing a possible fight between a retired Balboa and current heavyweight champion Mason Dixon. In typical Skip Bayless fashion, he mocked Balboa for his age and called him overrated.

He appeared in the 2010 ESPN 30 for 30 film, Pony Excess, about the Southern Methodist University football scandal involving gross violations of NCAA rules and regulations. Bayless covered the Mustangs while writing for both The Dallas Morning News as well as the Dallas Times Herald. He also appeared in the 2011 ESPNU documentary, Herschel, about University of Georgia running back Herschel Walker.

When did Skip Bayless start Undisputed with Skip and Shannon?

On April 26, 2016, it was reported that Bayless had parted ways with ESPN, and would be moving to Fox Sports after his contract expired in August. His final appearance on First Take was on June 21, 2016. Bayless debuted Skip and Shannon: Undisputed along with NFL Hall of Fame Tight End Shannon Sharpe September 2016 on Fox Sports 1.

Skip Bayless is known for criticizing superstars  LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers both in First Take and Skip and Shannon: Undisputed. Bayless was criticized for remarks he made on September 10, 2020 about Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, such as saying that Prescott’s statements about suffering from depression were a sign of “weakness”.

Skip Bayless is also famous for following a strict diet and exercise regimen where he works out regularly and eats rice, broccoli and chicken most of the time.

Skip Bayless was selected to the Oklahoma City Wall of Fame in 2008 as an outstanding alumnus of the Oklahoma City public school system. In 2009, he was inducted as one of the five members of the inaugural class of the Vanderbilt Student Media Hall of Fame. In 2012, he received two honors: he was nominated for a Sports Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Sports Personality, Studio Analyst. He also won the Webby People’s Voice Award in the category of Video Remixes/Mashups with DJ Steve Porter for the track “All he Does in Win”. The track was a mashup of clips of Bayless passionately defending oft-maligned quarterback Tim Tebow.

How did Skip Bayless’ LeBron James obsession start?

Here’s what Skip Bayless said to Lebron James during the late 2000s:

“Dear LeBron … never have I seen a player with zero rings heap more pressure on himself by acting more brazenly cocky about how he’s going to go win this championship. You dance during blowouts, you flex, you snap pictures before games … it’s as if you’re going to have the ring ceremony before Sunday’s Game 1 vs. Pistons. You have now hit one walkoff jumper in six NBA seasons — Jordan did that every other week. So now it’s time to start showing us what you’ve got. No more excuses. Back it up, and you will be King.”

How did Skip Bayless become so famous?

A YouTube video explained this very well. Here’s an excerpt from the video:

“Skip Crushes Allen Iverson for not being a team player and says the AI-Melo duo will never work. In a response video, AI claims Skip motives him more than anybody else on the planet. Skip laughs, says AI has lost all perspective and can’t contribute to a winning team. Invites him to come onto the show.  Allen Iverson, the dude who openly talks about how much he doesn’t care about team practices… can’t get over some comments Bayless has made. 

Fast forward a few years: Skip has repeatedly called Chris Bosh “Bosh Spice” for playing “soft” with the Heat. Bosh is so annoyed he comes onto first take, like an adult, and explains that he takes pride in his family name and resorting to name calling isn’t real analysis. It’s a cheap shot Skip looks him in the eyes, takes a deep breath, goes on a tirade about how he is a soft player and he won’t stop unless Bosh plays tougher. Bosh admits Skip motivates him.

That’s our first hint. He’s popular because he gets in feuds with pro athletes. Then they go on the show – like Richard Sherman did – to confront him for his ridiculous claims. 

It doesn’t stop with Athletes either – Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban, wearing a Smurfs shirt, went on first take and annihilated him for not even knowing the basics of how a zone defense works.”

Even though Skip Bayless has covered sports for many decades, his approach on television seems to be more emotionally driven. Mark Cuban exposed that in this video.

Skip Bayless’ arguments tend to be anecdotal and opinion based with cherry picked stats. While it might not be accurate or scientific, it makes for great entertainment. 

But why learn about double elevator screens, horns offensive sets, nickel and dime defences, and the intricacies of Spider Y 2 Banana when you can argue about Jordan vs. Lebron? There is room in Sportscenter for play breakdowns where fans can learn more about what is going on when their favorite teams are playing – but not for two hours. Even if it’s a fun subject that turns into school quickly. That’s where analysts like Skip Bayless come into the fray. Their entertaining nature makes them immensely watchable. News and stats can get boring if they are repeated over two hours. People don’t want to hear about defensive win shares, quarterback ratings and player efficiency ratings for two hours. Skip Bayless’ appeal in this landscape where sports analysis has also become entertaining, is explained very well by YouTuber David Ferguson:

“A lot of people can’t stand Skip but honestly I love the guy. He’s the face/voice for the “not so public opinion” and what a lot of people don’t understand is that his job isn’t to be a likeable character, his job is to be entertaining and he is that. There’s people you hate, and then there’s people who you just love to hate and that’s Skip. Not to mention he owned this debate, balls deep in an ice bath, while a man half his age made us all laugh to take focus off the fact the old man straight took his man card and slapped him with it (No hate, I love Kevin Hart too.) And aside from everything else the dude worked his way up from the average paper reporter to be one of the faces of sports and still has that 3 hours of sleep, run 2 miles at 2 am, work ethic that guys much younger than him couldn’t possibly compete with. Skip’s one of those guys that is “so hated” but when his time on earth is up people will appreciate him in his absence. Without him, Shannon, and Stephen A these sports shows would be as entertaining as the today show. Sorry to rant but someone has to give him his props.”


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