It’s fun to play the woulda, shoulda, coulda game in sports radio. What would have happened if Mike Francesa and Bill Simmons teamed up? Would it have worked? Should they have done it? Could it have been more successful than “Mike and the Mad Dog”?
Those questions will never be answered but when Simmons and Francesa teamed up on Monday, it was clear that there was chemistry and a shared respect. Those qualities helped make for an entertaining five and a half hour broadcast.
Newsday spoke to Francesa about working with Simmons, and the discussions that occurred in 2008 after Chris “Mad Dog” Russo left the show. Although it might have seemed like an odd fit at the time, Mike maintains it could have worked.
“A couple of people I trust who will remain nameless who didn’t even know Bill said, ‘Man, you were right about this guy, this would have worked really well.’ He would have been really good because he’s really good, that’s why. He has a lot of fresh stuff, and that’s what this is. What makes guys good at this is having personality but also having a real interesting take on things. That’s what cuts through.”
But how would two bulls with big egos have fit inside the same room? Francesa says anyone who’s worth anything usually has a high opinion of themselves.
“I’m sure there are people who think Bill Simmons is a big deal. I’m sure Bill does think he’s a big deal. Brent [Musburger] told me this many years ago, there’s no such thing as good talent that doesn’t have an ego. Every talent that’s worth anything has an ego.”
It’s well documented that Francesa plans to leave WFAN at the end of his contract in 2017. Some industry sources feel it’s a negotiating ploy. Others maintain this is the final swan song for Mike. Francesa once again addressed the situation on the air during his program with Simmons.
“[Don] Imus was quoted the other day saying it’s not going to happen. Guys have written stories saying that it’s a negotiating ploy. It’s not a negotiating ploy. We have not negotiated. We’re not negotiating. I never even considered anything from that standpoint,” said Francesa.
“I am leaving on that date. Nothing has changed. And I think the company has come to grips with that now. I think they understand that.”
If it is indeed the end of the road for Mike, the questions that will soon follow are, how will the radio station sendoff it’s biggest star? Francesa mentioned that a few things have already been planned.
“I’m going to the Super Bowl next year; I’ve already agreed to do that. That’s one thing they asked me to do and I already said yes,” said Francesa. “There might be a couple of stops that we make that will be considered. There are already some [remotes] on the map booked that we’re going to do, but it’s not like we’re going to do a stop every week.”
When asked who should replace him, Mike says the midday show deserves consideration but it’s not his call to make. He also pointed out that his former partner Chris “Mad Dog” Russo is no longer an option.
“Once Dog [Chris Russo] took himself out of it, which he has, I think the midday guys should get the first crack,” he added. “It’s not my place, and I don’t know what Joe’s future is. Joe’s older than I am, so he might have a different plan, but I think Evan, obviously, has earned that right. I don’t expect to have anything to say on how they’re going to do it. I don’t expect to, nor do I think I deserve it.”