Monday March 9th, 2015

Next Sunday at 9:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1, Katie Nolan begins a journey that few, if any, have survived on sports television. She will attempt to blend sports and comedy on the same show. How has that mixture generally fared for hosts? About as well as the final scene did for the characters of Reservoir Dogs.

If the name isn’t familiar, some background: The 28-year-old Nolan first received notice doing videos for Guyism.com, which led to a role on the now-defunct Fox Sports 1 daily show, Crowd Goes Wild. Since that show’s cancellation, Nolan has hosted a popular online series for Fox Sports.com called No Filter, where she offers opinions on the sports news of the week. One of those videos, a commentary on the role women played in sports media in the aftermath of the Ray Rice domestic abuse incident, resonated in the sports blogosphere and at last check had 350,000 views. I recommend viewing it.

More Sports
Panel: Young women in sports journalism share their experiences

Fox Sports executives have wanted to find something on linear television for Nolan, but one of the complications has been she is New York City-based while Fox Sports 1’s studios are located in Los Angeles. Another subplot, and a rather crazy one at that, was a report last month from The Big Lead website that ESPN unsuccessfully attempted to hire Nolan for its Grantland site as part of trade that would have given Fox rights to negotiate with soccer announcer Ian Darke and reporter Marty Smith.

Don’t dismiss the report. First, Simmons confirmed his interest during a a podcast he hosted with Nolan as a guest. I’ve also been told by sources that the proposed deal ultimately ended up being Nolan for Smith straight up before ESPN top management killed it at a late hour. On Sunday, ESPN declined to make an executive available to talk about any potential deal.

With the proposed trade in the rearview mirror, Fox Sports has now committed to Garbage Time With Katie Nolan, a weekly Sunday night show featuring Nolan as a solo host. Fox Sports management said the show will have a 20-episode run at the start and full episodes will be posted the next day on FoxSports.com, YouTube and the Fox Sports’ social media channels. Last week (with Fox Sports PR staffer Valerie Krebs sitting in on the call) I spoke with Nolan for 42 minutes on a variety of topics.

SI.com: How concerned should Game of Thrones be now that you are on Sunday night?

Nolan: I would say pretty concerned. But I feel Game of Thrones will get the live watch and then my show gets the DVR watch because Game of Thrones doesn't have commercials. But they should not ignore me. Winter is coming.

How did Garbage Time come about?

I think it was a combination of Crowd Goes Wild getting canceled, me being still under contract with the network and trying to find something for me to do. I have been doing No Filter and Internet stuff now for a couple of months and I am in New York and the rest of our network is in LA, so if they wanted to use me for something, they had to fly me out to L.A. It was trying to find something I could do out here that would work, and I have been wanting to do something similar to this for quite some time

So how does this work: Do you pitch an idea for a show to your bosses, or does someone at Fox Sports say we have an idea for a vehicle for you?

I work out of Embassy Row which is where Men In Blazers shoots, and they have been hosting me during this interim of “until we find something for Katie.” The idea for the show I think came from me talking to my producers  here, and then them pitching it to Fox. I don’t actually know. I should probably know. But it didn’t come from Fox down. It came from us to Fox.

Indeed, your executive producer is Michael Davies, who is part of the Men in Blazers duo. Do you find that you must use easier words to communicate when working with a British producer?

I try to limit my time with Michael Davies to as little as possible per week and he is pretty good with that since he has a bazillion things to do. When I do see him, I try not to talk about dental work or anything like that because I know the Brits get very sensitive.

Are you more of an English Premier League fan from being around those guys?

I have started to hate it more because I have to share my studio, which is already the size of a closet, with that show. So half of their stuff is in my way and it is all EPL stuff. I have started to loathe the league through no fault of its own, just because the s--- is always in my way.

That is quite an endorsement for English soccer. How would you describe what Garbage Time will be for viewers?

This is tough because you think I would have a pitch down by now.

NBA
Healthy again, TNT's Craig Sager ready to get back to the sidelines

Honestly, you should have talking points with bullets.

I know. Fox Sports PR did not give me that. I would say to describe it to a viewer: It is going to be really weird and different and fun and funny. That is the main goal. But it will be interesting and smart. I feel like shows so often have to answer “Are you a comedy?” or “Are you a serious journalistic show?" Or this or that. People aren’t like that. You are not just a funny person or just a journalist. Most people are hybrids of having a smart opinion and a great sense of humor. So the show will sort of be that.

There will be social topics that are impacted or affected by sports, and broader sports topic conversations. There will also be straight up monologue jokes; that is how we will start the show, with headlines and punch lines. Then we will have silly stuff like we did on No Filter. There will also be field pieces where I go to places and have conversations with people in all these sports environments. Hopefully, there will be celebrity guests and we have a few booked. It will be a mishmash of things I find interesting, and I think a lot of people find interesting as well.

Will the show have any regular guests, and specifically Fox Sports 1 talent?

This is one of those things we have to figure out as we go along, but there is one segment of the show that is me and another person having a panel discussion like you might see on another show. Not an argument but just a conversation, laid back, like a podcast. The goal for that is to have a running list of 10 to 15 people within the industry who always come back and join me.

If you show becomes a success, how quickly will Fox Sports Live hosts Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole beg to be on it?

I think if my show becomes a success, Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole will take over my show and I won’t have a show anymore. It will be Garbage Time with Jay and Dan. Or they will call it Rubbish Time because they are Canadian.

Has Fox management said what they consider success for the show?

That’s a good question. I have had a couple of conversations with them, some of those being about engagement and measuring success a different way because we are doing sort of this cross-platform idea. The show is going to be available online. So the conversation we had is that it will be measured a little bit differently because it is kind of being treated more as a digital show as opposed to viewership and TV ratings. I think also it will be measured on its growth and on its ability to become something bigger or not just stay at one note.

What is the over/under on you answering questions about nearly working for Bill Simmons?

The over/under is 0.5.

More Sports
Where does the ESPN-Bill Simmons relationship go from here?

​​So I’ll ask let’s say 10. Would Grantland have been a good fit for you?

I have no way of knowing.

How close, in your mind, were you to working at ESPN?

I didn’t at any point think that would happen. You know I probably know nothing about this. They keep us in the dark with contract stuff.

Can I say respectfully that I feel like you are too bright not to know what is going on with interest in you at a different network?

I appreciate you saying that. I am not going to say I have never spoken with Bill Simmons because I have. I respect him greatly. Also, thank you for saying I am too smart. I am too scared and always worried that somehow I am going to violate a contract because I have never been in one before. So when my agent said to me: “This is a thing that may be happening or a conversation that we may be having and we are not going to tell you about it because the more you know, the more trouble you can get in. So just trust us and we will handle everything and we will update you if there is anything you need to know.” That’s what I got from all of it. So when the article came out about a trade, it was very interesting news to me. I can’t confirm or deny but if it is true, it is a pretty cool story.

Would you trade you for Marty Smith?

(laughs). You know I am not going to answer that.

Even though contractually he’d have to likely turn you down, could you invite Marty Smith on as a guest just for fun?

I could try. I think we might reach out to Ian Darke.

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

Is there anything in your contract relatable to what rock stars ask for in their dressing room before a concert?

No, and there should be. I just found out that someone I work with has it in their contract that every time they take an Uber it is paid for by the company. I was pissed that I didn’t think of it. When I review my contract, it is to make sure that I am not going to get in trouble or not paid. Then afterward people say did you make sure they gave you a green room and I’m like, “No, I didn’t get any of the cool stuff.” Next contract I swear I will put in good stuff.

What has the bigger budget: Garbage Time, or what Bill Simmons will pay for dinner tonight?

(laughs). It depends on what Simmons is having. I would say it is closer to even than it should be.

Does Garbage Time have a specific number of weeks that it will run?

Forever. Indefinitely.

That’s incredible.

In perpetuity. From now till forever.

That has to be the longest contract in Fox Sports history.

It’s pretty awesome.

How will you approach straddling those who enjoy your content on the web and the sports television world which might have more conservative sports viewers than those who view No Filter?

I don’t think I have broken down that far and that is not to say I should or should not. Wait, maybe I have broken it down that far. Because as we think about what show we are going to make and talk about segment ideas and when we are writing bits, I am always thinking about my audience that I have and the people who have supported me and come to YouTube. Those are the people I think of when I think, “Will this work?” I’m not usually thinking, “Will this work for somebody who has never seen me before?”

But you do keep in the back of your mind, “Will this work for someone who has ever seen me before because I don’t want to alienate anyone.” It is a new space and you can’t just take an Internet show and put on television. You do have to adapt in little, subtle ways so you don’t lose your audience that you have but also you don’t confuse an audience that has never seen you before. I don’t want anyone to think: “O.K., she has a TV show now and she does nothing like we are used to seeing her do and like what even is this?” Or it was better when it was just on the Internet. I think the fact that the episodes are available online will help get those people accustomed. That can maybe help with the transition. We are trying to be as cross-platform as possible. I know everyone is trying to be cross-platform, but my goal is to naturally be cross-platform without saying “We are an Internet show but we are also a TV show” and shove that down everyone’s throat.

Who is your ideal guest?

Rob Ryan.

Rob Ryan, brother of Rex, the NFL defensive coordinator?

You don’t know that I have a running love for him?

Well, he doesn’t seem like a hard guy to get.

You would think so, but he is busy eating and he’s far away. We don’t have the budget to fly anyone in and put them up at a hotel. We have to find people who are in New York and ask them if they have space in their schedule and tell them we’d love them to come by.

More Sports
A call to give Dick Vitale one more Duke-North Carolina game

"Women in sports television are allowed to read headlines, patrol sidelines and generally facilitate conversation for their male colleagues. Sometimes, they even let us monitor the Internet from a couch. And while the Stephen A. Smith’s, Mike Francesa’s, Dan Patrick’s and Keith Olbermann’s of the world get to weigh in on the issues of the day, we just smile and throw to commercial.” Those were your words.

Oh, really?

Yes. My question for you is can your show break through the existing sports television archetype that male bosses in sports television have created for women?

Let me start by saying the show is not an answer to that video and the question that I posed. A lot of people in the conversation around that video were like “She just wants her own show.” I didn’t do press after making that video because I didn’t want people to think it was about me because it wasn’t. It was about women in general, women getting a seat at the table. I don’t mean me because if you put me at the table and you want me to talk X’s and O’s or if a team should run a bubble screen, I am not going to chime in on that because that is not my area of expertise. I am more about entertaining and making people laugh and bringing the fun out of sports. There are women out there who can talk X’s and O’s in the same way a man could and those women should have a seat at the table.

Just to answer your question in a very roundabout way, I am cautious about saying my TV show is a breakthrough because that is not the purpose of it. I don’t want it to be heralded as a show for women, by a woman. It is. I have always wanted to do this, always wanted to make people laugh and I have a lot of things I have to break through and not even the role of a women traditionally in sports media but also historically, sports and comedy do not do so well. We also have to break through fan biases and reach a bunch of people who have different tastes and preferences in terms of teams and sports. There are enough hurdles to jump that I don’t like to look it at as "Can your show break the mold?" But if that is something that happens because of the way we are doing the show we want to, if I make a show that I really love and it ends up making some sort of a difference in some grand scheme of things, that would be fantastic and I would love that. But it is not my No. 1 goal in making this show.

You previously told your Sports Illustrated chronicler Jack Dickey that you were a really good bartender?

I am.

How do you know?

I am very confident that I make good drinks. I have gotten good feedback on my drinks and I can make them very fast, which was all that mattered when you bartended in a college town.

What’s the hardest drink to make?

I would say not because of difficulty but a Manhattan or a martini just because people are so particular about how they like theirs that if you are off by a drop by their standards, it is seen as the worst drink.

How close is the movie Cocktail to real-life bartending?

I have never seen the movie Cocktail. Don’t get mad at me.

How is that possible? That’s like being a fighter pilot and never watching Top Gun.

I heard that it doesn’t hold up to the test of time, that seeing Cocktail is one of those things you watch just because you haven’t seen it. But then if you go back and watch it, it is "I wasted two hours of my life."

Who is the most famous person you ever made a drink for?

I don’t think anyone because I always worked … oh, wait, Mr. Dennis Haskins. I had a guest bartending shift in New York City at a bar called Turtle Bay and he was there to get college kids to come in I guess.

In the future, should that answer not be Fox Sports president Eric Shanks?

I have never made Eric Shanks a drink.

More Sports
Bill Walton on his TV antics, the Grateful Dead and more; Media Circus

I could have guessed that, but I just wanted to drop his name in the piece. Cheap on my part, but I appreciate you answering. On a serious note, the Ray Rice/Roger Goodell video that you did that I asked you about earlier touched a nerve with people. Or maybe the better word is resonated. Last I looked it had 350,000 views. Why do you think that commentary had such an impact?

I wish I knew. To give you a back story on it, it was one of those stories I heard about, I have an opinion about it, but I say to myself: “This isn’t in the vein of what you do.” You can’t just come out and say, “I’m going to chime in about Ray Rice," like apropos of nothing. I’m not going to have a serious conversation, alone, because I don’t have the opportunity to have conversations in No Filter. So I could not just have a conversation alone about a topic like that. But then the videotape come out and there’s all these other layers. I’m watching SportsCenter and Fox Sports Live and watching everyone talk about it. I’m like, “I have things to say. I have things to say.” But I didn’t want to just be another voice saying the same stuff. It just didn’t make sense for what I do. So then if I was going to say something, I have to say something different that takes a broader look at the effect of this kind of story.

So over the days of watching all those sports shows, I noticed the trend of, “Why does a woman keep asking the man what he thinks?" She should be able to say what she thinks. It is very important for there to be equal parts of the conversation. Then I got to thinking how the media’s job is to hold the leagues' accountable for the things they do but how we can be yelling at someone for what they are doing if we are not doing it ourselves. It sort of became the angle we went with and it probably resonated because at that point I think people were probably exhausted with talking about their opinion on Ray Rice and then they saw this as sort of a different angle. That is my best guess. That it was a conversation about the conversation about Ray Rice.

Because of the content of that video, was that one you had to show Fox Sports executive ahead of time?

I have to show them everything. Everything at No Filter had to get signed off on Fox Sports before it aired.

Well, I credit them for airing that given it was media criticism.

Normally if we are doing something where I think Fox won’t like it, I will email them the concept and ask them to sign off on it before I write it because I don’t want to spend all my time writing it and then having it not go anywhere. But this one I didn’t email them ahead of time. We just did and then we were going to see how it went. I sent it over and it was a couple of hours of waiting and thinking, “This whole day was for nothing.” Then, amazingly, I got a call from Pete Vlastelica, my boss, head of digital. He said, “Well, this is something and we are going to go with it.” I was pretty surprised and very grateful because it would have sucked to have worked all day on it and then for it to not have gone anywhere.

Taylor Ballantyne/SI

Given the opportunity today, would you now ask Roger Goodell the question you wanted to ask during the Fox Sports seminar if you had the opportunity?

I would ask the question. That sounds like I am full of s--- but I’m not. Mainly because I have the confidence of now having a show. I can get away with it. I would ask the question. It would still be scary. I would still script it out before I asked it and I would make sure I went over the facts so I did not sound like an idiot. I still get really nervous in certain situations and that would be one of them but I would ask it. 100 percent.

You are the president of Fox Sports 1 for a day and charged with only keeping one Canadian employee. Who do you choose?

Julie Stewart-Binks. Because she’s fantastic, she’s funny, so great, she’s smart, she’s cool. She’s just a really cool chick.

That means Jay Onrait, Dan O’Toole and their producer Tim are out on the streets of Los Angeles.

Yeah. I love them so much and they are so great. But tall dudes talking sports, we can find others. It will be hard, and they are great and funny, but maybe I harbor a little resentment that they broke the news about my show before I was allowed to do it. Maybe I am holding that against them.

How much interest would your Crowd Goes Wild colleague, Regis Philbin, have in appearing on your show? I know how fond you are of him.

I genuine think if I knocked on Regis’s door and he answered and I said, “Hi, Reg, I would love for you to come on my show,” he would say, “Lovely to meet you, what is your name?” So I would love to have him on the show, but I don’t know if he would do it.

One of the things I found interesting was you put people who attacked Regis on public blast such as Rick Reilly. I know Reilly later apologized to Regis. But you didn’t like the fact that some people went after him, correct?

I wasn’t a huge fan of another guy who has been around for a while, not as long as Regis and not necessarily in the exact same industry, but you think the guys who have been doing it for awhile—and if you broke things up into categories he would fall into the older group as opposed to the new, hip with-it-on-Twitter group—Rick Relly is one of the older guys. And then to go after an older guy for being old I was like, “Excuse me? Who are you to say something like that about Regis Philbin?”

Also, the part that rubbed me the wrong way was Regis does not go around being mean to people. I don’t know if that is because he is the nicest guy in the world or he is so busy but it is not like he provoked him. He didn’t do anything. It just seemed like a cheap joke from Reilly which I then felt the need to let everybody know was not the first time he made some joke. But people make mistakes when you are on a live broadcast and you have to fill air time and you have a producer in your ear. Maybe he thought he’d make a quick throwaway joke. I don’t think the guy should go to hell because he made fun of Regis, but I wanted to let him know that we would hold him accountable when he did something that we were not huge fans of. He did send a letter of apology to Regis personally handwritten and that was pretty nice.

More Sports
An in-depth look at ESPN Audio and the future of sports talk radio

​​Have other females broadcasters reached out to offer advice or help or support for the show?

I would not say anyone reached out to offer advice but I have gotten a lot of support from females across the sports media which I think is fantastic. We work for different networks but we don’t really concern ourselves with that kind of stuff. We are all in the same sphere and on each other’s team. We let the suits worry about the teams. In terms of meeting people and forming relationships with them, I have not had any problems across network lines. I have gotten an abnormal about of respect from people I respect greatly. I don’t know what I have done to make them have respect for me but no one has been like, “Hey, kid, can I help you with your show?” It has been more like good luck and you’ll be great if you be yourself.

Your personality comes out on social media and you are clearly adept at Twitter. Many of the women in sports media I have spoken with have talked about how terrible social media can be sometimes. I’ve read in interviews that the terrain seems to be not as horrible for you as others. How would you characterize the comments you get on social media?

It is hard to compare one’s person’s social media experience to another because there are so many factors. Don’t get me wrong: I get awful things said to me on Twitter. I fire back. I know you are not supposed to because people say don’t feed the trolls, don’t read the replies. But that’s victim blaming. That person is saying nasty things at me so don’t yell at me for saying a nasty thing back. Yell at them for being nasty in the first place.

But I am starting to learn that you cannot get everybody back and you can’t engage in every fight because you end up looking petty. Also, it consumes too much of your life. So I have sort of laid off. I feel like social media is great for a lot of things and awful for a lot of other things and you just have to use it for the good and then try to just accept the bad. But I don’t know. It is a constant struggle in my life and every time I go on Twitter, which is every 30 minutes, I ask myself, “Do I read the replies? Do I reply to the replies?” My biggest struggle lately is when I see someone say something about me that is blatantly untrue. I can’t reply because I look really petty, right? But it is something that is not true. Lately it has been a ton of “Who cares? She doesn’t even write her own stuff.” And I am like, “Oh my God, I want to scream at this person.”
But then I will call a friend or my Mom or someone to calm me down. It comes and it goes. I could talk about social media for hours.

Do you block people on Twitter?

I don’t block anyone because they find joy in knowing the have been blocked. People’s Twitter bios might say "blocked by @katienolan on March 2, 2015." They wear it like a badge of honor.

What about someone who says sexually suggestive comments, sexist comments, really vile stuff?

Well, if I am blocking them it is because I am reporting them and you cannot report somebody without blocking them. So if someone says something sexually disgusting to me or attacks me, I will look at their profile and see their other tweets. If I see they happen to have said the same nasty thing to Michelle Beadle or Rachel Nichols, then I will report him. Other than that I mainly just mute people because that way they just keep yelling at me and thinking they are getting to me and I can't hear them because they don’t show up in my replies. That is my favorite philosophy.

I asked this question of a panel of under-30 women in sports media recently: How much of a double standard do you see in the way potential employers value your male colleagues' looks versus yours?

I don’t think that I can accurate speak to that which could just because, and it sounds like a silly reason, but I am not in L.A. I am out here in NYC, so my interactions with Fox executives is over the phone or them telling a producer to tell me something. I don’t have a male co-host. I don't think I have enough experience to answer that question in a way that I feel confident about.

Fair enough. Do your see yourself working in sports television or some form of the sports media 20 years from now?

That’s a good question. Hopefully, yes. I think the show we are doing now, I’m going to learn if my sense of humor and demeanor works in sports and in sports TV. Because if it does work, I could do this forever. There is always something to talk about with sports. I am a fan and passionate about it. But if we try the sports comedy route and find out for the 80th time in television history, a sports comedy show did not work, then it might be like I can still be a sports fan but I have to try a different avenue. But I really hope that is not the case and I really hope this works. I know people like to laugh and like sports so we have to find a way to make that happen.

Do you feel Fox Sports will give you a legit shot to make the show work?

I do. I am blissfully ignorant and hopeful. I think we have a lot to overcome and Fox knows that and I think it are really supportive of the show and hopefully we will get a chance to make a couple of mistakes. Because everything about this show is new and different including the host. We will put in our best effort, but it may not get its bearings under it until a couple of weeks in. I think Fox is aware of that and hopefully we will get our fair shot.

More Sports
A chat with Charles Barkley about basketball analytics and beyond

When will the show tape?

Most of my stuff will tape Sunday. The celebrity interview portion or a field piece can be taped at any time throughout the week. As a show that doesn’t have a name recognition—Hey, do you want to go on Katie Nolan’s show? Who? What?—one of the benefits is any day that works for a celebrity, we can pre-tape. But most of the show will tape on Sundays.

That could mean missing some NFL games?

I’m trying not to think about that. I don’t know how it will work. That could suck.

Are you interested in asking Roger Goodell to be a guest?

Not Show No. 1. or Show Nos. 2, 3, 4 or 5. But maybe if he would come on the show—and let’s just say I doubt he would—I would love to have him on once we establish what the show is. A super important thing I want to do with the show is you can be smart, funny and have an opinion but I don’t want to come out of the gate with a sit-down talk with Roger Goodell. Because people will be like, “What is this show?”

If this show hits, can you assure viewers that your ego will not get out of control?

I can’t make any promise. I will try. But I am like a celebrity now.

I appreciate you answering these questions, Katie.

It was lovely finally chatting with you after all this time.

It reminds me of the scene in Heat when Pacino and DeNiro finally sit across from each other at a restaurant.

It wasn’t that great. But pretty great.

Fox Sports soccer personality Alexi Lalas
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

THE NOISE REPORT
SI.com examines the week’s biggest sports media stories.

1. NBC’s primetime debut of the Premier Boxing Champions series drew a 2.53 overnight rating, according to the network, beating ESPN’s telecast of Duke-North Carolina college basketball from the time slot of 9-11 p.m. ET on Saturday. The total number of viewers was 3.4 million, the most-watched network fight since a Fox fight in 1998. The network said the fight peaked at 4.2 million between 10:30-11 p.m. ET for the final six rounds of the Keith Thurman-Roberto Guerrero bout. Not surprisingly, the network said the rating tripled NBC's average for Saturday afternoon fights from 2012.

The PBC next airs on NBC on April 11 at 8:30 p.m. ET from Brooklyn with Danny Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) against Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs) and middleweight world champion Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) against Peter Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs). That date will be a much truer ratings reflection given the novelty of watching boxing on network television will have receded a bit. NBC will be competing against the start of the MLB season that day as well the final week of the NBA regular season and the last night of the NHL’s regular season.

1b. The top market for the NBC’s boxing coverage was Norfolk. The rest of the Top 10 was as followed: 2. Cincinnati; 3. San Antonio; 4. New Orleans; 5. Ft. Myers; 6. Sacramento; 7. Dayton; 8. Orlando; 9. Philadelphia 10. Tulsa.

2. Why did Fox Sports give Nolan her own show? Last week I asked Fox Sports executive president John Entz that question.

“I think everyone just realized that Katie has such a unique voice in the sports world and with the No Filter series she had done online, it made sense to expand that into a linear TV show and a larger TV platform,” Entz said.

During our conversation, Entz cited Men In Blazers and Watch What Happens Live, both produced by Embassy Row who will produce Nolan’s show, as somewhat of a blueprint for Garbage Time.

“I think this is really about Katie and her unique voice,” Entz said. “This is not a show that had a format and we found a host to fit the format. This is show about a host with a format that will fit the host. At SportsCenter they are looking for anchors to host that show, or if you are doing an opinion-based show, you usually base it around talent. This is a singular Katie Nolan show.”

Nolan’s time slot (9:30 p.m. ET on Sunday) is very tough given Sunday night presents a lot of options between entertainment and sports. I think Fox is also overselling what it will get for MLS games. If I had the decision, I would have initially placed her show after Fox Sports Live on a weeknight and promoted it as something edgy for that time slot. The Fox Sports PR counter on Sunday night is one of the few nights on the schedule where the Nolan show is unlikely to be preempted for live sports, the show’s lead in (MLS Soccer Sunday) has a strong male audience and Fox Sports 1 has seen success on Sunday nights with UFC programming. We shall see.

I asked Entz how Fox Sports management will judge the show’s success? Entz said he will not look at the show based on hard metrics.

“For us it was finding the show that showcases Katie’s talents,” Entz said. “I think the world of her and the versatility and variety she can bring into this space is limitless and incredibly unique. The bottom line is if we sit back and the show showcases Katie Nolan the right way then that is how I will view success."

Of course giving Nolan her own show comes after all the trade talk regarding she and ESPN’s Marty Smith shifting networks. How should FS1 viewers feel about watching someone Fox management was reportedly about to give up?

“There are a lot of subjects I can’t speak intelligently enough on to give you a comment and you can throw that in that bucket,” said Entz, clearly trying to earn a Sports Emmy for deflecting a question. “I’m just hoping [Fox Sports president Eric] Shanks doesn’t trade me anytime soon.”

Planet Futbol
FIFA grants Fox, Telemundo U.S. TV rights for World Cup through 2026

2a. Fox Sports announced that John Strong and Alexi Lalas will be the top Major League Soccer broadcast team for Fox. Sports Illustrated reporter Grant Wahl will serve as the sideline reporter. The group made its debut on Sunday at the Seattle Sounders vs. New England Revolution match. The group will call most Sunday matches. Fox’s MLS schedule runs from March through October and consists of 33 games on FS1 and one on Fox Sports 2. Most kick off in prime time at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

2b. Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel will become a regular member of FS1’s MLS game coverage once his season ends later this year.

2c. The pregame, halftime and postgame coverage for Fox’s MLS coverage will consist of Rob Stone, Eric Wynalda, Stuart Holden and guest analyst Landon Donovan.

3. If you listen to sports-talk radio, I think you'll be interested in this column.

3a. Craig Sager waited 11 months to return to TNT’s airwaves last Thursday night. Here's my piece.

3b. And here’s a terrific feature on Sager from Bleacher Report’s Lars Anderson.

4. Sports pieces of note:

• SI’s Tim Layden on covering a young Mike Tyson was the best piece I read last week.

• Devastating read from Juliet Macur on a former UNC football player who is now homeless.

• Via SI the magazine: Is this man the son of Wilt Chamberlain?

• The man who lip reads Jim Boeheim.

The cyclist, the drunk and the everyday battle on our roads. Terrific work from Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

• Via Yahoo Sports NBA columnist Marc Spears: Former Ole Miss basketball player Marshall Henderson is now playing in Iraq.

• espnW’s Jane McManus on social media harassment and online abuse is excellent.

• Via ESPN boxing writer Dan Rafael: How Mayweather-Pacquiao was made.

• Via The Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur: On Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, the media, the tweet, the apology, Toronto and the Leafs.

• Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest's tale of a stolen laptop with a heartwarming ending.

• CBSSports college basketball writer Matt Norlander on college basketball players who are juggling the role of fatherhood.

• Via NJ.com's Matthew Stanmyre: An Iona basketball player haunted by the loss of 24 friends to violence.

• ESPN The Magazine writer Eli Saslow profiles Blue Jays pitcher/poet/modern-day-Thoreau, Daniel Norris​

•SI's Seth Davis makes the case why college basketball must change.

Non-Sports pieces of note:

More Sports
How CBS and Turner decided on Bill Raftery to call the Final Four

The Pigeon King and the Ponzi Scheme that shook Canada.

• Alexei Navalny, the nearest Russia has to a leader of the opposition, on the death of Boris Nemstov.

New York Magazine’s Gabriel Sherman goes inside NBC News and the in-house fighting surrounding Brian Williams and The Today Show.

"Ferguson Became Symbol, but Bias Knows No Border". Terrific reporting by The New York Times.

• If you have a child or relative in college or are a college student, I'd urge you to read this Chronicle of Higher Education piece.

100 Great Children's Books from The New York Public Library.

"Russia's Political Murders" by Amy Knight.

An amazing photo from Doug Mills from the 50th Anniversary of the march on Selma, Alabama. 

• One of the best journalists in NOLA is not covering news at the moment. Here’s why.

• The Boston Globe's Evan Allen on the fury that drove a man to kill.

5. As part of writing about sports media, I interact with a ton of public relations people, especially at the major sports networks. On that note over the last decade, I’ve had thousands of interactions with Dan Bell, the vice president of communications for Fox Sports. Even when we’ve had disagreements, and there have been many, I’ve always respected his professionalism. He’s a terrific advocate for Fox Sports because he understands the charter of reporters while still advocating for his brand.

In June 2013, Bell lost his father Dennis Bell, a U.S. Army veteran and a huge Notre Dame and Chicago sports fan. Then last week word came down that Bell’s mother Nancy had passed away of congestive heart failure. Nancy and Dennis Bell were married 43 years, and Nancy was also a fervent fan of Chicago sports and all things Irish. Losing a parent is awful—I lost one a decade ago—and I can only imagine the pain of losing both in such a short time span. This column passes on its condolences to the Bell family.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.