On the heels of his partner, Jemele Hill, leaving SportsCenter, Michael Smith is opening up about the turmoil the show endured and he's placing the blame squarely on ESPN.
Appearing on the James Andrew Miller's latest Origins podcast, Smith talked about ESPN changing the vision of "SC6."
“There was a time we weren’t even talking to each other [on air] anymore,” Smith said. “Like no more Michael and Jemele, not less, not here and there. No more Michael and Jemele talking. No more of their commentary. It’s just strictly live shots and analysts. That’s what pissed me off so much.
“I’m like, so wait a second, you all acknowledge that one of the strengths that we have going for us as a show is Michael and Jemele’s chemistry, but Michael and Jemele don’t f–king talk to each other? How does that make sense?”
Hill, who left the show earlier this month for The Undefeated, was involved in a pair of controversies over the summer after she tweeted that Donald Trump was a white supremacist and that people should boycott Jerry Jones' sponsors. The fallout from the incidents played a role in changing the direction of SportsCenter over the past few months according to Smith.
“We knew we were gonna get s–t out of the gate. … But we weren’t built to take it,” Smith told Miller. “Immediately we started pushing the panic button. Instead of saying no, this is the vision for this show, this is what we’re doing. This show is about Michael and Jemele and their opinions and their chemistry, and they’re going to do SportsCenter their way. Instead of sticking to that vision, we immediately tried to merge two things.
“It was very frustrating,” Smith added, “behind the scenes and on camera. … They got what they wanted, which was Michael and Jemele being muted. And that frustrated the s–t out of us.”
Smith is currently hosting the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter solo, but who knows how much longer that will last.