Skip Bayless may not be able to draw more viewers than Nickelodeon’s Blaze and Monster Machines, but that depressing dose of reality hasn’t appeared to dampen his ego. In fact, it’s seemed to embolden him.
In a recent Complex profile, Bayless pounds his chest –– while wearing a tightly fitted gray T-shirt to show off those biceps –– about how right many of his sports takes have been. Whether it’s criticizing LeBron James for disappearing in big games or pegging Dak Prescott a “can’t miss QB” after just three preseason games, Bayless says he’s “consistently been correct.” Perhaps he missed last year’s NBA Finals, where James led the Cleveland Cavaliers back from a 3-1 series deficit to defeat the Golden State Warriors. (James averaged 36.3 points per contest to go along with 11.7 rebounds and 9.3 assists in Games 5-7, by the way.)
The ratings for FS1’s Undisputed, which Bayless hosts alongside former NFL tight end Shannon Sharpe, are minuscule. But don’t ever say Bayless’ lack of preparation is the reason for this. Despite living in California, he still keeps all of his clocks on Eastern Standard Time –– and 10 minutes ahead. By the time the sun rises in Los Angeles, Bayless is already furiously writing down notes for his two-and-a-half-hour sports debate marathon. From Complex:
“His watch reads 8:23 a.m., but it’s really 5:13 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. Because, despite his departure from Bristol, Connecticut to Los Angeles, the man furiously writing out his thoughts—his hot takes—prefers to live his life like he’s still on the East Coast. And 10 minutes ahead of everybody else. No laptop in front of him, no looking in the mirror and reciting a bunch of lines. Sitting in a windowless dressing room at the Fox Studios, this is Skip Bayless in the final stages of “prepping his brains out” before the cameras are live.”
If it sounds to you like Bayless is training for a boxing match instead of a television show, that’s because in his mind, he is. According to a fawning Bayless feature in Recode, he says he’s fighting for his life once he walks onto the set:
“I’m competing with Shannon,” he said. “I work out hard because you need to be in really good shape to do this for two and a half hours. That’s a big component in this, to stay fresh and to endure. Right now, I just finished a show and, not to gross you out, get too graphic, but I got a t-shirt on underneath and it’s soaking wet because I am so focused, I’m fighting so hard.”
It’s difficult to see how much Bayless can grow Undisputed from here. Taking down First Take is the No. 1 goal, but Bayless still has a long way to go before he does that. Though First Take‘s ratings have fallen roughly 35 percent, it still dominates Undisputed. And given how much promotion the show has received during Fox’s NFL telecasts –– seemingly every commercial break includes a plug for the program –– it’s plausible to assume that number will only decrease once the NFL season ends. If sports fans who were inundated with ads for Undisputed didn’t tune in during the fall, it’s unlikely they’ll watch when the show isn’t in their face.
It’s a good thing Bayless is so proud of his preparation, because he almost certainly won’t be proud of his ratings any time soon.