Skip Bayless
BornJohn Edward Bayless II
(1951-12-04) December 4, 1951 (age 69)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
ResidenceNew York, NY; Bristol, CT
EducationVanderbilt University
OccupationSportswriter, Television pundit, Contrarian
Notable credit(s)ESPN First Take, San Jose Mercury News, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Times Herald, Dallas Morning News, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald.
Spouse(s)Ernestine Sclafani
RelativesRick Bayless
FamilyRick Bayless

Skip Bayless (born John Bayless II on December 4, 1951) is a sports journalist and television personality who is currently working for ESPN as a commentator. Bayless is featured on ESPN First Take, ESPN2's daily sports talk morning program, where he participates in a daily debate segment with Stephen A. Smith.

Bayless is based in Bristol, Connecticut, ESPN's home base, and has been since production of the predecessor of First Take, Cold Pizza, moved from New York City to Bristol. Prior to moving to New York full-time, Bayless was a sportswriter by trade, most recently working for the San Jose Mercury News in California.

Schooling and family

Although he was born John Edward Bayless II in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, his father immediately began calling him Skip or Skipper. The name stuck, and Skip Bayless was never called John by his parents. He eventually had his name legally changed to Skip. He is also the older brother of chef, restaurateur and TV personality Rick Bayless.

Bayless attended Northwest Classen High School, and was a player on the school's basketball team that made it to the 1970 Oklahoma State Finals. According to Bayless he was a starter for the team, though this has been disputed by others. He averaged only 1.4 points per game, and didn't register any stats in the State Final.[1]

Upon graduation he was awarded the prestigious Grantland Rice Scholarship (named for the famed sportswriter of the same name), and went on to attend Vanderbilt University. While at Vanderbilt, he majored in English and History and was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma. He is also a member of the inaugural class of the Vanderbilt Student Media Hall of Fame.[2]

Writing career

Bayless went directly from Vanderbilt to The Miami Herald, where he wrote sports features for two years before being hired away by the Los Angeles Times. 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 different quarterbacks each week (James Harris, Pat Haden or Ron Jaworski). Bayless also won the Eclipse Award for his coverage of Seattle Slew's Triple Crown.

At 25, Bayless was hired by The Dallas Morning News to write its lead sports column, and two years later, the rival Dallas Times Herald hired him away by making him one of the country's highest paid sports columnists—prompting The Wall Street Journal to do a story on the development. Bayless was voted Texas sportswriter of the year three times.

In 1989, Bayless wrote God's Coach, about the rise and fall of Tom Landry's Dallas Cowboys. Following the Cowboys' Super Bowl victory in 1993, Bayless wrote The Boys, and following a third Cowboys Super Bowl win in four seasons, Bayless wrote the third and final book of his Cowboys trilogy, Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the "Win or Else" Dallas Cowboys. Hell-Bent caused a stir over Bayless' speculation, without providing any evidence, that Cowboy's quarterback Troy Aikman was gay.[3]

After covering the Cowboys through the 1996 season, Bayless chose to leave Dallas after 17 years and become the lead sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune. In his first year in Chicago, Bayless won the Lisagor Award for excellence in sports column writing and was voted Illinois sportswriter of the year.

After a highly publicized dispute with the Tribune's executive editor, Ann Marie Lipinski, over limiting all Tribune columns to just 650 or so words, Bayless decided to leave Chicago and was immediately hired by Knight Ridder Corporation to write for its flagship newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News.[4] While in San Jose, Bayless became a fixture on ESPN's Rome is Burning and in a weekly Sunday Morning SportsCenter debate with Stephen A. Smith, "Old School/Nu Skool." ESPN hired Bayless full-time in 2004 to team with Woody Paige, then of the Denver Post, on ESPN2's Cold Pizza and to write columns for In 2007, Bayless stopped writing columns to concentrate on his television duties, which included a spinoff of his roundtable discussions with Paige called 1st and 10 and the rebranded First Take.

Radio and television

In 1994, after leaving his radio show at KLIF in Dallas, Bayless helped start the city's first sports talk radio station, KTCK Sports Radio 1310, "The Ticket.", becoming the primary host on the 6–9 a.m. morning show for two years. As "the Ticket" became one of the country's most successful sports stations, the ownership decided to accept a lucrative offer to sell the station, and the new ownership bought out Bayless' contract, ending his tenure.

Bayless has occasionally substituted as host for syndicated radio program The Jim Rome Show. He has also previously contributed to ESPN as a recurring panelist on The Sports Reporters, NFL Prime Monday (now ESPN Monday Night Countdown) in the 1990s, and Jim Rome is Burning. For three years (1998–2001), Bayless was a contributor at major championships for the Golf Channel.

Skip was also a regular on ESPN Radio's first national show, The Fabulous Sports Babe, and later co-hosted a weekend show on ESPN Radio with Larry Beil. He was also a regular on Chet Coppock's show on Sporting News Radio.

ESPN First Take

Cultural references

Bayless, along with Woody Paige and Jay Crawford, appeared in a cameo role in the film Rocky Balboa. The three are seen on their First and 10 segment discussing a possible fight between a retired Balboa and current heavyweight champion Mason Dixon. Bayless opines that Balboa "was completely overrated" and mocks his age.

He appears in the ESPN 30 for 30 film Pony Excess, the story about the Southern Methodist University football scandal, covering the Mustangs while writing for both Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald. He also appears in the ESPNU documentary, "Herschel", about famed Georgia running back Herschel Walker.


  • God's Coach: The Hymns, Hype, and Hipocrisy of Tom Landry's Cowboys, Simon and Schuster, 1990. ISBN 0-671-70581-4.
  • The Boys: The Untold Story of the Dallas Cowboys' Season on the Edge, Simon and Schuster, 1993. ISBN 0-671-79359-4.
  • Hell-Bent: The Crazy Truth About the "Win or Else" Dallas Cowboys, HarperCollins Publishers, 1996. ISBN 0-06-018648-8.

See also


External links

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