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The Real Difference Between Colin Cowherd & Dan Patrick

Patrick v Cowherd 3It is well documented now that ESPN’s Colin Cowherd and DirecTV’s Dan Patrick have their differences. But, this article isn’t about which guy displays superior work ethic. This is about how truly unique and differently talented they are.

As background: I worked with both guys at the ESPN radio network in the early 2000’s. I arrived as a program director in Bristol, CT in January 2005. I oversaw four shows; Mike & Mike, The Herd with Colin Cowherd, The Dan Patrick Show and SportsBash with Erik Kuselias. At that time, Cowherd was still relatively new. He replaced Tony Kornheiser in 2003. Patrick’s show was the established show and evolving; Rob Dibble was let go in December 2004.

Creator vs. Reactor

What I discovered after working with both hosts is that they are different animals. Colin is a natural creator. He’s constantly writing, working on angles and metaphors, and figuring out where sports and life naturally interconnect. He would bounce ideas off of anybody who would listen. He’d come to my office and throw a few things at me, gauge my reaction, grab a piece of candy and be on his way. His goal is to provoke you, to make you think differently or as he told me in an interview on Radio Stuff, “be interesting.” He’s an extrovert who will talk your ear off.

Dan is a classic reactor. He loves hearing what other people have to say; friends, callers, producers, commissioners and then parse it for what’s interesting, find inconsistencies, and explore it further. He’s rather introverted, formulating thoughts, opinions and angles internally. He’s a collaborator whose opinions are often masked through his curiosity. In show meetings, we would stand around in the bullpen and throw topics and suggested angles at him. If you didn’t have anything to contribute, you weren’t needed. Even me. He would stand there, listen and react. When we started working together he would open each show with 5 or 6 big questions. His true opinions, suppressed for years behind an anchor desk, were apparent only by the phrasing of the questions. He’s evolved, but that is where his strength lies. That’s why guests, regular contributors and the “Danettes” are so valuable to his show. He lets them shine, because he loves reacting to them.

The difference is exactly how this “feud” has played out. Colin ripped Dan for his work ethic and Dan responded.

Creators and reactors are equally talented and valuable to a radio station. It’s more complicated than this, but in essence; Colin creates unique content, Dan curates unique content. Keep in mind, Dan’s ability to react is what makes him so effective during live TV broadcasts whether it’s the Super Bowl, the Olympics, or SportsCenter. Colin’s skill as creative opinion-maker allows him to be more of a character on radio which opened doors for him on TV, Pixar, and writing a book.

They’re both smart guys, they both have healthy egos (which is a critical element for their jobs), they both work at their craft and demand excellence around them, and they both are finding success beyond their radio shows.

It was an honor to work with and learn from them and I hope over time they can put aside this pettiness and be comfortable with each other’s success. There is plenty of room for everyone at the sports buffet.

I also discuss this and play audio of the feud in Episode 88 of the Radio Stuff Podcast.


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  1. Andrew "Fish" Fain
    February 10, 2015 at 8:15 AM

    Great way to parse out the differences between the two … I agree that both are equally talented … I think it is interesting that the fans of both tend to take on the personalities of the respective hosts, whereas Colin’s fans are more the “Creators” while DP’s fans are more “Reactors”. Hope all is well with you Smokey, we haven’t talked since our FOX Sports Radio days!!!!

  2. steve
    February 28, 2015 at 3:39 AM

    I tried listening to Cowherd when he first joined ESPN, but it didn’t last long. Can’t interview worth a damn plus once he asserts his opinion n a topic, he repeats said opinion ad nauseam. i believe Patrick is universally considered a better radio host.

  1. February 11, 2015 at 10:57 AM
  2. February 11, 2015 at 11:36 AM
  3. October 25, 2015 at 8:55 AM
  4. October 29, 2015 at 6:08 PM
  5. December 18, 2015 at 12:55 PM

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