Rank #1: Scott Van Pelt and Chris Simms
The SportsCenter host and Mike’s former radio partner joins the podcast to review the year in sports for 2018. Mike asks SVP how big legal sports gambling has been on how we watch and talk sports, plus how this year’s College Football Playoff opens the floor for more than just playoff expansion. Speaking of the playoff, Mike is joined by NBC’s Chris Simms to discuss Notre Dame’s match up with Clemson in the Cotton Bowl, the semi-final for the National Championship. With his work on Football Night in America, Mike had to ask Chris about the NFL season and you’ll be surprised to hear who Chris has pegged as the No 1 team in the AFC with 2 weeks of the regular season left.
Rank #2: Aaron Rodgers and Paul Azinger
Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers joins Mike to discuss his getaway during the Bye week, his friendship with Brett Favre and his thoughts on Tom Brady, his opponent for Week 9's Sunday Night Football matchup. Mike also welcomes in Paul Azinger (21:30), the former PGA Tour Champion Winner and new lead golf analyst for NBC Sports. Azinger talks about his upcoming role in covering The Open, The Tokyo Olympics and many more PGA Tour events for Golf Channel.
Rank #3: Rutledge Wood, NASCAR on NBC
Counting down to Daytona 500 this weekend, no better person to join Mike than Rutledge Wood who details his career covering NASCAR, that all started with a love of cars at a young age. In addition to the action this weekend, the two discuss the exciting season ahead and why the sport has been in such a great place, and what it’s like to work with one of the best to ever do it, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Rank #4: Brian Kelly and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Head Coach of #3 Notre Dame, Brian Kelly, and Dale Earnhardt Jr, NASCAR's Most Popular Driver for an unprecedented 15 consecutive years join Mike this week. Before previewing Saturday's game, Coach Kelly discusses his path leading up to becoming one of the most popular people in all of South Bend, Indiana. Dale Jr, now an Analyst for NASCAR on NBC, counts down to the NASCAR Championship from Miami. NBC's final 2018 broadcast of Fighting Irish Football kicks off Saturday at 2:30p ET. The season long Monster Energy Cup will culminate with a winner take all race this Sunday beginning on NBC at 2:30p ET.
Rank #5: Former #1 PGA Tour Player David Duval
This Sunday, January 20, marks the 20th anniversary of David Duval's heroic final round 59 on Sunday at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic and on the call for the historic event was our own Mike Tirico. 20 years later, the two catch up and Mike asks how David sees the PGA Tour today, with Tiger Woods not the same player now he was then. Mike also makes his NFL Conference Championship picks after Football Night in America caps off another great NFL season.
Rank #6: Kurt Warner and Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2017, Kurt Warner, joins Mike to discuss the current NFL season and what advice he has for some of the best QBs in the league right now. Since joining Westwood One and NFL Network after his playing days, Kurt has enjoyed the storylines that are essential to broadcasting games. As long as the NFL continues to adapt more wrinkles from college football, one of Mike’s favorite discussions is identifying what works best at both levels. (15:30) Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports identifies some of those wrinkles, and the trends in coaching that are worth keeping an eye on as the College Football Playoffs are fast approaching.
Rank #7: Brent Musburger
With just days until the Patriots and Rams face off in Atlanta, Mike is joined by Brent Musburger, who has covered just about every Super Bowl in NFL History. There will be nearly $5 billion in Super Bowl Sunday wagers, which tells you everything you need to know about the league's relationship with legalized sports betting. What better place to start with the Hall of Fame broadcaster, current voice of the Raiders and VSiN Lead Analyst than with one of his most cherished possessions, his signed photo with Joe Namath when the Jets QB predicted a victory in Super Bowl III?
Rank #8: Cris Collinsworth and Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus
The 14x Emmy Award Winner analyst of Sunday Night Football joins Mike Tirico to discuss the changing trend of a pass-happy NFL, which should be on full display for the Chargers and Steelers for Week 13. Mike asks Cris about the influence of data and analytics on the NFL and continues that conversation with Steve Palazzolo, Senior Analyst and Director of Video Content for Pro Football Focus.
Rank #9: Rodney Harrison, 2x Super Bowl Champion, Sunday Night Football
Without the confines of live television, Mike jumped at an opportunity to ask Rodney Harrison about how football is played now compared to how it was played when one of the most physical players to ever play the position was in the league. After 15 NFL seasons, Rodney provides his insight on what makes a championship team, and why his former teammate, Tom Brady, is still one of the best in the NFL at 41 years old.
Rank #10: Pro Football Hall of Famer Tony Dungy
The former Coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts has brought his perspective as an analyst, joining Mike and Rodney Harrison for Football Night In America. Coach Dungy has some thoughts on the modern NFL and a pass happy offense with the playoffs soon approaching. Mike and Coach Dungy weighs in on the Packers’ surprising decision to move on from Head Coach Mike McCarthy mid-season.
Rank #11: Doc Emrick and Rebecca Lowe
Taking center stage for both NBC Sports and the Mike Tirico Podcast over the holiday weeks is the NHL and the English Premier League. After Mike spent the college football season in South Bend with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, he gives pointers to the voice of the NHL on NBC, Doc Emrick before the Indiana native calls his first game inside Notre Dame Stadium. Mike will be on hand to host the Bruins and the Blackhawks on New Year’s Day. Then, Rebecca Lowe, Host of NBC’s Premier League Live, joins Mike to discuss the English Premier League and the comparisons it can draw to American sports and why Manchester United moved on from the mercurial Jose Mourinho. Wishing you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
Rank #12: Buffalo Bills Head Coach Sean McDermott
Happy 2019 from the Mike Tirico Podcast! The Buffalo Bills fell short of returning to the playoffs, but Head Coach Sean McDermott says there is plenty to build on with the 6-10 record in 2018. Before previewing the divisional round of the playoffs, Mike asks Coach McDermott what he needs to do right now to prepare for free agency and the NFL Draft later this year. But first, Mike points out with so much turnover in the coaching ranks, McDermott will soon rise to the upper half of longest tenured coaches, despite just two seasons with Buffalo.
Rank #13: Jac Collinsworth, ESPN and ProFootball Focus Analyst
More than just the son of a former NFL player turned NBC Analyst, Jac Collinsworth has carved his own path with ESPN and ProFootball Focus. Jac has aspired to be in broadcasting dating back to high school, and his time at Notre Dame helped make him ESPN’s go-to interviewer for the player profiles. On the heels of Conference Championship weekend Mike asks what Jac would do to improve the Saints/Rams outcome that left a bad taste for many NFL fans. Jac admits that Mike’s encouragement throughout his own broadcasting career has made him a better analyst. Mike will certainly take the credit!
Rank #14: Al Michaels, Hall of Fame Broadcaster for Sunday Night Football
Al Michaels, the 5x Emmy Award Winning Broadcaster for Sunday Night Football, has been on more live sports broadcasts than anyone else in television history. Mike goes back to Al's greatest moments and what he remembers most over his more than 40 years broadcasting. Counting down to Patriots-Packers on Sunday Night Football, Al compares the Brady vs Rodgers matchup to the greatest games he's ever been a part of.
Rank #15: Derby Reaction with Randy Moss, Jerry Bailey, & Jay Privman
Following a wild, unprecedented, history-making finish to the Kentucky Derby, Mike Tirico is joined by NBC analysts Randy Moss & Jerry Bailey to sort out all the chaos. The guys discuss why the length of the review mattered (4:00); could Maximum Security's jockey have done anything to prevent the horse from changing his running lane (10:50)?; Bailey, a Hall of Fame jockey, wonders why the inquiry button wasn't hit prior to the objection from the jockeys (16:00); finally, they put Country House's shocking 65-to-1 long-shot into perspective and look ahead to what could lie ahead in the Preakness (23:30). Then, Mike is joined by Jay Privman from the Daily Racing Form to chat about why the reaction to this year's Derby has spanned so far & wide, and Country House's heavy schedule leading up to the Derby and his chances moving forward (28:30).
Rank #16: Kentucky Derby Storytime with Tim Layden
With the Kentucky Derby less than a week away, Mike Tirico is joined by Tim Layden from SI & NBC to preview this year's edition and why it's become such a cultural phenomenon (1:30). The guys also discuss the state of horse racing and how the industry has reacted to the horse fatalities in Santa Anita this past winter (7:30). Mike & Tim also chat about why the stories around the Derby entrants are so compelling (15:00). Finally, we take a trip down memory lane and relive the backstories behind some of the greatest longshot winners in Derby history, including Mine That Bird & Giacomo (19:10).
Rank #17: Russell Wilson + Eric Dungey, Former Syracuse QB
Russell Wilson joins Mike to discuss the goals of his latest endeavor, The Russell Wilson QB Academy, and more during the NFL offseason. One of Wilson's pupils, former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, talks with Mike about how he hopes to prove himself after 38 starts in college, and no invite to the NFL Combine. It's definitely a treat to have a pair of Orangemen in the latest edition of The Mike Tirico Podcast.
Rank #18: David Feherty, Host of "Feherty"
With NBC’s coverage of the Arnold Palmer Invitation and the Players Championship up next on the PGA Tour schedule, it’s a perfect time for Mike to be joined by David Feherty to discuss not only those events but how the game has changed in recent years. While he hasn’t won a major in over a decade, Tiger Woods’ impact on the game is best represented by the latest generation of golfers, some of whom are scheduled to join Feherty later this month. With Mike, Feherty lists some of his favorite golfers to watch and touches on the significance of his native Northern Ireland’s first major championship in 70 years.
Rank #19: Charlie Ebersol, Alliance of American Football Founder
How does an idea for an alternative to the NFL become a real league in just 13 months? Charlie Ebersol was able to leverage his career in Television entertainment, launch the AAF along with Bill Polian and a number of incredible football minds, while drawing in millions of viewers who are starved for football after the Super Bowl. What is the future for the Alliance: Are they a developmental league, are they going to compete with the NFL head on? It’s exciting to sit down with Charlie now in the league’s first few weeks.
Rank #20: Fred Gaudelli, Executive Producer of Sunday Night Football
Fred Gaudelli, the 22-time Emmy award winning Super Bowl and Sunday Night Football Executive Producer, joins Mike to discuss his role behind the scenes and his most memorable Al Michaels moment and the single-best football game he's ever covered.