Here’s my first SbB Powerless Rankings, which note the least influential prominent sports figures of the moment. The criteria is simple: The folks on the list would have no relevance if it weren’t for blind luck or undue support from their employers.
1 ) BCS Executive Director Bill Hancock: Most-despised man in sports, yet he has no power to do anything. Figurehead designed to distract fans from the actual, tiny cabal responsible for college football’s dark ages. Pie-in-the-face guy. Light a candle for him.
(‘Baghdad Bill’ Hancock)
2 ) Mike & Mike on ESPN Radio: Without relentless over-promotion by ESPN’s monopoly-enabled monolith, show wouldn’t exist. Perhaps the finest example of just how powerful ESPN has become as a sports marketing machine. Greenberg at least has a semblance of talent in a controlled setting - witness his SportsCenter performances.
3 ) The McCourts: The underfunded couple was handed the Dodgers by Bud Selig and MLB Owners to artificially limit payrolls in MLB’s larger markets and the NL West. Stole $120M from franchise to fund their personal lifestyles. Anonymous in L.A. outside the ownership suite - even despite the recent TMZ.com coverage.
4 ) Mark Cuban: Great at selling tickets and advertising but too enamored with his own, overrated basketball IQ. Needs to hire good basketball people and get out of the way. By alienating other owners and David Stern, doesn’t have nearly the influence in league matters that he should.
5 ) Jim Nantz: Rakes in millions in salary and perks from CBS gig, but would one less person watch a CBS sports telecast if he wasn’t calling the game? From local radio appearances, appears to have an interesting personality and provocative opinions, but once he’s national he goes dullard on us.
6 ) Charles Barkley: Lots of past potential, but has marginalized his own influence with boorish on- and off-air behavior. Doesn’t have the credibility he once did. A more measured approach and he could’ve been one of the most influential voices in the NBA and sports media.
7 ) Skip Bayless: Dude is efforting, and ESPN2’s First Take does get decent ratings and has a following. But predictably hyperbolic opinions only go so far. Again, I like his passion and effort but not a needle-mover.
8 ) Matt Millen: Abject incompetence didn’t stop him from raking in tens of millions in NFL executive pay. Now he’s cashing in on cronyism in the sports media despite offering generally out-of-touch, platitude-impaired analysis.
9 ) Stephen A. Smith: Overplayed his cards at ESPN and now relegated to re-inventing himself as a social science commenter on viewer-less CNN. Irrelevance so profound as to not merit a high ranking.
10 ) John Clayton: Remember when he was a must-watch … what happened? Mike Florio and Adam Schefter. Clayton still has good information, but no longer keeps me in the car after I pull into the driveaway.
To those on the list: Nothing personal.
I will update this list periodically as needed. A list of the current most influential sports figures is coming soon.