Former Notre Dame OL Mike Golic Jr. set to host ESPN Radio show

Mike Vorel
South Bend Tribune

Mike Golic Jr. isn’t afraid of a family shadow.

If he was, the 300-pound offensive lineman wouldn’t have chosen to play football at Notre Dame — just like his dad. He wouldn’t have tried his hand in the NFL, either.

He certainly wouldn’t be embracing the next branch of the family business, set to debut a show on ESPN Radio on Jan. 30.

From the outside, it’d be easy to note that his father, Mike Golic Sr., also played at Notre Dame, where he was a defensive end from 1981 to 1984 and a team captain in his final season. That he also played professionally. That he also made the jump to ESPN Radio, where Mike & Mike has been a staple for nearly two decades.

It’d be easy to see all that and wonder, what did Mike Golic Jr. ever earn? How far has a famous first and last name carried him?

Golic Jr. is no stranger to that perception, nor is he intimidated by the challenge to prove people wrong.

“That’s something I’ve had to deal with my whole life, because of the career path I put myself on from an early age,” Golic Jr. said. “When I got to Notre Dame, you heard a lot of those things. When you’re trying to play pro ball after that you hear a lot of those things. There will always be those people, no matter what I wanted to do, that will say I got something because of my last name.

“When it comes to the radio gig, certainly the opportunity was there for me in large part because of my last name and who I’m affiliated with. But as I’ve said time and time again, like football, this is a performance-based industry. When you’re put in a position to be on air, if you don’t get in there and know what you’re doing and figure it out quickly, you won’t be doing it for very long.”

Of course, the common path treaded by one Golic and the next is far from a coincidence. Mike Golic Sr. set a lofty example, a bar his eldest son has reached for ever since.

“Everyone grows up with heroes, and he was always mine,” Golic Jr. said of his father. “From the time I was young, there were so many things about him that I wanted to emulate. It was just sort of that natural pull. ‘All right, this is what turned him into the man that he is. These things can help me do the same.’ That was part of the drive.

“Him and my mom met at Notre Dame, so wanting to go out there, that was something unique and special that I’ve really grown up around, and really was brainwashed since birth to be honest. I was never pressured into anything, but those were the things I gravitated towards, because these were the things that made (my parents) become the people they are.”

And so, Golic Jr. headed to Notre Dame, where he scratched and clawed his way up the depth chart from 2008 to 2012, starting all 13 games at guard in his final season. He earned a degree in film, television and theater, then set his sights on the NFL. The undrafted free agent has made stops with the Pittsburgh Steelers and New Orleans Saints, as well as the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes and the Arena Football League’s Arizona Rattlers.

Even now, he keeps training. He isn’t retired. Teetering between two chapters of his life, Golic Jr. prepares for one future while waiting on another.

“That’s really something that I’ve had to start thinking about more and more this fall as the season gets later on and calls aren’t coming in,” he said. “That’s something that I’ve had to start contemplating. Am I ready for this to potentially be over?

“Certainly, it didn’t go the way I wanted it to by any stretch of the imagination. I hoped to play professional football for a good long time, and for any different number of reasons that hasn’t happened. I don’t know if you’re ever totally OK with it, but that’s something I knew from the beginning — that eventually, it’s going to end.”

And if this is the end, it’s also the beginning. Rothenberg, Wallace & Golic Jr. will launch on Sat., Jan. 30, where the show also featuring ESPN NBA reporter Mike Wallace and ESPN New York’s Dave Rothenberg will fill the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. time slot on ESPN Radio. This comes after Golic Jr. stuck his foot in the door throughout the 2015 football season, co-hosting ESPN Radio’s Fantasy Focus on Sunday mornings.

As for the style he’ll bring to the show, Golic Jr. doesn’t promise hot takes or trending topics. Instead, he’ll follow his father’s advice (and example):

Be authentic. Be transparent. Be uniquely, unapologetically yourself.

“You learn very quickly (growing up) that anything you do — good or bad, at home or off the air — becomes fodder and material for on-air bits,” he said with a laugh. “My dad made that pretty clear to us early. A lot of funny stories and things we did that we thought people would get a kick out of got shared on the air early and often.

“I think that’s why people like that show so much. It’s really transparent. It’s a show about family. You have to get used to it as a kid — people that come up to my dad in public and introduce themselves and say they love the show. They also look at you and say, ‘I’ve heard all these stories. I feel like I know you as well.’ Everybody feels like they know you because of how transparent our lives have been on air.”

Soon, they’ll get to know Mike Golic Jr. even better.

Notre Dame's Brian Kelly greets senior Mike Golic Jr. before the game against Boston College Saturday, November 19, 2011. (SBT File Photo)