Mike Golic Jr. dishes on new radio gig, new wakeup routine and Notre Dame football

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

The first of his six alarms used to go off at 4:18 each weekday morning, five of them programmed into his iPhone and the sixth linked to the Amazon Echo Dot sitting on his nightstand.

“I would set six, because I’m a former offensive lineman,” Notre Dame grad and ESPN personality Mike Golic Jr. explained. “So the paranoia of being late to anything is what drives my life.”

The newest chapter for the 31-year-old rising media star is sharing the airwaves in afternoon drivetime with 28-year-old WNBA standout Chiney Ogwumike, a radio partner he still hasn’t been in the same room — or even time zone — with since the Chiney and Golic Jr. show debuted in the 4 p.m.-7 p.m. ET time slot on ESPN radio in mid-August.

The sports radio talk show is simulcast on TV on ESPNews.

The COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for part of that separation, along with Ogwumike’s status as a current WNBA player with the Los Angeles Sparks.

“Hopefully, when studios start to open and travel is a little easier,” Golic said, “we’ll be able to do something together.”

Their chemistry doesn’t seem to suffer. Perhaps it’s because they had a friendship that predated their on-air pairing and had worked together intermittently when Golic was doing the early-morning thing both on ESPN’s First and Last and later in the final years of his father’s show, Golic and Wingo.

Chiney and Golic Jr. is the younger Golic’s encore to Golic and Wingo, canceled by ESPN this summer, with its last episode on July 31. Prior to the three-year run with Trey Wingo, Mike Golic Sr., was a morning staple with Mike Greenberg from 2000-17 on ESPN’s Mike & Mike.

“It’s easy to get along with Chiney,” Golic Jr. said. “We had a lot of the same interests when it came to music and sneakers and all that.”

But not favorite college football teams. Ogwumike is a Stanford grad.

In addition to his radio commitment, Golic Jr. is doing college football analyst work on the TV side for ESPN’s Thursday night broadcasts, albeit remotely.

He and play-by-play partner Matt Barrie will call this week’s Arkansas State-Appalachian State game from the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn.

Then on Saturday, he’ll do private commentary for his own benefit at home as he takes in No. 3 Notre Dame’s first road game of the season, a date with Pittsburgh (3-3, 2-3 ACC) at Heinz Field (3:30 p.m. EDT; ABC-TV).

“That’s another part of the new job that’s so great,” he said. “I get to watch Notre Dame every week. Oh, and just one alarm these days, set for 7:30 a.m. And sometimes I don’t even need that. I’m not very good at sleeping in yet.”

A starter for the Irish at offensive guard on the 2012 team that played for the national title, Golic is particularly looking forward to the matchup between ND’s vaunted offensive line and a Pitt defensive front that’s keyed the Panthers’ rise to the No. 2 team nationally in sacks and No. 1 in rush defense.

“I don’t think they change their mindset because of what Pitt does well defensively,” Golic said of the Irish offensive line. “I think especially with the standard that’s been set and been around that O-line room for a while now, those guys believe that they’ve got to go out and be the strength of the team now.

“They’re cognizant of opponents, just the way we were. We played Pitt, and it was Aaron Donald my last year at Notre Dame. You know every bit the reputation those guys bring and what they want to do, and it adds to the understanding that it’s going to be strength on strength this week.

“Our best is going to go against their best, and what a unique opportunity, and one I know these guys are going to relish. That’s why they’re one of the best units in the country, because they don’t look at the situation and go, ‘All right, here are all the things we’ve got to change.’”

The Irish (4-0, 3-0 ACC) are coming off a 12-7 survival of Louisville, Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium, in which the defense shined and the offense sputtered repeatedly in the red zone.

A Halloween road date at Georgia Tech follows before the Irish clash on Nov. 7 with Clemson, on track to be the first No. 1 team to visit Notre Dame Stadium since USC in 2005 in the Bush Push game.

“I think Notre Dame has already shown flashes of what they can be going into November,” Golic said. “They’ve got all the tools to do it. I’ve said over and over again, when I look at the ACC — and this is not the homer in me — I truly believe that Notre Dame’s the only (ACC) team built in the way that you need to be to beat Clemson.

“It has the talent to do so. Clemson, I think, has greater depth of talent. That’s always going to be the strength of them, Alabama and Georgia — just in the way that recruiting works right now.

“But Notre Dame is absolutely built to peak in November and have a shot to accomplish all the things they want to this season.”

Win or lose, there will be a show to do on Monday, and Golic is savoring his new partnership with Ogwumike, the first Black woman to co-host her own national radio show on ESPN.

“A lot of people look up and go, ‘My God, I can’t believe we haven’t had a Black woman as a full-time radio host at this point,” Golic said, “especially with the number of talented Black women and women of color throughout our industry in general.”

“But I absolutely take time to appreciate Chiney in being the first to do something and Chiney doing this in the current landscape we are in the world right now.

“We started doing a show this fall coming off a summer full of civil unrest, where the social justice movement around sports — and really throughout life — took center stage in so many ways. And I’ve gotten to see firsthand how Chiney has dealt with that on a human level as a Black woman in this country, but also as a leader.”

Ogwumike is part of the executive committee for the WNBA along with her sister, Nneka, who’s the president of the WNBA Players Association.

“I watched in real time after the Jacob Blake shooting,” Golic said. “We saw the NBA players walk off the court and we were doing a show that day as that news broke. All the while every break Chiney was on the phone with her sister trying to figure out what the WNBA’s plan for this was going to be, how they were going to come together.

“So watching and getting to experience firsthand, her view of the world and the way that she’s had to respond, in the last few months is definitely something worth celebrating in addition to what a gifted analyst she is for us.”

Former Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. has a new radio gig and a saner wakeup time these days.
Chiney Ogwumike (left), drafted first by the Connecticut Sun and now with the WNBA’s L.A. Sparks, is a radio partner with former Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr.