While pondering next chapter, Mike Golic Sr. dives into Notre Dame football TV assignment
He is still trying to figure out what life after ESPN’s Golic and Wingo should look like, including one admittedly unlikely scenario that would involve reincarnating the old morning radio show Mike & Mike and its pairing with longtime sidekick Mike Greenberg.
But 57-year-old Mike Golic Sr., is far enough into relative professional semi-limbo that he knows he doesn’t want to stay there.
“I’m not going to lie, I miss it,” the former Notre Dame football standout said in a phone interview this week. “I miss doing a morning show. I miss doing radio and TV. I miss talking sports all the time.
“It was my life.
“We’ll see what the new year holds, once my contract is up, what will happen next. I certainly wasn’t ready to stop. My wife certainly isn’t ready to have me around the house all the time.”
Which has been the case since July 31, when ESPN shuffled Golic out of its morning lineup for the first time in two decades.
His one weekly opportunity to stay out of Christine Golic’s hair these days involves the one aspect Mike Golic knows he wants to keep as a staple in his next chapter, calling games.
And Saturday’s assignment hits home, even though the game between No. 4 Notre Dame (5-0, 4-0 ACC) and Georgia Tech (2-4, 2-3) will take place on the brand new synthetic turf at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.
Kickoff is 3:30 EDT. ABC has the telecast.
It’ll be the first time Golic serves as an on-air analyst for an Irish football game since doing so during Tyrone Willingham’s first year as ND’s head coach, a 21-14 Irish road win at Air Force in 2002.
“I have no problem being unbiased,” Golic said. “I happen to know a lot about Notre Dame and the coach and the history and the players and all that. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give the other team their due.”
He’ll do so from a distance, though. Because of COVID-19, ESPN isn’t having most of its full crews travel. So Golic will do the game from Connecticut, play-by-play man Dave Pasch from Arizona and sideline reporter Marty Smith from the actual site.
Golic has a battery of monitors to see different field angles and another so that he and Pasch can communicate nonverbally to help avoid stepping on each other’s words.
“There’s nothing like being at the game,” Golic said. “I like watching everything but the ball. I start wide, and then get into the ball. Unfortunately, when you’re watching on TV, what we see on TV starts with the ball. So it’s kind of the opposite way I call a game.
“I love looking at the sidelines. I love body language on the sidelines — who’s talking to who. There are so many things you can pick up off the field as well. That’s kind of a bummer not to kind of get a feel for the game.
“But listen, at the end of the day I’m just happy I’m able to call a game. I’m happy there are games. It’s a hope and a finger-cross every week.”
Golic, in fact, had been assigned to do the ND-Wake Forest game, scheduled for Sept. 26, and had already waded into his prep work when the game was postponed and shifted to Dec. 12 in Winston-Salem, N.C., because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the Irish team.
As of Thursday afternoon, head coach Brian Kelly confirmed the Irish were expected to be at near full strength for Georgia Tech with two new positives last week, neither of whom made the trip to Pittsburgh for last Saturday’s 45-3 romp over the Panthers.
Kelly said Thursday there were no positive COVID tests either Sunday or Tuesday, following the team’s first road trip of the season.
A Notre Dame home game Nov. 7 with No. 1 Clemson follows, with Tigers starting quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s availability in question for that game (he’s out for Saturday’s home game with Boston College) due to ACC protocols following a positive COVID test Thursday.
Whomever Notre Dame faces at QB on Nov. 7, and presumably freshman Jeff Sims Saturday in Atlanta, Golic says they’ll be confronted by a Notre Dame defense that’s good enough to get the Irish into the College Football Playoff conversation.
That’s provided the Irish continue to evolve in other areas, particularly the passing game.
Notre Dame is ninth nationally in total defense and sixth in scoring defense — fourth and second, respectively among FBS teams that have played more than one game.
“I think one of the biggest improvements on this defense over the last two years has been defensive speed,” Golic said. “That’s one of the things you can get burned by, by the better teams. And we’re talking about the upper echelon, which is where (the Irish) are and the way they’re playing to show they belong right now.
“The defense is good on all their levels. They really, really are. They’re a fun defense to watch.
"I love the way (defensive coordinator) Clark (Lea) is leading this defense and has them in an attacking mode. So I think the defense, like in 2012, will be a big key.”
Golic’s sons, Mike Jr. and Jake both played on that 2012 team that became the first Notre Dame team to rise to the top of the polls in roughly two decades, and played Alabama for a national championship.
Mike Jr., incidentally, was a part of the Golic and Wingo show, and now co-hosts an afternoon drive show on ESPN with WNBA star Chiney Ogwubike called Chiney and Golic Jr.
As I look at what’s next for me,” Mike Sr. said, “the one thing my agent told me was. ‘You have to decide what you want to do.’
“He said, ‘You could do nothing. You can do a little bit, or you can go back and do a lot. You’re going to have the option, so you need to decide what you’re going to do.’ ”
Golic said he’s open to morning radio, though he admits having more normal sleeping hours for the first time in more than 20 years appeals to him on one level. He’s even open to a reunion with Greenberg, with whom he set the template for success in morning radio before a civil breakup in 2017.
“I offered to do it, but I’m only one side of it,” Golic said. “That would have to come from up above (ESPN management( if they wanted it to happen.
“If I had to guess, I think I’d say I doubt it. You move on from things, and I understand. I can say I’m open to something, but that doesn’t mean anybody else has to be. If people feel like it’s time to move on from that, and it wouldn’t be the same — sometimes reunions don’t work. Who knows?
“You just don’t know, but that ultimately isn’t going to be my decision.”
The decision that he’s not ready for retirement, though, or anything that looks like it is unquestionably Mike Golic’s decision. And he’s made it abundantly clear where he stands for whomever is interested.
“I still have a ways to go in this,” he said. “I still feel like I have something to offer. This door closed and it wasn’t my choice.
“But it wasn’t my choice to get cut by the (NFL’s Houston) Oilers. It wasn’t my choice to get cut by the Dolphins. I didn’t think I should have got cut, but the coaches didn’t care. They cut me.
“I wanted to keep doing the show here. They (ESPN) wanted to make a change, which is absolutely their right to do. So that door closed. I’ll look for the next door to open and jump in.”