Thursday, December 20th, 2018


“More states will follow suit. It’s much like marijuana laws.” – Van Pelt on future of sports betting

“It feels like we’ve just jumped the shark. It’s not college athletics anymore.” – Tirico 

“The image of the year.” – Van Pelt on Tiger Woods’ win at East Lake

“I still think the Pittsburgh Steelers are the best team in the AFC.” – Chris Simms

Episodes Released on Thursday Mornings – Click Here to Listen

STAMFORD, Conn. – December 20, 2018 Mike Tirico interviews SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt and Notre Dame football analyst and PFT Live co-host Chris Simms this week on the latest episode of The Mike Tirico Podcast, available now across all podcast platforms.

In this week’s episode, Van Pelt and Tirico discuss the future of sports betting, the state of college athletics and college football, how analytics have helped and hurt specific sports, and why Tiger Woods’ walk up the 18th hole at East Lake was the sports image of the year.

Tirico chats with Simms about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish ahead of their clash with Clemson in the College Football Playoff, including their underrated talent and the impact of QB Ian Book; the influence of the spread offense in the NFL; and teams he trusts in the AFC and NFC. Click here to listen to this week’s episode.

This marks the 10th episode of The Mike Tirico Podcast. Click here to listen to prior episodes which include interviews with Notre Dame Football head coach Brian Kelly and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers.

The Mike Tirico Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher and podcasting apps.


2:00 – Tirico and Van Pelt discuss sports betting

4:30 – Dominance of specific teams and influence of money in college football

8:30 – Thoughts on the shift in MLB and analytics in the NFL, NBA and MLB

13:30 – Van Pelt and Tirico on Tiger Woods and his win at East Lake

18:00 – Simms on importance of Notre Dame’s one-point loss to Georgia in 2017

21:00 – Simms on Notre Dame’s move to make Ian Book starting quarterback in 2018

24:15 – Simms previews Notre Dame-Clemson

29:00 – Influence of spread offense on college football

35:00 – Which teams Chris Simms trusts in the NFC and AFC


Van Pelt on future of legalized gambling: “If people wanted to bet, they were betting long before the Supreme Court took obstacles out of people’s way…more states will follow suit. People may cringe when I make this comparison, but it will be much like marijuana laws. It’s legal in more states now than it once was. Google any state and see how much money they’ve created off of the revenues from it…it’s not going to create this new race of gamblers. They’ve already existed. It’s just that now it’s less taboo and now you can have that conversation without feeling like you’re talking about a third-rail topic.”

Tirico on influence of money in college football: “It just feels like we’ve completely jumped the shark. It’s not college athletics anymore…there are other Power Five programs that can’t do this or don’t do this. Are we just creating something that looks like the Premier League, where only a certain number of teams are going to be inside the velvet ropes, and everyone else is going to be banging away trying to avoid being relegated?”

Van Pelt: “Yes, that’s essentially what it is. You could try to explain it away, people can hold onto the outdated idea and have fun calling people student-athletes – I always call them ‘student-earners.’”

Tirico: “I don’t think it’s better. I don’t. It’s fun. It’s cool. It’s great to see greatness, I appreciate it and admire it…I’m not looking to get App State in the eight-team playoff. But I just want to know that we’re investing our time into something that can lead into real competition on the field that is level.”

Van Pelt on the shift in baseball: “In baseball, we’ve got charts and we’ve got all of this data that says, ‘This is what we ought to do and this is how we best defend what you are going to try to do.’ What has it turned into? It’s turned into a league where guys say, ‘I’m not going to try to go Tony Gwynn and try to go the other way, I’m either going to hit it out of the park or I’m going to strikeout.’ And it creates a boring game.”

Tirico on positive and negative influence of analytics: “The analytics in basketball…it’s changed the game and it’s made it a better game to watch…the analytics in football where Sunday, Monday and Thursday look a lot more like Saturday, has made for an exciting game…the baseball product? I don’t know if the product is better from all of these analytics. At the end of the day, aren’t we selling entertaining product? If that’s the case, if you run baseball, you better make sure we turn the road a little bit…I wouldn’t mind saying you get one shift every three innings.”

Van Pelt on return of Tiger Woods and his win at the Tour Championship: “The image of the year – East Lake, thousands of people in the fairway…that was the moment of the year for me…seeing he and Rory walk together in that scene from days gone by, and I mean back in the Arnold Palmer halcyon days and Tiger Woods back in 2000 days, to see that one more time is all that anyone that really loved the sport wanted to see, and we did…David Duval had the line about it. All of those guys saying we want to see Tiger in his prime, and Duval said, ‘The hell you do.’”


Simms on Notre Dame-Clemson: “I look at this as a 50/50 ballgame. I’m shocked. I saw the spread last week, I think it was 11 points – when I saw that, my jaw dropped a little bit. I don’t see it that way. The Notre Dame defense is a lot more talented than people want to give it credit for. Guys like Tillery and Te’von Coney, they’re going to be in the NFL, the guys on the edge are going to be in the NFL…can Notre Dame slow down the Clemson weapons on the offensive side of the ball and all the speed they have? I say yes. They can get to the QB with four guys consistently…I think it’s a very close game.”

Simms on impact of Notre Dame QB Ian Book: “Every week, I kept saying, ‘Man, this other kid Ian Book is some thrower of the football. He’s the best thrower in the pre-game every week. There’s no doubt about it.’ When Brian Kelly finally had the guts to make that move, which was a very gutsy decision and I give him a lot of credit for that, the thing we saw with the offense more than anything was diversity. They were missing certain parts of their offense because they were limited by Brandon Wimbush’s inability to consistently throw shorter and intermediate routes within an offense…it just brought another dynamic to the Notre Dame offense.”

Simms on influence of college football offenses in the NFL: “I don’t think the spread offense is ever going to become a staple of too many teams in the NFL. Some of the creative things that college football teams do are certainly going to be implemented. I worked in New England where Chip Kelly came up (to New England) in one offseason three different times, because Bill Belichick wanted to figure out how he got the Oregon Ducks up to the line of scrimmage so quick and get everybody on the same page? There’s always going to be elements that are stolen from college football, but the NFL is a different game.”

Simms on the AFC playoff picture: “It’s about as wide open as ever, especially in the AFC…I still think the Pittsburgh Steelers are the best team in the AFC. I know it’s crazy, but I’ll say this – even in the three-game losing streak, I came away watching the film in the Broncos, Chargers and Raiders games saying, ‘It’s clear to me that the Steelers were the best team on the football field.’”

Simms on the NFC playoff picture: “The team I trust the most is the New Orleans Saints…their defense has done a total 180 compared to earlier in the year. They are capable of winning ugly football games…their pass game has been hurting, but it’s just a matter of time before Drew Brees and Sean Payton figure it out and that offense is clicking on all cylinders.”