The first iteration of Get Up never found its footing and it was clear from the get-go the cast was never going to excel together.
Mike Greenberg, Michelle Beadle, and Jalen Rose never gave the audience the vibe that they were all doing the same show. All too often, at least one of them looked left in the dark during the banter. They simply did not have what was needed for the show to succeed: chemistry.
At first, the format of the show seemed responsible for the disconnect, but each time a co-host filled in this problem was much less noticeable. The underlying problem was Greenberg and Beadle were not meant to do a show together and there was nothing that could be done to change that.
Notably, when Maria Taylor – who if there was an award for breakout star of 2018 would be the frontrunner – filled in for Beadle, the show had a sense of fun, glow, and flow to it. Andrew Marchand reported Beadle never wanted to be on the show, and that was the vibe she gave off when she was on the show.
This was always going to be Mike Greenberg’s show. When Richard Deitsch reported back in 2016 ESPN was mulling breaking up Mike & Mike, it was to create a show around Greenberg. But Greenberg did not have the pieces needed.
On Mike & Mike, a large part of what made the show work was the chemistry – which Get Up did not have – but also it allowed Greenberg to be an orchestrator. Greenberg is as good as anyone in the business of being a hybrid host, a quarterback to use a sports term. He is at his best when moving a discussion, chiming in, and getting others to say interesting things. Get Up was not set up to do that. Instead, Greenberg was often required to be the one speaking up.
It has been baffling that the show has not featured more of Greenberg interviewing other ESPN personalties like he did so often on Mike & Mike. The morning show had a chance to get early reactions from several of the more newsworthy talents on the roster like Stephen A. Smith but never exercised that opportunity.
Beadle, as she mentioned on the show, has essentially become an NBA personality. This resulted in the cast really struggling to talk subjects outside of basketball when they were together. During football topics, it felt like a discussion without a thesis.
Beadle also is better suited for a show that either is not serious at all or very serious. Get Up was in the middle. Beadle worked on the goofier SportsNation, and is someone who makes noise on topics that are more important than what goes on during the games. The style of discussion on Get Up was not in her wheelhouse whatsoever.
The cast also never gave the viewers that one reason to tune in each morning when it replaced SportsCenter. Everyone knows what you get from SportsCenter, but what was it that you were going to get with Get Up? When First Take moved from ESPN2 to ESPN bumping SportsCenter, it gave the audience a replacement with sports debate, which worked. Get Up was not a debate show, a highlight show, a news show, a humorous show, and it really never felt like what it probably was supposed to be — a personality-driven show.
As The Big Lead’s Ryan Glasspiegel pointed out on the Hangover on The Mighty 1090 in San Diego, Greenberg and Beadle together were like two basketball players that were so used to driving the discussion that neither were comfortable being the shooting guard. That was not, and was never going to be, a recipe for success.
The recent changes to the show seemingly will omit some of these issues. With the new rotation of football voices, Greenberg can set them up and give the show an identity for the fall. Maria Taylor, Laura Rutledge, Jen Lada, Mina Kimes, and Dianna Russini all offer something different than Greenberg and are energetic personalities.
ESPN should be in no hurry to add another permanent voice to the program, if they are considering it at all. It is a total crapshoot to guess who fits together on a daily basis without spending months together on-air. There is also no guarantee that the voices that fit during football season will fit when the show will become dominated by NBA talk early next year.
The biggest remaining question if the ratings do not improve drastically: Is it worth having a show called “Get Up” instead of “SportsCenter”?
SportsCenter is already replacing the first hour, and the belief among many on-air talents at the network is people still want the show that made ESPN what it is today.
The second iteration of Get Up has a tremendous amount of pressure and it will be fascinating to see what the mornings on ESPN look like a month after the Super Bowl.