A Top 10 USA Business & Marketing Podcast
Marty Smith - ESPN Sports Journalist Reporter

July 20, 2021

Marty Smith - ESPN Sports Journalist Reporter
Play Episode

Welcome to this week’s episode on The Radcast! Get ready for Marty Smith, Writer, Producer, Author of New York Times Best Seller 'Never Settle', Sports Journalist Reporter of ESPN..

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Amazon Music podcast player badge
Pandora podcast player badge
iHeartRadio podcast player badge

Welcome to this week’s episode on The Radcast! Get ready for Marty Smith, Writer, Producer, Author of New York Times Best Seller 'Never Settle', Sports Journalist Reporter of ESPN..

In this episode on The Radcast, host Ryan Alford talks with guest Marty Smith about his journey, what moulded him as a person, and how he landed the job at ESPN. Marty also talked about the three key things you can control on a daily basis,  Ryan and Marty also dissect Cancel Culture, Outsider.com, and more... 

Marty also has a quick take on RAD or FAD trending topics;

  1. NIL
  2. TikTok
  3. DJ Uiagalelei
  4. 12 Team Play-Off

To learn more about Marty Smith, follow him on Instagram (@martysmithespn) and Twitter (@MartySmithESPN).

If you enjoyed this episode of The Radcast, let us know by visiting our website www.theradcast.com or leave us a review on Apple Podcast. Be sure to keep up with all that’s radical from @ryanalford @radical_results @the.rad.cast


It has to start somewhere. It has to start sometime. What better place than here? What better time than now?” 

“You’re listening to The Radcast. If it’s Radical, we cover it. Here’s your host, Ryan Alford.” 

Ryan Alford[00:00:52]Hey, guys, what's up? Welcome to the latest edition of the Radcast. I am excited today, my friends. I don't get to talk to everyone, that's necessarily a passion. But growing up here in South Calacky going to Clemson University following college football and NASCAR, I got someone who I truly admire. Marty Smith. What's up, brother? 

Marty Smith[00:01:18]Right. Hey, man, I appreciate you having me and full disclosure to all you guys listening, I'm late and I'm very sorry, I've put Ryan in a heck of a predicament. He is a very popular man. His schedule is packed and I have completely fubar the whole thing.  I appreciate your interest in hearing a little bit of my path and story, and I appreciate you and what you do there with your podcast. And I know it inspires a ton of people. So thank you. 

Ryan Alford[00:01:50]Thank you, Marty. I appreciate that. If you don't know who Marty is going to be telling you shortly., Marty's a journalist, a top-shelf talent writer on ESPN, if I may say. He's a father,  and I admire the way he goes about things and watching him balance work and family, at least from afar. And, hopefully this is the start of a relationship with Marty, which I'm looking forward to. We have a lot in common. I got four boys, Marty, under the age of 12. 

Marty Smith[00:02:23]Then y'all got your hands full, brother. 

Ryan Alford[00:02:27]I am coaching practice for every sport known to man. That's why we had six out of seven days in the spring where it was practice or games. So we're right in the thick of it. 

Marty Smith[00:02:41] Then we'll say a prayer for you and momma because that's so much to manage, but the memories made and the experiences and seeing your kids achieve and seeing your kids learn how to win with grace and absolutely hate losing but learn how to lose because, in this life, we lose a lot more than we win. And all of that is so important. And sports is the best platform to learn this at any age. So prayers are up for you, too. 

Ryan Alford[00:03:20]I know,  I want to talk about Marty. Let's start. We talked pre-episode, I'm sure a lot of our audience has heard of you, seen you on TV, seen the stories you bring to life. But for anyone that doesn't know, would you mind talking a little bit about your journey,  growing up, and what molded you into who you are. I've always said you are one of the most earnest people on TV and I want you to know. And then I've always watched you. And sometimes people like Marty Smith, dude, that is growing up in the South, that is real and real knows real. I've always admired it and I'd love for our audience to hear a little bit about that journey. 

Marty Smith[00:04:16]Well, thank you, first of all, I appreciate your kind words. It always makes me laugh, that there's a substantial contingent of folks out there who watch and listen to what I do on ESPN and they think I'm faking the accent as if a Southern accent is some sort of substantial benefit in the world of professional broadcasting. I'll try to give a truncated version of the path. I grew up about 20 miles or 25 miles west of Virginia Tech's campus in a little town called Perrysburg. It's a kind of a farming community, super blue-collar garden country kind of vibe. And I would not trade my upbringing there for anything. My best friends then are my best friends now and we just had an amazing upbringing. It's one of those towns where the high school football Friday Night Lights vibe is 100 percent accurate. It is the marquee social event of the week and It is the identity of the town. I was on some very good teams, and it's one of those things where if you're a  starting player on a team it's that good, you don't pay for your blizzards, you don't pay for your haircuts or anything. I mean, it's remarkable for me to chase that nostalgia. So I went from growing up there in Perrysburg to Radford University, I had a brief stop at a school in East Tennessee Carson Newman University, where I played middle infield. That wasn't right for me so I transferred over to Radford.  Going to Radford was one of the greatest blessings ever for me because I had to figure out who and what I wanted to be when I wasn't an athlete anymore. Ryan, I've said countless times, I don't care what level you achieve, whether you are the kid whose last athletic event ever is, his final high school football game, or you are Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, who plays till you're one hundred and seven. When it's over, you lose a piece of your soul and you have to rewrite parts of you and you have to find things that fill up that portion of your competitive nature, that portion of your identity and your purpose, and I really struggled with that when I lost the ball. Until one day someone coaxed me into walking into the sports information department at Radford University, my alma mater, and I found that purpose. I loved it. And while working there I rekindled my relationship with a writer for The Roanoke Times, which would be like the Greenville News down where you guys are, it's kind of the major regional newspaper in that area and they hired me to cover high school sports. And they also hired me to cover the local short track, called New River Valley Speedway, now called Motor Mile. I didn't want anything to do with it. I had completely fallen out of love with auto racing when Davey Allison, one of my childhood heroes, died in a helicopter crash in nineteen ninety-three at Talladega Superspeedway I am telling you all of this to tell you that the first couple laps of the first race are coveredI fell back in love with it and I went, "this is where I need to be, I gotta chase this man" I loved the smell, the stands were packed on a Saturday night with New River Valley people from all over the region that I grew up in. And it just really captivated me. When I was a senior in college at Radford, I was hired by The Washington Post to cover Virginia Tech football as their reporter nationally covered Virginia Tech. So it was a massive responsibility for which I was not ready.When I graduated from Radford and I took a job in Lynchburg, Virginia, covering NASCAR racing and Liberty University athletics. I was there for a while, then I got hired by NASCAR where I worked for 18 months. The website got bought by Turner Sports in Atlanta and I worked for them as a writer in auto racing until 2006 when Jack Obana from  ESPN called out of nowhere and made me an offer., Jack who is still one of my best friends and a great mentor at ESPN said,  look, dude, keep this under yo, we're going to start broadcasting the NASCAR races again in 2007, so we're putting together our ancillary programming group for our coverage team. And I was like a deer in the headlights. I'm like, what, you got the wrong guy? I said to Jack, there's a guy named Marty Snider, who's a tremendous broadcaster and a great man. I have his number. That's who you meant to call. And Jack started laughing. He's like, no dude, everybody we talked to says, you know the drivers well and you have a great pulse of what's going on in the garage. I said, is this a job offer? He goes, no, it's not, it's something to consider. So what do I do? I Got home, parked the truck, walked in, and said to my wife Lanie, hey, I think I just got a job offer from ESPN. And we both decided we were going to jump into this thing because I would rather crash and burn and fail, knowing I tried than to wonder when I'm 75 on the back porch with a cold one if I could have. And from there, it's just been a heck of a journey. It has been unbelievable. I don't know how to define it, I don't know how to describe it, but it's a blessing of indescribable proportions, and I covered auto racing until 2014 exclusively. We lost the broadcast rights to NBC at that time and ESPN promptly dropped me into college football like an alien from Mars. I still don't know how to even begin to quantify how all this has unfolded other than a greater purpose, which is to be kind and to have great effort and great passion in everything that I get to cover and hopefully inspire somebody along the way. 

Ryan Alford[00:11:01]I love it. And I heard you mention those three words, kindness, effort, and passion. I read it when I was researching before the show, to get to know you better behind the scenes. I read those words and I'm like, yes, that defines who I see on television. There are people that you admire and you see them in their persona on television, and you see an article on them and you can't identify them with it. But when I think of Marty Smith, I do think there's earnest and there is a kindness that comes through in your reporting and your storytelling. It truly is the Marty Smith brand. 

Marty Smith[00:11:49]Well, that's amazing. I appreciate you saying it.   but the truth is, it was an evolution over time.  When I first started I was insecure, we pretend like we're not, but we are and my greatest insecurity was I like to be liked. And in our business, that ain't a good one to have because there's a lot of people who don't like your style or don't like your haircut or don't like how you carry yourself. And that's OK. That's their prerogative to feel however they want to. And you can't force them any other way other than to live your life in a manner that gives you purpose and fulfillment. And as I grew through this; and I'm going back to my wife for just a minute, her influence on my evolution has been amazing, she was willing to grow and evolve with me. This is not a path that we expected.  When she said yes to marrying me, I was working in Lynchburg, Virginia, making no money at all.   We thought it was going to be awesome to get to cover sports, but in the written word for the next forty-five years. None of what we have today was ever thought about at the time and still, we just celebrated our 21st anniversary, May 20th. We got married as kids. It is so important to highlight her willingness to be malleable and patient with my ego-driven insecurity and help me become a guy who understood a broader plain, and here's where that kindness, effort, passion thing comes in. We don't control much daily, most of what we face every single day is beyond our sphere of control. When I wake up every single morning and I'm brushing my teeth and I'm looking in the mirror,  I know that I control those three things, I control how nice I am to other people,  I control how hard I'm willing to work, and I give every last ounce of everything I am to whatever that challenge is before me in that I do it with undeniable positive energy. That's all me. Every day, and as we've gone through this very unique time in our country over the past 18 months, I've started to add a fourth pillar of respect that falls in line with all that anyway. That is the truth and my son sitting over here 10 feet away from me,  is rolling his eyes because they hear those words every single day.  Ryan if you dig a little bit deeper into hypotheticals, imagine we as human beings can change the world if we want to every day. We don't have to donate Bill Gates money. All we have to do is be nice if I go into Starbucks and I ask the barista how their day is going, they might be having a crappy day, and if I say; "Hey, man, how's your day going"? He's like, I'm working on it, I'll ask what's going on?  By acknowledging them as human beings, we can completely change their day. And that dude behind you in line might be having a crappy day and now that you've changed the barista's day, he might change that guy's day and then he lets somebody into traffic because he's in a better mood and that person in traffic has a better day. Some may consider it cheesy, but it's factual. And if we just do a little bit, man, it could change so much. 

Ryan Alford[00:16:05]We like to overcomplicate things, to play the blame game, but you have to control what you can control. I love that. And I love the addition of respect because that's a lost art today, brother. I want to talk a little bit more about some of the foundations of what you do with E.S.P.N. within college football. But while we are on this path,

 How do you feel about cancer culture? If you're living and breathing the truth you just talked about, you don't have a lot to worry about compared to some people. But does it live in the back of your brain now? Is it hard to navigate? Is that talked about front and center more than even we realize? 

Marty Smith[00:17:07]I don't know, man, I just again, I just try really hard to keep the main thing all the time. And for me, it's those three pillars that I just mentioned, and being true to the stories. If I'm interviewing someone, I am asking them open-ended questions that let them tell me their story, rather than trying to drive them towards a story. Anyone who's read my book knows the one story about Dale Earnhardt Jr. and how he altered my entire approach to the way that I interview people.  In 2012 I  did an interview with Jeff Gordon, the NASCAR icon, and my career was sort of blossoming a little bit at the time and I was feeling myself a little. I  would ask Jeff questions that he would start to answer and if he started to meander off from where I wanted him to go, I would cut him off right and try to drive the interview back where I wanted it to go. Well, the interview didn't air for a couple of weeks and when it did air on one of the pre-race shows, I got a lot of positive feedback so  I was proud of the work I had done. After that race, he was in New Hampshire and I was charged with interviewing Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is like a brother to me, and you talk about honesty, 30 people were waiting to talk to him and he gave me one of these nods that says, get your ass over here. When I went up he turned his back to the crowd and put his finger on my chest and said; "You need to shut up". And I said, "Excuse me", again. Remember we're like brothers but I was about to have a real one here. He goes," You need to shut up, man, you need to stop interrupting people. I was watching that interview you did with Jeff and there were some things that he was saying that I wanted to hear him finish and you cut him off and that was rude.  You need to stop interrupting people". and  I was so mad at him, but I knew he was right and because I knew he was right in my heart, it completely altered the way I do interviews. I got so much better as an interviewer. And to go

 back to the original question, it's not something I have in my daily walk, So I don't know if I'm the guy to answer that question honestly. 

Ryan Alford[00:20:03]I just didn't know if there's mounting pressure with anyone that's telling the stories and doing things. 

Smarty Smith[00:20:09]For me the answer is no. That's just for me. 

Ryan Alford[00:20:12]You're not trying to frame stories or push people to an opinion. You're trying to share whatever they have to share, something. But in that, I just think we've gotten to the place where you can't criticize anyone. I know it's not your job as a reporter telling stories to be critical, but it just seems like we've ventured into this place where it's hard to show an opinion. 

Marty Smith[00:20:41] As a reporter and as a host as well, I do a lot more hosting now. 

Ryan Alford[00:20:47]Marty and Maggie brand, you guys share. 

Marty Smith[00:20:51]But then that's an opinionated platform. And I'm gonna tell you straight up, brother, when it comes to something that we are passionate about, you're going to get every ounce of our reality. And that's what's expected of us from our employer, that's a standard that we hold ourselves to as journalists and men.  Also, so much of what we get to do on that platform is fun and so I hate the word brand.  I know it is a word that is used often on your platform and in your ad agency. The brand that we've built is fun, it's very honest and people enjoy spending time with us on our open interview platform, not because our questions are easy, but because our questions are fair and open-ended. I had a funny moment when a guy came at me recently, we were interviewing Greg Sankei, the Southeastern Conference commissioner, and he felt like we were too easy on him(commissioner). Well, you can go back and listen to the questions we posed, they were about to name, image, and likeness. We asked the questions but a lot of times people hear what they want to hear, they might hear it, but they are not listening.  With Social Media, we have impulsive platforms to go right now. And that's also contributed. I could go on and on for days about this, but I don't enjoy it because,  I know social media is a part of our business, but I will not let it; I don't read a lot of mentions because I don't want to go back to that insecurity, I don't want to let someone else's feedback drive my definition of the success or the impact. Good or bad. Does it make sense? 

Ryan Alford[00:23:21] Itmakes total sense and we're going to earmark that to make the highlight clips in this episode. Do you know about the highlight clips, Marty? You just hit the highlight clip button right there. I try to pound that into people of letting their self-worth and their direction be determined by the trolls and the people that the only bite success they get is taking a bite of yours 

just to succeed, 

Marty Smith[00:23:47]It's not just the trolls, we have to show we as public speakers have a daily platform where that feedback is going to be really good and it's going to be really not good. That's society right now. Our self-worth must come from a different place. It cannot be defined by what someone says on a social media platform, good or bad.  I can't let myself get into that because that is a very toxic formula for me, as a man and as a husband and as a father, and I can't bring that home good or bad. 

Ryan Alford[00:24:42] I totally agree. Let's talk about outsider.com and what you guys are up to there? I know you've got the podcast but what was the passion behind that project and what you are doing and everything with it? 

Marty Smith[00:25:00]It's really amazing. So outsiders.com is a new platform that I'm involved with. I'm a partner in that business with a couple of guys in Nashville who are extremely successful business people and they know what they're doing in that space. There is a group of people who love God and country; as we were discussing before, and who love the outdoors and who love country music and not just country music, but like they love music. There's a culture that comes with that outdoors kind of vibe and they came to me and asked me to be involved from a content side and a partnership side in this business, in this media company, and it is extremely fulfilling. To your point, I have a podcast that we've just rebranded and it's now called the Marty Smith Podcast and we air from outside our studios. We have built a state-of-the-art studio in Brentwood in Nashville, Tennessee. And I'll be heading over to Nashville monthly to line up a bunch of interviews, much like you and I tape this here. I'll be heading there next week and I'm going to interview a guy named Casey Bethel, who's one of the best writers in town. He's written so many monster hits for Chessani and McGraw and he's written a lot of Church's catalog along with Eric and he's just a brilliant man. His father is Bobby Beathord, the architect of the Washington football team dynasty back in the 80s, and put Super Bowl teams together in Miami and San Diego and just had an amazing career. And so I can't wait to sit down with Casey. I'm also interviewing Tracy Lawrence.  Are any of you guys country music people? That guy is a genius.  I'm also interviewing   Thomas Rhett Akins – She ain't my truck, who is now one of the premier songwriters in town. His son is Thomas Rhett. I'm interviewing Trace Atkins and I am doing all these interviews on the same day. I'm badgering my buddy Cole Swindell to see if he'll join me after I arrive in town the night before that. So it's an amazing property at the feet. And it's barbecuing and it's hunting and fishing and it's all that stuff that is part of that culture and that is a sector of people that from a media perspective, are underserved and they're yearning for that kind of content,  and  I've also written several pieces for outside.com just about. Growing up in the country and nostalgic memories of being in the hayfield with my daddy and my high school buddies and then hopping in the truck when we were done and my daddy barn and that smell of a fresh lit Marlboro Light mixes with fresh cut hay on the ground with the windows down in my daddy's blue Ford Ranger shortbread. All things that are so authentic to those folks is what we're serving with outsider media and there are people involved who are like-minded and there are people involved in it that I can't mention who would knock your socks off. And we have massive intentions of going intentional with this brand. I'm so grateful to be a part of it, so all of you guys that are listening, please check it out, It's outside.com. And we have a lot of really cool stuff coming. We did some really good interviews on the podcast. I've interviewed heroes of mine like Mark Miller, the late singer Sylvia Browne, fascinating human beings. I went to Travis Tritt Ranch down outside of Atlanta, spent an entire day with Travis. I'm talking about 'pinching me' stuff now. Amazing time. 

Ryan Alford[00:29:45]Who is your favorite country singer? favorite. 

Marty Smith[00:29:53]Do you mean, ever? 

Ryan Alford[00:29:55]Let's do an old school and then a new school. 

Marty Smith[00:29:58] Well that's easy. The old school is Waylon Jennings. I just watched this documentary that was produced and directed by Don. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that name, Ryan, but a legendary record producer. And the Highwaymen. Oh, yeah, so for those of you listening who may not know, that's Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson, the goats upon the goats,  and they did a collaborative project together called the Highwaymen, and the marquee centerpiece of that is The Highwaymen, which is a top-five song of all time in my personal catalog. And so Waylon is my guy.  And if you haven't seen that Don Wars documentary, it was a 30-minute program that ran on CMT way back in the day in the early 90s. It's on YouTube, I just found it like a week ago and I sent it to my best friend, Eric Church,  who is my modern-day favorite singer. I can tell you why in a minute, but he blew all of us away. Knock your socks off. Watching the dynamic of those guys interacting with one another was so psychologically... My youngest just got home. If you guys heard that our beach house ain't massive...  hey Sweet thing 

Ryan Alford[00:31:35] As real as possible. 

Marty Smith[00:31:37]Yeah, my nine-year-old Vivie, she's a sweetheart. She's just got home from dance. 

Ryan Alford[00:31:41] What are the girls like Marty? My wife and I always wonder what it would have been like if we had a girl. 

Marty Smith[00:31:48]It's a handful.  I'll tell you about Eric and why he's so important to me. And this could be redundant for any of you guys who know anything about my story. But Eric is integral to my story because I lost... this is going to be a little bit as I'm just going to give you the whole thing since we're in podcast form. In April 2008, my father died and that was 10 years almost to the month that my mom. I lost my mom, Joy Smith, in nineteen ninety-eight to breast cancer. She was only forty-seven years old. And then after that, we lost my dad spiritually and emotionally, but we still had him physically for another ten years. He suffered from terrible depression during that 10 years and so he let my childhood home go. I should have just used a wrecking ball and knocked the joint down. But I was too proud to do that. And so in the months that followed my father dying in 2008, I would go up sometimes and  Lainey would go too and we made it our mission to clean the place up and get it back in working order. And that was very hard for me emotionally. We couldn't bring our son, Cameron as he was three years old, not even three years old at the time, he was two and a half, so we didn't feel comfortable bringing him up there. And it was just not a good place for that. Not a good environment for a little one like that to be in. So when I was there by myself, I'm not proud to admit it, but I would drink Jack Daniels out of the bottle and I would turn Eric's record called Sinners Like Me, his first album up as loud as it would go. And I would sing at the top of my lungs, Off-Key singing is not my forte, but it was this beautiful vehicle, the perfect vehicle to carry my heart and my emotion at that moment. So fast forward to the end of that year, a buddy of mine got tickets to see Eric play at a little honky tonk in Greensboro, North Carolina, called Arizona Petes.  So my buddy and I went up there and at the time  Eric had not really made it yet. He had a record out. He was working on his second record called Carolina at the time, but his meet and greet were on his bus, which he shared with his band at the time. And there were 50 of us or so so everybody got to meet him. I'm deep in this line and having this mental back and forth with myself, do I tell this guy what his work means to me or not?  Is he going to think I'm a stalker? I decided not to. Well, the further up in that line and the more Jack I drank, I got I was like, I'm going to tell him I'm never going to see this guy again. Who cares? So I get up on that bus and I stick out my hand. I don't have the guts to look him in the eyes. I'm sort of looking down towards his chest and chin area. I said dude, this is going to be weird, I lost my daddy this year and that record saved my life. You saved my life with that album when  I desperately needed something to help me cope, your words did it. And I know you're playing in places like this place you play at night and you know it and I know it you're better than that and you're bigger than that. And every single night there is somebody in that crowd that desperately needs what you have to say. And tonight it's me. Thank you for what you do, and I was so mortified, I ran, I was going and he came after me, he's like, come back here, I need to hear more. So I told him a little bit more. No big deal and the show was amazing. And that was that. Fast forward six months. I'm standing in the garage area at Pocono Raceway on a Friday afternoon waiting to interview Kevin Harvick, the NASCAR driver. My phone rang and I contemplated if I should answer. I answered, `` Marty. Hi, Marty, my name is Judy McDonagh. Yes, ma'am, what can I do for you? I didn't know what I got myself into and she was telling me that she is Eric Church's publicist and I said, I love that guy. She goes, we know. I had written about Eric a lot in my ESPN column. And she told me we are begging him to do some goodwill because he'd been fired from the Rascal Flatts tour for playing too long.  And so they wanted him to do some goodwill in Nashville and he's hard headed as a devil. He wouldn't do it. So eventually he pounds his fist on the table and says, you get that Marty Smith guy, that NASCAR guy from ESPN to fly to Nashville, Tennessee, and spend a day with me fishing. I'll do it. Otherwise, get out of here. She said; Marty, we will pay you to come. I was like you ain't gotta pay me if you're serious about this. So I hung up the phone, I called Laney and I told her; I ain't coming home tomorrow and I ain't coming home Monday morning. I'm going to fly to Nashville, I said, Eric church wants to go fishing with me. She was like '' me". I said I swear unless it's a prank call. So I got on a plane and I flew to Nashville. I slept on my buddy's floor and got up the next morning and went to the marina. I waited and I waited. And I'm sitting on this boat by myself and the competition starts at eight a.m. and all the boats are gone. He is 30 minutes late, that's Eric time we call it ET time. He comes sliding sideways in the Silverado, pulls a case of beer out of the back, and hops on the boat. What's up, fellas? He and I went on to win the fishing tournament. We talked trash to  Bill Dance and Jimmy Houston. We've been very good friends ever since. We text weekly and we talk all the time about the vast majority of the major life decisions or conflicts we've had over the last 10, 12 years, that's our advice group. He's in mine and I'm in his.


Ryan Alford[00:38:35] I got cold chills listening to you talk about it. He said, come fish with  Eric Church. 

Marty Smith[00:38:45]Very few people have impacted my life more deeply than he has and certainly my career. He taught me to be completely fearless in doing it my way, whatever my way was, and that to be fearless in passion. If you're going to beat the hell out of yourself while you're playing a show, do it if you know. And so I started to be fearless in doing that as a broadcaster and man. It's been beneficial to me because what do we want as human beings? We want authenticity. And so he's a great human being. And I'm grateful for his influence in my life. 

Ryan Alford[00:39:34]I'm grateful for that story. I couldn't have asked for a better one. That is awesome Marty. I even hate to transition, but I do want to get some of your opinions on some college football coming up. You got time for that. What are your thoughts on the whole name and image likeness thing? I mean, I'm sure it's hitting your radar. You have got to talk about it. Do you have concerns? Do you agree with it?  What are your thoughts on how it's going to impact the game? 

Marty Smith[00:40:04]I'm still processing it all and  I think a lot of people are because of the way it's unfolding right now, with all the different state laws and how the universities are currently defining what their own rules are for their athletes and how athletes like the King and McKenzie Milton are taking advantage of this. And those twins, I think they are at Fresno State who signed with Boost Mobile and Masterpiece on a two million dollar deal. There's all these haves and have nots and it's kind of the Wild West right now. It's going to change the paradigm of collegiate athletics in a very big way. And I don't even know what that looks like yet. I think that it's awesome for college athletes to have the opportunity to do this. I mean, you're a Clemson guy, imagine if this was available to Trevor Lawrence. Imagine if this was available to Deshaun Watson.   OK, let's go back to my country music buddies, all of them get these insane offers to come and play at wedding receptions for 30 minutes. Hey, there are people with money who will pay you this inordinate obscene amount of money to come play five of your songs acoustic at their wedding reception. Imagine if you're Trevor Lawrence and Boaster X with all this paper can say, Hey, Trevor, man, my daughter and her little 12-year-old buddies are the biggest fans of yours. Would you stop by their birthday party and say hello and we'll pay all this money? That is not out of the realm of possibility. It's probably happening now, right. So I don't know. There are so many tentacles to this, Ryan, like think about the transfer portal. Think about if you have Jalen Hertz in it and Justin  Field in it. I mean, what's to say, Cayler Murray? What's to say that booster X now? Now agents and boosters have direct lines to that. They can go right to him or their parents or whatever. Hey, you hop in a portal and you commit to our school. We'll have Billy Bob Jackson, Toyota waiting on you when you land there like all that is in play now. So I'm still processing what I think about it. That's why I like going back to interview with commissioner Sankei and interviewing people who know way, way, way more about it than I do, it is imperative because that's who shapes our opinions on it. And I do think it's awesome that these young people have the opportunity in a free enterprise society to benefit off of what they're doing collegiately. But, I don't know where it stops, I don't know any of that yet.


Ryan Alford[00:43:32]Yeah, that's the big issue for me, I don't know anybody who does. I don't think he does either. But you're going to see that where there's opportunity there's good and bad.  And you're going to see both sides of it in the recruiting war, how it impacts recruiting. And you have got to remember that most of the big schools have big donors. So it may all shake out to be exactly where it is because of the balance of where a lot of the dollars are but until then you go ahead. 

Marty Smith[00:44:02]I'm sorry to interrupt, but there's an interesting point to be made. There's a young man that plays safety at Appalachian State named Kaden Smith. OK, I met him. He did this article in Sportivo,  I don't know his last football season, as all this was starting to get a lot of momentum, I implore, that's too strong of a word, I suggest and encourage you guys to go read this article. I'm kind of looking it up as we're speaking here. It's in Sportivo and it really laid out the media opportunities. For example, they have a podcast, Kaiden and some of his teammates have a podcast that they can now benefit from financially. I never considered those things.  I was always thinking like, oh, big boosters, cars, whatever it doesn't have to be, it can be something like; Oh wait, I can advance my career aspiration. At this level, he plays for Appalachian State, great program, great success, but it ain't Bama. And so it opens a lot of doors that I had not considered. Kaden Smith at State, Sportivo echoes...  I just found it. He wrote it last December and it's such a great article and he's a phenomenal young man.  He asked me for some face time together and I did that because he impresses me so much. And he has a very bright future in sports media and it's called NIL eligibility rules. NIL poses these questions for NCAA athletes. Should I stay or should I go? Is the title of the piece. It's so good. Go find it, Sportivo. 

Ryan Alford[00:46:13]It's going to be interesting how it plays out. And we do a lot of personal branding for executives of companies, so we play in that space and we're even thinking about wading in these waters of helping the student-athletes with their brand. And so it's going to be interesting. I love the opportunities but my only pause is like yours how the money is going to impact the game specifically. 

Marty Smith[00:46:42]And life is context and repetition. I say it all the time. Life is context and repetition. And we don't have either of those yet in this arena. We don't know. You can't know what it is until you see it until it happens. So we don't know those answers yet. 

Ryan Alford[00:47:02]That's true. What do you think's going to play out this season? I know you've been doing your research. You've got SEC media days coming, you have all the big talks and everything else. Any teasers for us? 

Marty Smith[00:47:18]Well, you're Clemson guy, you guys are going to be good with D.J. Uiagalelei, and I wanted to say that because I had had a couple of games last year where he appeared.  What games did I do with Clemson? I did Georgia Tech. I did Notre Dame, Maybe, but with  Uiagalelei. I got that one down. Total stud. He's going to plug right in there and do really well. You guys have so much talent on the perimeter offensively, It's an embarrassment of riches. And I expect a lot from Clemson. I do think Mack Brown is building something, really, really special in Chapel Hill. I love Mack Brown like a dad, and I'm so impressed with what he's done there. Now, as SEC-wise, I have very lofty expectations for the Georgia Bulldogs, whom you open the season against. What a tremendous match-up man. 

Ryan Alford[00:48:25]Who do you think is going to win that game? Let's flip a coin. Is it that close? 

Marty Smith[00:48:34]I don't know. Yeah, I don't know. You know, it's funny, Ryan. I say all the time to fans when I'm at these games or shoot if I'm up here on the boardwalk getting pizza, people always asking me who's going to win what? You know, my standard answer is they pay Herb Street and Desmonte all the millions of dollars to pick in games and they pay me to make people talk. But, I mean, I don't know if it's impossible to pick that one because Georgia has produce everywhere. And when you see what they have missed like that, J.T. Daniels is a baller. 

Ryan Alford[00:49:11]He is a baller. OK, that's the difference in that. The difference. George's hadn't had that dude at quarterback, you know. Yeah, they finally got that dude. 

Marty Smith[00:49:20]. I love Jake he's a phenomenal human being and his ability to push the ball vertically down the field, and that is what you have to do today,  with the offenses that are being run and in the talent on the perimeter for the schools, I expect that is a lot of what JT is going to do this year. Of course, Bama is going to be good, so  I expect a lot from them. I love Matt Carroll at quarterback, and you have D.J. Durkin there defensively, these guys struggled last season. I had a couple of their games, too. And as good as Lane Kiffin is offensively and as potent as they are, they had a lot of ground to make up on the defensive side of the ball. Florida is going to be good. Dan Mollen always puts together great teams. I think Oregon's going to be good out West. There are 12 schools and my colleagues are picking Oklahoma to win it. So it's going to be the Oklahoma Sooners. I see your facial expression that was; what! I'll believe it when I see it. 

Ryan Alford[00:50:40]Yes, I did it. 

Marty Smith[00:50:41] Ihave high expectations for Notre Dame. You know, Ian Burke is now gone. He started in700 games for the Irish. But, it's going to be fascinating to see what unfolds here. 

Ryan Alford[00:50:55]But I'm just glad to have some fans in the stadium, you 

Marty Smith[00:50:59]You and me both. I worked all fall last year and being in the stand and hearing every single word that was said on the field and the sidelines was the weirdest thing I ever covered, although that may not be true. Another one of the oddest things that I've ever covered was the Masters with no fans, no patrons whatsoever were very different and all the autumnal hues, the bronzes, and the yellows and the auburn and the reds, just a very, very different experience. 

Ryan Alford[00:51:35]That's crazy, man. Well, I appreciate you coming on. I got one more segment for you. If you're game, we do a segment called Rad or Fad. Some of these are probably right down your alley. Some of them might be a little off the normal radar. It's a one-word answer and you can expound if you want to. Are you game? We'll start with something we already talked about, the NIL Rad or Fad? 

Marty Smith[00:52:07] Rad, I don't think it's going anywhere. 

Ryan Alford [00:52:11]   Tik Tok? 

Marty Smith [00:52:16]. Fad I am a 45-year-old man, I loaded it. It is good that it is being monetized in a very dynamic way. So I am wrong, but I'm saying Fad. 

Ryan Alford[00:52:35]All right, D.J Hugh you already talked about him, Clemson quarterback. 

MartySmith [00:52:41] Rad. He can hoop. 

Ryan Alford[00:52:43] Finally, 12 team playoff 

Marty Smith[00:52:51] Expansion, Rad, 12 teams FAD. I don't get 12 

Ryan Alford[00:52:58]yeah, I don't either. Too many teams, too many games, so many games. We have to pay them more. Whatever that is looking like. Marty, man, I can't appreciate you more. Some of the stories you told have been the best we've had on the podcast. We've done 150 episodes and I was sitting here and I don't remember a time I got cold chills thinking about Eric Church, inviting you to fish and you won the fishing tournament, dude. I mean, you are real and I hope that we can stay connected and we can do this again. 

Marty Smith[00:53:34]Look, I appreciate you having me again. I'm sorry that I was late and I appreciate you giving me a platform for the message. I think it's really important today. And been given the platforms that I have to try to share these stories and hopefully maybe touch a life or two or shape thought or two. And so I appreciate you allowing me to do that. My pleasure.  I love what y'all are doing, man.

 Ryan Alford[00:54:01]Thank you. Thank you so much. Finally, Marty, what's the best place to find you? I know we talked about outsider.com. We talked about a lot of platforms. What is the best place for everyone to keep up with all things, Marty, or even multiple places to keep up with Marty Smith?

Marty Smith[00:54:19] I am on television. I'm active on Twitter and Instagram. I know I should do Tik Tok but  I haven't waded into those waters yet. Everybody in my family uses Snapchat. I don't want to touch it with a thousand-foot pole. I think that's a disaster waiting to happen. So Twitter and Instagram are Marty Smith and ESPN. So please do check that out. I'm constantly at the behest of my lovely bride trying to do Instagram stories. And it's funny why I even started. It's so that she could see my life when I'm at games. So those two platforms I'm active on and I would appreciate it if you check them out. So thank you for teeing me up there. 

Ryan Alford[00:55:10]My pleasure. Hey, guys, we appreciate Marty Smith coming on. You know where to find us. We're at Radcast.com, at Ryan Alford on all the platforms. Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook. You know where to find me.  Ryanalford.com as well. We'll see you next time on the Radcast.

Marty Smith

ESPN Sports Journalist Reporter