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WGR’s Schopp Wades Off the Deep End

When I have listened WGR afternoon sports host Mike Schopp lately I can’t help but think he says as many things that he can’t possibly believe as any politician.

Admittedly, I don’t listen to him as much as I used to because other commitments find me rarely inside my car in the afternoon.

But in the last few months, I’ve heard enough silly things out of Schopp’s mind to think he is looking for the strangest position imaginable.

Tom Brady: Sacked yes, hurt no

I’m not only talking about his obsessive belief that NFL coaches should follow a high school example and avoid punting on fourth down as often as possible because the odds favor the gamble.

I couldn’t help but think of Schopp when Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid twice went for it on fourth down in a recent game with Pittsburgh on his own side of the field and was successful both times.

Of course, it is a good idea sometimes to take a little risk rather than punt. It can be exasperating when a NFL coach punts on fourth down inside an opponent’s 40 yard line, as ex Bills Coach Gregg Williams did famously or infamously in one game and Bills Coach Chan Gailey did in Sunday’s 19-16 overtime win over Arizona. I’m sure I wasn’t the only Bills fan wondering why Gailey was playing not to lose in overtime in a game that the Bills had already appeared to lose in regulation. That said, a missed 52-yard field goal attempt could have given the Cardinals the field position to win the game and the play-it safe strategy worked.

And in fairness, Schopp does get paid for giving his opinions. However, he lost me weeks ago when he harassed a caller who thought it would be a stupid idea to go for it on fourth down inside a team’s own 20-yard line late in the game with a one-point lead because an opponent could easily kick a winning field goal if the gamble didn’t work.

Schopp’s responded that it depended on whether it was a low-scoring game or a high scoring  game, presumably because that would help determine how high the risk was.

When the caller started to make more sense than the host, you knew Schopp was in trouble. But his role is to stir debates, with his co-host Chris (The Bulldog) Parker often taking the other more reasonable side.

Take last week when Schopp almost had me drive into a ditch. He defended Kansas City Chiefs fans who cheered an injury to ineffective starting quarterback Matt Cassel. The fan behavior was a topic of a lead item in a column by Buffalo News sportswriter Bucky Gleason, who called it “inexcusable.”

Schopp found some excuses.  If I got his logic, Schopp was saying fans pay their money to react any way they want. He added they weren’t expressing anything personal against Cassel, they just were happy that backup Brady Quinn would get a chance. (He got it Sunday and all reports are that he wasn’t an improvement over Cassel).

Schopp was critical of the Chiefs’ Eric Winston for chastising fans for cheering when someone is hurt, saying the lineman should understand fan reaction and should get out of the game if he doesn’t.

Once again, Parker took the opposite humane view. Amazingly, Schopp got some support from WGR callers for his offensive stance. I suppose I shouldn’t say amazingly. It was probably more amazing that some WGR callers strongly disagreed with Schopp. One of them emotionally noted that the Chiefs fans didn’t know if Cassel was paralyzed (he wasn’t) when they cheered.

Once again, a talk show host is in trouble when his callers make more sense that he does. As one of the strongest sports voices in town, Schopp should be leading the call to decency, not finding a way to support barbaric fan behavior.

I don’t want the opposing player that Bills fans hate most – probably the Patriots’ Tom Brady – to get hurt when he plays at The Ralph. Sacked yes, hurt no. I want him on the field because he is a pleasure to watch and because beating the Pats without him would seem less satisfying.

Any NFL fan would note that when a player on an opposing team is hurt, the opponents often are the first people to summon team doctors to get on the field. Yeah, they want to win. But they don’t want to see anyone hurt. It’s part of being a human being.

The reaction of Chiefs’ fans was even more disturbing because it came after the Summer of the Bounty and all the attention that concussions have been given.

This especially isn’t a time to celebrate when anyone gets hurt. In the long run, it damages the image of the sport. In defending the action of some Chiefs’ fans, Schopp damaged his own image.

Schopp’s take on the Chiefs fans wasn’t even his most bizarre opinion of the past several weeks. A while ago, he was adamant that the government shouldn’t spend a dime on improvements to the Ralph that are needed to keep the Bills here.

It probably is a popular opinion with those who think there are more important things to worry about like education and don’t think state and local governments should give taxpayers money to a private business. But they do it all the time for businesses.

There is no disputing the argument that the Bills have a profound impact on WNY’s psyche and there is something to be proud about being part of the NFL even when the team is playing horribly. For evidence, listen to the passion of Bills fans today after a Sunday victory that came despite some dubious coaching strategy. The team also has an economic impact on the area apart from the jobs it gives to multi-millionaires.  

Those millionaires will get jobs wherever the Bills move. Schopp’s hold-that-line position actually might put him out of a job. Without the Bills to criticize every day, WGR would have trouble surviving as a sports station. You can’t talk about the Buffalo Sabres all the time. Heck, I can’t last more than 15 minutes listening to Kevin Sylvester’s morning show during the NHL lockout. And that isn’t a criticism of Sylvester, who does an admirable job. It is just that there isn’t much to talk about now.

If the state doesn’t give the Bills millions and they leave, Schopp wouldn’t be the only person who covers sports to suffer.

The local TV stations also live off the Bills, especially now that Channel 4 and Channel 7 are down to two on on-air sports staffers and can’t cover much else. Channel 4, Channel 29 and Channel 7 (preseason) make a good buck carrying the games, which are the highest-rated TV shows of any week. Channel 7, Channel 67 (WBBZ) and Time Warner Cable all carry Bills shows. 

The Buffalo News also has enhanced its coverage of the Bills in the paper, with video and with chats to the point just about everyone on the sports staff is involved in some way.

You don’t need to be a genius to see Schopp’s positions on stadium funding and Chiefs fans are to borrow a phrase from Vice President Joe Biden – full of malarkey.



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17 responses to "WGR’s Schopp Wades Off the Deep End"

  1. GMan says:

    Coming from Schopp,these kind of comments come as no surprise. He tries to be controversial,but comes off as a blowhard . Some days, he truly is un-listenable. That he is actually paid to say the things he does puzzles me. Wake up,WGR . There have to be better people out there to do a sports show. The Bulldog would be better served with his own show. He doesn’t need Schopp to drag him down.

  2. Rick says:

    When I listen to Schopp in the afternoons, I get the impression he is miserable just being there. Whenever a caller asks how they are doing, he totally ignores them and lets Bulldog respond. He’s even admitted he hates when people ask. I can understand being asked 50 times a day how you are doing but my goodness these are your customers. The Howard Simon show is must listen radio in the AM especially with Jeremy White. Makes the drive into work a little easier.

  3. joe says:

    Un-listenable. Even though I am a sports fan, I gave up on that show long ago. I do sense that Schopp hates what he does. Too bad he doesn’t have the guts to leave and follow his heart’s true calling. The listeners would benefit.

  4. Joe says:

    By the way Alan, what happened to Mark Gaughan? He was missing from Bills coverage this weekend and did not have his usual column in Sundays paper. With Jerry Sullivan gone due to his mom’s illness and Gaughan missing, it did not seem quite the same with the Monday coverage. Skurski and Graham are good reporters but Gaughan and Sullivan are key guys.

  5. Steve R says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I wish that Chris Parker was given the show. He tries to be so much more sensible than Schopp, who seems to suffer from the Kathy Lee syndrome of bragging about his kids way too much. I really don’t care that his kid likes olives.

  6. Jamie says:

    I cant stand the guy. They will never get rid of him though. He has done this for years and never gets canned. He admits freely (on the air) that he hates football. I mean come on…Put Sal with him hes great. He will probably attack this article on-air you know so get ready

  7. Rob says:

    A few thoughts while wondering what happened to JR on GR:

    I have never come across anyone on the radio that appears like he hates his job as much as Schopp. He gives the impression how “smart” he is when in reality he is intellectually lazy. He admits that as a host for a sports radio station that he doesn’t watch, or care, about basketball or college football; even cutting off caller who asked a legitimate question about the state of UB Football. Granted UB isn’t a powerhouse but at least do some homework on a local D-1 team.

    The “how are you” question that oh-so annoys Schopp is just a standard courtesy that callers use. It’s been around since Marconi and what is hypocritical about this is Schopp asks every guest the exact same question. If something as trivial as that annoys you than you are just a miserable person.

    Mark Gaughan had to leave Arizona before the weekend due to a family matter. Here is hoping the News Sports Department stops having so many challenges and tragedies that have taken place these past years.

    • Tim says:

      Great post. Thanks for the info on Mark G. Totally agree about everything that has happened to the News sports dept. I think Mark is a great football writer.

      You mention how smart Mensa Mike thinks he is. I think that’s his whole thing. Whatever everybody else thinks, he’s got to go the other way. Alan is right about his stupid punting thing being a high school thing – you can’t do that in the NFL.

      How can he be smart at all when he doesn’t know that How are ya-What’s up-Hello-Hi, etc. are all the same thing. A greeting. Reply and move on.

  8. Bob says:

    I refuse to listen to Schopp and the Bulldog. It started a few years ago when the Sabres lost to Ottawa in the playoffs. One caller,very polite, said” maybe Ruff’s time in Buffalo has come and gone”! I agreed. Schoop hung up on the guy !! Why ??? Because Schopp disagrees.As for Bulldog..well next time you listen to him pay close attention to how many times he says…I..I..I..I..I !!!
    Howard Simon in the morning is a pleasure to listen to !!

  9. Ron says:

    I stopped listening to GR about a year ago and none of this surprises me. It may be the worst sports station in the country. I travel a lot and have found so many good sports stations across the country like WSCR in Chi., KNBR in SF, of course WFAN in NY and even markets smaller than Buffalo have better stations.

    Alan, why the free pass to Bulldog? How he is still on the air is totally amazing. Can’t speak or articulate, has the most generic opinions and he and Schoop are pretty bad broadcasters. I mean, they have no idea how to make a show interesting. When I listened it was the same thing everyday. The morning show is not as bad but it’s like saying having crabs is better than herpes. Howard is as vanilla as they come and the less said about his sidekick the better. So glad I stopped listening to GR because I guess nothing has changed.

  10. Sarah Rhodes says:

    I gave up on the afternoon WGR awhile ago. Couldn’t stand to listen to Schoop. I like to know what happened to him. I enjoyed listening to him on the Empire Sports Radio. When John Murphy started his WGR radio show this summer it was such a joy to listen to a rational person.

  11. Mike says:

    Stop listening to WGR years ago. Schopp’s takes are ridiculous as they come. God forbid you make a mistake or slip up when you call, then according to Schopp your opinion has zero credibility. A schill for the Sabres. When he was on in Rochester his show was refreshing and interesting. What happened? Want great sports talk radio subscribe to XMSirius. Their MLB, NHL, and NFL stations have intelligent radio guys and analysts who offer great opinions on the sports they cover and also don’t seem to mind the caller asking them how are they doing?

  12. Larry says:

    Agree with all others that Schopp makes it impossible to listen to their show; I like Bulldog bec he usually makes good points but the bad cop/ good cop routine is a turnoff; morning team is better.

  13. trapper says:

    Schoop – I feel sorry for him. A teenaged boy’s inferiority complex is not becoming on a grown man. Alas, I fear that Mike will never feel good about himself, or his lot in life.

    Bulldog – I don’t mind him, without Schoop. He does actually like and care about football, and his on-air personality is tolerable. He does stammer and stumble a bit at times, but he shows passion and common sense.

    Howard and Jeremy – I used to like them a lot, but lately they are becoming far too emotional. Huge mood swings, without full knowledge and context. Just this morning, Howard went CRAZY about the OT punt in the Bills game, without even knowing (he later admitted) the new OverTime rules. And Jeremy’s new obsession with Fitz’s inaccuracy is becoming almost maniacal. Yes, Jer, we all know that Fitz is inaccurate, but please do watch the game film this week and write us a lengthy dissertation on just how bad was EVERY SINGLE PASS that Fitz threw. Can’t wait to read that “Eye In The Sky” report. We get it, Jeremy. We really do.

    Honestly, I think that Sal Cap. is the best, most reasonable on-air host working at WGR presently.

  14. Gary says:

    Mike Schoop i won’t listen to his show anymore. He will argue with most guests. If you say one wrong thing he cuts you off. They will never get rid of him but the morning guys are so much better. Bulldog i like but seems to be afraid to argue with Mikes stong opinions A much better afternoon show would be Bulldog and SAl Cap. what a good team they would make.

  15. Ian says:

    It looks like I’m in the overwhelming minority, but I like Schopp. I think he and Parker have good on-air chemistry. Pairing Parker with Capaccio would be unlistenable…the station doesn’t need two ra-ra guys talking about the teams they love.

    If you want to talk unlistenable, look no further than the morning show. Howard Simon, on the odd occasions he’s not on vacation, isn’t too bad. However, he too often capitulates to jokes about his age from White and their various producers. And for those of you who think Schopp is a contrarian, he pales in comparison to White, who will go “against the commonly perceived truth” 100% of the time.

  16. andrew says:

    I cant stand schopp who tries so hard to be relevant but knows its just not going to happen. Sadly the fan in Toronto gives buffalo sports better coverage than anything on the air at wgr. Simon is harmless but jeremy white is juvinile and simply impossible to listen to.

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