(Editor’s note: As of 8 p.m. June 4, there’s a post on the Courier-Journal website confirming that Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford are leaving. But it’s behind the paywall, so that’s all we know. Scoop!)
Where the hell is Rick Redding when you need him?
Two really weird things happened today, and they’re related.
First, I hit my limit of six free stories on the Courier-Journal’s website paywall. And the second thing is, sources started calling at 3 p.m. saying the CJ sports franchise could be in the process of walking out the door.
Insiders say Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford may be leaving the Courier-Journal for WDRB-TV.
So when I went to see what the CJ had on this, I realized if they had anything – they didn’t – I wouldn’t be able to read the story without paying. Sheesh.
So I called Bill Lamb.
“I hate to duck anyone’s questions, but I can’t comment,” said Lamb, WDRB general manager. “You caught me flat-footed on this.”
Then I called Bennie Ivory, vice president of news at the Courier-Journal and Jean Porter, managing editor.
Neither was available. I also called Bozich and Crawford, of course, but no luck.
The CJ insiders with whom I was able to connect with briefly say the deal isn’t done, though sources with direct knowledge of the deal tell me Lamb will announce it tonight on his station.
If I acted like I knew anything about local sports, you’d see right through me. So I called my sports friends, and they were stunned. (I couldn’t even reach Rick Redding, who probably already has this at www.louisvilleky.com.)
Sports departments at major market newspapers have long been after Bozich and Crawford, said one media source.
“Bozich is a superstar,” he said. ”And Crawford is too. They’re the two most popular columnists left at the CJ.” Even if people don’t agree with them, they read Bozich and Crawford, he said. “No one with any interest in sports ignores these guys.”
Another source called the duo “superstar columnists who have intimate knowledge of UK sports, U of L sports and horse racing. These guys are the real deal. If this is true, this has to be a blow to the Courier.
“You don’t replace the kind of knowledge they have overnight.”
If Bozich and Crawford defect, it could be the biggest CJ story since Pat Forde left years ago to join ESPN. Forde now is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
Bozich has been at the CJ since 1981, according to his blog bio.
Here’s more from Bozich’s CJ bio:
I grew up in northwest Indiana. Arrived at Indiana University in the pre-PC days of 1971, the same year as Bob Knight and the same year that Assembly Hall opened. Left IU for a job in Anderson, Ind. Back to Bloomington (to work with the legendary Bob Hammel, another White Sox fan) and then on to the C-J in 1978. So I plan to talk lots of hoops, lots of baseball, a little football, a little horse racing and a little of everything else. Thanks for reading.
Every day for three school years, Grades 6 through 8, I would climb aboard “Dude” Payton’s school bus in Bagdad, Ky., and commence a ritual. I sat in the seat behind Dude, on the aisle. Next to me was Jeff Miller, a special education student who was several years older than I was. And for the next 20 minutes on the ride to Shelbyville, we’d argue. They didn’t teach debate at most Kentucky schools then. Didn’t have to. We came by it naturally. Most of us learned it by arguing about University of Kentucky and University of Louisville basketball.
Those rides gave me a lesson in the passion for sports in our region. They also left a more lasting truth: Though we often had three different views, we were all on the same bus. The important thing was that the games made the ride more worthwhile. My job as sports columnist isn’t too much different from those early-morning debates in Bagdad. It’s just a much bigger bus.
With the departure of Keith Runyon and other CJ veterans in April, and the activation of the paywall last Friday, it will be interesting to say the least to see what moves CJ management makes to maintain circulation and website traffic without two sports superstars.
The good news is, Dan Blake is back at the Courier-Journal as assistant metro editor/business, working nights, said a source.
Thank God for small favors.
More as we know more.