Greg McElroy And Marcus Spears Bring Authenticity To Sports Talk TV With ‘Thinking Out Loud’

10.23.17 5 months ago

ESPN Images/Phil Ellsworth

The SEC Network offices are a little louder on Mondays than normal thanks to the presence of Greg McElroy and Marcus Spears. McElroy and Spears’ natural state when they’re in the same room is to be talking and arguing about football.

In the green room after filming an interview segment with Georgia running back Nick Chubb, the two find themselves in an argument about Cowboys’ quarterback Dak Prescott. Both have ties to the Cowboys, with Spears a former Dallas player and McElroy’s father working for the Cowboys when he was growing up. McElroy expects a step back from Prescott in 2017 from his Pro Bowl level of a year ago. Spears disagrees. This argument goes on for five minutes before we can get to talking about their new Monday night SEC Network show, Thinking Out Loud.

The two can’t help it. Spears and McElroy first started working together back in 2015 in McElroy’s lone year as part of the SEC Nation crew and it was there that they unwittingly laid the foundation for their new Monday night show. After games, the two would sit together in the truck and watch games, constantly talking and arguing about the Saturday slate of games. In 2016, they were regulars together on SEC Now, and their discussion during commercials was more entertaining than the show itself, and the people in the production room started trying to figure out how to get them to do that on TV.

That’s how Thinking Out Loud was born; an effort to bring the off-camera personas of Spears and McElroy and their constant friendly arguments to the audience. The first key was figuring out how to make them comfortable enough to do that on camera, which meant creating a new set that wasn’t a traditional sports desk and taking a risk on letting them handle host responsibilities.

The original idea was to have them do the show from their actual desks in the SEC Network newsroom, and just bring cameras and lights into the office. That turned out to actually be a more expensive option than building them their own set, which they kept the office concept and gave the two desks facing each other with TVs and other visual elements around that allow them to move around the set rather than spending the hour-long show parked at their desks talking.

Being on the office set and in their normal clothes rather than behind a traditional desk in suits has worked in terms of making the duo far more comfortable in the early stages of their new show. What’s important not just because of the vibe they want out of the show, but also because they’re being asked to do something completely foreign to both, which is serve as the hosts.

“We feel a lot more comfortable, but it’s still a sh*t show,” Spears laughs. “We still, you know, we’re still trying to figure out reads, and you know, the time and all, how fast we need to go through promos and stuff like that. You know, stuff that people wouldn’t necessarily be able to tell watching the show.”

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