The Campfire

Jim Rome: The Smack-off is Sports Radio’s hidden gem

Jim Rome and his annual Smack-off showcase are both hidden gems that have yet to be discovered, or appreciated by some.

By Neil Harrington

Sports Radio talk show host Jim Rome just missed out on making the Radio Hall of Fame in 2018, but that doesn’t take away from his legendary status.

Widely known for his on-air fight with Chris, I mean Jim Everett circa 1994, Jim Rome has been a staple on the airwaves for over two decades now.

No longer a kept secret himself, especially after joining CBS Sports Radio, Jim Rome’s annual “Smackoff” is still flying under-the-radar — which is a shame.

For years, Jim Rome received a handful of solid on-air callers — mixed with terrible ones that make even your local stations cringe.

Starting in 1995, Jim Rome had a solution to such problem, designating one day a year for the best of the best of his on-air callers.

Each year, today being no exception, is like Christmas for Jim Rome’s listeners — also known as “Clones,” — who are treated to the annual Smack-off.

For a while, the Smack-off was dominated by Southern California callers, which is where Jim Rome and his show “The Jungle” both hail from.

From time to time, sports celebrities will drop by, take former NFL Quarterback and now CFB head coach Jim Harbaugh — who once called into the Smack-off.

However, his kind heart didn’t bode well for this particular event — but it’s rather funny in its own way.

Actor, comedian, and radio host Jay Mohr was known to pop in from time to time — including this epic call.

MMA superstar Chael Sonnen has appeared, and won the event (twice), making taking the Smack-off to the next level.

Some have used the Smack-off as a launching pad for their own careers, with J.T. the Brick turning his victory into a long-time radio gig.

Let’s take a look at past champions. You might even recognize a few of these other names on the Smack-off champion list.

Jim Rome Smack-off Champions

  • 1995 – J.T. the Brick
  • 1996 – Jeffrey E. “Esquire” Di Tolla
  • 1997 – “Doc” Mike Di Tolla
  • 1998 – Stevie Carbone from LMU
  • 1999 – Sean the Cablinasian in Houston
  • 2000 – “Doc” Mike Di Tolla (2nd title)
  • 2001 – Silk in Huntington Beach
  • 2002 – Jeff in Richmond
  • 2003 – Sean the Cablinasian in Houston (2nd title)
  • 2004 – Iafrate
  • 2005 – Sean the Cablinasian in Houston (3rd title)
  • 2006 – Sean the Cablinasian in Houston (4th title)
  • 2007 – Sean the Cablinasian in Houston (5th title)
  • 2008 – Iafrate (2nd title)
  • 2009 – Brad in Corona
  • 2010 – Vic in No-Cal
  • 2011 – Brad in Corona (2nd title)
  • 2012 – Chael Sonnen
  • 2013 – Mark in Hollywood
  • 2014 – Mike in Indy/Chael Sonnen (co-champions, a 2nd title for Chael)
  • 2015 – Brad in Corona (3rd title)
  • 2016 – Leff in Laguna Beach
  • 2017 – Leff in Laguna Beach (2nd title)
  • 2018 –Brad in Corona

Today, Leff in Laguna Beach was finally dethroned from his perch by former champion Brad in Corona, after a phenomenal two-year run — which included this epic call.

Last year, Leff epically arrived outside of Jim Rome’s studio in a helicopter and infiltrated Jim Rome’s studio with his crew. It was epic!

Jim Rome, the Smack-off, and “The Jungle” are all an acquired taste, but give it a shot. If you don’t like it the first go around, keep listening — give it a week. If you don’t enjoy the show after seven days, keep listening, until you do.

Jim Rome is a legend and deserves your respect.

“The Jungle” is peppered with inside references, that goes back many decades, but stick with it — the payoff is a rich one.

Perhaps, one day, you’ll become a Jim Rome Clone as I am, and who knows, maybe a future Jim Rome Smack-off champion, yourself.

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