There is no doubt that the talk of the WNBA has been Indiana Fever star Caitlin Clark and how she is performing to start the season. However, it has been a less than ideal beginning for the first-year player as it prompted sports analyst Colin Cowherd to give his criticism on the league for the rough scheduling of Indiana's games.

The Fever have started 0-2 to start the season where in each contest, they have lost by 21 and 36 respectively, including Thursday night's defeat to the New York Liberty where the Iowa women's basketball product only scored nine points. Cowherd would advocate that because Clark has driven in immense interest and revenue for the league already, they should have started her and Indiana's schedule easier.

“They have never had a player either good enough or interesting enough to drive marketing revenue and TV ratings, so that the entire league can fly private. They fly commercial like the rest of us,” Cowherd said. “That doesn't mean there haven't been good players, very good players, but Caitlin Clark, who's never played until a week ago in a WNBA game is the first player that appears they're banking on her and I say banking literally. They're literally going out of private flight for two years. The money they're going to spend on that's more than the WNBA payroll, so they finally have this moment. Don't put Caitlyn Clark up in the first four games against New York twice and Connecticut twice. The best defensive teams.”

Cowherd says WNBA can learn from NFL in how to treat Clark

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) shows frustration, Thursday, May 16, 2024, during the Indiana Fever home opener game against the New York Liberty at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
© Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cowherd would go on to give an example of other leagues like the NFL scheduling easier matchups for big storylines like Jim Harbaugh's Los Angeles Chargers coaching debut or first overall pick Caleb Williams who is now with the Chicago Bears. He would say that the Connecticut Sun and the New York Liberty weren't good first games for the Fever and Clark since she would and has struggled as he exclaimed that the WNBA has to “take advantage of these opportunities.”

“The NFL gets Jim Harbaugh on the league. What is the NFL do? They give the Chargers the two potentially easiest games on their schedule,” Cowherd said. “Caleb Williams to Chicago. So whereas the NFL has the Chargers facing the Raiders at home, the NFL with Caleb Williams in Chicago won't have them playing the very good Packers until week 11. Why? They want Caleb Williams to get his sea legs, open up with Tennessee, give them a fighting chance. Not a lot of TV exposure until weeks 15 and 17. They figured it out. Connecticut, the New York Liberty twice, Connecticut twice. Caitlin Clark struggling, she struggled last night. You've got to take advantage of these opportunities.”

Cowherd points to MLS and how they brought in Lionel Messi

Another example Cowherd brings up to relate to Indiana's Clark is Major League Soccer saying that in terms of popularity, the WNBA is closer to the MLS than it is to the NFL. He would hone in on not only David Beckham joining the Los Angeles Galaxy, but just recently with how superstar Lionel Messi is now a member of Inter Miami.

“You know the great example the MLS and it's closer to the WNBA than it is the NFL. They made sure Beckham got to Los Angeles, they weren't gonna put him the middle of the country,” Cowherd said. “They made sure we got to Los Angeles have you noticed with Messi the MLS has a salary cap. I was told this morning, Messi makes more than all but four teams. What about the salary cap? Whatever. Sometimes you got to make stuff work. David Beckham got to LA, Messi got to Miami. I'm not sure if it was the Illuminati, secret handshakes, smoke filled rooms. Make it work.”

WNBA has “got to do a better job” with Clark per Cowherd

There could be an argument made if the WNBA's viewership could fluctuate depending on the performance from Clark as the sellout hone crowd in her debut were met with a blowout loss. Cowherd would ponder if the league should have some rule changes whether it be for trades, but saying they should build around the popularity of the Fever star.

“I don't know what they have to do. I don't know if they have to change the trade rules. If they have to get her better players, lighten up the schedule. But this is the 28th year,” Cowherd said. “This is the first player that is driving revenue and interest. So that the draft for the WNBA tripled the WNBA finals, tripled it. It's insane. I watched it, I can barely tolerate the NBA. I don't even know if I'll watch it this year. Sometimes you just have to get stuff done. You just have to figure it out. Get Messi paid. Get Beckham to LA get Caitlin Clark an easy schedule. WNBA, you got to do better. You got to help Caitlin Clark, because for the record when Tiger came to the tour, everybody won. Tournaments won, the players one, the purses went up. The network's made it work. The networks were changing programming, whatever, whatever you got to do change the programming. Got to do a better job of that.”

How Clark feels in the start of her career with the Fever

Hearing from Clark's point of view, she spoke before her second regular season game against the Liberty and spoke about the initial difference between the college and professional level. She would point out the increased “physicality” the WNBA brings and how she will get more comfortable according to ESPN.

“The physicality is definitely up there. … I'm easily pushed off screens,” Clark said. “The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop.”

Clark says she has “great perspective” on the struggles

While an easier schedule could have helped her numbers, it seemed inevitable that there would be an adjustment period for Clark as she goes between two different levels of play. She emphasized about the lack of disparity in the WNBA where all 12 games have talent “across the board.”

“When you're in this league, there's 12 teams — everybody's good across the board,” Clark said. “We've got a young group. But as long as we're learning and continuing to get better, that's what's going to be positive for us.”

“I have great perspective on everything that happens,” Clark continued. “It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball.”

Even though people on the outside will focus on the attention Clark receives, the 22-year old and the rest of the Fever are going to key in on the task at hand which is to win games. They look to bounce back Saturday night and get their first win of the season as they have a rematch against the Liberty Saturday afternoon.