I thought it was a nice send off on Friday as well, although I really wish this whole thing wouldn't have happened. Like others have said, I can understand the ratings issue - especially for a network struggling like NBC - but I guess my wife and I have always enjoyed Conan's comedy/sense of humor, and liked seeing him get a shot at the "big time". I do hope he lands on another network (like Fox), and we'll follow him there.
I personally don't get the appeal of Leno really, never have. Prior to this whole issue with Conan, I thought Leno seemed like a nice enough guy but just didn't seem all that funny to me. Now I think he's sort of a heel for taking over the Tonight Show again. The guy obviously has plenty of money, and could have stood by his friend Conan and said "I'm not doing it either" and see what NBC would do there. Of course, it is easy to say this as an outside observer, but he just didn't come off looking all that great in this to me. We've always preferred Conan and Dave to Leno anyways, and we'll continue those viewing habits.
I think Leno has been a quiet ******bag in all of this. He comes off as if "Oh, it's the network's fault." True enough NBC came to him more than 5 years ago and told him he would lose the show to Conan. That was NBC's first mistake.
But then NBC gives him a show and one before Conan? Nothing really changed except for the time of the shows. Conan never got a fair shake at the Tonight show specifically. Had Leno properly retired as Carson and the other hosts of the Tonight show did before him, then NBC could have seen if it really was Conan's fault for the ratings or their decision to keep Leno on the air.
Had Leno retired fans of the Tonight show would have either stayed with the show or gone somewhere else (Letterman, etc.). But no, noone will ever know because that didn't happen. Depending on your comedic inclinations Conan is edgier while Leno is safer. Neither is wrong persay in their style. But for Leno not to step down at all was a bad move for all involved.
Really, NBC should have just recanted the offer to Conan about having the Tonight show and kept him at Late Night. Leno was kicking Letterman's butt in the ratings before all of this. It was ludicrous to change it all up. So to me it's mostly NBC's fault, then Leno. Coco doesn't have much to blame in all of this if you ask me.
What's ironic in all of this is that the biggest reason for NBC moving Conan to the Tonight Show was to not lose him to another network. Good call NBC... Looks like that will happen anyway.
For all the bad blood this has created, I'm betting Leno will never fully recover all of his fans. Some people will stay loyal to Conan. When Conan does get back on the air, if it competes with Leno/Letterman, then we may have yet another ratings war on our hands, and I'll be front and center of my TV for that supporting Conan.