Silver Bullet Points Leads Their Target

Written July 18th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye
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Returning the favor

It’s been an interesting week in Bristol Connecticut, way out on the edge of the prairie of reason and rational thought… Let’s talk a little about what’s happened since the last time we chatted.

“There was never any suspension or any other form of disciplinary action. We took the time to review his upcoming work assignments in light of the book to which he contributed and will manage any conflicts or other issues as needed.   Bruce has resumed his assignments.”

It’s interesting that he could “resume” something that hasn’t been suspended, and that this major media source would choose to not allow comments on their statement.  Brooks goes on to point out that Feldman has not tweeted or written since this issue (something he was prolific at), and that not only was his future with the network threatened, but the ripples were even felt among student athletes, at least one of whom was afraid to comment and risk ESPN jeopardizing their draft status.

As usual, Gerd’s perspective on this was dead on, both before the “statement” and afterwards

Check out what might have been so controversial, and our “conversation” with a hall of fame ESPN Analyst after the jump

  • Swing Your Sword- So, what’s the big deal about working with Mike Leach? Why might that threaten folks at the “Worldwide Leader”? I think it’s probably because of quotes like this one, from page 213-

The truth of the matter is, I believed the facts would actually come out, which they did for the most part, except for one media entity that appeared ridiculously biased. The other outlets had portrayed things more accurately, but they were overshadowed by the magnitude of ESPN. NBC had it right. CBS had it right. The New York Times had it right. Fox had it right.

Earlier in the week, Coach Leach also had this to say- “It’s pretty clear to me that ESPN is not interested in letting facts stand in the way of their agenda.”


  • Deep in the heart- News this week also started bubbling regarding some frustration that might exist about ESPN’s partnership with the University of Texas. Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel was the first to comment-

Stewart, the news came out recently that Texas’ new Longhorn Network is going to broadcast one of the Longhorns’ Big 12 games. How in the world can the conference let it and ESPN get away with this? Wouldn’t the opposing team have to be paid, too? And wouldn’t that go right back into the conference’s TV rights pool of money? How does this not open up a huge can of worms in terms of future TV broadcast rights? Not to mention, how PO’d do you think a rival team’s fans will be to have to watch their team play on a rival team’s biased home broadcast?– Ben, Atlanta

I’d definitely be ticked off about the latter part. That’s the TV equivalent of trying to find your favorite team’s game on the radio while driving and only being able to pick up the opposing team’s station. Even if the announcers remain mostly neutral, you’ll be subjected to 700 Longhorn-themed ads and in-game promotions. I wouldn’t worry about the financials too much. ESPN is simply shifting one of its ABC-allotted broadcasts to the Longhorn Network, so the opponent will get the same cut, regardless. It tells you something about just how much ESPN is investing in this thing that it not only gave up a network window, but, according to reports, basically made a trade with the conference’s cable partner, Fox, that will allow Fox to move a 2012 Big 12 game to its mother channel.

And that’s the part that should really be troubling not just to Big 12 fans, but to college football fans everywhere. From the moment this 20-year, $300 million deal was announced, it’s been astounding just how deeply the company is getting into bed with one of the schools it covers journalistically. Granted, conflicts of interest are unavoidable in sports media these days. This website is owned by a company (Time Warner) that holds the rights to NBA, PGA and NASCAR programming. But ESPN isn’t just testing the separation between church and state with Texas; there isn’t one. Case in point: The ever-popular GameDay crew (Chris Fowler and Co.) will be appearing live from Austin for the channel’s Aug. 26 debut. ESPN and Texas are now one and the same, and you can’t tell me it won’t affect the way GameDay, SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, et. al., cover Mack Brown’s program. In a sport where many fans already live in a constant state of paranoia that the media is propping up someone else at their expense … well, ESPN is flat-out doing it. It should make for some interesting signs the first time GameDay goes to Norman.

Later in the week, Aggie faithful began to chime in as well and even talk about leaving the Big 12-2 because of these issues.  On SBN’s aTm blog, there were even accusations that the network would serve as a “street agent” for Texas, due to the arrangement to televise high school football games on the Longhorn Network- games involving recruits high on UT’s target list.  And you thought Ohio State had problems with ESPN.

  • Tweeting with Des- We were very fortunate this week to have Eric’s article about NCAA sanctions forwarded to a lot of “important” people and also posted across the intertrons on bulletin boards. One great reader even forwarded it to ESPN Analyst and College Football Hall Of Fame inductee Desmond Howard, also a notable Michigan alum. After responding that he thought the piece was interesting, I was able to ask him what it was that made the Ohio State story so “news worthy”. His response was fair- that the actions of Jim Tressel (which I’m assuming meant “because they were so different than what we thought about him”) made it such a big story, as well as the magnitude of things that had come out in the news (proven or otherwise). I asked if he thought there was as much investigation into the “issues” of other schools, and if not- why not. I also reminded him that the “onslaught of negativity” was somewhat media generated, that the coverage didn’t put words in players’ mouths, but that “it used the same players across multiple interviews and sites. It’s possible to shape national perspectives that way.” He affirmed this position, and I replied that one of the players had spoken to multiple sources and “may have a history of credibility issues.” I continued “it’d be like asking Threet to comment on UM” (To be honest, I should have gone with Feagin). Our conversation from there was interesting-

The point that Desmond helped me make is that there is also bias in the selectivity involved with “reporting”- the stories that are chosen, the reporters that are assigned, the questions that are asked, the lawsuits that are fired- all of these are done to achieve a goal. If that goal is “the Truth”, then I’m all for it. But it’s seemingly more and more evident that there may be other agendas at play here.

It’s important to remember that the “E” in ESPN stands for “Entertainment” and not “Enlightenment”. As such, it’s all about the storylines that will sell hits/viewers/subscriptions, rather than necessarily covering the “Truth behind the story. Heck, even one of their brass called the network the “largest conflict of interest known to mankind”, in regards to the way they partner with and cover institutions.  In many ways, it’s like confusion regarding Fox News and MSNBC- There’s a news component and a opinion component. It’s when these two begin to blur in the minds of the viewers/readers that it creates a problem. Perhaps, just perhaps people are starting to figure this out.


Looks great in Nashville against overly bronzed skin

  • Putting this to rest: Ok, for those who are not yet totally convinced that the “Worldwide Leader” may have a bit of an angle that they’re working, I’ll leave you with a difficult piece of video to watch.  A) It’s got Mark May, and B) it treats another BCS program with utter disdain. We don’t want them blowing over our favorite squadron, so we should be mindful when they do it to others (unless, you know, it’s totally deserved).

Last week, Georgia Tech released the NCAA’s findings into their program’s potential issues with illegal benefits.  The response was two-fold- “Wait… Tech was being investigated by the NCAA? Since when? How did we miss that?” (Yeah… how DID you miss that?) and “Wait… they got hammered for WHAT?”

You can count me in the second category- the actual issues that Tech was investigated for were ridiculously minimal and might even be seen as “secondary” violations at some other places.

But what ended up shifting the tide for them was the fact that they were perceived to have “not cooperated”- that they “prepped” their student athletes on what to say and even stonewalled the investigation a bit.  And, if we know anything, it’s always best to play by the NCAA’s rules when you’re in their court.

So, with the big story being the ACC championship stripped from a solid program for improper benefits and numerous years of probation, you’d think that the “opinion” side of this would be about either the surprise that this announcement was to the sports world or the injustice of the decision.  Nope- ESPN called in Mark May to go a different direction-

In case you can’t bear to watch, here’s a transcript from our friend BB73 at Buckeye Planet.

Joe Schad said that “essentially they’re accused of not cooperating with an NCAA investigation.. … former WR Demaryius Thomas is alleged to have received about $300 from the friend of somebody who was working for a sports agency.”… “$300, what’s the big deal? The big deal is that D. Thomas was prepped for his interview by GT officials – that is a no-no.”

Then, in a clip that begins at 1:13

Dari Nowkah – “Mayday, 2009 never happened, 4 years probation, all because of this $300 situation concerning Demaryius Thomas, and a coverup … coverup? Have we heard of this recently? How might this affect what the NCAA does with Ohio State, if at all?”

Mark May – “Well, I think the President of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, right now, he’s in a position where the pressure is on him, because he has to respond, not only to the Ohio State situation, but people are going to question ‘If you don’t slap Ohio State now, back to the Leather Helmet Days, for what they have done, what’s going to happen to the teams in the future that do break the rules?’ If you look at Georgia Tech for a $300 violation … USC – they missed 2 years, they lost scholarships, they won’t be able to go to Bowl Games. If Mark Emmert, if Jim Delany (the Commissioner of the Big Ten), don’t step up to the Ohio State situation, the debacle that happened there, and put them on probation and make sure that they don’t play in Bowl Games the next couple years, the system definitely needs a change. And we all know it needs a change, but right now if you look at this situation, and they don’t do what’s right, it should be an equal and level playing field – everyone is going to start questioning ‘Is the system broken?’ .. We know it’s broken, but how do we fix it and when do we fix it?”

Dari – “Three big words, the NCAA’s throwing down on Georgia Tech, you’ll probably hear them with Ohio State, ‘Failure to Cooperate’, that’s something that is included here with Georgia Tech.”

May – “Sound familiar?”

Dari – “It does, and we may be hearing it again.”

Yeah, “Failure to cooperate” sounds very familiar- it’s exactly the opposite of what Ohio State University’s Athletic department has been doing every step of the way in this process. From the self reported tattoo/merchandise situation to the self reported “cover up” by their now former head coach, OSU has bent over backwards to work with the folks in Indianapolis from day one. Which is why, while not expecting it, I won’t be surprised if the resulting sanctions are much less than everyone and their mom seems to believe are coming.

Heck, let’s go out by remembering the words of the Pirate Cap’n-  “It’s pretty clear to me that ESPN is not interested in letting facts stand in the way of their agenda.”


  1. RonNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    I very much enjoyed reading this article. Well done.


  2. jeremy akersNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 8:51 am

    very good article … espn has their own agenda


  3. BKNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Great article! And I agree with you, the sanctions SHOULD be less than what ESPN wants and people therefore expect, but I worry about Mark Emmert and the NCAA being too afraid of ESPN and how it will “journalistically” respond if they don’t punish Ohio State strongly enough.

    By the way — how convenient it is that pundits like Mark May keep comparing Ohio State to USC without any regard for the fact that USC involved an incredible amount of benefits, a huge attempt to cover up, all sorts of lies and total disregard for the NCAA, and more than just the football program. Did OJ Mayo not play a role in the NCAA’s final decision with them as well?! It hardly seems like the apples-to-apples comparison they keep trying to make…


    JimNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 10:11 am

    On the flip side of that coin, perhaps the NCAA will resent the fact that ESPN is trying so hard to influence how they do their jobs… perhaps they will make a lenient ruling in line with the facts (which hopefully they will elaborate on in excruciating detail, something that ESPN clearly doesn’t have the time or agenda to do) just to spite ESPN and their overbearing attitude regarding the matter.


    JimNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 10:21 am

    That being said, I really hope the reality of the situation is that the NCAA bases their ruling on the facts and is not influenced by outside sources one way or the other.


  4. OHD_MichaelNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Well done. How do I +1 this story for Google Plus?


    EricNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Search for the article title on Google. There will be a little +1 icon next to the link.

    At some point we’ll have to figure out how to add the +1 feature to the articles :)


  5. EdNo Gravatar
    July 18th, 2011 at 6:48 pm

    Mali…. very nice!! as usual.

    I am curious to what say Spiels….Herbie….Smitty…..think about thier employer spinning the wheel. I live in south Florida….don’t listen to The fan that much…..

    just curious….


  6. BrandonNo Gravatar
    July 26th, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Very nice and truthful write-up. If they would make the words on that ESPiN t-shirt bigger so that you could tell immediately that’s not something PROMOTING that shoddy network, I’d pick one up immediately and wear it every time I go out in public.


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