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
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.”
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.
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.
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.”