This just in: ESPN is baaaaaad.

If you don’t read anything else today, this piece by Pete Fiutak at College Football News, about the BCS, the voting process and ESPN, is worth your attention.

Not that I agree with everything he writes there, but this admission is fairly staggering.

… Over the past few years when Fox had the big bowls, I’d get a call or five every late September from various higher-ups making sure that CFN (who provides content for FoxSports.com) didn’t go over the top when commenting on the BCS. To be fair and thankful, no one ever told me or anyone else at CFN what we could and couldn’t write or tried to limit what we could say on TV and radio appearances. That was never a problem (outside of not commenting on some of the announcer teams) since we’ve made it a point to not get dragged down in all the “BCS Sucks” rhetoric (again, since the ranting goes nowhere), and there was never any discussion of what we could and couldn’t write and say when it came to the BCS chase and how the rankings were shaping up. Fire on the process and the system … not really. Go nuts on what was happening within the system … fine. It’s extremely doubtful that the ESPNers will get the same leeway and freedom.

Wow.  So none of the higher-ups told him what to write, or what not to write, just not to go “over the top”.  Funny, but to me that sounds like being told what not to write.  Luckily for CFN’s reading public, it just so happened that none of its writers wanted to go over the top.  How convenient for everyone involved.  Fiutak translates that into “leeway and freedom”.  He then goes on to say that the ESPN talking heads won’t be able to meet that lofty standard.  Why?  Well…

Remember, this is a network that ditched Harold Reynolds for giving a woman a hug, Steve Phillips for having a taste for porky chicks, and suspended Tony Kornheiser for being the one to say the empress had on the wrong clothes when he called out Hannah Storm’s Forever 21 ensemble. Do you think for a single, solitary second that the big-wigs are going to allow the college football analysts to say one negative thing about the BCS?

You can see how that follows.

ESPN will stifle debate on the BCS, it’ll be biased in favor of the SEC (can’t wait to hear Herbstreit change his tune on that) because of the new contract there (how come Fiutak doesn’t mention Fox and the Big Ten Network?), the poll voters will rely upon the ESPN commentators to cast their ballots (at least the human ones – Fiutak doesn’t mention the computers) because they’re sheep, unlike the real fans of the game… it’s all so sad.

… It’ll be a shame if Mark May, Kirk Herbstreit, Rece Davis, and Chris Fowler are muzzled, or have to talk cryptically, under orders to keep the debate and the BCS discussion as vanilla as possible. More importantly, it’ll be unfair to the sport if the ones doing the judging for two-thirds of the BCS rankings aren’t getting the full message and aren’t voting with all the information they should have.

However, I promise to be fair and I hope I’m wrong. Oh yeah, now that Fox doesn’t have the BCS and we’re allowed to thunder away, watch the other CFNers go ballistic with the vitriol. However, I promise to not only give it a chance when the BCS moves networks, but I’ll give the fist bump if and when ESPN does a solid job of being fair and even-handed when it comes to the coverage. But if the network’s recent history is any guide, I’m not holding my breath. Neither should anyone outside of the SEC and the cream of the other BCS league crop. Neither should the fans who know more about the landscape of the sport than the people in the most important voting positions.

Hey, I jumped on board the WWL-is-the-Evil Empire bandwagon a long time ago.  And if you want to take the position that Fiutak’s whole article is a standing proposition for the superiority of an objective qualification format for a football playoff, brother, you won’t get an argument from me.  But to put on airs that Fox and CFN have occupied some rarefied journalistic high ground the past few years that ESPN won’t be able to claim… dude, please, you’re making me laugh.

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UPDATE: Spencer shares a Sporting News tale similar to Fiutak’s.  I can’t say I’m surprised, but I’m not really sure how relevant either matter is here.  Unlike CFN or Sporting News, ESPN is a behemoth in the world of college sports.  I’m not saying the WWL is going to encourage its talking heads to go out of their way to antagonize the BCS suits, but, on the other hand, if they are critical, what would the BCS do about it?  Take its business somewhere else that pays as well?  Where would that be exactly?

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UPDATE #2: I should also mention Matt Hinton’s post on the subject.  He’s of the opinion that ESPN isn’t going to ignore viewer opinion to the extent that Fiutak frets it may.  I tend to agree.  I can’t say for sure what we’ll hear on TV this season on the subject, but seeing as the website hosted this little exercise while it was grabbing the broadcast rights, I don’t think the WWL is too concerned about the debate.

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13 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Media Punditry/Foibles

13 responses to “This just in: ESPN is baaaaaad.

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    Fiutak is spouting more of the same. Our side is better. ESPN is bad and we’re free from the temptations of ordinary men. And everybody has an agenda, but me.

  2. bort

    Fiutak is a clown. Y’all will catch on one day.

  3. Phocion

    And this would differ greatly from what Jon Saunders spouts on a regular basis how, exactly?

  4. Chuck

    Ringling closed its clown college in
    Sarasota – did Fox sports hire some of the instructors?

  5. Dog in Fla

    But the weapon that ESPN has, that Fox Sports and CFN don’t, is that Hannah knows exactly what to do when she finds the yellow cake…

  6. This has to be the first time anyone’s ever considered muzzling Mark May a shame.

  7. Mayor of Dawgtown

    I lost all of what little respect I had for the WWL when their Nattering Nabobs actively campaigned on national TV to not allow UGA to play in the 2007 BCSNC game because UGA had been locked out of the SEC Championship Game and, therefore, was not a “conference champion.” They never bothered to mention that Oklahoma and Nebrask had both played (but lost) in the BCSNC game without being the Big-12 Champ. The main offenders all had connections to UGA rivals (Jesse Palmer-FLA; Lou Holtz-South Carolina; Charles Davis-Tenn, etc.). What a bunch of slimeballs!

    • Ole Herbie deserves a special nod on that – in 2006, he was arguing Michigan’s case for a rematch with OSU over Florida playing in the national title game. The next year, he just couldn’t see Georgia in the BCS title game because Georgia hadn’t played in a conference championship game.

  8. Not only do I agree;but, I think you are also talking about why the Dawgs will never get into a NCG. It Is A beauty contest & CMR & the Dawgs do not qualify regardless of their record. ESPN does have that much influence with the voters.

    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      If the Dawgs win the SEC, particularly if they are undefeated, it will be awfully hard for the BCS to not let them in the BCSNC game.

  9. Idi

    The wwl (sorry but I ain’t on the payroll) has its warts just like all other media entities but it has always possessed a clear superiority in broadcasting and presenting the College game that FoxSports so wish it had.

    As for the ‘creative control’ the wwl exercises, make no mistake, few entities are better at the politics and the fact that their cast of characters have enjoyed considerable tenure speaks to their grasps of how to execute it.

    And as for the two snipers, one is essentially a journeyman seeking fame and the other is lizard soon to be without a swamp!