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Impressive Dan Wetzel column on Knight and ESPN...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Mizzougrad96, Nov 15, 2006.

  1. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member


    ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Monday, Michigan coach Lloyd Carr stormed out of an interview session here with "ESPN on ABC," loudly uttering F-bombs and screaming about the direction interview questions had taken.

    According to the Ann Arbor News it was one wild scene with a flipped-out coach, a "no comment" producer and a tense, in-front-of-the-camera clash just days before the titanic No. 1 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Michigan matchup.

    Did you see the video on ESPN? Did you hear Lisa Salters report on the blowup on "SportsCenter"? Will the incident be debated ad nauseam on all of the network's afternoon rant-and-rave shows?


    Of course not.

    The whitewash, wall-to-wall coverage story of the day about an out-of-control college coach is once again one of ESPN's favorite whipping boys, Bob Knight, who Monday in an obscure game in Lubbock, Texas, knocked one his players, Michael Prince, on the chin because he wasn't paying attention to one of The General's legendary rants.

    Knight long ago should have known better than to lay a hand on a player. He should have learned to control his emotions. He and Texas Tech should have expected the ensuing firestorm because, right or wrong, it is what happens when he steps out of line.

    The point here isn't to defend him.

    This is to wonder why as ESPN's power continues to grow, its sense of perspective continues to wane.

    There is one standard for Knight, for Terrell Owens, for Maurice Clarett and a completely other one for everyone else.

    Back in December of 2003, Knight and Iowa coach Steve Alford did an offseason, side-by-side interview with ESPN's Fran Fraschilla. Knight bristled at one of Fraschilla's questions and yelled at him.

    The ESPN producer immediately shipped the film back to Bristol where the confrontation was played big on "SportsCenter" and became a staple of ESPN's always-at-the-ready "Knight's out of control" package.

    It was ridiculous. A coach getting angry at a reporter is not a news item. It is an every hour occurrence. Only because it was Knight was it a big deal. It is the same principle that caused ESPN to bury what is probably a pretty colorful scene courtesy of Carr in Ann Arbor.

    But therein lies the ridiculousness. If ESPN wants to broadcast one angry coach, then it should broadcast all of them. If ESPN wants to go 24/7 over one coach misbehaving, then it ought to go after all of them. Don't tell me that at this stage, in this week, with the Game of the Century on the line, Lloyd Carr's dealings with reporters isn't a bigger news story than Bob Knight in that 2003 interview or Knight in some scrub early-season mismatch.

    But ESPN is eating one of those tapes.

    Fraschilla, a former coach at three different Division I schools, ironically also called Tech's victory over Gardner-Webb on Monday. He said what Knight did is something that 100 coaches will do this season. I don't know about 100, but at least 20. I've seen that kind of tap all over the place.

    College coaches, particularly ones of Knight's generation, have long been hopelessly overemotional and out of control. What Knight did is what John Chaney has done and what Lou Holtz has done. It isn't far from the way Tom Izzo or Kelvin Sampson or Gary Williams or so many other guys still do it.

    But those incidents slip by with little mention.

    Just the way last summer Houston Astros manager Phil Garner tossed a chair onto a baseball field to protest an ejection and the world didn't end.

    Just the way video of Lloyd Carr blowing up – perhaps justifiably – will never surface.

    Yes, Knight should know better and should know the world has changed. But this act is hardly worth this kind of over-the-top coverage. Not when college athletics has serious problems – academic fraud, rampant cheating, widespread profiteering.

    For a while "SportsCenter" – the overwhelmingly most powerful force in sports media – lost its way with a silly parade of sorry would-be standup comics as anchors. Now it has backed off that slightly and gone straight tabloid.

    Daily coverage of Barry Bonds. Daily coverage of Terrell Owens. Daily coverage of whatever outrageous character it can drum up. "Up next on Cold Pizza, a clinical psychologist gives a diagnosis of Bob Knight." (No joke).

    One standard here, one there. Some get exposed, some get protected. No consistent news judgment. No sense of perspective. Just a toe-the-company-line ombudsman on its website.

    Yeah, Bob Knight is in the media grinder now, the full force of the World Wide Leader flipping out over a flipped chin.

    It's fine if ESPN thinks he deserves it. But if so, he sure isn't the only one. And that's what the network isn't telling you.

    Dan Wetzel is Yahoo! Sports' national columnist. Send Dan a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
  2. And, wait a minute, Knight is ESPN's "favorite whipping boy."?
    Didn't they give him his own reality show?
    Doesn't Vitale still kiss his ass?
    ESPN is deeply ambivalent about Knight, is about the best you can say.
  3. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    I read it earlier today and it's spot-on correct.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    ESPN offered Neil Reed a job to try to get more dirt on Knight...
  5. fmrsped

    fmrsped Active Member

    Isn't this type of column the job of a TV/media critic?

    I'd rather see Wetzel take a position on Knight. Was he right, was he wrong?

    I hate ESPN. Hate it. But I also hate all these columnists, local and national, using ESPN-bashing as their material.

    That's not their job. Their job is to stand on issues, not on coverage of the issues.
  6. JBHawkEye

    JBHawkEye Active Member

    Dan Patrick was in full Knight apologist mode yesterday.

    Yet. as much as I don't like Knight, I think ESPN way overplayed this.
  7. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Are you guys telling me ESPN oversensationalized, exaggerated, overreached, overstated and aggrandized something? NO. And wait, did the game originally appear on ESPN? This can't be...

    Sidebar: Dan Wetzel shouldn't be calling anyone out, these days. That's like Barker, Gonzalez, Martinez, McCord, Jr., and Sturgis telling us that there is something fishy going on over at the Watergate Hotel.
  8. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member

    It's true. But Wetzel needs to do is convict his colleagues for making extra money off of or working for a news source they know to be corrupt.

    This is a neat column, sure. It'd be a whole lot neater if Dan called up Ivan Maisel and Pat Forde and asked them why they work for an organization that plays favorites and both sides of the fence.

    Because what ESPN as a whole? It's people. And, sadly, you've got to go after the people with a conscience - guys who haven't downed the Kool-Aid. There's no point anymore in ridiculing Stuart Scott. No point. The guy appears on VH1, for God sakes. You think he cares? Dick Vitale? You think he cares? Bill Simmons? ESPN treats him like Marie Antoinette.

    Sorry, but if you're a columnist and this stuff troubles you, the prime targets are the class guys. A columnist has to hold up a mirror to the reputable folks inside that news organization and ask them: Do you enjoy working for Charles Foster Kane? Somebody needs to ask Buster Olney that. Mitch Albom that. Forde that. Katz that. Wojo that. Maisel that. Anybody who shows up on ATH. Let them wash their hands of it. Until some of the better writers at that establishment begin to understand they're not somehow apart from the rest of that corporate goo, what changes? Nothing changes.
  9. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Alma, I know you're the exception to this... Whitlock has proven that he's an exception to this...

    But most of us would go to ESPN in a heartbeat for what they're paying guys like Thompson, Forde and Olney among others...

    I hate ESPN, but that doesn't mean I turn away freelance work for The Magazine. If that makes me a hypocrite, then so be it... I don't like a lot of the things my newspaper does, but that doesn't mean I'm going to quit...
  10. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Of course your point is valid. I disagree with a lot of what my paper does, but you're right, I won't quit over minor philosophies.
    But, at some point, the machine gets too big for the factory. A lot of that comes out in George Solomon's critiques...
    Then again, I get the sense he's writing that column for himself.
  11. Alma

    Alma Well-Known Member


    My advice is: Stop hating ESPN.
  12. Kevlar

    Kevlar Member


    Here's what I think Wetzel and so many of the posters on this website fail to realize.

    That "corporate goo" you speak of? It's mainly made up of former print guys, and very good ones at that. The first thing I thought when I read the Wetzel column was that the Lloyd Carr incident would fall under the purview of Don Skwar, former print guy. John Skipper - former print guy. John Walsh - former print guy. The dude who fired Whitlock - former print guy.

    Nobody seems to get that the people pulling the strings are not Stu Scott and Chris Berman.

    There are exceptions. Mark Shapiro, no longer there, came from the television side. But he also came up with SportsCentury and PTI, arguably two of the better ESPN contributions in recent years.

    So it's not just Forde, Katz, Wojo, Olney, et al to consider talking to. Just something for everyone to consider.
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