Thursday, December 21, 2006

ESPN staffers, get out the pom poms

By now everyone knows that the debate over who deserves to be playing Ohio State in the BCS Championship game got rather ugly, particulary between CBS' Gary Danielson who openly lobbied for Florida during the SEC Championship game and ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit who lobbied for Michigan just about everywhere he could get on the air.

What's interesting to note is that in a radio interview Herbstreit implied that Danielson's plea on behalf Florida was influenced by his employer because of CBS' relationship with the SEC. He didn't seem to think that Danielson really believed what he said, which in my book is insulting as hell. Danielson never made the same accusation about Herbstreit although, if one looks at the situation closely, he probably could have.

I was recently made aware of this New York Times article about the broadcasting contract that was renewed this year between The Big Ten and ESPN.

Some excerpts:

On March 28, the day before Delany [The Big Ten Commissioner] visited the ESPN corporate castle in Bristol, Conn., a memo was sent to employees from John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president for content; it urged them to make Delany and his associates feel that "Bristol is Big Ten Country."

He pointed to the "pennants, banners and Big Ten flags" on campus and asked that workers wear the "Bristol is Big Ten Country" buttons made for the occasion. Delany said Fox made him feel welcome, but not in such a boola-boola way.

The ESPN extension, worth $90 million to $100 million a year (up from $60 million annually in the contract that runs through this season), gives more football and basketball games to ABC, ESPN and ESPN2, and adds offerings to ESPN's broadband, cellphone, Internet and video-on-demand businesses.

Wow, I knew the ESPN talking heads were acting like cheerleaders for The Big Ten but I didn't know how much this was being encouraged from the top of the organization. I have another blog, Herald Watch, dedicated to watching my local newspaper because I feel that it has accumulated way too much power in its ability to determine what's news and what isn't. I should probably start another called "ESPN Watch."

Hat tip to: retheisen at Swamp Gas.

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