In the days leading up to Mack Brown’s resignation as Texas’ football coach, ESPN reported daily on Brown’s job status. While daily SportsCenter updates on this story were fair game, the commentary from ESPN’s slate of college football pundits was totally irresponsible. Because ESPN runs the Longhorn Network jointly with UT’s Athletic Department, any SportsCenter commentary on a UT coach’s performance directly affects the value of their company’s joint venture with the University of Texas.
So even if pundits like Paul Finebaum and Stephen A. Smith genuinely believe that Texas should replace Mack Brown with Nick Saban, when they offered this opinion on SportsCenter only hours before Brown was fired, it felt like two spokesmen from ESPN’s corporate offices were telling UT’s Board of Regents why they needed to make a change in the football department. Similarly, any SportCenter report suggesting that Saban should be Texas’ next football coach sounded more like hiring advice than journalistic opinion: Saban, who has won 3 of the last 4 national championships, could impact the net worth of the Longhorn Network faster than any other hire. Not surprisingly, now that Alabama has paid him to stay put, ESPN is predictably “reporting” these days that an NFL A-lister could be the next Longhorn coach…
Simply put, ESPN has a vested economic interest in Texas football’s success. Therefore, no matter how much freedom ESPN gives its talking heads, none of their commentators can EVER have a truly objective opinion about a UT coach’s performance. And that’s why I have to ask: if Finebaum or Smith had been willing to give Mack Brown the benefit of the doubt for one more season, would such an opinion have led SportsCenter producers to select a different naysaying pundit for their final “Fire Mack Brown” segments?
Listen to PFPod for our response to criticisms that Brown failed to recruit the last three Heisman winners. Speaking of RGIII, we also jump on the Redskins’ latest drama, as well as the rest of the games from this past weekend of NFL games.
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