Me too Mulder, me too.
One of the endemic conditions of the passionate sports fan is to occasionally see conspiracies in the world around you. It could be the refs acting to prevent your team from winning, or the NCAA passing out selective justice that fails to punish your rival significantly enough.
Yesterday brought two new ones to light, this time of the media-is-out-to-get-us variety.
First was Gate 21's Home Sweet Home's accusation of ESPN having an agenda of some sort against Tennessee. HSH didn't outright say it happened, but you know, nudge nudge:
It's almost as if ESPN set Tennessee and Kiffin up by doing the story, and then finding this to make more out of it. I don't think I would be alone in feeling that way.
ESPN does all access features all the time. Remember Colt Brennan's spear fishing? Or how about Tim Tebow's turn in the throwing mechanics lab? Sure those were overly positive puff pieces, but programs surrounded by controversy seldom if ever allow TV types around. Kiffin has made his intention to get as much press as possible clear, so in came the cameras.
I don't know if the film crew was told to try to get footage of coaches talking to recruits or not. Even if the cameras had gone off, it's still a violation because the rule is that media members can't be around whether they're recording the proceedings or not. And since Kiffin, whose job it is to prevent violations from happening, didn't kick the film crew out of the room, it became a no-win scenario for ESPN. Air the footage and it's out to get UT; withhold the footage and it's a coverup to protect the media's new golden quote goose.
ESPN aims to do one thing more than anything else: make money. Since Lane Kiffin has made himself one of the top stories of the off season, it makes sense that the WWL would want to get a view from the inside. Overall, I thought the piece was done in a fair manner.
Pro-Tennessee sound bites from Mike Hamilton were interspersed through the part that outlined some of the off season controversies. ESPN also gave the final word to Layla Kiffin, Pete Carroll, and Lane himself, so that the viewer is left with the positive take on everything. I don't deny that individual media members can and do display bias, but media corporations don't much care which teams are good, only that someone is doing something that captures attention. Just look at the media blitz around Mike Leach if you need proof.
Moving along, the second conspiracy theory came from the plains of Auburn.
Jay at Track 'Em Tigers posited that the timing of last week/weekend's sudden burst of Tony Franklin coverage might be a media-generated distraction away from the pending NCAA judgment on Alabama's textbook scandal. It also might be a hit on Auburn to offset unexpected recruiting gains by Gene Chizik: