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Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Posted on: July 15, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:20 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Mike Leach's new book, Swing Your Sword, was released Thursday, and Leach's co-author on the book was famed scribe Bruce Feldman (The Meat Market, 'Cane Mutiny). Small problem: Feldman also writes for's Insider section, and that may prove to be something of an issue when Leach's book contains a litany of complaints against ESPN on-air personality Craig James for his role in getting Leach fired from Texas Tech.

And yet, according to reports, Feldman was given the green light to proceed with the book, and he never engaged in any promotion for the book before or after its release. Non-issue, then, right? Well, wait:

ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman was suspended indefinitely during a conference call with three ESPN officials this morning.

[They] informed Feldman today that he has been banned from writing for any ESPN entity, is forbidden from appearing on any ESPN platform, is not allowed to Tweet from his Twitter account nor participate in any promotion of a recently-released book in which Feldman played a role.

Such is the report from Sports by Brooks, anyway, and thus far there's been nothing to indicate the report isn't accurate. Feldman, who's normally a fairly active tweeter, has been silent since Wednesday on his ESPN-branded Twitter account @BFeldmanESPN, and no other ESPN personalities are commenting on the matter.

Just about everybody else in the world is commenting, however, and "Bruce Feldman" became a trending topic fairly quickly Thursday night on Twitter. Twitterers made use of the #freebruce hashtag early and often, especially after Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples canceled his ESPN Insider subscription in protest:

Now, since ESPN hasn't released its side of this story yet, and since all we're working on is one report from one media outlet, it would be premature and assumptive to rake ESPN over the coals for this decision at this point. All reports indicate that Feldman was given the go-ahead to help write this book before the ugliness between ESPN and Leach. So if there was some amendment (whether explicit or tacit) to the arrangement after ESPN became directly involved, obviously, that would be relevant information that hasn't been released yet. We're all operating with limited information, and rather than build 1,500-word arguments based on assumptions that could be disproved by a single PR release before sunrise Friday, it's probably best to wait and learn more from the parties involved.

That all said, it's worth noting that, generally speaking, suspensions from organizations (whether sporting, media or otherwise) rarely improve the product being put out. Dez Bryant getting banned by the NCAA for the rest of his senior season didn't make Oklahoma State or the Big 12 any better or more entertaining, for example, to say nothing of what the NCAA lost when it wouldn't let Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett or USC WR Mike Williams get drafted or come back and play after their second seasons out of high school in 2004. Rules are rules, but taking talent off the field makes what happens on the field worse.

Obviously, that's not to say that all suspensions or other disciplinary actions are inherently bad -- discipline is important, and to keep the examples in college football, nobody would argue that Lawrence Phillips didn't spend enough time off the Nebraska squad after his domestic assault charge during the 1995 season. So yes, clearly, suspensions or firings/dismissals serve a well-needed purpose.

Yet, based on what we know now, Feldman didn't do anything wrong. He helped write a book that a whole lot of people really wanted to see written, and it wasn't even that one about ESPN itself that so many past and present ESPN employees gave testimony for -- under their own names, no less.

No, instead, ESPN is apparently degrading its PR standing (to say nothing of its paid Insider product, to which Feldman actually contributes) in order to punish Feldman and push this notion of ESPN as a faultless company that virtually zero of its consumers actually believe. It's extremely difficult to find a benefit to the company itself in this decision. The product is worse. The public perception is worse. The journalistic freedom within is now demonstrably worse. Exactly what is ESPN trying to accomplish here?

The appearance is that Craig James used his position at ESPN to force enough public pressure on Leach to be ousted from Texas Tech, and is now using his position within ESPN to force Feldman from the ranks at Bristol. If either is inaccurate and James would like to see Leach or Feldman restored to their previous statuses, by all means, we'd be glad to document such a statement. If not, it's hard not to think that ESPN is being used as a bully pulpit, and if that means a college football world without heavy involvement from Leach and Feldman, then college football is worse off for it, and that's no role for ESPN or any other major college football media organization to hold.


Since: Nov 30, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:55 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

All I know is that if I came home and complained to my father that my coach was picking on me and won't let me start, my father would have kicked my ass all the way back to practice!!! He sure as hell wouldn't have tried to sue the coach or get him fired.  Somebody needs to tell ESPN that choosing Craig James over Mike Leach is a bad mistake.  James already left ESPN once for supposedly a better gig, until he came crawling back on his hands and knees.  Leach will be back coaching sooner than later, and I hope he shuns ESPN every timet they try to do a story on him.

Since: Nov 15, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2011 1:37 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Craig James can be summed up in three short words:

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:50 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Mo-Chi said it best with the ESPN/MTV correlation. 

Like we've said for years, ESPN has become to sports, what MTV is to music.

ESPN has become a caricature of itself, as if it was a popularity contest.  It used to be about highlights and useful analysis.  Now it is a joke.  The big news is about what someone tweets or what this guy said about an opponent.

Prior to ESPN getting a NASCAR TV contract, the drivers were a bunch of rednecks and the only highlights would be crashes, the finish, and any fights/stupid drama jammed into the last 2 minutes of SportsCenter.  Now there is apparently (I'm guessing since I don't watch) all sorts of analysis, separate shows, its treated as much as a legitimate sport as baseball, and it gets billed and hyped just as much.  ESPN lost the NHL contract, and the amount of coverage and the views taken have gone the other way - to what NASCAR was before.  NHL has been exiled until exactly the moment ESPN gets back an NHL TV contract. 

Baseball to ESPN?  Whoever is in the playoffs and World Series plus Yankees/Red Sox.  Nothing else matters.
NBA to ESPN?  Lakers, Heat, Kobe, and LeBron, then whoever is in the playoffs, plus cool looking dunks.  Nothing else matters
World Series of Poker?  Seriously, this is a sport with some prime time coverage?  I liked it much better when ESPN showed the world lumberjack championships and Australian Rules Football.  At least those required some actual athletic ability.

Other than NFL games, I haven't watched it.  Its been 12-13 years since I last watched Sportscenter on purpose (sometimes it comes on because I fell asleep at the end of an NFL game with the TV on).  I want the NBA to not play this season in part to make fun of ESPN trying to scramble to find something to replace the programming blocks.  Maybe spelling bees or the national checkers championship.

Since: Dec 14, 2009
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:36 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Craig James is a poor CFB Analyst and he lied thru his teeth in the documentary "Pony Excess". I hope Kirk Herbstreit kicks his ass one of these days. Who cares if Mike Leach locked his kid in the broom closet, He probably improved the team by doing so.

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:22 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

This story between Leach and Craig James just screams for an Outside The Lines special, yet nothing has happened in that regard as of yet. I suspect that it would paint Craig James in a negative light and ESPN couldn't possibly allow that, even if the firing of Leach was justified.

Journalistic integrity has been out the door for years, and it's not coming back.

Since: Sep 19, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 12:19 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Here's what I don't get, why is ESPN putting such stock in Craig James?  Is he really that irreplaceable?  Personally I don't think he's that great of an analyst.  He struggles to give impartial reviews, and always seems to be pushing his agenda.  I just don't understand why ESPN is backing him like he owns the company.  I just don't get it.

Since: Jun 5, 2011
Posted on: July 15, 2011 11:11 am

They should fire Craig James

Craig James used his position at ESPN to get Mike Leach fired becuase Leach didn't give Adam James special privileges or play him in front of people with more talent.  He has also used it behind the scenes to blackball Leach from being employed in his chosen field.  Now, James is using his public platform to garner as much free publicity as he can for his political aspirations in Texas.  ESPN is siding with the wrong person here.
When I saw the excerpts, I wondered how ESPN would react to one of their employees helping write a book that exposes James for what he really is. They could have either fired James and thanked Feldman for helping to purge their payroll of someone whose maintenance/talent ratio is much too high, or they could blame the messenger and try to sweep it under the carpet.  By choosing the latter, ESPN has proven that they are a lot more about entertainment and good-ol-boy cronyism than "objective journalism."

Since: Nov 15, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:32 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

amazingly, im reading these comments and the other day i a friend who is not a big sports fan asked me if i saw something on sportscenter.  I told him i barely watch it anymore.  There was a time when i would watch it on a continuous loop, but ESPN other then showing ball games,  has become like one poster said mtv of the sports world.  It all started with the Espys.  When they started having an oscar like award show and acting serious about it, that signified the end of what was once the one channel you would take to a desert island.  i do still watch baseball tonight, now and then, and nascar now, but i prefer alternatives that i can get on other channels.  The days of Sportscenter and ESPN being staples in my day are long gone. 

Hoke is a Joke
Since: May 18, 2011
Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:22 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Dec 16, 2009
Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:00 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

All I can say, is thank goodness for the seperate networks, like the NHL, NFL, MLB and Big 10 Networks. Now, there's no reason to tune into ESPN. Like we've said for years, ESPN has become to sports, what MTV is to music.

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