Blog Entry

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: Dec 24, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:00 am

Craig James isn't worth protecting

Geez, ESPN, why are you making yourself look bad on behalf of whiny Craig James?  He's not popular.  He's not good on TV.  He doesn't add value to ESPN.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Since: Mar 15, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:53 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

at some point ESPN decided the games themselves dont matter (except, of course, unless it involves the Yankees and Red Sox).

90% of their programing is self promotion of their own talent...god, espn radio is not even listenable because of the constant self congratulatory pap of ALL  their hosts and guests.

  I dont even watch Sportscenter isnt watchable any longer

Since: Aug 26, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:50 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

"All the stuff he's done for years"?

Like take a school that doesn't win or graduate their players and turn it into winners and make it into the D1 school with the highest rate of graduation/ 

Since: May 13, 2010
Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:46 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

ESPN is starting to become a four letter word! I can't stand SportsCenter anymore, yet I still have to watch it to get sports news. I usually stay online and skip SC nowadays. Is it just me or have they become the National Enquirer of sports? They always have some story that turns out is fluffed up by themselves. I miss the old days, when you would get tio watch every highlight and get stats. There was no breaking down plays on touch screens that don't work. Now they spend most opf their show talking about the big market teams and barely spend any time on everyone else. It really sucks. Where are thou Charlie Steiner, Dan Patrick, Rich Eisen, geez I'll even settle for Craig Ferguson.

Since: Sep 20, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:44 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

So Craig James is as big a cry baby as his son?  Not a huge surprise.  Pathetic.

Since: Feb 2, 2009
Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:35 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

   ESPN is horrible... I like the games but other than that i dont watch...

Since: Mar 15, 2008
Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:09 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

yep..typical ESPN.

actually, the real story is ESPN writes are contractually only allowed to write books about the Yankees or RedSox. So he was in violation of his contract.

seriously, ESPN has made no attempt to cover the Leach story isn any kind of acceptable journalistic standard. It has truly been disgusting....but it what we expect from the world wide leader in hype.

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 9:08 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

People are banging on ESPN are idiots.   Read all the stuff that Leach has done for years.  Maybe the guy should not have written the book with him because he is a creep.    No one wants the guy.  Doesnt that tell people something.   And Jacobi tries to write a article that is balanced, but he doesnt, he makes a comment about not wanting to rake them over the coals, then thats what he does.  I guess I should cancel my sportline fantasy leagues.

Since: Nov 25, 2010
Posted on: July 15, 2011 8:41 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

The joke - otherwise known as ESPN. That about says it all.

Since: Dec 28, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 8:07 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Typical media double-standard.  When it comes to NCAA coaches, the media is holier-than-thou.  But in their own house, they can deceive and double-talk, and it's okay.

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