Category:NCAAF
Posted on: October 12, 2010 4:39 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 4:40 pm
 

Journalism Watch List: D-Tread Not Dennis Dodd's

Journalism Watch List: D-Tread not Dennis Dodd's biggest problem

Write controversial articles.

That's the easiest part of Dennis Dodd's job this week, CBSSports.com's senior college football columnist. All he has to do it get people pissed off by writing insensitive, foul, and untrue attacks on good people who are on track to become major football head coaches after the Spartans' appointment in Pasadena, Calif. next January. The Spartans' trip to then-No. 18 Michigan showed that nothing was wrong between Mark Dantonio and Don Treadwell and lent some further definition to the Big Ten race. Otherwise, Dodd has to be really worried. He has got to know by now that CBSSports.com has a fallback, a first runner-up should he not be able to fulfill his duties as senior columnist. (Gratuitous Weekend Watch List parody if you don't get it.)

Point is, Burton DeWitt can write. Future Pulitzer candidate only, for now. That could change. Bleacher Report's featured columnist is 2-0 in showing Dodd who is boss this week, including a vicious retort to his unacceptable jab, even if it were tongue-in-cheek, last Friday on Treadwell. There is only one journalist left heading into Week 7 to give Dodd the business while also being competent. Technically, that puts DeWitt a class above Gary Smith, Tom Friend, John Feinstein, and Jason Whitlock.

You know the recent history. Dodd expects that his job is safe for all eternity after completely botching his attempt at satire. The plan, once again, is for Dodd to write Weekend Watch List from his computer in Kansas City, or wherever the hell he will be. The man knows when his job is being threatened. Dodd was texting other CBSSports.com writers from his bedroom last week asking for "column ideas."

You can bet he knows the Jimmy the Greek story. It's never good to cross the line in this business. That's why they speak of DeWitt in hushed tones around the CBSSports.comheadquarters. "Watch your back," they say. "He's taking credit for exposing you as a fraud," they whisper.

Yes, it's a power play and it's been ugly as Dodd attempts to move past his poor judgment.

"You can't keep me down Eastern Michigan-Ball State week," he said.

Meanwhile, DeWitt's career is littered with the broken careers he has stepped over on his way to undeniable greatness. Esther Vergeer still remains anonymous around much of the world despite DeWitt writing two excellent articles on her accomplishments. Bill Belichick still lost a Super Bowl despite DeWitt claiming the NFL should have suspended him for life for Spygate. It took three long years for Robert Kubica to get noticed as one of the best young drivers in Formula 1 after DeWitt wrote of him as a future champion in 2007.

Journalism Watch List could go on but why put more stress on Dodd? DeWitt is good, sneaky good. Columnist D knows what's at stake. It could be a trip to the Poor House. It could be Dodd being unemployed for the first time since Nick Saban was the Michigan State coach. It's about that future Pulitzer candidate trying to remove more than the future label. 

Watch your back, Columnist D. Watch your back.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Dennis Dodd
 
Posted on: October 11, 2010 12:00 am
Edited on: October 11, 2010 12:03 am
 

Dennis Dodd needs to apologize for article

 

 

Dennis Dodd needs to apologize. Not should, not would be wise to, but needs to. And needs to first thing Monday morning.

Each Friday during college football season, Dodd publishes his Weekend Watch List in which he discusses the upcoming games. But this past Friday, he took it a step further.

Dodd wrote a scathing attack on Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell, referring to the “broken careers he has stepped over on his way to the top,” including NFL-bust Charles Rogers and former Notre Dame coach Tyrone Willingham who became the butt of many a joke after he turned Washington into a 0-12 team.

Treadwell had coached the Spartans under the interim tag to wins in their previous two games while head coach Mark Dantonio was recovering from a heart attack and blood clot. Clearly, Dodd thought Treadwell was dangerous.

But then, as if that wasn't enough, he told Dantonio to watch out.

“Treadwell is good, sneaky good,” Dodd wrote. “Coach D knows what's at stake. It's a lot bigger than a trip to the Big House. It's a lot bigger than Sparty being 5-0 for the first time since Nick Saban was coach. It's about that interim coach trying to remove more than the interim label."

“Watch your back, Coach D. Watch your back.”

Dodd furthered that by an unsubstantiated claim that people, referred to only as “they,” were speaking in “hushed tones around the Spartan football offices.”

“'Watch your back,' they say. 'He's taking credit for Little Giants, they whisper.”

In the harshest line of an otherwise insensitive article, Dodd wrote, “Yes, it's a power play and it's been ugly as Dantonio tries to reclaim his job.”

While some at CBSSports.com tried to pass off this article as speculation, there was nothing speculative about it. Dodd was openly asserting that Treadwell was trying to steal Dantonio's job and that unnamed and undefined people at the school were warning Dantonio as such.

There was only one problem: Absolutely nothing Dodd wrote about Treadwell's motives were true.

As was later revealed when Gregg Doyel, one of Dodd's colleagues at CBSSports.com, posted on the article's message board, Dodd's entire article was tongue-in-cheek.

Treadwell trying to steal a sick man's job? Made-up. Dantonio fighting to save his? Made-up. People sneaking around the Michigan State offices? Made-up.

Nothing was factual.

I understand that tongue-in-cheek articles are fun to write. Hell, the most-read article I've ever written was a satire on Charlie Weis's job security at the end of last season. But it was clearly satire, even labeled as such.

But there was nothing in Dodd's article to tip us off that this was satire. Everything, except for the quotes, was believable, and the purported quotes seemed like nothing other than a 19th-century trick to bring evidence to a point-of-view that had no real proof.

Dodd's article appeared serious to everyone who read it except Dodd himself, fooling in the process even many of his own colleagues in the journalism world. And what he fooled us to believe for more than 36 hours before Doyel broke that the article was satire is incomprehensible.

Dodd inadvertently tried to convince us than Don Treadwell was a jackass. The article painted the offensive coordinator as a bad person who saw Dantonio's health problems as the key he needed to further his career.

Those that weren't convinced, myself included, thought Dodd was using his pen to settle some score with Treadwell. I thought Dodd was viciously trying to create a rumor, to stir the pot, maybe even to get Treadwell fired. It reeked of that low quality of journalistic standards usually reserved for sensationalistic tabloids and ESPN.com. It certainly did not meet CBSSports.com's normally high standards of output.

When I found out the article was tongue-in-cheek, more than a day after I first read it, I was shocked. Nothing had tipped me off; nothing was there to tip anyone off.

Then it dawned on me just how few people would actually see the message board post revealing the article was tongue-in-cheek.

The fact of the matter is an apology is in store. Thousands of readers were offended by the tone and message of Dodd's article, and most of those never found out that the article was in jest.

Many normally level-headed members of the CBSSports.com viewer community, people who always reply civilly to even the most outrageous claims by other CBSSports.com writers, were calling for Dodd's head. This article was that disgusting.

I'm sure if Dodd offended anyone at Michigan State, he has already apologized. But they're not the only ones who felt attacked by this article.

I've been coming to CBSSports.com since before CBS got involved in the site, back when it was Sportsline.com. The CBS part? I'm still having trouble drilling it into my mind. The site is my first-stop source for news in all four major sports, as well as golf and tennis. Even if I wanted to, I'm not sure I would be able to stay away.

There are many, many people who hold CBSSports.com in that same regard.

Dodd's article was a slap in all of our faces. The quality of the writing was nothing shy of abysmal, and the message in its most overt reading was vindictive, cruel, insensitive, and disgusting. It was unprofessional and indefensible. That an editor, no matter how low down the CBSSports.com staff, approved this article, is shocking to say the least.

But Dodd still has a chance to make it all right.

All he needs to do is write and publish and apology on the CBSSports.com website and post it to the site's front page. All he needs to do is admit the article was in poor judgment and say he's sorry for those who were offended.

I know many writers offend people, whether by choice or by fact; that's part of the profession. But Dodd's Weekend Watch List article about Don Treadwell is not journalism, at least not by today's standards.

Anything less than an apology will be just as unacceptable as the words Dennis Dodd has already written.

 

 

Category: NCAAF
Tags: Dennis Dodd
 
Posted on: September 14, 2008 1:19 am
 

Oklahoma and Southern California for BCS Title

Pen it in now. Jot it down. Permanent ink. It's not going to change.

Oklahoma will play Southern California for the national title. It's set. Plan your trip to Miami.

Not Georgia, not Florida, not Wake Forest, not Wisconsin. Not East Carolina or Fresno State, not Boise State or Brigham Young.

Oklahoma and Southern California. No point to play it out. It's set.

I'm not saying these are the two best teams in the country. They might be, although I doubt it. I still hold that Georgia is more talented and more deep than either could dream of being. But it does not matter.

After everything else has settled.

After conference play and conference championship games, rivalry week and the upsets.

After Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Washington, and Clemson are looking for new head coaches.

After Larry Munson has uttered what may be his final words as Georgia play-by-play announcer.

After Tim Tebow wins his second Heisman Trophy, maybe.

We will have Oklahoma and Southern California, one and two, not necessarily in that order, but both in the BCS National Championship Game. Both playing for all the marbles.

Who is going to beat Oklahoma? Who?

Maybe Missouri, maybe, if the Tigers can reach the conference title game.

Texas is too fragile and unproven in the secondary and too weak at linebacker to stop the Oklahoma assault that has already hung 50 on Chattanooga, Cincinnati, and Washington.

Texas Tech, well, this is possible. The Red Raiders are more talented defensively than any team Mike Leach has ever coached, but they're not that talented. Not talented enough to go to Norman and slow Oklahoma, that's for sure.

Besides that, there aren't really any games that should even cause the Sooners to blink. Bob Stoops is not going to let Colorado happen again. There are not going to be any 27-24 stunners. He's too good of a coach.

Who is going to beat Southern California? Who?

Talk about an advantageous schedule. California, Oregon, and Arizona State, the three-best teams in the PAC-10 besides the Trojans, all come to the Coliseum.

No PAC-10 team other than Stanford has defeated Southern California in the Coliseum under Pete Carroll. That's a scary thought. Why should that change now?

California's defense should be much better than the injured squad that surrendered its most points per game since 2001. Heck, besides its no-show Saturday in what was a 9 A.M. kickoff pacific time at Maryland, the team has been in synch on both sides of the ball.

Oregon has overachieved so far. Can Nathan Costa be ready for a defense with the size, speed, depth, and skill of Southern California the first Saturday in October?

And Arizona State? No way. Dennis Erickson single-handedly coached this team to 10 wins last year. Still, the team was run out of Tempe when Southern California came to town, 44-24.

The only challenging road game is the finale at UCLA. There is no telling what UCLA will show up on any given weekend, whether it will be the team that takes down Tennessee or the laughingstock that goes down 59-0 to Brigham Young.

So mark it in.

Oklahoma and Southern California. Southern California and Oklahoma. Undefeated, one and two. All the way.

Who else will run the table?

Georgia? Too unlikely. Look at the depth in the SEC. Georgia struggled to beat Steve Spurrier's South Carolina squad, the same South Carolina squad that went down to Vanderbilt nine days earlier.

Florida? Too many questions. How will the defense handle SEC speed? Will Tim Tebow avoid injury? Can Urban Meyer outcoach his colleagues out of halftime?

LSU? Auburn? Alabama? They all have to beat up on each other.

Texas? The defense is too shaky.

Missouri? What defense?

Wisconsin? First, the Badgers have to beat Fresno State. Then they have to take care of Ohio State and Penn State consecutive Saturdays in Madison.

South Florida? Wake Forest? Does it matter if they go undefeated? It does not.

Sure, one of these teams could run the table. One of these teams could jump into the title picture if it does. But it is not likely. It's almost as unlikely as Southern California or Oklahoma losing any of its remaining games.

They just have too much more talent than any of the teams they're scheduled to play.

It is not their fault. They are just better.

Looking at the schedules, looking at the rosters, there is only one game for each team that there's more than a possibility that they'll lose: January 8 in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Nowhere else can either of these two schools lose. Not this year.

So jot it down in permanent ink. There won't be any need to change it.

Right or wrong, it is all we are left with.
Posted on: August 8, 2008 3:40 pm
 

Alabama Fan Shows That Sports Too Can Be Inhuman

I missed this story. Completely. Had no idea about it. And in some way, I'm glad I did. It's just so inconceivable, so inhuman that I would rather not even know about it.

And until now, I did not know about it, living in permanent ignorance. Not on this planet, never on this planet.

On November 18th, 2005, the night before the annual Iron Bowl between Auburn and Alabama, Joey Barrett, Jr., a lifelong Alabama fan and now 25, went to a fraternity party at Auburn and yelled “Roll Tide!” A brawl then broke out, with Barrett stabbing one of the fraternity brothers.

The brother was hospitalized with a collapsed lung. Two others who were lucky enough not to get stabbed were also hospitalized.

Barrett then found a witness, who just happened to be clinically declared as mentally retarded, and offered him a car to admit to being the person who stabbed the brother.

And until now, I had not heard this.

Of everything that has happened. Of everything that I have heard of or seen, brawls breaking out at games, sometimes fatal, nothing like this.

Never have I seen a man go to a party in enemy territory with the obvious intent to start a fight a day before the game started.

Never have I seen a man be willing to stab someone just because he's a fan of a different team.

Never have I seen a man who would bribe a mentally retarded man, Louie Holtz, with a car to testify that Holtz stabbed the victim.

Never have I seen a man get off so easily.

Barrett, a semi-pro cage fighter who frequently takes part in “last man standing” competitions, must have known that he would incite a fight by yelling “Role Tide” at an Auburn fraternity party. He also must have wanted the fight, as he was armed with a knife.

He was set to take the stand in 2006, but claimed that Holtz would testify that he was the one who stabbed the fraternity brothers. No one involved in the fight recognized Holtz. No one. Then Holtz refused to testify. A mistrial was declared.

In the ensuing time, the investigation uncovered that Barrett and his legal staff had offered Holtz a car in attempt to bribe and convince him that he was the one who stabbed the brothers.

Barrett, who originally stood trial just for the first-degree assault charge, also was going to stand for bribing a witness.

And on Thursday, Barrett pleaded guilty to both charges, getting a deal that forced him to serve 18 months for the assault charge while concurrently serving one year for bribing the witness.

A year and a half in jail, that's all.

That's the story I wish I had not heard.

Had Barrett succeeded in killing the Auburn student, he would have been found guilty of second-degree murder. Not manslaughter, not assault. Murder. He was armed and had an intent to injure, even if it was not to kill.

He would have been serving a couple of decades in prison, not a matter of a 18 months in county jail.

Based on what he did, he's a lot more despicable that many convicted murderers and many people convicted of manslaughter, whether voluntary or involuntary.

And Barrett will also be out of jail long before any of these other people are out of prison.

As a sports fan, I don't get it.

As a human being, I don't get it.

Joey Barrett, Jr., an Alabama fan, went into an Auburn fraternity party either armed with a knife or with  knowledge of where a knife was that he could use, and intentionally incited a brawl. He wasn't at a game in the heat of the passion; he went in with the intent to fight and the intent to hurt. It's fairly obvious.

Then, he bribes a mentally handicapped man to admit to everything.

And all Joey Barrett, Jr. gets is 18 months in jail?

I want to think he was just drunk. I want to think Joey Barrett, Jr. made a drunken mistake and then got caught up in the moment and made a mistake he regrets, but I can tell this is not the case.

Even if he were drunk, it does not change the fact that afterwards, he tried to find someone to take the heat for the incident.

And I'm ashamed.

Barrett is an embarrassment to the Southeast Conference, to collegiate sports, to the United States; his sentence is an embarrassment to the United States judicial system.

There is no other way around this stone.

I'd like to have never heard this story, but now I have. And it pains me.

Not as badly as Barrett may have intended it to hurt a couple of innocent Auburn students, but fairly close. And I don't want this story to go away, at least not before you hear it. You probably want to ignore it because it is just so vile, just so wrong. What's the word?

It's just so... inhuman.

Try to comprehend it; you don't have the genetics to.

Barrett should be locked up as long as any murderer; he should be treated like one. He should get the ninth level of hell all to himself like Spencer Hall of the Sporting News blog argued.

He won't, but he should.

And now I never want to think of this story again. I never want to think of this story again.

Never again.

Please, never again.

Twenty days until college football season starts. That's my mind-set. Twenty days. Stories like this make those twenty days seem so much longer.

Stories like this make sports seem so unnecessary.

Posted on: June 15, 2008 1:32 am
 

Hypocrisy in Bristol

Few things in sports go hand-in-hand as well as ESPN and hypocrisy.

Sure, there are the high-profiled bashings of spring college football two days before ESPN decides to send Gameday to the University of Florida's spring game. And then there is ESPN's talk of high journalistic standards, the same standards that lead one of its primary writers to announce that Les Miles had accepted the head coaching position at the University of Michigan just an hour before he publicly announced that he had not taken the job.

But this story has been ignored, brushed to the side, because ESPN never wanted it to see the light of day.

On February 29, Save Oregon Wrestling (SOW) purchased 11 half-minute time slots on ESPNU and one on ESPN for broadcast during the 2008 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in St. Louis. Just one day before the event was set to begin, ESPN turned back the advertisements, claiming that the network did not air “advertising that consists of, in whole or in part, political advocacy or issue-oriented advertising.” SOW was reimbursed in full.

ESPN, it should be noted, had a backlog of advertisers who wanted to buy airtime that was already sold to various groups, including SOW.

SOW was founded not shortly after the University of Oregon decided that it would drop wrestling after the 2007-2008 school year, a decision that was made July 13, 2007. It dropped wrestling to make way to add baseball, as well as to make competitive cheerleading a scholarship sport.

At the time, Oregon was the only full PAC-10 member without a baseball team and one of only four with a wrestling program.

Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny made the decision, claiming that the decision was his and not ordered by anyone else in the department.

“I felt it was my responsibility to examine all facets of the athletics department and determine how we could improve its operation and fiscal efficiency,” he wrote in a release to the media the morning of the decision. “The changing landscape of collegiate athletics over the past decades has influenced me to come to the conclusion that these changes will be in the best interest of the future of the university."

Kilkenny, it must be noted, was a former booster of the university who helped finance the buyout of his predecessor. He also has no college degree, the only Division I athletic director at any school who does not have this basic requirement.

He dropped the program and claimed that Title IX was at issue, a stance that he would later retract.

Additionally, financial problems certainly are not the problem. Baseball costs more than $1 million annually to field a program; wrestling is about $700,000. Furthermore, the university will have to pay more money for scholarships for competitive cheer.

All this is not to mention the money that Nike gives the department.

Finally, SOW raised more than $2 million, enough to fund the team for three years while it continued to raise its goal of $6 million, enough to build a stand-alone facility for wrestling. Yet Kilkenny wouldn't budge, deciding instead to cut wrestling and lie to the student-athletes about the motive behind cutting wrestling.

It's not financial. He is adding a sport that costs much more and adding scholarships to another sport.

And it is not Title IX. The department has come out and shown that it was in complete compliance with Title IX and adding a sport wouldn't have affected that.

Then what is it?

But the real problem is ESPN's hypocrisy.

ESPN had a chance to put this story on the front page, to let the world know about what the Oregon athletic department was doing, but it chose not to. Investigative journalism into a real issue in one operation of sports is not ESPN's way.

Sure, it will investigate heckling in Little League Baseball, but it won't investigate the disorganization of an athletic department.

Instead, it turns down the advertisements and hides behind a policy that it seems to only enforce when it wants to.

ESPN has no problem airing “issue-oriented advertisements” that it agrees with, such as a campaign to keep children away from steroids. Those commercials have been running left and right on ESPN for the past couple of weeks. Is that not, at least in part, issue-oriented?

No, it is issue-oriented, but it is one that ESPN agrees with. ESPN has invested itself in a campaign against steroids and therefore it has no hesitation airing advertisements that talk against steroids.

But a campaign against lying to student-athletes? But a campaign against the manipulation of the population of an entire state because a booster wants baseball and doesn't want his school to support wrestling?

Never. That's not ESPN's way.

So here we are now, three months later, and these wrestlers are suing the university, a case they might very well win because the university did not engage in good-faith negotiations with the program, and it is a non-story. It is a non-story because ESPN wants it as such. ESPN wants every story to be about steroids, not wrestling.

ESPN's policy is hypocritical and it probably knows it. The executives aren't stupid.

They know that steroids are an issue, and yet they chose to air advertisements on the subject. Just the same, they chose not to air advertisements aimed to save a wrestling program.

The policy looks good, but ESPN enforces it only against issues it does not want to turn into a story.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com