The Newsmakers

By Ramzy Nasrallah on January 23, 2012 at 1:58p
A flawed man picked on by flawed menThis man lied | no one died | his carcass was delicious.

The manner in which the media breathlessly caressed and inflated Ohio State's miserable 2011 with all of the journalistic credibility of a hair salon is a well-beaten discussion path amongst frustrated Buckeye fans.

When the NCAA's final report contained only a fraction of the bad news that had been reported as fact for months, this created a false perception that Ohio State was handled with kid gloves by the COI. (Search for the words Dennis Talbott, free cars, television ban or endorsed checks amounting to $20-$40K for super secret autograph sessions in the NCAA's final report. Surprised? Disappointed?)

While the bias has been tossed around for years, what's never been clear regarding the disproportionate coverage and intertwining of facts with pure speculation is how or why Ohio State earned that bulls-eye from the media behemoth. It's driving a lot of you crazy. Thanks for all the cards and letters, by the way.

ESPN, which has had a noticeable hard-on for the Buckeyes dating back to its odd three-year obsession with Maurice Clarett, is still - curiously - suing the university to see documents the NCAA already accessed and considered in issuing its final judgment to what is now a closed case.

There are no accidents in news coverage, and because they hate us borders on unhinged paranoia, so initial theories on ESPN's Buckeye fetish were focused on the Big Ten Network and its content as a direct ESPN competitor: Inflict damage on one of its marquee content providers and you hurt BTN via communicative shrapnel. As with everything else, it was because of money.

But then the Jerry Sandusky tragedy unfolded at Penn State and ESPN's coverage was sluggish from the outset; almost hesitant to devote resources to covering the story, as if it was Ben Roethlisberger's rape case (billions invested in the NFL!) Jim Calhoun's major violations at UConn (he tapes Sportscenter commercials!) the Willie Lyles/Chip Kelly story (he tapes Sportscenter commercials!) or the Nevin Shapiro scandal at Miami that ESPN explicitly refused to acknowledge until it became too awkward to ignore it any longer.

Until Sandusky and the Penn State administration provided the most horrendous measuring stick imaginable, Tressel's cover-up was the scandal of the year in American sports - not because of what transpired, but mainly because of how the media - ESPN, mostly - chose to shape the narrative of a man who was caught and turned in for lying by his employer.

If all such cases were handled with the same sensationalism, it would be easy to chalk it up to the nature of the business. That is far from reality: The disparity in coverage for scandals is as wide as the stories are distorted.

Why did ESPN sit on the Bernie Fine tapes  for eight years? Why did the media at large deliberately avoid applying scrutiny to the Cam Newton case at Auburn? (And after you peruse the letters in that Deadspin link to Auburn from actual, credentialed journalists - how many favors did Joe Schad's father cash in to get junior his dream job in sports media?)

The only conceivable way you would hear anything of substance about the Miami or Oregon investigations on ESPN would be if Tim Tebow happened to mention them. Distortion and selective reporting are not monopolized exclusively by bad news. There's money in making people feel good too.

By comparison to the hands-off approach taken with those other scandals, ESPN requested so much information from Ohio State about the Tressel investigation it was willing to pay up to $500 in photocopying and postage fees to capture it all. When it did not get everything it wanted, that lawsuit happened.

Obsession isn't free or cheap, and neither are legal services. ESPN pursued the story, and chronicled its pursuit all along the way. If it is in the process of doing so either with Miami or Oregon, it's doing so silently.

Several readers have asked me about documenting cases of bias against Ohio State in some sort of Media Matters-type of operation. I'm not sold on how healthy or useful that would be. A cathartic us-against-the-world circle jerk by any other name is still just a circle jerk. There's no peace in understanding, at least not in these parts. Taking on the media on behalf of a single football program would make David vs. Goliath look like a pick'em game in Vegas.

Last summer as Ohio State's carcass was simmering in the media cauldron because its football coach hid petty cash violations from the NCAA and played those petty cash-recipients in games, I landed on Ohio State's popularity as the reason it consistently floated to the top of the bad news fishbowl. If Ohio State was, say, Central Florida - whose current LOI dwarfs anything else the NCAA reviewed in 2011 - it would have been a passing story.

News and ratings have become inextricably attached, and it extends beyond sports: Cable news has long repackaged nearly all of its reporting as breaking news, regardless of whether it was breaking or news at all.

ESPN, with billions invested in the NFL, started with character-driven pieces to engage and attract viewers (Favre!) and slowly morphed those pieces into news items (Tebow!) until the manufactured promotions themselves became the actual news stories. No one is more meta than ESPN.

If there's bad news - or the NFL doesn't approve of content that might cause the league to be viewed in an unfavorable light - that content is eliminated. It's essentially state-sponsored media. We still love it. It's football.

The byproduct of how the news is shaping is not solely elevated ratings and increased product promotion; it also significantly impacts perception. When Ohio State "escaped" the penalties it truly deserved, ESPN immediately began pushing an ill-begotten comparison to USC's punishment.

The OSU/USC angle taken by ESPN was fascinating, since not a single one reporter at ESPN ever bothered to cover or discuss the NCAA's multi-year investigation into Reggie Bush or Todd McNair during the years that it was taking place. ESPN must have hastily constructed a summary of the USC case before deploying that talk track across its television, Internet and radio platforms simultaneously. The Wikipedia machine in Bristol had to be running hot in December.

[READER CHALLENGE: The first 11W user who can produce any original ESPN story on the Reggie Bush/USC scandal and NCAA investigation dated between 9/15/2006 when Yahoo! Sports broke the story and 6/9/2010 when the NCAA's verdict arrived will receive the shirt of her/his choosing from the 11W Dry Goods Depot. This should be as easy as folding the same piece of paper in half nine times]

The OSU and USC cases and investigations were in no way similar, but details are boring while black-and-white dichotomies are not only more interesting but easier to sell. The simplest conclusion that can be taken from ESPN's willful ignorance toward the USC investigation - and Miami's, for that matter - is that Yahoo! Sports owned the attribution. Acknowledging competitors is too humbling of a burden for the Worldwide Leader, even it if means diminishing the value of your own news division.

Credentialed reporters routinely allow their biases to pollute their reporting, but that's a practice that transcends ESPN. When CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd referred to Tressel's final bi-weekly paycheck a "golden parachute" there were outraged people who actually believed that .033% of a now-terminated contract was hush money. Math like that isn't that difficult, but sanctimonious bullshit requires no talent at all - and it commands attention.

Everything this guy is news because news is everything this guy does"They said I couldn't become a colloquial verb in America."

One thing that Freedom of Information Requests cannot uncover is why news rooms selectively choose the stories they beat to death with an exploitation stick, versus the ones they wrinkle their noses at and leave alone.

There may have been a time when journalists could remove their biases to approach and prioritize stories without bias, but that era is not this one. When information dissemination and entertainment collide, there are emotions that end up shaping what we perceive as the facts.

Journalists are not robots that calculate the worthiness of a story prior to determining how important it is. They're humans who sit in production meetings and agree with each others' ideas, support each others' projects and enable content chasers to successfully capture personal glory. It's not always about the story. Often times it's about the reporter; be it her career or his personal biases.

The best recent example was the audible groan that was let out by the press corps and the subsequent berating of the PSU Board of Trustees during the press conference when it announced that Paterno had fired.

This is the same press corps that for decades had a hand in constructing Paterno's image as one of college football's saints. Consider what impact that may have had on the Paterno narrative over his decades in State College. That's not to question his powerful and positive legacy beyond his multi-year failure to adequately or purposefully expose Sandusky, but it could have contributed to the culture of protectionism that subsequently shattered his university.

Shelving bias on a personal level is challenge for any writer. When that compartmentalization fails on a local level, you get the State College press corps the night Paterno was fired. When it fails at the largest level, you get ESPN on a daily basis, juggling independent biases and enormous conflicts of interest in deciding what qualifies as news.

It's routinely said that college football is a cesspool; the odor of which is obscured only by how captivating the game is. The college football media is rife with full-grown, credentialed fan boys who pick and choose how to shape the news. It smells just as bad. College football carries emotions that were planted in childhood for most of its fans.

Speaking from personal experience, writing stories that challenge your loyalties is no fun at all, and neither is scrutinizing your beloved program, but it comes with the territory. At least it is supposed to.

On Sunday morning when Paterno succumbed to cancer, the first college football coach ESPN retained to impart his thoughts was Alabama's Nick Saban, whom it has also employed in the past for commentary, roundtables on "how to fix college football" and game analysis.

It was an odd choice, considering Saban left the Big Ten over a decade ago and has zero ties to Penn State, plus the fact that there are innumerable people closer to both the university and Paterno who could have easily been reached on an offseason Sunday morning.

But Saban - and Auburn's Gene Chizik, as well as (dramatic pause) Urban Meyer have pre-existing media relationships with ESPN. Saban would have been an odd choice for anyone but the network who contacted him first to provide his reflections on the passing of college football's winningest coach.

Could its business arrangement with the SEC impact how ESPN chooses to cover news that's potentially damaging to an SEC program? It's an n of one, but refer back to the Deadspin link that exposed how the Cam Newton story was summarily pushed off the national stage. Compare that to its pursuit of the truth in Ohio State's case convince yourself it was an anomaly.

As a fan invested in a team you unhealthily think about daily, it's healthy to assess those tertiary elements that out of your control and what they are worth to you. You cannot control or retrain it, but the manner in which news is shaped, molded and massaged is worth your frustration.

The joy and pain you derive from following it is worth your time. Understanding how and why stories are manipulated is worth your scrutiny. And ESPN's 15-year contract with the SEC is worth $3 billion.


Comments Show All Comments

MaliBuckeye's picture

"Sarcastically, I'm in charge."


Troy0782's picture

+eleventy billion


Ethos's picture

bahahaha that is awesome.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

SonOfBuckeye's picture

Unbelievably great.

frozen buckeye's picture

What more needs to be posted?  I love this.


GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

If only we could get Nancy Grace on our side... haha

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Squirrel Master's picture

I really think OSU would have been fine if there wasn't further transgressions after tat-gate. If it was done and over with once Tressel resign, OSU probably would have gotten just the schollies lost and probation and Tressel would have gotten the show cause which I think fits the crime. but the bowl ban, IMO, is completely due to the continued idiocy that carried on during 2011.

but I also do agree that everything was blown way out of proportion compared to what happens throughout the college landscape. If NCAA's intent was to set precident, then they better as hell follow through with what we all know is going on. Don't sit there and say "we had to make an example of OSU" and then let all the crap in SEC continue to go on.

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Big Swede's picture

Found this article dated June 12, 2009. The oldest article that came up when I searched "reggie bush violation" on ESPN was a Page 2 article from 2007 addressing a rumor that Reggie Bush had been banned from the Playboy Mansion.

Squirrel Master's picture

lol. Banned from the Playboy Mansion? that has to suuuuuck!

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Winner. Great find - notice how it's constructed as a defense piece. That's one in a four-year span, over a year into the investigation.

Email me your selection and specs, Big Swede. I'm assuming you wear an XL.

Baroclinicity's picture

I was *not* able to fold a sheet of paper in half 9 times.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Maestro's picture

Love the reader challenge part.  Pretty amazing.

vacuuming sucks

Denny's picture

'A cathartic us-against-the-world circlejerk by any other name is still just a circle jerk.'

Aw, but I brought these crackers.


Maestro's picture

I have Cheez Wiz, we can use that.

vacuuming sucks

Denny's picture



Arizona_Buckeye's picture

It really pissed me off at the tsunami of shit that was being aired and posted as news stories about OSU during the Tat5 scandal.  The vast majority were not even remotely vetted or backed up with even the small scrap crumb of fact.  Just throw it on the wall and see if it sticks!  No retraction, no follow story to update the original story, or no apology.  Just rip off the face, piss in an eye socket and move on.

I was thoroughly pissed and incredibly confused at the massive amount of coverage that did not take place about Miami, South Carolina, and Oregon.  The difference was deafening!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

cplunk's picture

Miami, North Carolina, South Carolina, Auburn, Oregon, Central Florida, Boise- all got the one "unsubstantiated rumors" or "unproven allegations" article from ESPN, then ESPN moved on with a casual "nothing to see here." Meanwhile, OSU was front page news almost every day.

I don't know why there is a bias, but there clearly is and has been. I've stopped watching ESPN during college football season (except for game broadcasts). Its sad, as I used to really enjoy the network.


Arizona_Buckeye's picture

It seemed like almost every hour they posted a new 'breaking news' headline about OSU.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Maestro's picture

AUTHOR CHALLENGE (as if I am in any place to do so) : How many original articles were generated by ESPN from the time of story breaking to NCAA NOI regarding Tat 5?

vacuuming sucks

Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Scroll down to the second-to-last paragraph of this article for a small sample.

I've gotten pretty good at only accessing ESPN for information pertainent to building pieces like this one instead of actually consuming its content as a fan. #enlightenment

Maestro's picture


vacuuming sucks

Matt's picture

I am so jacked that you wrote this article

Maestro's picture

Maybe he could have shown "the soft side" of the newsmakers.

vacuuming sucks

WildBear Buckeye's picture

So ... any hypotheses about the origin of the anti-OSU bias? Apparently it's not B1G (PSU covered differently) and not popularity alone (USC, Miami, Auburn covered differently). I'm fresh out of ideas.

RBuck's picture

IMO: As the B1G has their own network and it competes with eSECpn, the WWL wants to take it down. What a better place to start than the face/class of the B1G, tOSU Buckeyes. Hell, I thought this was common knowledge.

edit/Mark May hates us for the 72-0 beatdown of Pitt...but that is nothing compared to the $$ that are at stake.

Long live the southend.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

BTN has always been my guess as well, but Ramzy seems to cast doubt on that hypothesis in his article. Mark May is obviously a clown, but if it was just Mark May, Ramzy wouldn't be writing these articles.

NW Buckeye's picture

I really believed the B1G theory before.  Then the PSU debacle came along.  There were many rumors swirling around for at least 2 years before the sh!t hit the fan in November, but nary a word from ESPN.  And, once it broke, their coverage was just a fraction of what they published on OSU.  So that kind of shoots the B1G bias down a little (although I am sure it does come into play). 

I have never been a conspiracy theorist, and I don't believe there is any gross conspiracy against OSU.  However, they really did not like Tressel.  It should be interesting to see how they cover an Urban Meyer led Buckeye team.  And, if the bias does continue I'm sure Urban will let his cronies at Espin know about it. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

Ted Glover over at OTE actually posed the anti-B1G bias question to Dave Revsine of BTN. Here is his response:

You mentioned the Alabama-LSU rematch, and I want to ask one last off the field question, because I've been hearing this a lot more this year than in years past from almost all the fanbases in the B1G. We think that there is a bias from ESPN against the B1G for whatever the reason may be. Do you think there's anything to that, or am I just perpetuating this Consiracy Theory?

Well, as a guy that worked at ESPN for 11 years, I feel that I'm somewhat in a position to answer that question. I was a college sports person for the last 7 or 8 years that I was there, so I was pretty actively involved in their coverage, and no ever told me what to say, what to believe, or what ESPN's official stance on different leagues was. I was on the radio over the course of several years with Mel Kiper, Todd McShay and Gerry DiNardo, and we were the college football people at ESPN radio, and no one ever told us what opinion to espouse, or came in and said ‘I can't believe you said that'.

I really wish Ted would repose that question as to whether anti-Buckeye bias exists at ESPN. I really want to hear Revsine's answer. Sadly, I don't think Ted would though as he would get crucified mercilessly by the non-Buckeye OTE readers. (They think we have a massive victim complex.)


tedglover's picture

Wow, I've been quoted at 11W!  I'm famous, I'm infamous, WOOO!!!!!!

I was very leery even asking that question, but I thought it had merit.  I think every B1G team of import has felt crucified by ESPN over the last few years, and I am of the opinion that it is all because of the BTN.  I think several B1G programs have been hammered on mercilessly, not just OSU.  And OTE is conference specific, which is why I worded the question in the way that I did.  But anyway, let's review, shall we?

Michigan--RichRod got HAMMERED mercilessly over some stupid buyout clause in his contract, and then by not documenting extra workout hours.  Compare that with the nuclear test ground that has become Miami, or the shady dealings that occur on a damn near daily basis in the SEC and the lack of coverage by comparison.  Extra workout time.  Really?  REALLY??

OSU--This column eloquently laid out the case against ESPN more than I ever could.

PSU--ESPN was non-stop for damn near a week on Sandusky, with the same stories and same clips.  If you turned on Sportscenter you couldn't go more than one or two segments without it coming back to that story, and ESPN was quick to pounce on Paterno and force the ire of the anger on him, and not on Sandusky, where it should've been from the get go.  They didn't mention Sandusky without mentioning Paterno.

The reason I think this is all BTN driven?  I refer you to this article right here.  Pull quote:

An amiable session in which the Big Ten and ESPN cleaned up "housekeeping matters" — schedules and announcers — took a nasty turn at the one-hour mark. That's when talk turned to a contract extension, a negotiating session that went nowhere. Fast.

"The shortest one I ever had," Delany told the Tribune. "He lowballed us and said: 'Take it or leave it. If you don't take our offer, you are rolling the dice.' I said: 'Consider them rolled.'

When BTN launched, Delany sent Shapiro a re-gifted bottle of champagne with a note that said, "see, I did it."

Jim Delany gave ESPN the ultimate 'Fuck You', and when BTN started to take off and make serious money, around 2008-2009, ESPN began hammering away at every little thing that occurred at a B1G school, and when they signed their SEC mega deal, began ignoring everything SEC unless they're compelled to write about it, a la Auburn, and began spinning the SECISTHEGREATESTEVERRAWR meme.

Coincidence?  I don't think so.

ESPN will do everything in its power to drag down the name and brand of the B1G, because the B1G is on the verge of not needing ESPN.  And if the B1G can do it, other copnferences and schools can do it. 

And if other conferences and schools can do it independent of ESPN, ESPN will be rendered irrelevant.  And ESPN will do everything in its power to prevent that from happening.

Just my two cents.


NC_Buckeye's picture

Woot. Woot. Ted representing.

/Still wished you had asked him about anti-Buckeye bias.

MikeO's picture

Completely agree, Ted. There is no commercial entity on Earth that I more wish would go down in flames than ESPN. What a garbage dump that network has become.

Jason Priestas's picture

Pageviews/TV eyeballs = Money

Witness the recent Schlichter cocaine news making it to the front of ESPN's college football  page.

It's a lot like Tebow. Ohio State generates interest, discussion, etc., which leads to $$.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

So then a tat5-like scandal at Florida will get the same coverage?

William's picture

No. It won't because Florida is not on the same level as Ohio State.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Same level of what? If it's play/program reputation, then, if anything, Florida has been better over the last ~15 years. It's possible Ohio State has a bigger fan base - Nate Silver seems to think so.

William's picture

We have the most fans of any school in the nation, the second largest living alumni base, are a more prestigious program than Florida (we have more titles, heismans, all-americans, wins, conference championships, all-conference players, and we have the highest winning percentage of all teams the past century.) Anything dealing with OSU=$$$$$

WildBear Buckeye's picture

We have the most fans of any school in the nation, the second largest living alumni base

I buy this,

are a more prestigious program than Florida

but don't buy this. Is there any way to mesure "prestigious"? Realistically, I think distinctions in level of prestige between multiple recent NC winners and recent NC winners/very traditional powers are impossible. You could maybe make an argument that Auburn is less prestigious than OSU, but none of the other recent NC winners.

(we have more titles, heismans, all-americans, wins, conference championships, all-conference players, and we have the highest winning percentage of all teams the past century.)

There is a program that beats OSU in nearly every one of those categories, but we would all argue until blue in the face that that program is irrelevant now. You know the one I'm talking about. Recent success matters much more, and when you've been as successful as Florida has been over the last 20 years (3 NCs, God knows how many top 5 finishes), you're second to none in prestige. It doesn't mean you're ahead of everyone else, but you're second to none.

William's picture

I completely disagree with that. Florida had several good seasons in the past two decades, but they were nowhere near as consistent as OSU. We had more Top 5 and Top 10 finishes than them. Also Michigan can claim titles, wins, and conference championships over us, whereas we have more Heismans, a higher winning percentage, and more All-Americans. We have only had two losing seasons since 1960, which is by far the fewest since then. To say Florida is more prestigious than us is ignorant in my opinion. If you were to suggest USC, or Oklahoma, possibly Michigan, then I might be inclined to agree.

Osu Lippert7's picture



buckeyenut10's picture

 Is there any way to mesure "prestigious"?

There is indeed a way to measure prestige. ESPN did it themselves in fact, and selected us as the #3 most prestigious program of all time.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

This is from the Nate Silver article at fivethirtyeight, correct? I very much enjoyed reading that article, but his methodology sounds like it would give a rough approximation at best. As in, I buy that OSU has more fans than any program outside his top 5, but he might have the order of the top 5 wrong. I've seen several other (albeit older) analyses which claim Notre Dame has the most fans.

Jason Priestas's picture

Yes, it is from Silver. You're probably right in that there's no true way to measure the size of a fanbase, but Ohio State would probably be in the top three of anyone's measurements.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Great piece, Ramzy. Your analysis is thoughtful, penetrating, yet you also don't claim to understand everyone's motives perfectly, all laid-out in nice, neat boxes. How could we ever fully understand the video-game sports media's bizarre approach toward Ohio State?

buckeyeEddie27's picture

  Perfectly said and wisely crafted in this piece are the jumbled, frustrated, and legitimate feelings, thoughts and outrage that myself and I know many (if not all) buckeye fans have felt for over a year now.     Thanks Ramzy.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Mike's picture

Well done, always!

IMO, the reason for the excess in coverage regarding the Tat5 is that Ohio State is the perfect storm of College Football Powerhouse + Large, Vocal Fanbase + Extremely Polarizing + Ratings Juggernaut + Competing Network + "Flyover Country"

VestedInterest's picture

A very well enunciated piece Ramzy, kudos.

Ohio State is THE most hated football program, and we should all be fine with that. If people don't dislike you you're doing it wrong. That said, it's an easy correlation to clicks and page views. Ohio State sells. Bias for personal gain is still bias.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Yes, but WHY is Ohio State the most hated program, if it really is? For any aspect of successful programs the public in general tends to dislike (entitled fan base, undeserved bowl selections, NCAA trouble, etc) there are successful programs that do it worse.

VestedInterest's picture

I've googed it, it's true. Some have us the #1 others have us top 5. Why is pretty simple I think. Huge numbers of passionate fans. That passion often comes off as arrogance and rubs people the wrong way, again I'm fine with that.

Every fan base has their percentage of vocal "tools", we have a larger number based on the size of our alumni. They are seen by others as the representatives of the fan base fairly or not.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Okay, then where is the corresponding media hatred for Texas, Notre Dame, Penn State, Alabama, Florida . . .

VestedInterest's picture

Don't confuse me with someone who isn't well aware of the bias against Ohio State as I am fully aware. As mentioned in the article it seemed to have begun with the emergence of BTN and the money. Ohio State is the "flagship" program of the B1G, it only follows.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that you were unaware of the bias - just that, if having a huge, arrogant fan base is a key variable, then Texas should at least occasionally receive similar treatment as Ohio State has, and I've not seen any such evidence.

M tots's picture

in theory yes, but don't forget about ESPN's Longhorn Network... Wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for them to bash UT

NeARBuckeye's picture

All I have to say is this...


"If we're so able to vividly remember the worst a man did, can't we also remember the best*?"

*Only applies to person(s) not affiliated with Ohio State.

Jdadams01's picture

I read that and immediately thought of all the times ESPN articles stated that for all the good Tress did, it doesn't matter because he just ruined it all.

Bucksfan's picture

ESPN and its influence definitely needs more thought and analysis, Ramzy.  There are a few things that I have the hardest time reconciling when it comes to ESPN's overt bias towards Ohio State.  One is that it still has a lot of money invested in broadcasting Big Ten games, and Ohio State is pretty much always on national TV each week through ESPN.  Secondly, ESPN now has the broadcasting rights to the Rose Bowl.  The Rose Bowl is still the bowl that everyone watches the most, no matter who's playing in it.  Why would ESPN want to damage something that took a lot of money to secure, and something that makes them a lot of money in return?

Lastly, name another university that has more on-screen employees at ESPN than Ohio State?  Robert Smith, Cris Carter, Kirk Herbstreit, and Chris Spielman, as everyone knows, played football at Ohio State.  You'd think having so many employees that are tied to that university you'd have the opposite effect on what they will or won't cover or how that information is viewed and interpreted.

But the facts remain.  Ohio State had a f'ck up, and ESPN blew it far and away out of proportion.  Is there some alterior motive?  What is it?  Can it be proven?


Run_Fido_Run's picture

As Ramzy (and Mike) suggest, there are many reasons/variables at play, which would influence different people to differing degrees. It's not a conspiracy, which would be logisitically impossibe. It's a hundred different people reporting/writing/editing/agenda-setting in their own various biased ways.

As far as the business agenda aspects: some have speculated that the formation of the BT Network was merely the opening salvo of more aggressive future efforts by the BT to reduce the dominance of espn, etc. Thus, if espn brass perceive the long-term threat from an independent-minded Ohio State/BT to outweigh the short-term benefits of positively promoting those "products," they might deem aggressive action as a necessary evil.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

I agree, conspiracy is completely implausible. If there was an explicit directive not to cover Auburn allegations, for example, someone would have talked about it (probably for good money) on another news entertainment outlet.

Given, as you point out, the number of Ohio Staters (I'm not sure all are graduates) that work at ESPN, I have to wonder if it's a personal issue with Tressel and/or Gene Smith.

timdogdad's picture

OCCUPY BRISTOL! THAT WOULD BE AWESOME. and when a fan gets interviewed on tv, they can say "read  the excellent and truthful article on 11 warriors... plug!   i'm glad the cat is out the bag.  there it is in black and white-the campaign by the wwl against ohio st.  it's pretty simple to summarize-- other scandals-not much coverage even though these scandals are much worse. and ohio states was covered non stop.   i can snicker at the 2 cents articles by sports illustrated,  etc  and say, gee desperate for readers? but the wwl's  agenda is so obvious to us enlightend 11 dubsters.  

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Tim, you inspire us! I nominate you to be the 11W representative at, and protest-leader for, Occupy Bristol! You seem like the perfect fit for the job. You'll make a great liaison to the types of professional protestors who you'll need to recruit to be our proxies (i.e., our "foot soldiers") - you know, people who are available to camp out for weeks in Bristol - since most of us here have day jobs.

BuckNKY's picture

Don't really have much more to add to the question of "why" but from the glass-half-full department:

I found 11W when, during the summer of discontent, I got tired of the seemingly one-sided reports that I was reading nationally and thought that there had to be another perspective - one that wasn't rehashing old reports, or one that offered something that more resembled facts.  It is sites like this that create the open discourse to challenge the status quo (even if it is something so mundane as college football).  Keep up the geat work!

popeurban's picture

The BTN can't compete with ESPN; I wish it could, but I do not see that happening.  Until then, we need to find a way to make ESPN not want harm to come to us (like they do with many SEC schools).  Without some coverage contract, I do not know what that scenario looks like.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

The Chicago Tribune article Ted Glover of Off Tackle Empire quoted above addresses this. In 2006 Delany renegotiated a huge deal with ESPN, but not before BTN was born (it didn't start broadcasting until 2007, but there was no turning back in 2006). Who knows how much money, exactly, BTN is taking away from ESPN, but I can easily see how executives who think themselves God's gift to business would be pissed that they were forced to pay the B1G huge amounts of money and are still missing out on the games BTN airs. ESPN has absolutely no one to blame but themselves, but the fact remains that they look like idiots and B1G made out like a bandit with the BTN/new ESPN contract combination.

onetwentyeight's picture

I still don't understand the motivation behind ESPN "going after" OSU. I know the consensus theory seems to be its "B1G" bias but as this article pointed out, they treated JoePa with kid gloves to say the least. 

And add that to what I've noticed about their coverage of the other B1G teams and the whole B1G network vs ESECPN theory crumbles. Why would the WWL puff up Wisky the first half of the season so badly? (Lest you all forget, wisky was beign touted as the new kings of the B1G, RWilson wasn't a 5th year system qb who washed out at NC state, no, he was a Heisman FRONTRUNER). 

Then observe how ESPN beat the whole "MICHIGAN'S BACK BABY!!!" story line to death after their win over us (ughh) and subsequent bowl "victory". I took a long-distance drive this holiday season and listened to ESPN Radio App on my phone non stop ... and every other commercial was for the upcoming Bowl games, and each time they'd pimp how Michigan was returning to "GLORY" or "Nat'l relevance". 


I just don't get why they'd be biased ONLY AGAINST osu but NOT the other B1G teams ... if this was really a case of EsecPN trying to destroy the B1G. I'm not denying everything said by Ramzy in this article about how they've covered us. That's all true. But I think the REASON they decided to go after OSU isn't as simple as "SEC bias" or "Conflict of interest", etc. 


Fwiw, my personal take (No real evidence) is that in the aftermath of 2006, the narrative of OSU shifted. This was solidifed by what happened in 2007. For a long time, OSU has been good and nationally prominent/ relevant. When you're good, people will want to hate you. But until 2006, we hadn't given anybody any real reason on the field to criticize us. I think that, to folks in other parts of the country, there was a view that 2006 (and 07) "exposed" OSU as "overrated" and as "frauds" who beat up teams in a crappy conference and couldn't show up to play vs the big boys (the twin USC losses - went to both, still eat at me to this day - only solidified this sort of thinking). The 2006 loss was just so unexpected and so much of a complete BEATDOWN on every single level that it seemingly turned casual fans agianst OSU because they felt they'd been deceived into thinking OSU was good this whole time only to see us get de-pantsed on the biggest stage. (Yes its obviously wrong to draw such conclusions from 1 game, but I'm just pointing out that other fans may think this way). 

I have a hunch that ESPN might not have started this strain of feeling amongst the general college football fanbase, but once it detected that people felt this way about osu, they went all in on feeding this and establishing it as the permanent narrative of OSU. 


Again, just my two cents. Feel free to disagree. 



WildBear Buckeye's picture

I have a hunch that ESPN might not have started this strain of feeling amongst the general college football fanbase, but once it detected that people felt this way about osu, they went all in on feeding this and establishing it as the permanent narrative of OSU.

This is actually the explanation that makes most sense to me. ESPN doesn't give a crap for or against OSU, or anyone else for that matter. Coverage is motivated by 1) some bullshit "ear to the ground" feeling about what consumers want, and 2) inertia, "going all in", the need to have a few simple, driven home endlessly narratives - call it what you want. And 99% of it isn't due to some tacit directive from the big wigs either. It's a million little decisions made by individual writers and tv talking heads motivated primarily by, again, giving readers viewers what they THINK the readers want (I'm sure page views and tv ratings reinforce this) and, secondarily, by some personal biases and grudges. Ramzy has made a case that Herbstreit goes out of his way to bash OSU, though I'm betting it's motivated strictly by dislike for Tressel and Pryor. Someone else in this thread claimed that Mark May hates OSU for some huge beatdown of Pitt. Things like that.

One other thing I'd add is that, although I'm willing to believe Ramzy's semi-quantitative analysis indicating that there's, overall, more bashing of OSU than of other programs, I'm sure fans of almost any successful program can point to individuals at ESPN who hate their particular program. No one else would notice it because we 1) don't care and 2) may be too busy counting negative mentions of OSU.

Poison nuts's picture

Thats interesting man...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Bama settled for 5 chipshot FGs against LSU, and maybe we should partly credit LSU's supposedly awesome redzone defense for making those stands, but which of the following box scores are from the 2012 BCS NCG and which one is from the 2007 BCS NCG? As you pondering that, ask if LSU has unleased any hatred its way?

1st Downs 21; 5
3rd down efficiency 3-14; 2-12
4th down efficiency 2-2; 0-1
Total Yards 384; 92
Passing 234; 53
Comp-Att 23-34; 11-17
Yards per pass 6.9; 3.1
Rushing 150; 39
Rushing Attempts 35; 27
Yards per rush 4.3; 1.4
Penalties 1-5; 5-35
Turnovers 0; 2
Fumbles lost 0; 1
Interceptions thrown 0; 1
Possession 35:26; 24:34

1st Downs 21; 8
3rd down efficiency 10-19; 1-9
4th down efficiency 2-3; 0-1
Total Yards 370; 82
Passing 214; 35
Comp-Att 26-37; 4-14
Yards per pass 5.8; 2.5
Rushing 156; 47
Rushing Attempts 43; 23
Yards per rush 3.6; 2.0
Penalties 6-50; 5-50
Turnovers 0; 2
Fumbles lost 0; 1
Interceptions thrown 0; 1
Possession 40:48; 19:12


WildBear Buckeye's picture

It took much more than the 2006 NCG loss to cement the "OSU=overrated" narrative. And I would say LSU got hammered brutally in the post-game coverage. I spent the whole season wishing all kinds of ill on LSU, but I actually started feeling bad for them by the end of the night.

Whether that narrative sticks long-term or not, remains to be seen. But if LSU gets blown out in the NCG game again next year, you can bet it will be a narrative.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Fair enough, but Oklahoma got destroyed in one NCG and lost something like 4 or 5 BCS games in a row, and while they became a punchline at times, they never got hit by the media-hate storm.

And as for LSU getting hammered by post-game coverage, I'm not sure we're talking about legitimate criticisms about a team (Ohio State 2007 or LSU 2012) laying an egg, per se - that's totally fair game. It's the idea that two poor NCG appearances would explain and/or justify a frothing media blitz against an institution. If LSU has received even 10-percent of the blowback Ohio State received in terms of "football analysis," okay, but I've not seen the video-game sports media try to turn LSU into a bogeyman yet.

onetwentyeight's picture

I think my point wasn't that we DID get beat so much worse than everybody else that it merited the resulting fallout. 

Obviously with the stats above and the other examples listed (Chokelahoma getting nuked by USC) it's clear our loss wasn't that much worse than some other ones. 

MY point was that the PERCEPTION change from that game = the spur of what caused lots of casual, mainstream CFB fans to question why OSU had been so heavily favored and led to our "overrated" image (that yes, we don't deserve. I'm not here to argue this. I'm obviously a buckeye fan. I'm just attempting to explain how OTHER people outside our program might have seen the events of 2006-2008ish). 


The 2004 season was the one where that loaded Auburn team with a ton of future NFL-ers went undefeated and got shafted. Many people felt they should've been in the game instead of Oklahoma, but Oklahoma had started the season at #2 and just held onto that spot. Everyone knew that USC had an all-time great team that year, and so Oklahoma escaped most of the backlash b/c of these two reasons: (1. people felt Auburn should've been in the game instead of them to begin with, 2. USC was at its dynastic peak). 


The same sort of PERCEPTION issue is at play this year. Again, I want to emphasize this is not what I personally feel, I'm just articulating what I think Other People, who are casual fans, Feel. Most people felt Alabama and LSU were the top two teams this season. LSU went to Tuscaloosa and came out with a win. Losing a (basically home) bowl game several weeks later in gruesome fashion is more easily attributed to LSU not getting up for a re-match, overconfidence, NEW ORLEANS, etc etc. Again, for us B1G fans this is a bitter pill to swallow. We want to yell at the top of our lungs about how LSU got SHUT OUT. How there was absolutely no offense at all. But Perception wise, in the eyes of the average fan, what happened was two defensive minded teams SPLIT a season series 1-1 , more or less. 


What happened with 2006 OSU, was that we were wire-to-wire #1, won the Game of the Century in thrilling fashion, had the Heisman glory boy, had the record-setting offense, and were (seven?) point favorites if I remember correctly. Florida didn't even deserve to be in the GAME according to lots of people. If we had stomped UF like USC had stomped Oklahoma, nobody would've been holding it against Florida b/c ppl would just have said, like they did in 2004, oh maybe they shouldn't even have been in the game, we should've let Michigan get a rematch, or whatever. They weren't expected to win so if we had blown them out they wouldve suffered no blowback. But for the overwhelming favorite to choke in such a painful fashion (and I know everybody here hates to hear it), I think a lot of people around the country changed how they viewed about OSU that day, without any prompting from the evil suits at eSECpn. 


And the ironic thing about all this is that we only suffered this expectation letdown in the eyes of the public .... because ESPN sure hyped us up good in 2006. Don't recall anybody b*tching about ESPN Bias back then. 



Run_Fido_Run's picture

Good points, although I'm sure you'll agree that the media/public-perception relationship is a two-way street: the media is trying to satisfy consumer demands, including telling readers/viewers what they want to hear (given their perceptions), but the media is also constantly influencing those perceptions. 

Espn hammered Ohio State during the 2004 Alamo Bowl before the 2006-2007 big stage collapses (media influencing perceptions); on the other hand, Ohio State has been hated for years by more cfb fans & media than, say, Texas, in part because Ohio State probably got more east coast and southeast exposure/hype than Texas did (so the anti-Ohio State media = consumer demand) and maybe the west coast and southwest media were less dominant in the past, etc.

Bucksfan's picture

The reason for no-Oklahoma backlash vs. mega-Ohio State backlash is very simple.  2 Reasons.  

1) Oklahoma, in those years they went to the national title, were CLEARLY one of the two best teams in the country during the season.  They backed up those BCS losses by crushing people again.  Style does matter, despite its inability to be quantified.  Blowing the doors off of your opponents means something.  Beating Akron 34-10 after a struggle in the first two quarters is effective, but you'd have to agree it bores and confuses people.

2) Ohio is the 7th most populated state.  Oklahoma is 28th.

BTwrestle04's picture

Tressel is getting hammered on Twitter. Not sure if he is a good hire by Indy simply because I'm not sure how his game would translate to the NFL. But people are bashing him over his integrity. Foolish if you ask me.

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Isn't saying "Tressel is getting hammered on Twitter" kinda like saying "Tressel is getting hammered in conversations everywhere"?

Also, has he actually been hired for HC job by the Colts? All I saw were reports of "consideration".

BTwrestle04's picture

No he hasn't. He has had 2 interviews per sources, however. Because of his consideration, people who have no connection to Tressel are expressing their opinions on the matter. My guess is that most of the people that are against him getting the Indy job only know the heresay surrounding his departure at Ohio State rather than being well knowledged in it.

popeurban's picture

Old article by SI, but relevant to our problem.  Key according to SI: We have to win big to make ESPN care about us. 

Here is to Urban helping that happen.



WildBear Buckeye's picture

I don't think Mandel's predictions have quite been borne out. At least where I live, I still mostly get B1G and Big 12 games on ESPN, not SEC. And if the ratings for this year's MNC game showed anything, it's that SEC-vs-SEC is not the draw ESPN may have thought it was. They win BCS games like crazy, but I think interest in SEC football is still regional.

popeurban's picture

Interest is absolutely regional; we agree, but what I am saying is that for ESPN to start sucking-up/helping us out again we simply need to win.  SEC is getting better treatment because of their contracts with the WWL and because the SEC wins.  JMO

WildBear Buckeye's picture

Oh, I would say it's because 1) SEC wins BCS games, and only then 2) because of the contract with ESPN. In fact there would be no 2) if not for 1). So it sounds like we agree completely. And I think ESPN overestimated somewhat the value of their SEC broadcasting rights property.

outdated's picture

Did "Herbie" leave Columbus because of the fans or because ESPN may have suggesteed it would be good for his career?

WildBear Buckeye's picture

He moved to Nashville, not to the east coast, so, whatever the reason, I'm guessing it's not the latter.

buckeyedude's picture

I'm thinking that we, as Buckeye fans, should just take all of this attention, negative or otherwise(i realize there isn't much 'otherwise'), as a form of envy.

Isnt there a cliche in Hollywood, forgive me if I screw this up, "The only bad news, is no news"?



theDuke's picture

We still won in the end.


GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I can't wait until the spring game, and we pack the place. We aren't going away.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I still watch ESPN, but I disregard any and all anti-tOSU garbage that they talk about...And I still remember the ESPN show Playmakers....and how bad the show made the NFL and its players/coaches look.  I can recall the episode where DH went and smoked a rock before a game...LOL

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

DMcDougal24's picture

I won't lie, I watch ESPN all the time and I will continue to do so until someone else comes along with a comparable network, but there are obvious flaws in their reporting and motives that the lay person would not appreciate. Whether or not a disfavor for OSU runs deep within ESPN, there is substantial circumstantial evidence leading one to conclude that ESPN treats some programs, namely OSU, different from others, namely LSU, Florida, Auburn, and Bama. One other thing. Why does Michigan have its own recruiting "nation blog" on ESPN but the Buckeyes do not? I don't know how they picked and chose, but I would love to hear any explanation.

chitown buckeye's picture

Another interesting ESPN conspiracy/bias is going on right now with the UFC. Not sure how many of you follow mixed martial arts but ESPN recently did an Outside the Lines piece interviewing the owner of the UFC. They ridiculed the fighter pay calling the company a monopoly. The interesting thing is the fact the UFC recorded ESPN recording the interview. The UFC has shown the interview in its entirety and it is very clear that ESPN chopped and pieced the show together to put a blemish on the UFC. Motive? UFC just signed a 100 million dollar TV deal with Fox!! Just thought it was another interesting story showing the corruption in the news of ESPN. I know I very rarely go there for anything credible or news "breaking" story's!

"I'm having a heart attack!"

biggy84's picture

Chitown- I have read that the B1G intends to partner with Fox when their contract with espin is up. I don't remember the article, but i do remember reading it.

spqr2008's picture

I have read this twice now, and the second time I read it I was listening to the theme song to "Tommorrow Never Dies".  It was much better the second time.

Tommy's picture

Part of me says keep fighting the good fight.

The other, probably larger part says that

A) Your talents are being wasted on yet another article about ESPN/OSU issues/scandal, etc.  It's to the point where I don't really want to hear anymore on this topic, regardless of how well written it is.  I'd much rather read your work about something focused on the future of the program.  There would seem to be plenty of material for the in depth hidden stories that you excel at with so many new names and faces around town.

B)Anything that continues to fan the flames and further polarize the sides in this issue will only perpetuate the problem.  ESPN will only ever stop the anti-OSU junk if it stops generating so much anger and page views.  Every time there is an inflamatory article written about OSU, it immediately shows up on the "Most sent ESPN stories" list.

Denny's picture

I agree with points A and B in comment v.strongly.


GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

I only watch ESPiN when its a college football game I want to watch. I generally leave my TV set tuned into BTN, even when I'm not watching it. ESPiN will get whats coming to them, lower ratings and less money. I think most rational people see through the media's biased bullshit, and once the rest of the major conferences get their own networks like BTN, college football will be better off.

BTN needs to work with the other conferences and show each others highlights to get to ESPiN, and boost the value of BTN. Imagine a college football gameday show with BTN guys at a B1G school each week, and imagine watching a college football final show on saturday nights on BTN after the night games???  Seriously, think about how much it would help. I'm sure we can get better guys than Dhani Jones for commentary. I guess time will tell, but I def think it can be done, especially with the technology we have today. Think of how many Buckeyes fans we have reading this site, I tell every buckeye I see about 11W. word of mouth goes a long way with sports fans. Let's do our part to help cut the head off the snake that is ESPiN!!!!!  who's with me?!?!?!?!

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

TallTom's picture

I stopped watching ESecPN unless there is a game I absolutely want to see on it. No sportscenter, no GameDay, no BS analyst stuff, no extra BBall/football games, etc. If everyone stopped watching then ratings go down and hits it in the pocketbook.  Extra bonus is I get to spend more time reading up on articles and gametime stuff here.

Dump SI & ESPN the Magazine. Donating my SI subsciption renewal money to Respect the Basement instead. 

Plus don't go to SI or ESPin websites when they post inflammatory buckeye stuff, when you go read it and comment, they get pagehits for advertising money.  They purposefully post stuff to get us fired up because know will drive up traffic.


GreenDog1's picture

Meanwhile I'm watching a basketball game right now on ESPN and they break in with a SportsCenter update to make sure we all know Chip Kelly is staying in Eugene and gee isn't that just wonderful.  Let's's the investigative reporting coming on the Ducks little NCAA issue?  Oh right sorry - lots and lots of Nike money spent with ESPN, Oregon Ducks = Nike University which means ESPN buries the story.  Pretty much sums it up.

Go Bucks!  Michigan sucks!

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Im watching BTN baby.... Sparty is going to save tigers in India.

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Off topic: Does anyone else think we will add two more teams in the B1G?

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

NC_Buckeye's picture

After Delany's deal with Scott regarding B1G PAC12 cooperative OOC scheduling -- I think the writing is on the wall. Both conferences are finished with expansion. The only thing that might change this is if superconferences start forming. Even then I'm not sure the B1G PAC12 will play along.

Besides... who other than ND even moves the needle at this point?

onetwentyeight's picture

B1G + PAC12 = ... The P1G24? 

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Kansas would be nice for basketball. Iowa State would be a good fit, great wrestling squad, solid academic ratings. They'd make a nice doormat so that another traditional B1G school can become a national power. 

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

GlueFingers Lavelli's picture

Dustin Fox was our leading tackler as a corner.... because his guy always caught the ball.

Tonga Buckeye's picture

Maybe someone at 11W can ask the coach about the ESPN bias etc.  I'm sure he knows some things from working around Mark May.


"go not where the path may lead, rather go where there is no path and leave a trail"

Bucks43201's picture

ESPiN loves to use people by building them up, just as much as tearing them down.

"You win with people." - Woody Hayes

Milk Steak To Go's picture

From a recent ESPN chat with Vince Doria:

Jake Schmal (Melbourne, FL)

How does ESPN decide how much attention to give to a particular NCAA scandal. As an Ohio State fan, I have been following that story closely and the stories ESPN has run multiple stories using old or false information while other colleges have gotten much less attention.
Vince Doria
  (12:53 PM)

I'll preface this by noting that I happen to be an Ohio State graduate (journalism, 1970). That said, I think we have reported fairly on a number stories involving violations in college football, including USC, Tennessee, North Carolina, Miami, so forth. No doubt we did perhaps more enterprise reporting on the problems at Ohio State. As in the case with most news entities, we feel an obligation to report the news, which I believe we have done with a variety of universities. When looking deeper, there are a combination of two variables. How important in the landscape is the offending party? In the case of Ohio State, it is arguably one of the two or three most prominent college football programs in the country. A second aspect is the type of information you have access to, the sources, the willingness of the sources to provide information, and so forth.