Has anyone seen this? This is a very intriguing read that conducts detailed analysis of ESPN and how they shape literally every aspect of the college football product that we, the fans and consumers, ingest. ESPN essentially IS college football, as they in fact play a huge rule in scheduling games and dictate what times games are played. Obviously, they then promote and advertise said games, broadcast several opinion and analysis shows leading up to the game and after the game is played, with this same information then being disseminated and dissected online and through various other mediums. Keeping in mind that all of the information and opinions that are broadcasted 24/7 on multiple cable channels and websites have been meticulously selected and edited to fit within a specific narrative or agenda - not to mention the literally billions of dollars at stake with ESPN's CFB contracts - it's quite easy to see the influence that this entity has on the perceptions of players, coaches, teams and entire conferences. Heck, even a Texas A&M official is quoted within the article as saying that one Johnny Manziel would not have even been in the Heisman conversation had the team still been a member of the Big 12.
I know that a lot of debate has occurred on this site regarding whether or not ESPN has an anti-Ohio State or Big Ten bias, both sides of which seem to have multitudes of evidence supporting their respective stances on the matter. That being said, the sheer number of dollars involved suggest that it behooves ESPN to promote their most lucrative product - SEC Football - as much as possible through all means possible. Quite frankly, the very nature of ESPN's organizational structure is massively contradictory and provides a myriad of ways in which conflicts of interest and, in some cases, corruption can occur. ESPN makes a large percentage of their revenue from programming contracts with various leagues and conferences, which in and of itself is fine. The conflict that we have sadly become so accustomed to is that ESPN is also a sporting "news" outlet, which puts the organization in a position of having to (presumably) objectively report on the very teams from whom they make billions of dollars. For lack of a better analogy, this would be akin to putting the CEO and executives of Enron into the anchor's chair on CNBC and asking them to, without bias, report to the world the details of the Enron scandal. It's absurd and ridiculous to presume that ESPN and their massive potential profit are in no way influenced by their contractual obligations when, say, reporting the Tat-Gate and Terrelle Pryor situations vs. the recent tribulations of Johnny Manziel. When it was Pryor making a few dollars off of his name, Ohio State was a corrupt, out of control institution and TP was vilified as a selfish teammate who didn't care about his fellow Buckeyes or members of Buckeye Nation. When it's poor Johnny, numerous ESPN personalities come to his defense within hours of the story breaking, saying how "the system is unfair" and needs to be changed. Yes, it sounds ridiculous to say that ESPN hates one of the most popular teams in America and the tens of millions of dollars that their millions of fans bring to the table every year. However, when viewing it through the context of the SEC/ESPN multi-billion dollar contract and the SEC/Big Ten rivalry, it becomes more conceivable that such bias could occur.
Anyhow, the article is worth a read, as it sheds a lot of light on the college football monster that ESPN has created. I find it interesting that throughout the entire read, the only team aside from SEC teams that get even a passing mention was Boise State, yet another ESPN-hyped creation. Insightful and educational article, but it definitely doesn't make me feel better when looking at the future of the sport I love; it seems like the monster is only getting more powerful and eating up anything in its path. It will be very curious to see what the landscape looks like even 10-15 years from now.