Organizations must loosen leash on writers


There are a few traits that we look for in people and they are different for everyone. For me, one high on my list is keeping your word. This is just one of many things that ESPN got wrong when it relates to the Bruce Feldman situation.

Feldman had been a college football writer at ESPN since 1994 until he left for last week because “he could no longer trust the people he was working for.”

Former Texas Tech head football coach Mike Leach recently released a book called Swing Your Sword, which Feldman helped him write.

Feldman checked with ESPN before he took on the project and they gave him permission. This is where the story takes an ugly turn.

Texas Tech was looking for a way to get rid of Leach because after an 11-1 season, he was in line to make more money that the university wasn’t willing to pay. A large part of the “reason” why Leach was fired from Texas Tech was because of allegations of mistreating player Adam James by forcing him to play before he was recovered from a concussion and by having James spend three hours in an electrical closet during practice, which have gone unfounded and considered made up.

The twist in the story is that the father of Adam is ESPN college football analyst Craig James. As honest and forthcoming as they come, you may know Craig if you know about college football history or saw the 30 for 30 documentary on the Southern Methodist football program during the 1980’s. The same SMU program that was famously given the “death penalty”  from the NCAA after paying numerous players and other wrong-doings that makes the current Miami situation look like a night out at the county fair.

One of the biggest players in SMU’s demise was booster Sherwood Blunt who set up a slush fund to pay players.

He just happened to end up as the agent for Craig James when James went to the NFL.

Going back to the Mike Leach situation, Craig James was all over TV bad-mouthing Leach about what he supposedly did to his son. Because of this, Leach filed a defamation suit against ESPN.

This all somehow leads back to Bruce Feldman. Even though he had received the ok to write the book with Leach and told ESPN months in

advance that Leach was going to sue them, ESPN found it necessary to suspended Feldman once the book was released in mid-July. Yet somehow, Craig James keeps his job after hiring a PR firm to run a campaign to get Leach fired in such a slimy way that it would make Richard Nixon proud.

Feldman was one of the best writers that ESPN had and they kept him from doing his job because a coach he helped write a book with is suing ESPN for falsely reporting on a story involving the son of one of their employees. The only ones that look bad in this case are Craig James and

mainly ESPN because they suspended one of their writers for reasons yet to be determined.

Integrity, honesty and dignity are some of the traits that come to mind with this story and ESPN has lost all of them.

On a smaller scale, the student paper at the University of Kentucky was banned from an event in which media members would meet with the basketball players and interview them for the upcoming season.

The controversy stems from sports writer Aaron Smith asking Brian Long and Sam Malone if they were going to walk-on to the basketball team

this season after seeing a post on a website and another player’s Twitter account alluded to that fact. When both players said yes, Smith asked if they would be willing to talk about it.  Both declined and that was the end of it, but not according to DeWayne Peevy, the media relations director for Kentucky men’s basketball.

He stated that the second question went over the line since the media has to ask for permission to talk to players through the media relations office and that Smith broke the rule.

According to, the Associated Press Sports Editors, a national organization that represents most of the country’s sports sections, wrote to Peevy and the university that “the decision to talk to the media rests with the athlete, and if you don’t want your players to talk to the media without the (athletics) office interceding, then you have to get that message to the athletes. And, we believe you did as the athletes in question chose not to talk.”

Again, Kentucky and Peevy are the only ones that look bad in this situation.

Feldman was used as a scapegoat when things did not go well for his employer and Smith was used so that Peevy could flex his muscles and make a mountain out of a molehill. Both situations didn’t need to happen and yet Feldman and Smith come out on top looking better than before.