I have watched the whole Mike Leach vs. the James Gang saga with great interest...
Let me first say this. Seth at Double T Nation has done a fantastic job on this. He has kept his cool and tried to be a reasonable voice. Make sure you head over there to read EVERYTHING he has on this! Seth did such a great job at covering the situation that ESPN was mentioning DTN by name on Sports Center and then on their crawl on ESPN2. You don't get that sort of exposure by flying off the handle and losing your cool.
Why this interests me...
It isn't just about football.
I have always been a media junkie. I have made some friends and acquaintances in the media world over the years and I have been fascinated by the whole medium. Be it radio, TV or print, to me it isn't the story but how the story is found, packaged and then ultimately reported to the general public.
I had friend who was a cameraman for WJLA in D.C. He introduced me to a lot of what goes on behind the scenes with the various personalities and how they gather their stories. I got to know about their likes, dislikes and general quirks. I heard about some things in regards to contract negotiations and why people left jobs at one station or another. I also had the chance to sit in the studio with Kevin Kiley and Rich "The Coach" Gilgallon when "Kiley and The Coach" was the big thing for the afternoon sports drive at WTEM in D.C. Both were pretty decent guys who I had a chance to chat with off and on during commercial breaks and who were actually fascinated about what I did for a living.
I also became friends with one of the overnight DJ's at DC101 and she opened up the world of the music industry. I even got to meet "The Greaseman". He was totally different outside of his radio schtic...a pretty nice guy though he would blow his career up over some unfortunate racial remarks that lead to his firing.
When I used to get the paper (now its all on line), the first thing I would go to would be the media column. I still read the online stuff out of DC and now here in NYC. Some of these people are petty...not surprising.
Anyway...you can see where my interests lie in regards to the MSM.
When this story broke (and I mean broke when it is reported that it was Craig James' Kid involved) I knew this was going to get interesting. Obviously I am not the only one, but with the WWL putting the pedal to the metal to report this you just knew that this was going to get ugly...
Craig James is universally reviled in the CFB Blogosphere but with what I am now reading he looks to have put a traget on his chest as well.
From the Dallas Morning News (emphasis added)...
Whatever did or did not happen in the Mike Leach-Adam James imbroglio at Texas Tech, it's difficult to imagine it won't have some effect on Craig James' broadcasting career.
Bottom line: As the result of his parental concern, Craig James was a catalyst in getting Leach fired. That's baggage that ESPN's college football analyst will have to carry.
It will absolutely have an impact on James' assignments. The network will be hard-pressed to send him to any Big 12 game for awhile. Ditto to the games of any school where Leach, in any capacity, might wind up.
James has a solid body of work as a booth and studio analyst, but it remains to be seen how this affair influences what he says on future broadcasts and how viewers perceive it.
That is what I would call "The Set-up"
Craig James became the story instead of just letting it play out. This wasn't his fight it was his sons fight. James could have supported his son as a concerned parent without having splashed his face and story all over ESPN. He could have put his foot down in not wanting to draw more attention to the situation than what was already out there. Instead he does look like one of those little league parents that many of us have seen over the years...and one with a microphone.
Forget the Texas Tech part of it. The Red Raiders fired Leach. He will sue for damages. They will likely compromise and settle. Been there, done that.
But Craig James was not just a parent complaining to Leach about his son’s playing time and how he was being treated by the coaches. He works for ESPN.
James was originally assigned by ESPN to cover the bowl game that Tech was in, until they put him on television to talk about his son’s issue. You see any other fathers being given airtime on ESPN to talk about coaches’ treatment of their sons?
Of course not. Because it’s ridiculous.
That is "The Switch"
ESPN decided to take sides and become a party in this instead of stepping back and simply reporting it. I realize that it is tough for them not give James air time to air his families side of the story but we really should have heard from his son Adam, as he was the "aggrieved" party.
Sure, Daddy Craig is involved for the obvious reasons but why not let us hear Adam James put it out there. The reasons are obvious to me...But he now looks to be complicit in ratting out Leach. I mean come on, the kid brought a cell phone to practice? By not pressing Adam forward ESPN becomes an enabler in protecting one of their own instead of just letting it all play out and reporting what is out there without taking sides. James may have an axe to grind because it was his son, but his son is also an adult and he could have simply picked up the phone or pulled aside one of the local beat reporters to give them the scoop.
Craig James got rolled by his employer for the sake of ratings. He may have solid credentials in the booth but he just sacrificed them to be right NOW instead of being right later by letting it all play out.
Here is a little more...
Phil Simms never ripped Jon Gruden when he wanted to cut his son Chris, 10 months after Chris Simms nearly died from a lacerated kidney suffered during a game. Do you think Phil Simms thinks good things about "Chucky?" Doubt it. But that’s personal. Phil has to be objective when covering the NFL. Do you think CBS would invite and then allow Phil to rip Gruden about a family matter? Of course not.
But ESPN invited James on. Until Leach was fired, the James side of the story was the only one they seemed to care about.
James is all but done as a college football broadcaster at ESPN. No coach will trust him, respect him, nor the network, if he is assigned to do their games. By the time Leach shares whatever he might have on James berating him for not playing his kid more, James will be looked upon quite unfavorably by college football fans.
And that is "The Sting"
Regardless of how it will all play out James will now be considered persona non grata for the reasons listed above.
I don't know if James has ever been a coach but it is a fraternity that does look out for their own and James just took a big dump on the front porch and set it on fire like a Halloween prank. ESPN look's bad for the reasons in the column that is didn't copy...make sure to read that as well.
Simply put, because ESPN is a behemoth they tend to not see the little guy let alone care about them to begin with. That sort of heavy handedness especially with something as trivial as this could play against the WWL and with their parents Mickey and Minny...I can assure you that they won't want the Crown Jewel of their brand being sullied by being impeded from doing solid journalism.
It may not happen overnight but over time this could be a big deal in how ESPN's CFB coverage is viewed by the general public. Especially with the new kids Comcast/NBC on the block.
For the sake of the story ESPN/James killed an Ant with a hammer...that is not going to go over well with the masses...