The Nike - ESPN Connection

I have never heard of commentators or analysts having shoe contracts...

Erin Andrews, who signed an endorsement deal with Reebok last month, is not the only ESPN personality or member of its "College GameDay" team to have a contract with a major shoe company.

Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso have deals with Nike that Corso described as a joint arrangement that largely involves speaking engagements for the athletic shoe and apparel company.

After an inquiry to ESPN about the announcers’ Nike contracts, Josh Krulewitz, an ESPN spokesman, said that Fowler, the host of "GameDay," is "ending his minor association" with Nike "to avoid any potential perception issues." Fowler was not made available for an interview.

In defending the announcers, Krulewitz said: "By any objective measure, Chris, Kirk and Lee’s on-air work is unassailable. Their content has not been compromised by this relationship."

As far as that last sentence goes...maybe, then again maybe not.

I am sure that any of the GameDay crew could be available on the lecture circuit for a small fee, they don't need a contract with any manufacturer to earn some honorarium.

One potential problem is that any Nike affiliated school has the potential to receive preferential treatment from ESPN. That includes USC. It would be easy to see how all Nike schools may have a perceived advantage with broadcasters. If USC was receiving preferential treatment from the game day crew, partially due to the Nike alliance, it would be just as wrong as if Oregon received to that same preferential treatment.

Especially since college football comes down to a beauty contest and voting popularity that's easily influenced by respected broadcaster's who could also be voters as well, it's the most critical college sport to remove any perceived biases from.

Its easy to see where some could make some noise about a potential conflict.

Oregon was a team involved in three game-day appearances alone this year (Stanford, USC, OSU), coupled with the fact that they're the ONLY Pac 10 team besides USC to have hosted it more than could be an issue with some that a different dynamic is in play other than the fact that they're the new hot team to watch.

Here is some interesting info...

What you may not know is that the Ducks are the only Pac-10 school besides USC (6 times) to host the show more than once, and after Saturday they will have been on site for GameDay eight times (5 home, 2 road, 1 neutral).

With the help of media services intern extraordinaire Chad Twaro, here are some fun facts surrounding UO’s GameDay games.

Ducks Hosting ESPN College GameDay

Year            UO Rank                         Opponent (rank)                       Score

2009             10                                   USC (4)                                     W, 47-20

2007             4                                     Arizona State (6)                      W, 35-23

2007             11                                   California (6)                             L, 24-31

2000             Unranked                       UCLA (6)                                   W, 29-10

Through the 2007 season GameDay was in Eugene only three times.

Maybe its a coincidence maybe it isn't, I'll let you decide.

USC's overall view from our detractors could be further impacted negatively if ESPN allows these relationships to continue. I could care less about the Zero's but we need to be careful in pointing fingers if we are getting preferential treatment just because we are aligned with the swoosh.

Nike isn't dumb, Nike understands the concept that you don't bite the hand that feeds you. They realize that once the announcers become a part of their 'team', there's an unspoken quid pro quo in play, even if it is subtle.

Think about it. If Nike paid you to wear their clothing and speak before audiences, would you be able to maintain your objectivity and impartiality when it came to other Nike 'team members'?

This pretty common sense stuff. Of course the Mouse is going to suck up to the swoosh...

Anyone else ever wonder why ESPN hardly made a peep about the LaMichael James/Pernell Brown "issue"? There are still a number of unanswered questions with that issue.

It's out there.

Did Nike money quash the press doing the job everyone expects them to do?

You be judge...

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Conquest Chronicles' writers or editors.

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