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Sunday, November 19, 2017


Lane Kiffin trolls Jon Gruden over coaching rumors

Jon Gruden

Another round of Jon Gruden coaching rumors is in full swing, and the ESPN broadcaster seems to be perpetuating them this time around. Now we have Lane Kiffin trying to do his part, too.

Earlier this week, Kiffin sent some FAU swag to all of the former Owls players who are currently competing in the NFL. When a fan asked if Kiffin could help him out with some FAU gear because he can’t find any in the Tampa Bay area, Kiffin noted that perhaps the fan could ask Gruden. Check out the exchange:

Kiffin then cracked a couple of other jokes about potentially joining Gruden’s staff:

Those who have been following the latest batch of Gruden speculation know that the coach has been linked to at least two jobs. Some reports indicate he is giving consideration to returning to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and there is also reason to believe Gruden is interested in coaching at the collegiate level in Tennessee.

Gruden hasn’t exactly denied that he is thinking about leaving the broadcast booth, so you can’t blame Kiffin for having some fun with it. He won’t be the last.

Jon Gruden on potential return to coaching: ‘Never say never’

Jon Gruden banana

Jon Gruden has grown used to addressing rumors about his potential return to coaching, and the latest comments the ESPN broadcaster made on the topic will do nothing to cool the annual speculation.

In an appearance on “Mike & Mike” Wednesday morning, Gruden was asked about reports linking him to NFL and collegiate coaching jobs. As he has done in the past, the 54-year-old did not deny that he will return to coaching one day.

“I haven’t talked to anybody. All I really have in my life is my family and football,” Gruden said. “I’m real sensitive to the coaches that are out there coaching, so I don’t speculate. I just love football. I’m trying to hang onto the job I have. I’m very fortunate to be with the people I’m with.

“I don’t know what’s gonna happen in the future. I just know this — I’m gonna continue to give my best effort to the game and stay prepared. I love ‘Monday Night Football’ and don’t plan on leaving but, as you know in life, you never say never to nothing.”

It was around this time last year that Gruden was linked to the Los Angeles Rams head coaching vacancy, and he took the opportunity to squash those rumors during an interview with the same guys he spoke to on Wednesday. If you want to read into things, you could make a case that Gruden left the door open this time around.

One longtime Tampa Bay reporter gave several reasons this week for why he believes Gruden could end up coaching the Buccaneers again. Gruden has also been linked to the Tennessee Volunteers now that Butch Jones has been fired, but a return to pro football seems more likely. Given how much money he is reportedly making at ESPN, any coaching offer to Gruden would have to be a very good one.

ESPN expected to lay off more than 100 more employees after Thanksgiving


ESPN has made some shocking layoffs in recent months, and apparently there will be many more to come before the year is over.

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated reports that the World Wide Leader is expected to lay off more than 100 more employees after Thanksgiving. Included in the latest round of cuts will be more on-air personalities, and “SportsCenter” is expected to be impacted the most.

As Deitsch notes, the layoffs really began in October 2015. Since then, ESPN has parted ways with roughly five percent of its workforce, which is a direct result of cable subscription numbers decreasing as consumers find other ways to get the content they want. One longtime on-air anchor told Deitsch that employees have been feeling “queasy” as they wait to see who might get the axe next.

ESPN has still been making big hires like NBA reporter Adrian Wojnarowski and popular former FOX on-air talent Katie Nolan, but many of the layoffs have been stunning.

NBC experimenting with more use of SkyCam during broadcasts

skycam view

Are you a fan of the SkyCam angle for football telecasts? Let’s hope so, because you’re about to see more of it — at least on NBC.

NBC announced on Thursday that it will be utilizing the SkyCam as its primary angle for the Week 11 “Thursday Night Football” game between the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. As part of the announcement, the announcing team of Mike Tirico and Cris Collinsworth repeated the news during Thursday’s Seattle Seahawks-Arizona Cardinals game, during which the SkyCam view was utilized.

The genesis for the change was what happened during “Sunday Night Football” between the Patriots and Falcons game two weeks ago. Due to the foggy conditions, NBC had to utilize the SkyCam view in order for viewers to have a clearer picture of the game.

“A lot of people reacted very positively to that,” analyst Cris Collinsworth said while calling the Seahawks-Cardinals game. “They liked the idea; sort of like the ‘Madden’ game. You’re kind of behind it and you see all of the routes develop. You see a great view of the running game. So we’ll give you a little taste of it tonight, and then next week we’ll give you a bigger taste of it.”

“We are excited to present a game with the majority of live-action coverage coming from SkyCam,” NBC said in a statement Thursday. “After pivoting out of necessity to SkyCam in the New England fog, we’ve been aggressively planning and testing with the intent of utilizing the system for a full game. Younger generations of NFL fans have grown accustomed to watching football from this angle through their love of video games. This telecast will have a look and feel akin to that experience.”

NBC believes that many fans are used to watching the game from that angle because of their experience playing the “Madden” video games.

I didn’t mind the SkyCam view but felt it wasn’t as good for a main view as the standard camera view. The SkyCam view was so low that the angle cut off the wide receivers, making it difficult to see everything that was happening. The other downside was it became tougher to see distance and depth. As an alternate view on replays, it’s great because you can see what the quarterback sees and also have a better understanding of line play, which is tougher to see from the sidelines.

Jenn Sterger calls out Sam Ponder over tweet sent during Brett Favre scandal

Samantha Steele

The loyal cult following of Barstool Sports is prepared to wage a full-fledged war against ESPN, and Jenn Sterger is providing the “Stoolies” with plenty of ammunition.

On Monday night, Sterger blasted ESPN for the network’s “hypocrisy” in abruptly ending its relationship with Barstool Sports after just one episode of “Barstool Van Talk” aired. In order to illustrate her point, Sterger recalled an incident in which she was sexually harassed by an ESPN employee when she interviewed for multiple positions. ESPN responded on Tuesday by saying none of the incidents Sterger spoke of had ever been brought to the network’s attention, but Sterger had no interest in letting it go.

It is widely believed that Sam Ponder was the driving force behind ESPN having second thoughts about getting into business with Barstool. On the eve of the “Barstool Van Talk” premiere, Ponder sent a series of tweets reminding people of misogynistic things that were said about her by Barstool bloggers years ago. As Sterger notes, Ponder sent a questionable tweet in 2010 while the NFL was investigating Sterger’s allegations of sexual harassment against Brett Favre:

Sterger also said ESPNW columnist Sarah Spain attacked her during the Favre investigation, though Spain apologized and said she could not recall doing that.


ESPN responds to sexual harassment allegations from Jenn Sterger

Jenn Sterger took to Twitter on Monday night to expose ESPN for its alleged hypocrisy in wanting to distance itself from the Barstool Sports brand, and in doing so she brought up some shocking sexual harassment allegations.

In a lengthy statement, Sterger said she was brought into ESPN headquarters on more than one occasion to test for several shows. The former New York Jets “Gameday Host” described how she was pressured by a coworker to go to a “club” that ended up being a strip club, where some of the company’s employees “teased me about how I was uncomfortable and didn’t want to participate.”

“The following day I was confronted by two of my bosses about whether or not I had been in attendance the previous night,” Sterger wrote. “I told them I had been, but didn’t want to be there once I realized what it was. They admonished me and said it was a bad look for the company for me to be there and to never do it again. I was fired before my plane landed in Tampa.”

The more disturbing allegations Sterger made were against an ESPN employee, whom she says is the same man who pressured her to go to the strip club. Sterger said the individual brought her to Bristol in 2008 to interview for a job opening, at which time she was “paraded” around the office and asked a series of “inappropriate” questions.

“When the ‘meeting’ was done I went to leave and found out (he) had cancelled my car home because (he) said (he was) ‘already going into the city so (he) would just take me,'” Sterger recalled. “It was a very long and uncomfortable car ride. He brought up numerous girls he said he was hooking up with that worked there at the time. And implied that he was helping their careers. … I reminded him I was in a relationship with someone he knew but he persisted.”

Sterger said the ESPN employee asked her to go to dinner but she declined and took a train home. She says the individual still works at ESPN and that she was later told he only brought her in for an interview to show his coworkers she is “just as f—able in person as I was in pictures.”

On Tuesday, ESPN issued a statement saying none of the incidents Sterger described were ever brought to the company’s attention.

Many people have pointed out that no such instances have ever been reported at Barstool, thus making it unfair for Sterger to compare her experience with anything that has gone on at the company. She later clarified that she only meant to highlight the “hypocrisy” at ESPN.

ESPN abruptly ended its relationship with Barstool this week after airing just one episode of “Barstool Van Talk.” Barstool founder Dave Portnoy said the decision to pull the plug on the show stemmed from a “mini-uprising” at ESPN, which likely had a lot to do with Sam Ponder’s social media attack on Barstool.

Barstool Sports says there was ‘mini-uprising’ at ESPN over show


Why did ESPN partner with controversial sports media company Barstool Sports on a TV show and then pull the plug on the show after only one episode? It’s a great question, but Barstool Sports’ founder Dave Portnoy shared some insight about the reason for the cancellation.

“From what we heard, there was a mini-uprising (at ESPN),” Portnoy said during one of his humorous “emergency press conference” videos posted to Twitter Monday. “When I say mini, I’d guess 95 percent of ESPN employees actually like Barstool. And there’s a small minority of employees — there are people who didn’t like the show.”

Portnoy then said that ESPN executives wanted to air the show and approved of the content, but the problem is the greater parent company couldn’t live with the association to the Barstool brand and what comes with it.

“They got pushed around. Anybody who thinks the ESPN executives want to cancel the show are nuts. They’re a Walt Disney company. They got to cater to the complaints and what the few say,” Portnoy said in his video.

ESPN president John Skipper said in a statement announcing the cancellation that “While we had approval on the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content.”

Barstool is a sports humor brand that proudly eschews political correctness in an effort to connect with its audience through its authenticity. They have been involved in many controversies over the years due to some of their offensive content.

What likely hampered the partnership with ESPN was the tweets of host Sam Ponder released before the debut of “Barstool Van Talk” on ESPN2. Ponder brought up sexist comments Barstool’s hosts had made about her in the past. What Ponder had rehashed is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of offensive content about ESPN Barstool has said or published over the years.

ESPN comes out looking bad because the swift cancellation indicates how much they miscalculated the backlash they would receive as a result of the partnership, as well as how they would respond to external pressure.

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