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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bleacher Report’s Monte Faison Wonders How Austin Box’s Death Impacts Oklahoma

It was only a week ago that we scolded ESPN writer Albert Lin for using the death of Aaron Douglas to break down Alabama’s depth chart. Sadly, it wasn’t the first time an ESPN employee reacted so coldly to such a tragic death. On both occasions we felt it was necessary to write about the incidents because we wanted to get the message across that times of death are not the proper instances to break down depth charts. Unfortunately Bleacher Report contributor Monte Faison has not learned that lesson.

On Thursday, less than 24 hours after it was learned Oklahoma linebacker Austin Box had died, Faison wrote an article for Bleacher Report about how the death would impact the team. The headline to the article was “Austin Box: What Does the Loss Mean for Oklahoma Sooners?”

Here’s what he wrote:

The news sharing the loss of Austin Box hit Thursday afternoon and sent shock waves through the college football community—particularly the Sooner Nation. KFOR in Oklahoma City is reporting that Box was found unresponsive at a home in El Reno (Okla.) late Wednesday night. He was then flown to a local hospital and later pronounced dead.

This is the second tragic death college football has had in the past week. Last Thursday, University of Alabama offensive lineman Aaron Douglas was found dead at a home in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

Though he had numerous injuries that kept him off the field at OU, Box was a solid middle linebacker that provided the Sooners defense with emotional sparks in big games. Most notably, during the 2010 season, he produced huge stops on fourth-down plays against Baylor and Connecticut that gave the momentum back to Landry Jones and the Sooners offense.

What does this mean for Bob Stoops and the Sooners heading into a 2011 season where the expectations are as high as ever?

It seems as though defensive coordinator Brent Venbles will now look to All American LB Tom Wort (6’0″, 227 pounds) who finished the 2011 season with over 66 tackles. In the early part of the 2010 season, Wort filled in as Box battled a back injury that sidelined him for five games. After getting adjusted and having some growing pains in the early part of the 2010 season, Wort showed promise. He obtained a team high 10 tackles in the Red River Rivlary vs. Texas.

The other option is moving All-American Travis Lewis (6’2″, 233 pounds) to the middle linebacker spot in several defensive packages. With Wort being such a young, raw, undeveloped talent, Stoops and Venables may move Wort to an outside linebacker role with Tony Jefferson and Joseph Ibiloye. The head of a Bob Stoops defense is the middle linebacker role, and it needs to be an unquestioned leader. It seems like Travis Lewis fits that role, finishing his past three seasons with over 100 tackles.

The loss is definitely a blow to the national title hopes. But the Sooner Nation should not worry, as Bob Stoops will find a way to put the 11 best players on the field.

Prayers go out to the Oklahoma community and team through this tough grieving process.

In the second paragraph Faison mentioned Aaron Douglas’ death, so obviously he knew about that. He also worked swiftly, needing only three paragraphs before he began to his analysis of how the death affects Oklahoma’s program. Faison started breaking down their defensive scheme, talking about how Tom Wort might fill the hole and what options the head coach and defensive coordinator have to change things up. The analysis seemed top notch, but come on, this news was just announced. What are you thinking? How can you possibly say prayers go out to the Oklahoma community when you’re already wondering who will take Box’s spot?

Bleacher Report quickly took down the article, but the damage has already been done. This is the same organization that used the tsunami that killed hundreds of people in Japan while devastating part of the country to make a sports slideshow.

Look, we all make mistakes. We’ve had typos and errors in our headlines and had to make corrections. And sometimes we’ve used poor judgment regarding the subject of our stories. But this is a pattern Bleacher Report has demonstrated of using any news possible to gain traffic. This is exactly why most of the sports media and blogosphere can’t stand them. It’s utter lapses in judgment like this that spawned a twitter account called “Very Fake BR” that has nearly 2,000 followers all eager to mock them.

The point is their organization is too large to carefully monitor for quality content. They pump out all kinds of content per day and that’s the basis of their business model. Hundreds of stories per day, loaded up with keywords to take advantage of Google, and if we happen to have an insensitive or inaccurate story or two along the way, oh well.

“Bigger” has allowed Bleacher Report to gain massive traffic numbers and become extremely profitable. But bigger doesn’t always mean better, and that’s clearly the problem with Bleacher Report. They’re just too big for their own good because they have an inability to avoid errors of colossal proportion.

Here’s a full on screen shot of how the article looked:

Thanks to Bryan D. Fischer for passing along the link

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