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San Jose Sharks, ESPN exchange barbs on Twitter over ‘Sharknado’

SharknadoIf you haven’t at least heard of “Sharknado” starring Tara Reid and former “Beverly Hills 90210″ actor Ian Zeiring, you are probably just waking up from a 48-hour nap. The ridiculous movie that debuted on the Syfy channel Thursday night is all everyone has been talking about.

The movie basically centered on a tornado that spit man-eating sharks at people. Don’t believe me? Just Google it — you’ll see. On Friday morning, ESPN decided to get in on the trending hashtag #Sharknado by tweeting a lame joke at the San Jose Sharks’ official Twitter account:

The joke was harmless and certainly not offensive, but whoever was operating the Sharks’ Twitter was in no mood for joking around with the World Wide Leader.

And that was the end of that. ESPN now knows better than to try to get chummy with the Sharks. Either start showing more hockey highlights, or stop tweeting at the boys from San Jose. Clearly they have no interest in entertaining your corny humor.

Howie Schwab laid off by ESPN

Stump the SchwabESPN is in the process of cutting hundreds of jobs, and Howie Schwab, former star of “Stump the Schwab,” is one of the employees who has been let go.

Schwab posted the news on his Facebook page and wrote the following message:

After 26 years at ESPN, I am extremely disappointed to say farewell. I have been proud of my association and my work during my tenure. I was a loyal employee, displayed respect for others, worked with numerous charities, represented the company well. I always did everything asked of me and more. What did I get in return today … word that I should get lost. The only thing that mattered was my salary, which in my view was the lone reason I lost my job.

Schwab had worked for the company since 1987.

Deadspin reported last month that ESPN planned to cut a few hundred jobs over a few phases. They are currently in their second round of layoffs.

Schwab gained notoriety as the star of “Stump the Schwab,” a trivia-based game show that aired on ESPN 2 and ESPN Classic from 2004-2006. I am not ashamed to admit that my friends and I watched and enjoyed the show when we were in college.

We honestly wish the best for Howie and anyone else who lost their job in the past month.

Bill Simmons reportedly suspended from Twitter for criticizing ‘First Take’

Bill-SimmonsBill Simmons reportedly was suspended by ESPN from Twitter for a few days for criticizing “First Take” last week.

Last Thursday, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman went on the offensive attacking host Skip Bayless during an appearance on the ESPN morning show. The video went viral, and there was no comment from ESPN on the embarrassing segment.

Simmons, who is the most popular writer at the network, addressed the Sherman-Bayless exchange on his Twitter account later that night.

“I am not defending this segment,” Simmons tweeted before linking to video of the exchange. “I thought it was awful and embarrassing to everyone involved. Seriously.”

He also sent this critical tweet:

The tweets apparently violated ESPN’s social media policy (pdf link).

The Sherman-Bayless interview gained plenty of attention because Sherman refused to go along with the questions asked of him and instead made it his mission to bash Bayless.

“I am intelligent enough and capable enough to understand that you are ignorant, pompous, egotistical, cretin,” said Sherman. “I’m going to crush you on here in front of everyone because I’m tired of hearing about you.”

Deadspin noticed that Simmons did not tweet Tuesday or Wednesday. They pointed out that he only tweeted one item Monday and two on Thursday — all three of which were links to Grantland stories. That is after Simmons tweeted daily from November-February, save for Feb. 7, per Deadspin. Deadspin also adds that Simmons did not appear on “NBA Countdown” Wednesday night despite being previously scheduled to do so.

Sports Illustrated media reporter Richard Deitsch says ESPN declined comment on the suspension report.

“First Take” has come under criticism many times before because of some of the antics we have seen on the show. Stephen A. Smith seemed to use the N-word on the program and escaped without penalty. Bayless turned the Washington Redskins quarterback situation into a racial matter, while Rob Parker did something similar and was let go by the network. The show has no credibility or respect by anyone with a brain, and its sole purpose is to rile up viewers by having hosts make outrageous statements.

By suspending Simmons for his critique of the show, ESPN is proving once again that it is choosing ratings over quality programming.

ESPN reportedly was tipped about girlfriend hoax by Teo’s agent day before Deadspin

manti-teoFor those who care about how the Manti Te’o investigation developed, The New York Times and Sports Illustrated have stories for you.

Deadspin broke the story about Manti Te’o’s girlfriend being a hoax last Wednesday, over a week after Notre Dame was blasted by Alabama 42-14 in the BCS National Championship Game. Deadspin writers say they acted on a tip received on Friday, five days before they published their story.

One of the biggest questions has been why no other outlet caught onto this story earlier. ESPN has said they had knowledge of the alleged hoax before Deadspin published, which makes them look bad for letting the story of the year get away.

The New York Times says ESPN was tipped about the story by Te’o’s agent, Tom Condon. Sports Illustrated says the tip came on Jan. 10, a day before Deadspin received its tip. The network had an extra day to investigate, but they sat on the story because they were apparently trying to track down Te’o for an interview.

There reportedly was a conflict at ESPN between those who wanted to publish the story, and those who wanted to wait to see if they could secure an interview with Te’o.

Deadspin felt comfortable with their exhaustive reporting, and the result is the biggest story the site has ever uncovered. ESPN secured the first public comments from Te’o in response, and also got to benefit from Deadspin’s report by publishing several subsequent stories.

Did ESPN blow a big opportunity? Of course, but they still made out fine in the end and didn’t take a risk in publishing inaccurate information when it came to a complex story. As for Deadspin, well, they got to work on the story and everything has unfolded perfectly for them.

ESPN apologizes for Brent Musbuger gushing over Katherine Webb

katherine webb espnESPN was busy issuing statements on Tuesday. First the network announced that Rob Parker was fired for his RG3 comments, and then they apologized for announcer Brent Musburger drooling over Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron’s girlfriend.

ESPN flashed to a shot of McCarron’s girlfriend, Katherine Webb, during the first quarter of the BCS National Championship Game Monday. Musburger and broadcast partner Kirk Herbstreit began gushing over Webb.

“You see that lovely lady there? She’s Miss Alabama, and that’s AJ McCarron’s girlfriend,” said Musburger. “Wow, I’m telling you, you quarterbacks, you get all the good-looking women. What a beautiful woman, wow, whoa!

“If you’re a youngster in Alabama, start getting the football out and throw it around the backyard with pops,” Musburger joked.

ESPN and many others didn’t find the comments too amusing. ESPN PR rep Mike Soltys issued the following statement:

“We always try to capture interesting storylines and the relationship between an Auburn grad who is Miss Alabama and the current Alabama quarterback certainly met that test. However, we apologize that the commentary in this instance went too far and Brent understands that.”

Webb found the praise to be complimentary.

“It was kind of nice,” Webb told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “I didn’t look at it as creepy at all. For a woman to be called beautiful, I don’t see how that’s an issue.”

Webb is a certified beauty queen, so it’s most peoples’ opinion that she is attractive. Still, Musburger was so over-the-top with his comments that many people found the 73-year-old’s words to be excessive and creepy. That’s why ESPN apologized.

Rob Parker fired by ESPN

rob-parkerRob Parker’s comments questioning Robert Griffin III’s blackness have finally cost him his job. ESPN announced on Tuesday that they would be firing the “First Take” host.

Here’s the company’s statement on the matter:

“Rob Parker’s contract expired at year’s end. Evaluating our needs and his work, including his recent RGIII comments, we decided not to renew his deal.”

Parker said on “First Take” Dec. 13 that he wasn’t sure what kind of brother Griffin was. He questioned the quarterback’s blackness, and the episode re-aired throughout the day on ESPN without that part being edited out of the show. As the backlash picked up throughout the day, ESPN finally addressed the comments by calling them “inappropriate.

ESPN suspended Parker and at least one producer from the show, and then announced Tuesday they decided not to bring back Parker.

In his first extended comments since being suspended, Parker expressed very little remorse for his Griffin remarks. Parker blamed others for his RG3 comments, and then he said the public took his comments out of context. Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand says ESPN made the decision to fire Parker before the host’s interview with Click on Detroit.

Nick Saban reportedly banned ESPN in his players’ hotel rooms

nick sabanNick Saban wants his players focused for the national championship game and not getting lost in all the hype surrounding the team. In his quest to have his team achieve the proper mindset, Saban reportedly banned ESPN in his players’ hotel rooms.

According to ESPN’s Brett McMurphy, Tom Rinaldi said Saban had the team’s hotel make ESPN unavailable in players’ hotel rooms since Sunday.

Yahoo! Sports Dan Wetzel reported something similar.

That’s a classic Saban move, if true. It’s also smart.

The last thing Alabama needs entering Monday’s BCS National Championship Game is to hear how great they are and how they’re favored to beat Notre Dame by 10 points. Believing one’s hype often leads to teams playing with less motivation for a game.

Remember how things were leading up to the 2006 Rose Bowl? ESPN spent weeks fawning over USC and trying to decide where they ranked among the best college football dynasties of all time as if they had already beaten Texas. Sure enough, the Trojans lost to the Longhorns. Saban is doing what he can to make sure Alabama avoids the same fate. He has Bama in contention to win its third national championship in four years, which would be pretty incredible.