Duke fans sure know how to conduct a timely roast.
ESPN’s “College GameDay” broadcasted live from Duke on Saturday ahead of their big rivalry game against North Carolina. During a segment about the allegations surrounding Arizona head coach Sean Miller, the Blue Devils faithful audibly chanted, “Check your sources” behind anchor Rece Davis.
In what has been the biggest story in college basketball this past week, Miller was implicated in an ESPN report alleging that he was caught on wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to ensure star big man Deandre Ayton’s commitment to Arizona. Miller himself has strongly denied any wrongdoing and continues to coach the Wildcats. Meanwhile, ESPN is standing by their reporting, albeit while making a few corrections to the original piece.
As for the Duke fans, they don’t necessarily have a horse in that particular race, but their troll game definitely continues to be on point.
A lot of holes have been poked into ESPN’s report that said Sean Miller was caught on a wiretap discussing paying Deandre Ayton to come to the University of Arizona. Now there is some speculation saying that ESPN confused Ayton for Brian Bowen in their report.
Arizona Daily Star columnist Greg Hansen said in an interview with Bickley & Marotta on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station that he thinks ESPN got the players wrong.
“I don’t even think it was Deandre Ayton who was mentioned in that report,” Hansen said, via ArizonaSports.com. “I think it was (former Louisville commit) Brian Bowen. I think they got that wrong. I think there are so many (things) that ESPN screwed it up.
“I talked to someone yesterday — his name might rhyme with ‘look’ — and he said that it wasn’t Ayton at all. It was Brian Bowen.”
Hansen’s reference to “look” is about former Arizona assistant “Book” Richardson, who was fired after being part of the FBI arrests in September. Hansen clarified that he did not speak to Richardson, but someone close to him.
Furthering this suggestion is what 247 Sports reported on Monday. 247 Sports noted that ESPN changed the timeline of its report twice. They initially said the phone call between Miller and Christian Dawkins that was on a wiretap took place in the spring of 2017. Then they said spring of 2016. Then they said just 2016. Now they’ve gone back and said it was 2017.
247 Sports pointed out that Dawkins was also never really known to have a connection to Ayton.
However, Dawkins was known to be shopping Bowen to schools.
Yahoo’s Pat Forde reported the following in an article published on Feb. 23:
Dawkins ran the recruitment of Bowen, the decorated high school recruit who turned up in one of the U.S. Attorney’s criminal complaints as being allegedly sold to Louisville, via Adidas, for a six-figure payment.
Forde also reported that Dawkins was shopping Bowen to Arizona, and that Arizona was interested.
The FBI later said in its indictment that Bowen went to Louisville for $100,000, the revelation of which led to Rick Pitino’s firing. $100,000 is the amount of money ESPN says Miller was recorded on wiretap discussing with Dawkins for a player in 2017. Bowen committed to Louisville in 2017.
Now keep all this information in mind when you read this quote, which came from Miller during his press conference on Thursday:
“The only attempted corrections by the original source of the media statements are still inaccurate and completely false,” Miller said. “I also want you to know that the one time someone suggested to me paying a player to come to the University of Arizona, I did not agree to it. It never happened, and that player did not come to the University of Arizona.”
Hmm? The one time someone shopped a player to him, he did not agree to it, and that player did not go to Arizona? Yup, that seems to also coincide with the suggestion that the player in the ESPN report was Bowen, not Ayton.
Maybe this is exactly why Miller vehemently defended himself against ESPN’s allegations and why Arizona is allowing him to continue to coach.
ESPN host Michael Smith was critical of the network for changing the vision of his “SC6” SportsCenter show, which he co-hosted with Jemele Hill.
Smith and Hill, who previously co-hosted “His & Hers” before moving to “The Six”, began hosting the show a year ago. But Hill got in trouble for her tweets about Donald Trump, which led to controversy and even a response from the president. Though she was not suspended then, she was later suspended for a tweet recommending a boycott.
Appearing on “Origins,” a podcast by James Andrew Miller, Smith said that ESPN essentially muted him and Hill after the incidents.
“There was a time we weren’t even talking to each other (on the program) anymore,” Smith told Miller, via the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rosenthal. “Like no more Michael and Jemele, not less, not here and there. No more Michael and Jemele talking. No more of their commentary. It’s just strictly live shots and analysts. That’s what pissed me off so much.
“I’m like, so wait a second, you all acknowledge that one of the strengths that we have going for us as a show is Michael and Jemele’s chemistry, but Michael and Jemele don’t (expletive) talk to each other? How does that make sense?”
The changes to the show led Hill to ask off of it so she could join “The Undefeated,” where she would have the platform to offer more of the type of commentary she wanted.
John Skipper had been the president of ESPN for nearly six years before his tenure abruptly came to an end on Monday, and many of the media juggernaut’s employees did not see his resignation coming.
Multiple ESPN staffers told TMZ Sports that they were stunned by Skipper’s decision to step down and his revelation that he is struggling with substance abuse. Numerous employees of the World Wide Leader said Skipper was well-liked and respected.
“People are just stunned … a lot of us truly respected him,” one ESPN employee told TMZ. “You will be hard pressed to find anyone with a negative word about him.”
“I’m shocked,” another staffer said. “I liked the guy a lot.”
Skipper joined ESPN as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine back in 1997, and he had worked his way up the ranks since. The company has generally experienced great success under his leadership, though some potentially serious issues arose last week when two of ESPN’s most recognizable employees were accused of sexual harassment.
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.
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.
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.
ESPN made a surprising decision recently to partner with Barstool Sports for a late-night TV show, but the partnership was incredibly short-lived.
On Monday, ESPN announced that it has cancelled its new show “Barstool Van Talk” after just one episode. ESPN president John Skipper admitted in a statement that the network was hoping to be able to distance itself from the Barstool brand despite working with two of its employees.
Dan “Big Cat” Katz and PFT Commenter are cohosts of “Pardon My Take,” which has quickly become one of the most popular podcasts in the country. The Barstool personalities released a statement of their own after the news broke.
It’s almost impossible to believe ESPN didn’t know there would be backlash after partnering with Barstool. What network executives probably didn’t expect was one of their own employees leading the charge in bashing the World Wide Leader for getting into bed with a site that has been criticized for its content, which is exactly what Sam Ponder did in a series of tweets last week.
Miami pulled out a come-from-behind, 24-20 win over Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee Saturday. It was a hard-fought ACC matchup, but the Hurricanes (4-0) were able to stay unbeaten, and will likely move up from No. 13 in the AP top 25 this week.
In the final minutes of the matchup, as Miami mounted its final drive, the Hurricanes picked up a pivotal third-and-10. ESPN’s production received criticism, however, because its yellow first-down line moved and was crooked on the play.
Check out a good slow-motion video of the yellow line below.
ESPN ultimately backed Jemele Hill amid public pressure to fire her over her comments about Donald Trump, but one report says they wanted the host to take a breather on Wednesday.
Think Progress’ Lindsay Gibbs reports that ESPN wanted to keep Hill off air Wednesday. They ran into an issue when Hill’s co-workers reportedly gave her incredible support.
Think Progress says Hill’s “SportsCenter” co-host Michael Smith refused to do the show without Hill. Meanwhile, potential fill-in hosts ESPN was said to have contacted, Michael Eaves and Elle Duncan (both of whom are black), did not agree to sub-in. A tweet from Eaves sent on Wednesday indicated he was angry/frustrated.
Hill did not miss any time hosting her show despite being embroiled in the controversy. The pressure even came from the White House after press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Hill’s Twitter comments about Trump were a “fireable offense.”
In tweets sent as part of a political discussion on Monday, Hill called Trump a white supremacist. ESPN sent a statement saying the comments were “inappropriate.”
Hill sent a statement via Twitter Wednesday in which she apologized for making ESPN look bad through her comments. The network said it had accepted her apology.
It’s important to note that ESPN told Think Progress they always wanted Hill to host the show Wednesday with Smith despite reports saying they tried to do otherwise.
“In the end, ultimately, Michael and Jemele appearing on the show last night and doing the show the way they did is the outcome we always desired,” senior VP Rob King told Think Progress.