Well, there's ONE school ESPN won't investigate or hate, and that's their business partner the Univ of Texas. You're not being honest with yourself if you don't admit that's true.
Ya know, it was kinda nice not having to write about Johnny Manziel for a couple of days. Oh, well. At least this particular Manziel story appears to be drawing to a close.
Houston-based reporter John Lopez tweeted this morning:
Meanwhile, ESPN’s Travis Haney reports today that Texas A&M’s quarterback spent “a large chunk of Sunday” with NCAA investigators who questioned Manziel about allegations that he received money from autograph brokers for his signature. ESPN’s source says the meetings lasted six hours. (Six hours? One wonders if investigators used the rack or the Iron Maiden on the kid.)
ESPN’s report states:
“It was unclear whether the NCAA was satisfied with the initial meeting with Manziel or iff it would require additional time with the redshirt sophomore. Texas A&M’s season begins Saturday, at home against Rice.”
Oh, yes, that. The Aggies’ game this weekend. So far the school’s coaches have not cut back on Manziel’s practice time which strongly suggests they plan to play their star against the Owls. That’s not a shock. Late last week, the chancellor of the A&M system went on the offensive throwing a little mud at ESPN’s reporting and at least one of the autograph brokers who had told the network cash had been an issue with Manziel. In addition, John Sharp loudly declared Manziel innocent, though he also admitted he hadn’t actually spoken with the player.
“The focus of our coaches and student-athletes is solely on preparing for Rice this Saturday, and in the best interests of Texas A&M and the 100-plus student-athletes on the team. I have instructed Coach (Kevin) Sumlin, his staff and our student-athletes to refrain from commenting on or answering questions regarding the status of our starting quarterback, Johnny Manziel.”
An interesting choice of words, no? “Our starting quarterback.” Sounds like there’s very little question that Manziel will start on Saturday. In fact, that line sounds downright defiant, which many an Aggie fan will love. I arrive at that conclusion because I’ve received emailed notice of a new pro-Manziel/anti-ESPN column from at least 20 angry folks in maroon in white. (Apparently I am Joe Schad’s keeper.)
The SBNation site GoodBullHunting.com posted a story over the weekend titled “Schad’s Sources and the Narrative Problem.” The writer of said column is someone known as “TelcoAg.” According to the site he is a father of two, a telecom engineer, a “mathlete,” an introvert, “Aggie Class of ’06″ and — this is important — he hates olives. None of that is to suggest that “TelcoAg” isn’t a sharp guy and a fine sleuth, but as someone who actually signs his name to what he writes — and gets tons o’ hate mail because of it — I’m a little skeptical of the deductions this writer arrives at in his piece.
The column basically compares the work of ESPN and reporter Joe Schad during the Texas Tech/Mike Leach scandal to their current reporting on the Texas A&M/Manziel scandal. He does a nice job of plucking quotes from here and there. “TelcoAg” also points out that there were two sides to that Leach story. There always are.
ESPN reported a story and they quoted sources as the story continued to develop. That’s reporting. When all the facts are in, the sources and deductions drawn early on could be wrong. That’s the greatest fear of any good journalist — good sources with bad information. What’s written today might not hold up two weeks from today.
Take coverage of the legal system as an example. An accusation and an arrest is made. Should the press not report on that because the person under arrest has yet to stand trial and therefore could be innocent?
And just when is anyone supposed to know when all the facts are in? If someone comes forward tomorrow with evidence pointing to a murderous extraterrestrial on the Grassy Knoll in Dallas in 1963, the press will have been guilty of smearing Lee Harvey Oswald for 50 years. So should no one have talked to witnesses and tried to piece the story together for themselves?
The GoodBullHunting story uses words like “crucifixion” in connection to the Leach story, so I think you can guess just how anti-ESPN and anti-Schad the column is. Interestingly, the writer points to an ESPN conspiracy in that Leach case and breaks apart quotes from the network’s various sources, yet he then states that “verifiable facts” are to be found “in Mike Leach’s book, ‘Swing Your Sword.’”
The verdict: Anonymous sources and ESPN’ers had an agenda. Leach had no agenda in writing a book to clear his own name. Ummm, OK.
If you want a more scholarly and impartial take on Schad and ESPN’s coverage of L’affaire Manziel, click right here. Auburn associate professor of journalism John Carvalho — hey, he signed his name! — weighed in on the topic back on August 7th. It’s a good read for those of us in the media and for those out there who hate those of us in the media.
Personally, I’m tired of this whole mess. For the sake of Manziel and college football, I hope the kid is cleared and that the only stories we hear about him this fall revolve around his on-field exploits as opposed to NCAA interviews, partying and tweets.
I also hope that those A&M’ers who claim ESPN has a “narrative” and an agenda will realize that the pro-Aggie sites they’re citing also have narratives and agendas of their own. Hopefully, we’ll have an official answer this week as to who’s narrative was closer to the truth.