Connect with us
BSM Summit
blank

BSM Writers

In Any Meritocracy, Maria Taylor Is No Rachel Nichols

“ ESPN’s haste to promote a younger Black host, over an accomplished White host, has again exposed a 21st-century disease in network TV and corporate America: Are optics all that matter anymore?”

Jay Mariotti

Published

on

blank

I first met Rachel Nichols when she was Rachel Alexander, an intern at the Chicago Sun-Times as I was beginning 17 years of column-writing there. Back in the days when staffers actually met for beers, she’d hang out with us. And it was apparent then that she was a reporter first, not in it for the glamour, while later proving at the Washington Post that she could dominate beat coverage with probing questions and instinctive savvy.

Not surprisingly, her journalism skills drove her to stardom as a front-facing basketball host and sideline reporter at ESPN, where she gained the respect of all — viewers, players, coaches, her network bosses and colleagues — with hard work and source-accrued knowledge. I appreciated she was a journalist at heart, caring much more about the news she was breaking than aesthetic appeal. Anyone who has watched sports television in recent decades knows news isn’t usually the top priority, especially inside network management offices, where a Fox Sports NFL-studio-show director once fired a loaded question at me during a lunchtime job interview.

 “Do you know any blondes you could recommend?’’ he asked.

“Try any sportscast on local L.A. news,’’ I shot back, annoyingly. 

Nichols is not a blonde, becoming a prominent NBA media face based on merit and chops. And she should have been left alone in her dual capacities, as host not only of the daily program “The Jump’’ but the signature “NBA Countdown’’ show that wraps around game telecasts on ESPN and ABC. But inside those management offices, at Disney last year, pressure was mounting from outside influences — politics best ignored by the strongest and smartest bosses — to replace Nichols with Maria Taylor.     

Nichols is White. Taylor is Black.

In any meritocracy, Taylor is no Rachel Nichols. She has shown a robust presence as a sideline interviewer in college football, and she is lively when hosting NBA shows, but if Taylor has broken major news in her time at ESPN, please refresh my memory. A studio-show host must have a rich command of the stories discussed by panelists, and such expertise isn’t gathered by simply showing up and oozing personality. James Brown has broken stories on CBS’ pre-game show, “The NFL Today.’’ Rece Davis has done the same on the ESPN staple, “College GameDay,’’ as has Karl Ravech on ESPN’s coverage of Major League Baseball. Nichols had attained a similar level of authority through years on the job. Such an asset shouldn’t be scrapped because exterior forces want to make a diversity statement. 

But this is how sports TV — hell, corporate America — operates in the social tumult of the 21st century. All that matters are optics, not the wealth of ability or experience, which is why ESPN is dealing with yet another explosive racial story that paints Disney as a bumbling operation incapable of handling sensitive in-house issues. Sunday, the New York Times reported full details of a videotaped phone conversation between Nichols and Adam Mendelsohn — an influential American political operative and a well-known advisor to LeBron James and his powerful agent, Rich Paul — after Nichols learned that Taylor would replace her as “NBA Countdown’’ host during the 2020 Finals. 

Speaking from her hotel room at Walt Disney World last July, Nichols wasn’t aware while seeking advice from Mendelsohn that a remote camera and microphone were picking up the entirety of their conversation. The camera had been installed as it was for other ESPN personalities performing on-air work from non-traditional pandemic locations. It should have been a private chat, but never underestimate the snake quotient at ESPN or inside media companies in general. Any number of employees had access to the dialogue. Someone recorded it, then leaked it — first to the rogue website Deadspin last year, then recently to Deadspin alumnus Kevin Draper, a reporter at the Times. In their discussion, Nichols made the mistake of turning Taylor’s ascent into a racial matter. 

Yet given ESPN’s troubles with diversity scenarios through the years, was Nichols wrong in objecting to being made a corporate scapegoat? I say she had every right to be upset — and let’s remember, as her attorneys surely have emphasized, that she assumed the conversation was private, not recorded by a creep who eventually made certain it was heard by everybody who mattered in Bristol, including ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro.

 “I wish Maria Taylor all the success in the world — she covers football, she covers basketball,” Nichols told Mendelsohn. “If you need to give her more things to do because you are feeling pressure about your crappy longtime record on diversity — which, by the way, I know personally from the female side of it — like, go for it. Just find it somewhere else. You are not going to find it from me or taking my thing away.”

It wasn’t Nichols’ place to be spilling her troubles to Mendelsohn when the reason for the call was a professional request: She wanted an interview with James and Lakers teammate Anthony Davis, also represented by Paul. But she elaborated anyway. “I just want them to go somewhere else,’’ she said. “It’s in my contract, by the way; this job is in my contract in writing.”

The NBA, of course, is a predominantly Black league overseen by a White commissioner, Adam Silver, and lorded over by mostly White owners. When Nichols complained to Mendelsohn — who helped James coordinate increased Black voting initiatives before a 2020 U.S. Presidential election that ousted Donald Trump — and he responded regrettably on the tape, the ramifications are high-reaching and not good for anyone, including ESPN and the NBA.

“I don’t. I’m exhausted,’’ Mendelsohn told Nichols. “Between Me Too and Black Lives Matter, I got nothing left.’’

If I view his comment as disingenuous, imagine how James, Paul, Silver, Taylor and a whole lot of people feel today. Especially when the 2021 Finals are starting Tuesday — as Taylor’s contract is expiring. Before the pandemic, she reportedly rejected an ESPN offer of more than $5 million annually, wanting a deal in line with network provocateur Stephen A. Smith, who reportedly makes $8 million a year. But now in a post-pandemic salary chop mode, the network made a recent offer to Taylor that reportedly is half the amount of its previous bid, as rivals such as Fox sniff blood. Will she get up from her studio seat in the middle of the Finals and leave? And how will her colleagues on “NBA Countdown’’ respond when, according to the Times, Jalen Rose, Jay Williams and Adrian Wojnarowski were among those on a recent call with Taylor that turned “acrimonious’’ — and nearly prompted a storm-off-the-set revolt — before Pitaro pacified the anger by phone at a family outing? 

The racial tension at ESPN reflects that of a divided America. And it only has been exacerbated by this story. How will America look at Nichols when it sees her? And Taylor? Will people take sides? Might it actually help ratings for a Finals matchup, between the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns, that is among the least appealing in memory? Or will the drama turn off viewers?

Welcome to the sports media business, kids. If you wonder why so many ESPN people have glum looks, you’re seeing why. And if you wonder why I’m a smiling, healthy guy in my accompanying photo — after working at ESPN for eight years — you’re seeing why. I’ve told an important personal story before, and today, because it’s relevant within the Nichols-Taylor context, I’ll bring it back as I did last month and on other appropriate occasions.

In February of 2011, Howard Bryant was arrested by Massachusetts State Police. A talented senior writer and commentator at ESPN, he was accused of violently attacking his wife — charged with domestic assault and battery, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest, according to a Boston Herald report. Witnesses told police that Bryant “grabbed his wife’s neck, pushed her into a parked vehicle and pinned her against it’’ outside a pizza shop. His wife didn’t press charges, saying she wasn’t abused, and ESPN president John Skipper — though a vocal champion of women’s rights — joined other ESPN executives in welcoming Bryant back to the fold. He continued to work in Bristol as a columnist and TV panelist for years.

Months earlier, while about to enter my ninth year as a regular panelist during the peak ratings period of ESPN’s “Around The Horn,’’ I was accused in a similar case. Bryant had told police that the network was “1,000 percent supportive’’ of him, which ended up being true, but the network was barely responsive to me. ESPN influenced the legal case and public perception by immediately separating from me and allowing fellow panelists to disparage me on air — before a charge had been filed or a lawyer had been hired. I prevailed in a civil case, and the entire matter was expunged years ago, but the network decision was final.

I am White. Bryant is Black.     

How do I know this was racial in nature? Because Skipper, during a future dinner session with me in Malibu, said “Around The Horn’’ desperately needed diversity among the panelists. I happened to agree — and in subsequent years, the show would be filled with diverse faces — but the transformation was conveniently done at my expense. I relate this story not out of bitterness. I want people to know how this business works.

It’s a twisted industry, sports media. I’m not even sure how much I trust Draper, the Times reporter. In 2016, I agreed to part amicably with the San Francisco Examiner when the ailing newspaper, owned by Canada interests, didn’t have the resources to fund my sports-coverage ambitions as an editor and columnist. We determined I would stay through the Super Bowl, hosted that year in the Bay Area, and I’d leave a few weeks after. I decided one day to air my feelings about a rival editor-in-chief, Audrey Cooper, who’d recklessly tweeted about my legal case when I arrived in town. I bit my lip for about a year, but having not been impressed by her leadership at the San Francisco Chronicle, I asserted that she had overly feminist leanings toward me and was driving her paper into the ground.

Still at Deadspin, Draper emailed me and assumed I’d been fired because of the tweet, which wasn’t true. He was a disciple of editor A.J. Daulerio, a drug-addled loon who was sued to smithereens by Hulk Hogan — the sex tape, remember? — and actually had contacted Examiner staffers when I was hired, offering money if they produced dirt on me. The publisher reacted properly, saying anyone who dealt with Daulerio would be fired. I warned Draper that if he lied about the timeline of my departure, I would “Hulk Hogan’’ him. He didn’t care, and next thing you knew, the Times was hiring him. Meanwhile, Cooper abruptly left the Chronicle and took an editor’s gig at New York public radio station WNYC, where she is being sued by a veteran healthcare reporter who says he was wrongfully fired and defamed.

His name: Fred Mogul, a 52-year-old White male.

In good conscience, I cannot encourage young people to enter this racket amid so many swirling, treacherous winds and so many shady people. I’m just thrilled to have had my successes and made my money starting when Rachel Alexander was hungry and diligent … and not when Rachel Nichols has to watch her back at all times, realizing no one has it.

BSM Writers

Marty Smith Loves The ‘Pinch Me’ Moments

“I don’t look at it as a talent-based platform. I don’t look at it as a results-based platform. I look at it as a platform that was built and sustained through the way I treat other people, through the work ethic that I believe that I have and through the passion that I know I have.”

Demetri Ravanos

Published

on

blank

I tell this story all the time. It is told for laughs, but it is absolutely true. Marty Smith once gave me a giant box of beef jerky.

I was in Charlotte visiting him and Ryan McGee on the set of Marty & McGee as part of a larger feature I was doing on the SEC Network. We spent probably 3 hours together that day. It was a lot of fun. The last thing I watched the duo shoot was a promo for Old Trapper Beef Jerky, the presenting sponsor of their show.

As they finished, I shook their hands and told them I had to get on the road. That is when Smith presented me with a box of twelve bags of Old Trapper and told me, in as sincere a voice as you can imagine, that he wanted me to have it.

“I mean, listen, if you give a man beef jerky, by God, you like him,” Smith said to me when I reminded him of that story earlier this week. “That’s redneck currency right there, bud.”

There just aren’t a lot of people in this business like Marty Smith. ESPN definitely knows it too. That is why the network finds every opportunity it can to use him to tell the stories of the events and people it covers.

Last week, he spent Monday and Tuesday with the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. He got a day back home in Charlotte before he headed to Atlanta for the SEC Network’s coverage of the SEC Championship Game on Thursday. Saturday, after his duties for SEC Nation and College GameDay were done, he hit the road for Tuscaloosa to interview Nick Saban and be ready for ESPN’s coverage of the reveal of the final College Football Playoff rankings.

As if that isn’t enough, this week he heads to New York. It will be the second time ESPN will use him to conduct interviews and tell stories during the telecast of the Heisman Trophy presentation. It’s an assignment that Marty Smith still cannot believe is his.

“I’ve had a ton of pinch-me moments, but in the last five, six years, seven years, there are two that kind of stand out above the rest. One was when Mike McQuaid asked me to be part of his team to cover The Masters. The other was last year when my dear longtime friend Kate Jackson, who is the coordinating producer over the Heisman broadcast, asked me to be a part of her Heisman broadcast team and interview the coaches, players and families of the finalists,” Smith says. “You know, brother, I’ve been watching the Heisman Trophy my whole life.”

We talk about what the broadcast around the Heisman Trophy presentation is and how it differs from being on the sideline for a game. He is quick to point out that on a game day, the old adage “brevity is king” is a reality. In New York though, he will have more time to work with. He plans not to just fill it, but to use it.

Marty’s interest in his subjects’ backgrounds and their emotions is sincere. It is part of a larger philosophy. He respects that everyone has a story to tell and appreciates the opportunity to be the one that gets to tell it, so he is going to do all he can to make sure the people he is talking to know it and know that they matter to him. That means putting in the time to be respectful of his subject’s time.

“When I’m interviewing these players or coaches before a game, I want to interview them, and I’m saying not on camera, but when I’m doing the record. I want to get as thorough as I can get. Then you take all of that and you try to pare it down into a very small window. It’s not easy. I mean, look, most of the time you come home with reams of notes that never even sniff air.”

Marty Smith has always been a unique presence. As his profile has grown and he shows up on TV more often and in more places, more people question who this guy really is.

That is par for the course though, right? Someone with a unique presence sees their star rise and out come the naysayers ready to question how authentic the new object of our affections really is.

For me, there is a moment that defines Marty Smith, at least in this aspect. I cannot remember the year or the situation, but he was on The Dan Le Batard Show, back when it was on ESPN Radio. Smith was telling Dan about friends of his that are stars in the country music world and Dan asked what it is like when they are hanging out backstage before one of these guys goes out to perform.

I cannot remember Smith’s exact answer, but a word he used stood out to me. He said it was just buddies having a cold beer and “fellowshippin'”.

I told Marty about this memory of him and said that I am not accusing him of being inauthentic or his persona on television being an act, but I was curious if he was concious of the words he chooses. Even if the version we get of Marty Smith on TV is the same one we would get if we were part of the fellowshippin’, does he think about how he wants people to think about him?

He is quick to note that is isn’t an act at all. What you see when you see Marty Smith isn’t a persona he cooked up when he decided he was going into television. That is just his personality.

“It is a lifelong field from where I’m from to where I am,” he says of what we see on TV. “It is relationships made that pinched my clay and remolded who I was to who I am and reshaped me as a person.”

Anyone from The South can tell you that there is no one monolithic “South”. The gregarious, larger-than-life personalities in Louisiana may not always feel real to people from the more reserved and anglo-influenced South Carolina. The Southern accent I got from growing up in Alabama sounds nothing like the Southern accents I live near now in North Carolina.

Marty Smith is from Pearisburg, Virginia just outside of Blacksburg. Surely that informs who he is, but he is also shaped by the wealth of conversations he has had and the characters he has met from his professional life.

“At our company, you have to work really hard to not only make it, but to sustain it. I try hard to do that every day,” he says. “I’m sure I’ve said it before, man. I don’t look at it as a talent-based platform. I don’t look at it as a results-based platform. I look at it as a platform that was built and sustained through the way I treat other people, through the work ethic that I believe that I have and through the passion that I know I have. You piece all of those different things together, and along with opportunity you can do something special, and I’m trying to do that every day.”

The Marty Smith you see on TV is the guy that will hand you a box of beef jerky just because you had a great conversation. He is the guy you see in that viral video from a few years back giving a young reporter advice and encouragement.

You can be confused by Marty Smith. You can have your questions about him and his motivations. They aren’t going to change him though. It took too long for him to become who he is to start second-guessing it now.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Another World Cup Run Ends And There’s Still No Soccer Fever In The USA

“We get fired up once every four years, sing the anthem, wear American flag t-shirts, then go back to our daily lives, forgetting about the sport that was attached to the patriotism.”

Brian Noe

Published

on

blank

Soccer fever? Hardly. Not in the United States at least. The US Men’s National Team lost in the round of 16 against the Netherlands 3-1 last Saturday. The ratings are in. And the ratings are revealing.

An average of 12.97 million viewers tuned in to see the Netherlands-United States World Cup match on FOX. Before you say, “Hey, not bad,” consider the fact that the ratings are down from eight years ago when 13.44 million viewers watched the USMNT lose to Belgium in the knockout stage on ESPN.

Even more damning are the ratings of the USMNT’s initial match in the 2022 World Cup against Wales, an unhealthy 8.31 million viewers.

Let me get this straight; fans waited, waited, and waited some more to finally see the USMNT in World Cup action, and the first game in eight years drew 8.31 million viewers? Really?

There were 5.5 million viewers across TV and digital that watched the NFL Network’s telecast of the New York Giants-Green Bay Packers game in London. That was a Week 5 game in the NFL compared to the World freaking Cup. Network television (FOX) compared to cable TV (NFL Network). And the ratings are comparable? Come on, US Soccer. Y’all gotta do better than this.

*Mini rant alert — it drives me crazy when soccer in this country is consistently compared to soccer in this country. The promoters of the sport paint an obnoxiously rosy picture of the growing popularity by comparing US soccer now to US soccer then. It’s a joke.

It would be like comparing Nebraska’s 4-8 record in college football this year, to Nebraska’s 3-9 record last year. “Hey, things are looking up!” Never mind the fact that the Cornhuskers are significantly trailing several teams in its conference and many other teams across the country. That’s US soccer in a nutshell. Don’t compare it to other leagues and sports that are crushing it, just say we’re up 10% from last year. Ridiculous.

*Mini rant continuing alert — the Michigan-Ohio State game drew 17 million viewers last month. The New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game on Thanksgiving drew 42 million viewers. Those are regular-season matchups compared to the biggest stage soccer has to offer. But go ahead and just compare US soccer to itself.

And no, the edge you might feel in my words isn’t born out of fear that soccer will somehow surpass the popularity of football. That would be like Mike Tyson being scared that the Stanford Tree mascot could beat him up. US soccer isn’t a threat, it’s a light breeze. I just hate a bad argument. And many soccer apologists have been making bad arguments on the behalf of US soccer for years. *Mini rant over

The World Cup didn’t prove that American fans are invested in soccer. It proved that we love a big event. It’s the same recipe every four years with the Olympics.

During the 2016 summer games in Rio, when swimmer Michael Phelps was in the pool for what turned out to be his final outing in an Olympic competition, the ratings peaked at 32.7 million viewers. Phelps helped Team USA win gold in the men’s 100-meter relay and then rode off into the sunset.

We don’t really care about swimming. When’s the last time you asked a friend, “You heading out tonight?” and the response was, “Are you crazy? The Pan Pacific Championships are on.”

Whether it’s the Olympics or World Cup, Americans care about the overall event much more than the individual sport. We get fired up once every four years, sing the anthem, wear American flag t-shirts, then go back to our daily lives, forgetting about the sport that was attached to the patriotism.

Ask yourself this, at the height of US swimming’s popularity, would you have paid $14.99 per month to watch non-Olympic events? Me either. US soccer isn’t exactly on fire following its showing in the 2022 World Cup, so the timing isn’t awesome to introduce a paywall for the sport’s top league in this country.

Apple and Major League Soccer have announced that MLS Season Pass will launch soon. I know you’re excited, but try to stay composed. Yes, MLS Season Pass will launch on February 1, 2023. It’s a 10-year partnership between MLS and Apple that features every live MLS regular-season match, the playoffs, and the League’s Cup.

Have I died and gone to heaven?

How much?

It’ll run you $14.99 per month or $99 per season on the Apple TV app. For Apple TV+ subscribers — make sure you’re sitting down for this, you lucky people — it’s $12.99 per month or $79 per season. If you don’t have US soccer fever right now, I doubt you’re running out to throw down cash on a product you aren’t passionate about.

Now if the USMNT won the 2022 World Cup, cha-ching. The popularity of US soccer would definitely grow in a major way. Even if they had a strong showing while reaching the quarterfinals, the momentum would be much greater. But a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the group of 16? Nope. This isn’t it. I don’t expect much more than some tumbleweed rolling by instead of cash registers heating up for MLS Season Pass.

Continue Reading

BSM Writers

Colorado Hiring Deion Sanders Will Be Constant Gift for College Football Media

“If Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers, he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor.”

Avatar photo

Published

on

blank

Deion Sanders quickly made it clear why the University of Colorado chose him to be its next head football coach.

Coming off a weekend in which the four College Football Playoff teams were announced and all of the other bowl-eligible teams accepted their invitations, Colorado — which went 1-11 this past season — made news for hiring Sanders, the former NFL star who was phenomenally successful at Jackson State.

The media that covers college football and sports as a whole should be thrilled that the Buffaloes program decided to take a big leap for attention and notoriety. Sanders is a bold, risky hire. But he’s also been successful in virtually every venture he’s taken. “Primetime” had a Hall of Fame NFL career and also played Major League Baseball. And he’s a master at drawing attention to himself.

During his first meeting with his new team, Sanders made sure to mention that he has Louis Vuitton luggage to make the point that some of his Jackson State players are coming with him to Boulder — including his son, quarterback Shadeur Sanders. Nick Saban and Kirby Smart probably don’t cite luxury fashion when explaining to their players that they’ll have to compete for starting positions.

Coach Prime will not be boring to cover. (That self-appointed “Coach Prime” title, which was on his name plate at his introductory press conference, is a big clue there.) He never has been. This is a man who said during the 1989 NFL Draft, after being selected No. 5 overall by the Atlanta Falcons, that if the Detroit Lions had selected him at No. 3, he “would’ve asked for so much money, they’d have had to put me on layaway.”

Even if he doesn’t win as much as Colorado hopes, Sanders will pursue top talent — players who want to perform on a larger stage than the FCS-level Jackson State allows — and impact athletes will be attracted to him. He got the No. 1 recruit in the nation, cornerback and wide receiver Travis Hunter, to play for him. (Hunter is following his coach to Boulder.) Now that Sanders is at an FBS school in a Power 5 conference, more stars will surely come.

But if Coach Prime achieves the same sort of success that he did with the Tigers — going 27-5 in three seasons, including a 12-0 campaign in 2022 — he will be far more than a curiosity. Sanders will be a disruptor. And he’ll get the attention that such figures typically draw from media and fans. According to the Denver Post‘s Sean Keeler, at least 400 people attended what felt more like a celebration than a press conference.

Coach Prime wasn’t going to just win the press conference, which is what any school and fanbase want when a new coach is introduced.

If Colorado wanted someone to sit at a podium, and give platitudes like “We want to win the Pac-12 and get to the College Football Playoff,” “We’re going to build a program with young men you’ll be proud of,” or “It’s time to restore Colorado to the football glory we remember,” Sanders isn’t the guy for that.

“Do I look like a man that worries about anything? Did you see the way I walked in here? Did you see the swagger that was with me?” Sanders said during his introductory presser. “Worry? Baby, I am too blessed to be stressed. I have never been one for peer pressure. I put pressure on peers. I never wanted to worry, I make people worry. I don’t get down like that. I am too darn confident. That is my natural odor.”

To no surprise, Sanders announced his presence in Boulder with authority. He had cameras following him as he met with Colorado players for the first time. How many other coaches would have recorded what many would see as a private moment for posterity and post it online?

Sanders caused a stir by putting his players on notice. He warned them he was coming, telling them they’ll be pushed so hard they might quit. He told them to enter the transfer portal and go someplace else if they don’t like what he and his staff are going to do.

That candor, that brutal honesty surprised many fans and media when they saw it Monday morning. For some, that message might have felt too familiar. How many in media — or many other industries — have worried about their job status when a new boss takes over? What may have seemed secure days earlier is now uncertain.

But how do we know other coaches haven’t said something similar when taking over at a new job and addressing their team? We just hadn’t seen it before. But Sanders has been in the media. He knows social media. He understands controlling his own message and telling his story.

Sanders also knows what kind of value he brings to any venture he takes on. How many people would have left an NFL Network gig for Barstool Sports? But Sanders went to where his star would shine, where he was the main show, where he could be Deion Sanders. Maybe he’ll have to turn that down just a bit at Colorado. But athletic director Rick George knows who he hired.

Colorado could have made a safer choice, including previous head coaches Tom Herman, Bronco Mendenhall, or Gary Patterson. A top assistant from one of this year’s Playoff contenders — such as Georgia’s Todd Monken, USC’s Alex Grinch, Alabama’s Bill O’Brien, or Michigan’s Sherrone Moore — could also have been an option.

But what fun would that have been? What kind of tremor would Colorado have created in the college football news cycle? How much attention would a more conventional hire have received? Yes, Sanders has to recruit and win. However, if the objective was to make Colorado football a talking point again, that’s been accomplished.

There could be some friction too. Sanders has already been criticized for being a champion of HBCUs, only to bolt for a mainstream Power 5 program when the opportunity opened. (To be fair, other columnists have defended the move.)

At Jackson State, Sanders tried to control local media when he didn’t like how reporters were addressing him or covering a story. Last year during Southwestern Athletic Conference Media Day, he balked at a Clarion-Ledger reporter addressing him as “Deion,” not “Coach,” insisting that Nick Saban would’ve been shown that respect. Earlier this season, Sanders admonished a school broadcaster (and assistant athletic director) for speaking to him more formally on camera than he did off-camera.

Will that fly among Boulder and Denver media, or the national college football press? It’s difficult to imagine. Maybe Sanders will ease back on his efforts to control reporters within a larger university environment, metropolitan area, and media market. But we’re also talking about Deion Sanders here. He doesn’t bend to outside forces. He makes them bend to him.

Sanders’ stint in Boulder — whether it lasts the five years of his contract and beyond, or less than that — will not be dull. There could be no better gift for the media covering Colorado football. Or college football, a sport already full of bold personalities, eccentric to unhinged fanbases, and outsized expectations. Coach Prime will fit right in.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

blank

Advertisement blank

Barrett Media Writers

Copyright © 2022 Barrett Media.