October 19, 2019

More PR problems with ESPN: The long-haul damage, the Pac-12’s response and Larry Scott’s next move


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Here we are, 11 months removed from CupcakeGate, witness to another case of ESPN-on-Pac-12 verbal violence — to a public display of contempt that would not happen, ever, to the Big Ten or SEC.

Some partnership we got here, huh?

The latest instance involves Washington (again) and play-by-play announcer Mark Jones (again), who on Sunday excavated an issue that everyone else, including his employer, had moved beyond.

Jones used the occasion of the Huskies’ loss to Auburn –he didn’t call the game, by the way — to mock UW’s soft non-conference schedule from last year, tweeting:

“Washington Huskies took one one on the chin. Where’s Montana ?”

Were this the only instance of ESPN showing disregard for UW, and thereby for the Pac-12, the tweet wouldn’t be worth anything more than a 280-character response, if that.

But Jones has a personal grievance against Washington and coach Chris Petersen, who last year failed to kiss the ESPN ring to a satisfactory degree. And depending on your view, this is either the fourth or fifth instance of ESPN employees jabbing the Pac-12.

Oh, and it comes after the sides spent the spring and summer privately seeking to improve relations, to find ways to better serve and promote each other.

For those just grabbing a ringside seat, let us quickly recount the events:

* During a weekly press conference in early October, Petersen apologized to UW fans for the litany of night games on the 2017 schedule but did not specifically mentioned ESPN.

*** Five days later, on a GameDay broadcast, analyst Kirk Herbstreit unloaded on Petersen, saying the conference “should be thanking” ESPN for its coverage.

*** That night, while broadcasting the UW-Cal game from Seattle, the three-man crew of Jones, analyst Rod Gilmore and sideline reporter Quint Kessenich mocked the Huskies’ non-conference schedule and aired complaints about Petersen.

Kessenich placed a series of cupcakes on the sideline to represent the non-conference opponents, which included Montana.

Jones then called Petersen “irascible” and “somewhat cantankerous” and noted “he didn’t have much time for us this week.”

Gilmore then chimed in with an explanation: “He declined to see us this week.”

(Unlike many coaches, Petersen didn’t make time for an ESPN production meeting the day before the game. Of course, this was nothing new: Petersen never meets with TV talent on Fridays during the season.)

Well, the barbs from the booth didn’t sit well with the Huskies or the conference or reflect well on ESPN. A senior-level executive called Washington athletic director Jen Cohen to apologize and assure her it wouldn’t happen again.

***Three weeks later, ESPN play-by-play announcer Chris Fowler tweeted to his 750,000 followers:

“Our crew Would be interested in seeing (Khalil) Tate and the Cats battle Wazzu. But here in SC they haven’t heard of Pac12 Network.”

That right cross from across the country was the last of the ESPN shots for 2017, and the offseason brought a series of meetings to rebuild relations.

During the Pac-12’s spring gathering in Scottsdale, conference officials and the 12 head coaches met extensively with ESPN executives and on-air talent to find common ground:

How could …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Sports

      

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