Admittedly, I was never a big fan of ESPN. They've always seemed a bit slanted against certain teams, players, or colleges almost all the time, no matter what the circumstance may be. I'm sure that there are some 'Bama football fans, Raiders fans, and Yankee fans who can back me up on this.
Whether it was lambasting the Crimson Tide for simply allowing fans to attend their spring practice or taking unnecessary shots at the Raiders for spending some cash, despite the fact that the money is improving the team, ESPN shows a definitive bias against these teams and more in their coverage of them, no matter what is actually going on.
I was fine with all of this though, especially because ESPN seemed to be in love with my sports teams up here in Boston. But the last straw came when I tuned in for College Gameday, searching for a bit of help with some difficult choices in filling in my bracket, and heard new analyst Bob Knight say one of the stupidest things I will ever hear.
Now, don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for Knight as a basketball coach, but he's always been a little out there, and his suggestion of expanding the field of 65 to a whopping 128 teams made me laugh and bang my head against my desk alternatingly.
Not surprisingly, this wasn't the first instance of a former player/coach-turned-announcer making an idiot out of himself on the air. I'm sure Bills fans remember when HOF running back and NFL network commentator Marshall Faulk labeled a solid Bills O-line as a weakness and singled out Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters as a liability.
It seems to me that these networks simply hired Knight and Faulk, along with Deion Sanders, Steve Young, Emmit Smith, Dan Marino, Trent Green (it'll happen once he retires mark my words), and Chris Carter simply for name value, since formerly average players like Mike Golic, or even people who were never associated with the NFL like John Clayton, do far better work then the aforementioned Hall of Famers for a probably lower price.
I'm not saying the guys themselves should take all the blame for the mediocrity of their networks—they can't help their own ineptitude for the most part. ESPN/NFL Network should shoulder at least some of the blame for the poorness of their product recently.
In appealing to the casual fan by hiring some recognizable guys to cover sports, they have alienated hardcore fans who are tired of the malapropisms that come out of these commentators' mouths night in and night out.
I can understand that these networks want to make some extra cash, since casual fans comprise a large amount of ESPN's viewers, however any network as popular as ESPN should focus more on the quality of the product they put out on a daily basis.
Even though I am aware that if i were to make this appeal to a network executive he would most likely spit his coffee in my face and roll around on the floor laughing, something still needed to be said. It's about time I saw some competant national sports coverage.
There are some exceptions to my disdain for big name announcers. I didn't mention Darren Woodson or Joe Theismenn in my earlier list of lousy announcers because their insight actually seems objective, and in most cases, accurate, making it worthwhile to listen to.
Unfortunately for sports fans, there are more Bob Knights among ESPN's announcers than Darren Woodsons.