ESPN's business 'blueprint' part of college football's problem

Published: Monday, Aug. 15 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

DAYTON, Ohio -- If all the tumult in college football has you down, don't worry. ESPN, the self-acknowledged "worldwide leader" of all things sport, is on the case.

The latest project by the ubiquitous and omnipresent network is "Change the Blueprint," a forum hosted on the network's "Sportscenter" show that began airing this past weekend. It featured a stunning collection of "experts" -- two coaches, two administrators and multitudes of ESPN talking heads -- telling you what's wrong with the sport.

Sunday's first addition let us know that college football isn't a business -- according to Alabama coach Nick Saban, who hops contracts like frogs hop water.

If ESPN wanted to reform college football, it could start with itself. A Twitter post by the blog "Everyday Should Be Saturday" noted the recent Big 12 upheaval: The conference -- which is contracted to Fox Sports -- is being broken up by an ESPN network (the Texas University Longhorn Network) for the advantage of another ESPN network -- the SEC. That sounds like a bad blueprint to me.

College football has a lot of problems, and taking on those problems needs to be done. But ESPN is far from a fair arbiter in this process.

Case in point: Witness the decline in coverage of a particular sport (NASCAR in the past, the NHL now) the minute said sport decides to sign a contract with someone else -- so much for objective journalism.

Sports can be a dirty business to be sure, and some reform would be good. But at this point, ESPN's hands are dirtier than everyone else's.

B.J. Bethel writes for the Dayton Daily News..

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