Blog Entry

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Posted on: July 15, 2011 3:11 am
Edited on: July 20, 2011 10:20 pm

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Mike Leach's new book, Swing Your Sword, was released Thursday, and Leach's co-author on the book was famed scribe Bruce Feldman (The Meat Market, 'Cane Mutiny). Small problem: Feldman also writes for's Insider section, and that may prove to be something of an issue when Leach's book contains a litany of complaints against ESPN on-air personality Craig James for his role in getting Leach fired from Texas Tech.

And yet, according to reports, Feldman was given the green light to proceed with the book, and he never engaged in any promotion for the book before or after its release. Non-issue, then, right? Well, wait:

ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman was suspended indefinitely during a conference call with three ESPN officials this morning.

[They] informed Feldman today that he has been banned from writing for any ESPN entity, is forbidden from appearing on any ESPN platform, is not allowed to Tweet from his Twitter account nor participate in any promotion of a recently-released book in which Feldman played a role.

Such is the report from Sports by Brooks, anyway, and thus far there's been nothing to indicate the report isn't accurate. Feldman, who's normally a fairly active tweeter, has been silent since Wednesday on his ESPN-branded Twitter account @BFeldmanESPN, and no other ESPN personalities are commenting on the matter.

Just about everybody else in the world is commenting, however, and "Bruce Feldman" became a trending topic fairly quickly Thursday night on Twitter. Twitterers made use of the #freebruce hashtag early and often, especially after Sports Illustrated writer Andy Staples canceled his ESPN Insider subscription in protest:

Now, since ESPN hasn't released its side of this story yet, and since all we're working on is one report from one media outlet, it would be premature and assumptive to rake ESPN over the coals for this decision at this point. All reports indicate that Feldman was given the go-ahead to help write this book before the ugliness between ESPN and Leach. So if there was some amendment (whether explicit or tacit) to the arrangement after ESPN became directly involved, obviously, that would be relevant information that hasn't been released yet. We're all operating with limited information, and rather than build 1,500-word arguments based on assumptions that could be disproved by a single PR release before sunrise Friday, it's probably best to wait and learn more from the parties involved.

That all said, it's worth noting that, generally speaking, suspensions from organizations (whether sporting, media or otherwise) rarely improve the product being put out. Dez Bryant getting banned by the NCAA for the rest of his senior season didn't make Oklahoma State or the Big 12 any better or more entertaining, for example, to say nothing of what the NCAA lost when it wouldn't let Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett or USC WR Mike Williams get drafted or come back and play after their second seasons out of high school in 2004. Rules are rules, but taking talent off the field makes what happens on the field worse.

Obviously, that's not to say that all suspensions or other disciplinary actions are inherently bad -- discipline is important, and to keep the examples in college football, nobody would argue that Lawrence Phillips didn't spend enough time off the Nebraska squad after his domestic assault charge during the 1995 season. So yes, clearly, suspensions or firings/dismissals serve a well-needed purpose.

Yet, based on what we know now, Feldman didn't do anything wrong. He helped write a book that a whole lot of people really wanted to see written, and it wasn't even that one about ESPN itself that so many past and present ESPN employees gave testimony for -- under their own names, no less.

No, instead, ESPN is apparently degrading its PR standing (to say nothing of its paid Insider product, to which Feldman actually contributes) in order to punish Feldman and push this notion of ESPN as a faultless company that virtually zero of its consumers actually believe. It's extremely difficult to find a benefit to the company itself in this decision. The product is worse. The public perception is worse. The journalistic freedom within is now demonstrably worse. Exactly what is ESPN trying to accomplish here?

The appearance is that Craig James used his position at ESPN to force enough public pressure on Leach to be ousted from Texas Tech, and is now using his position within ESPN to force Feldman from the ranks at Bristol. If either is inaccurate and James would like to see Leach or Feldman restored to their previous statuses, by all means, we'd be glad to document such a statement. If not, it's hard not to think that ESPN is being used as a bully pulpit, and if that means a college football world without heavy involvement from Leach and Feldman, then college football is worse off for it, and that's no role for ESPN or any other major college football media organization to hold.


Since: Aug 5, 2009
Posted on: July 17, 2011 5:43 pm

espn and james family lying trash.


Since: Jan 15, 2007
Posted on: July 17, 2011 4:16 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

ESPN knows what it is, it just doesn't care. ESPN has NO integrity and NO credibility. No one that watches it thinks it does. I can't imagine there is anyone in the world who actually respects ESPN's journalistic integrity. ESPN isn't going for dignity, they invented their own awards show for gods sake. They do whatever they want because they have no competition and we have no choice. I hate ESPN and would never pay for insider or any other service, however I watch ESPN because they show sports that I like and I have no choice. I'm sure they didn't like what was written in Leach's book. They can't punish Leach because he isn't under their umbrella so they are punishing this guy. It's not about dignity, it's about power. They are asserting themselves because they can. Big sports fans have no choice but to watch ESPN occasionally, our only remedy is to call them out when they do bs stuff like this and I for one will do that as long as I have fingers and a computer.

Since: Jul 26, 2007
Posted on: July 17, 2011 12:50 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Craig James was a whiny little b in college, always wanting more carries than the obviously superior Eric Dickerson, then a whiny little b in his pro "career", and he's been a big whiny b in his ESPN "career", pushing his own agenda rather than contributing anything approaching useful information.  Then again, since ESPN long ago abandoned actual objective sports coverage in favor of endless self-promotion, self-gratification, self-congratulation, and trying to be cute, he's giving this alleged network what they want.  Obviously, this author violated company policy by not hewing to the straight company line and will pay the price.  Truth?  There's no place for that at ESPN. 

Since: Jun 17, 2009
Posted on: July 16, 2011 8:20 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

It's pretty evident that Leach was more interested in moving on earlier than the Admin noticed. 

Since: Oct 25, 2010
Posted on: July 16, 2011 5:17 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Not a Craig James fan at all, but it is silly to ascribe him and ESPN so much power.  Leach has said TT wanted him out as soon as his big contract was signed. The TT administration is primarily to blame here...not to mention Leach himself.  He doesn't do himself any favors with his erratic behavior. As for Feldman we don't know the whole story yet.  Meanwhile Jacobi your discussion on suspensions is very weak.  Suspensions are meant to be punitive for the individual.  They are not handed down in order to have any effect on the "product".  I am not a fan of any of the "non-game" type sports programming on any network, but I for one am glad to have ESPN around for all the real sports they do have.  MLB, NFL, NBA, college football, basketball, and baseball as well as majors in golf and tennis and events like the men's women's world cup...these are the things I really care about and watch as a sports fan, not any lame "insider" analysis/information from Feldman, Jacobi or anyone else.  

Since: May 29, 2011
Posted on: July 16, 2011 1:28 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

All that needs to be said is that Graig James went to SMU that says it all because he got paid and now he got this poor guy fired from is job because he wrote the truth and he he can not handle the truth just like his son can not handle being a football player ,James needs to be fired he is not the good anyway 

Since: Nov 29, 2009
Posted on: July 16, 2011 10:44 am

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Adios to Craig James. Obvioulsy there is some foul play. ESPN needs to make it right and get Leach back into the coaching field and James off the air. The Pony Express has become outdated, time to retire the 2nd half of a great college football memory. 

Since: Oct 24, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 10:05 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Craig James isn't worth the trouble he has caused ESPN and the network just keeps digging its eventual liability hole deeper.  Where is Chris Burman's intellect when it is needed.  News flash to all of the big names at the World Wide Leader in Sports...James isn't worth the effort. He is a premodonna (good role model for his son, obviously it took).  Cut him loose.  He simply is no Lou Holtz, Steve Young or half a dozen other personalities that outshine him every game day.  Make peace with Leach.  It seems fairly clear to all what transpired and ESPN has to this point chosen the wrong horse in this race.  It's time for Berman's bunch to tell James and his brat kid to take a hike and find real work.  Make nice nice with Leach, cut James and move on!

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: July 15, 2011 8:15 pm

Report: Feldman suspended for role in Leach book

Seeing how Craig James was part of the reason SMU got the Death penalty. A crying father whos son clearly was not as good as daddy thought. ESPN has crossed the line again. Chris Berman and co. can keep their ad magazine and the insider all to themselves. If craig james has to resort to throwing a fit to get his way again. Goodby to espn College football and espn.

Since: Jul 6, 2011
Posted on: July 15, 2011 2:41 pm
This comment has been removed.

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