I’ve been on a sabbatical from writing for TSM for the past year and a half while I’ve finished my dissertation. I’ve been wondering how I was going to get my MOJO back for writing recreationally after spending my waking hours writing for academic pursuits. If you have trouble sleeping, email me and I’ll send you my scholastic writing. I mention this because today’s piece is both long and has statistics. Forgive me while I get back to reality.
Thanks to a summer of wondering what the hell is going on at ESPN, I’ve found renewed energy to restart my sports writing pursuits. The capper for me was the Evil Empire leaving Karl Joseph off of their Top 100 list of best college football players in 2015. It is unthinkable that the all-Big 12 selection, the one the NFL labeled the hardest hitter in college football, and four-year starter would be snubbed. Even ESPN's poll of BIG 12 players makes him hands down the most valuable player in the BIG 12 (more than the SEVEN Baylor players placed on the list).
So large is this slight that it sent me off into a Mel Gibson "Conspiracy Theory" nexus that I’ve not visited for many years. The result was an analysis of not only the lucrative football contracts that ESPN has with the Power 5 conferences, but also a comparison and contrast between the ESPN 100 list and the NFL drafts of the past five years.
My working paranoia is that ESPN clearly favors the SEC because they’ve got the most invested financially in keeping the SEC the Top hog at the trough. As well, it seems that they’ve worked overtime to accommodate the ACC & BIG 10 – conferences they have exclusive first tier media rights with (as opposed to PAC 12 & BIG 12 – who share their deals with Fox).
So here’s my analysis:
First of all, the ESPN TOP 100 list is 102 players long. You’d think they’d name the damn thing correctly.
Secondly, They demonstrate a clear bias against the BIG 12 – especially in their snubbing of Texas. I hate Texas. Loathe them. Glad to see them suffer. But the notion that not one player from UT is on ESPN’s Top 100 College Football players is so idiotic that it defies logic. ESPN’s own recruiting analysts regularly tell us that they recruit the best players in the country out of high school. None of them are worthy of your Top 100? And a Duke player is?
FYI, here are the ESPN Contracts with conferences
- SEC has an exclusive second tier media rights agreement with ESPN and The SEC Network is an ESPN entity.
- ACC has an exclusive media rights deal with ESPN.
- BIG 10 has a first tier media rights deal with ESPN.
- PAC 12 has a first/second tier media rights deal that ESPN shares with Fox.
- BIG 12 has a first/second tier media rights deal that ESPN shares with Fox.
My point is that ESPN has a conflict of interest in promoting the teams they pimp exclusively on their network. How is this ESPN TOP 100 list broken down by conference representation?
ESPN 100 COLLEGE PLAYERS OF 2015
- SEC 33 Players from 11 Teams
- BIG 10 19 Players from 7 Teams
- PAC 12 16 Players from 8 Teams
- ACC 14 Players from 8 Teams
- BIG 12 14 Players from 4 Teams
With nearly half of the BIG 10’s selections coming from OSU and half of the BIG 12’s selections coming from Baylor, one has to ask if these ESPN folks even watch games? Or did they just watch the college football playoffs? Thank God we have a playoff committee now to determine college football finalists. This group of numbskulls was in charge when the media voted and picked the overall winner. If they only watch the SEC and a few other games, no wonder they see things the way they do.
The ignorance is particularly evident when you evaluate the players from BIG 12 teams drafted in 2015 by the NFL: Baylor had 2, TCU had 2, WVU had 4, Texas had 5 and Oklahoma had 6 draftees.
The ESPN 100 has the SEC possessing 33% of the top players. How does this compare to the NFL Draft (the gold standard of the best kids in college each year)? Here’s a quick breakdown of the past five years:
NFL DRAFT PICKS PAST FIVE YEARS (2011-2015)
SEC - 246 picks (19% of total picks) & 50 first round picks (31%)
ACC - 185 picks (14.5% of total picks) & 26 first round picks (16%)
PAC 12 - 160 picks (12.5% of total picks) & 50 first round picks (15%)
BIG 10 - 155 picks (12% of total picks) & 18 first round picks (11%)
BIG 12 - 120 picks (9% of total picks) & 20 first round picks (12.5%)
If the numbers don’t add up to 100, remember that a good supply of Non-Power 5 conferences get drafted each year. It's not like ESPN is concerned about the numbers adding up to 100 anyway. While the overall draft picks for four non-SEC conferences are consistent with the ESPN TOP 100, the SEC’s is several deviations from the mean. The SEC has a disproportionate number of 1st round picks, so we could give the ESPN a break on the first 32 players (NFL Draft first round total) in their Top 100.
My conclusion is that ESPN’s voters don’t watch many BIG 12 or PAC 12 games, or they merely read the same NFL Draft 1st round data and match their TOP 100 list to reflect it. However, as evidenced by other decisions they’ve made, ESPN doesn’t have the humility to recognize their own bias.
All that statistical gobble-de-gook aside, "UP YOURS ESPN" for leaving Karl Joseph off your list. If past snubs are any indication, WVU and Karl are going to shove a musket somewhere special this year.