It’s time to give ESPN some credit.
One month ago, I challenged them to visit a Big 12 Conference destination that rarely receives national attention. They did. In fact, they visited a campus they usually try to stir controversy with: Texas Tech University. Before I remind you of the bad blood between Tech and ESPN, let me say that College Gameday absolutely delivered in its Lubbock appearance. It was a great showing for them. Consider this a tip of my cap.
Throughout the years, ESPN has stuck two middle fingers straight up at Tech fans. Let’s take a quick look at the list of biased things ESPN likes to chastise Tech for. For starters, they always pump up Baker Mayfield and how he was never provided a scholarship at Tech. This story always comes without the mentioning of Patrick Mahomes and the fact Mayfield was promised a scholarship come springtime. They’ve placed disgraced coach Tommy Tuberville in the broadcast booth during a Tech road game. Trust me, when I say they don’t have the guts to send him to Jones AT&T Stadium.
Additionally, they’ve constantly chastised Tech fans this season for court storming and yelling obscenities on-air. However, if you’ve ever been to an SEC game, those fans scream way worse things at opposing players. Plus, court storming has been around for decades. Also, it should never be forgotten that ESPN stood behind Craig James 100 percent during Mike Leach’s scandal of “abusing” his son Adam. This “abuse” was laughed about by Adam and considered a “joke” by the “victim” in court. If that wasn’t enough, a college baseball broadcaster on ESPN3 admitted he was rooting for the Miami Hurricanes during the 2014 Coral Gables Regional that Tech played in. This admission came as the broadcast opened up for a major game between the Hurricanes and the Red Raiders.
ESPN owed Texas Tech the College Gameday experience. It certainly delivered. Danny Amendola seemed to have a blast on set. The student section was clearly rocking. Admittedly, I noticed this through Twitter. The only ESPN non-game programming I’ve viewed since 2010 is Stuart Scott’s SportsCenter Tribute. I had to pay respect to one of my favorite all-time anchors, and a man who made me want to become a sports journalist.
So, ESPN gave College Gameday to the Texas Tech crowd. It had rave reviews and Jay Williams was fired up for it. Was he trying to sell the show? Of course he was. ESPN knows they have bad blood in Lubbock, but they did a great job of selling their reason to be there. They seemed excited by it. They made it easier to buy into their programming.
I could still point out 1,000 flaws in ESPN’s coverage and programming. In no means do I let College Gameday off the hook. As HCS editor Pete Mundo mentioned, the Big 12 Conference would be better off gaining one football GameDay than six basketball GameDays. Oddly enough, College GameDay has visited four Big 12 destinations this basketball season. Noticeably missing from the coverage, Villanova, Xavier, and the rest of the Big East.
They have covered Big 12 basketball a lot this season. So, I’ll tip my cap to the folks in Bristol. You made it to Lubbock. You put on an excellent display. Congratulations on a successful program. Hopefully, Kansas State, TCU and Baylor will get those same respect soon.