(image culled from Beyond US Sports)
OK, I realize doing an interview with another media outlet after a nasty split with ESPN isn’t quite the same as an exit interview, but the headlines are tough to come by some afternoons. Former ESPN college football scribe Bruce Feldman was briefly suspended in a conflict of interest flap over his participation in Mike Leach’s autobiography, ‘Swing Your Sword’ With Leach suing ESPN for their alleged role in his firing at Texas Tech, , Feldman found himself suspended by the network just prior to this year’s SEC Media Days, only to have the Worldwide Leader deny any such sanction had been levied. Newly ensconced at CBS Sports, Feldman used an appearance on Dan Patrick’s syndicated radio show earlier today to lower the boom on his previous employer. Transcriptions courtesy SI.com’s Richard Dietsch :
“In the spring of 2010, I went to them (ESPN) when I knew Leach was going to sue them, the documented stuff you saw in the book. When I knew that stuff was there, I told ESPN, ‘You have a big problem here.’ I went to Neil Fine of ESPN [The] Magazine. He passed me up to [former ESPN The Magazine editor-in-chief] Gary Belsky and then it went to [ESPN Publishing editorial director] Gary Hoenig; they were the top guys in the food chain, my bosses. They knew very clearly that ESPN had some dubious methods in reporting on this story and Leach was going to sue them. There was no secret of that. ESPN was fully aware.
“On top of that, six months before the book went to print, I spoke to ESPN’s attorneys and talked to them about some concerns I had raised to news editors in Bristol while it was going on, of things that I knew were inaccurate. Those conversations happened. There was no surprise about any of this. But when the book finally came out, [ESPN executive vice president of production] Norby Williamson or [ESPN senior vice president and director of news] Vince Doria or whomever gets all bent out of shape and they need someone to rant at.
“I was literally the first hire on what became ESPN.com when I was in Bristol in my mid-20s. This is the way they treat you. To watch them sit there and try to spin their way out of this and only make it worse. They made such a mess, and then they never cleaned it up.
“I’ll tell you this: A few weeks before I was on that conference call, my contract was coming up and Belsky had reached out to me and said, ‘Look, we want to give you another three-year contract and it will be with a raise. I said, ‘OK.’ But when I brought that up on the conference call, Vince Doria started bringing up credibility questions. That was the word he used with me — credibility. I’m thinking, ‘Wait a minute, you are bringing up my credibility and my future with the company and you guys still put Craig James on the air?‘