By: D. Orlando Ledbetter
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has picked up support for his contention that ESPN has too much power over college football.
"They do have a lot of power — and I wish they would use it fairly," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Wednesday. "I wish they would say everybody is pretty good and leave it at that rather than maybe picking out some schools, saying how great they are and how wonderful it is there compared to other places.
"I think they should be pretty even with all of the schools and not pick out some and praise them excessively. That's just my opinion." Spurrier wouldn't say which schools he thinks ESPN excessively praises. "I don't want to get into all of that," he said. "I just think they need to be general in their compliments and criticisms."
Last week, Tuberville contended that ESPN has shown it's in favor of a Southern Cal-Texas matchup for the Bowl Championship Series national championship game. He contended that last year, ESPN wanted a matchup of the last two Heisman Trophy winners — Oklahoma's Jason White vs. Southern Cal's Matt Leinart — in the title game. It happened, leaving Tuberville's unbeaten Tigers out of the mix.
It's no secret that coaches, 61 of whom vote in a weekly poll that counts as one-third of the BCS formula, rely on highlight shows like ESPN's to keep up with what's happening in college football. Several, including Oklahoma's Bob Stoops, have said they're too busy focusing on their own teams to cast informed votes each week. Georgia's Mark Richt, who votes in the USA Today coaches poll, said this week "I haven't seen [No. 2 Texas] lately."
ESPN has disputed Tuberville's claim. "College GameDay" host Chris Fowler criticized the coach's comments during last Saturday's broadcast, and spokesman Josh Krulewitz said Wednesday, "There is no agenda."
"Our analysts utilize their expert knowledge and experiences to provide objective opinions on college football," Krulewitz said.
Florida coach Urban Meyer contends that exposure from ESPN helped him build the Utah program, but he finds fault with the BCS system, which left his Utes out of the title hunt last season and could do the same this year with Virginia Tech, Alabama or UCLA.
"I don't see the negatives [about ESPN]," Meyer said. "I can certainly see where Auburn went through a season undefeated and didn't get to play for a championship. I'm right on the dot with that. In this conference, that shouldn't happen.
"So I think the BCS needs to continue to be evaluated, which I think they are."