How Chip Brown stole the Big 12 spotlight; Erin Andrews' payday
He has covered
In what might be the first (but won't be the last) example of a fan-based Web site leading the coverage of a national sports story,
"Its pretty simple: Chip dominated the story beginning to end," said
Brown joined Orangebloods.com (he has an ownership stake in the site) in August 2008 after a two-decade career as a newspaper reporter for the Associated Press and
From the time the story broke until the day after the Big 12 was saved, Brown appeared on ESPN seven times and did 70 radio interviews. His site now has 10,760 subscribers, up seven percent from the 10,050 subscribers at the time of his first realignment story. Brown said the site has surpassed Alabama's site as the No. 1 team site on the Rivals.com network. The story played out in the social media space as much as anywhere, with reporters and fans checking Twitter (especially
Part of the nerves for Brown was that ESPN reporting occasionally contradicted Brown's, including when the network reported on June 14 that the Big 12 was falling apart. (ESPN declined to discuss its news-gathering efforts for this story but praised Brown's work.) "I was initially worried on June 14 that [reporter]
With some contending that Brown was merely an agent of the Texas athletic department, SI.com asked the reporter to respond to the charge that Texas merely used him as a public microphone for its message and to advance its agenda.
"The people at Texas know that's not true," Brown said. "Even though I cover Texas, some of the people I had a great relationship with when I was at
"I think I made the people at Texas totally uncomfortable through this whole thing, to be honest. They are incredibly controlling about information, almost paranoid. So the thought that someone at UT would use me to further their agenda is almost laughable."
At one point during the story, Brown reported that the Big 12 was dead. He stands by that reporting, saying that it was correct at the time. "I was told repeatedly by my sources that Texas was telling others in the league who I trusted that if Nebraska left for the Big Ten, Texas considered the league dead and would accept its invitation to the Pac-10," he said. "Powers and Dodds even gathered up the UT coaches on June 9 and told them they did everything they could to save the Big 12 but were unsuccessful. So when I went on
Thamel believes that part of Orangebloods.com's success on the story -- in addition to Brown's reporting -- is that college sports fans and athletic officials were early adopters of the web. "Virtually every college commitment story -- Joe Jones picks the Gators over the Seminoles -- is broken on a site like Chip's," Thamel said. "So while a story of this grand nature hasn't been dominated by a fan site, we're all used to reporters from those sites getting their share.
"I can vividly recall talking to ADs and commissioners off the record through this whole process and, by the end of this, they were saying Orangebloods as easily they would have said
ESPN's World Cup coverage deserves a column of its own and it will get one in the future. But we offer here some snap judgments (underline snap) based on the first 12 days of coverage. On the whole, the tonnage has been excellent and ESPN's choice of game announcers nothing short of spectacular (Of course, we suggested using international announcers such as
Andrews owes much of her fame to timing. She came along at the explosion of the sports blogosphere, and to her credit, she handled her Internet It Girl status with humor and aplomb. When I left her off my list of the decade's best sideline reporters, I heard about the omission from her defenders, many of whom reside in the Nutmeg State.
I think Andrews does an adequate job and I've always described her as a personality who occasionally practices journalism. Why? Because great sideline reporters will put themselves in uncomfortable positions with a coach or organization to provide news for the viewer. They'll also occasionally ask questions that tick people off, because those questions need to be asked. There's no doubt that her subjects like Andrews, and with that comes access and information. There's also no doubt that the personality part of her equation has risen dramatically with her appearance on
My agent surmised that Andrews is currently making in the neighborhood of $200,000-$250,000. (Someone such as
Andrews is clearly liked by certain members of ESPN management, including executive producer of production
If Andrews sticks around on a one- or two-year deal, I imagine ESPN (and ABC) will expand her assignments to justify the increase in salary and exposure. As far as the "crazy" offers, one imagines that they include a sports/entertainment play (Versus, anyone?) or a straight gig on an
I'm not sure I agree with that assessment. The bar for red carpet interviews is about the size of
There was something the agent mentioned that struck me, and it's worth keeping in mind because it might be Andrews' biggest chit for a new deal at ESPN. Advertisers love big names, and it's why Andrews flogs televisions next to
• When ESPN hired
Knight has since developed into an entertaining and often informative analyst in both the studio and in game broadcasts. But he still plays by his own rules.
Upon the death of
• Here's a transcript, courtesy of the
Prior to the Lakers' defeating the Celtics in seven games, Johnson worked as one of ESPN's NBA analysts -- something he has done for the entire playoffs. Obviously, Johnson, a part-owner of the Lakers, is not objective when it comes to his team, and both TNT and ESPN decided that they could live with the
• Tweet after tweet they came, a wave of real-time analysis from across the country. At one point on Friday night, after typing "
• This terrific
• A couple of months ago I tweaked CBS Sports