My view: Why sportswriters shouldn’t vote for Heisman, Hall of Fame, MVP and all other awards

My view is based on an experience that occurred more than 20 years ago.

When it comes to the issue of whether sportswriters should vote for prestigious awards and the Hall of Fame in various sports, I flash back to a day in Miami in 1991. I saw my name in large type in the Miami Herald and realized I had become news.

It seems timely to weigh in on the subject after heavy traffic and reaction generated by a post I did yesterday on Notre Dame beat writer Brian Hamilton. He was conflicted over what to do with his Heisman Trophy ballot in light of Irish linebacker Manti Te’o being a top candidate. Eventually, the Chicago Tribune decided to use an internal staff poll to determine Hamilton’s vote.

Hamilton’s dilemma underscored the possible pitfalls and conflicts that result when writers engage in this exercise. He is to be commended for bringing up the issue with his sports editor Mike Kellams.

Based on my experience, I don’t think writers should participate in votes for major awards and the ultimate honor, election into a Hall of Fame. I fall back on that old axiom: Reporters cover the news. They don’t make the news.

I come to this perspective as someone who once voted for the biggest trophies in sports.

I became the Tribune’s baseball writer for the White Sox in 1986. At the end of the year, I was allowed to participate in voting for the American League MVP and Cy Young Award. There were only 28 voters for each award.

I was only 26 at the time. Only a decade or so earlier, I was collecting baseball cards. Now I was voting for AL MVP. Talk about a powerful feeling. It was intoxicating.

In 1988, I became the Tribune’s national college football reporter. Soon, I was awarded a Heisman Trophy vote. But even bigger, I was asked to be among the voters for the Associated Press writer’s poll.

In the old days before the BCS, the writer’s and UPI coaches’ polls determined the national champion. Again, it was an incredible power surge. This athletically-challenged sportswriter was going to have a say on No. 1.

My epiphany, if you will, came in 1991. The polls were split between Miami and Washington. As a result, I was fielding calls from reporters about my vote for No. 1. It started to dawn on me that there was something not right about this.

Then it really hit me one November day when I was in Miami to cover the Hurricanes. The Miami Herald did a major story on the polls. They splashed a big pullout quote across the top of the front page. I had to do a double take.

The quote was mine.

I remember it was a really uneasy feeling. I felt like a line had been crossed. My vote was news.

It was magnified even more when Miami won the AP poll by a two-point margin thanks in part to my vote for the Hurricanes. If I had gone the other way and it ended in a tie, history would have been different. My vote clearly helped Miami players and coaches win that ring.

Did I realize it fully back then? No, I still was a bit naive. Even though I felt uncomfortable about it, I continued to vote in the AP poll until I came off the beat in 1994. Looking back, it wasn’t right.

Later, the Associated Press reviewed its stance, deciding in 2004 not to allow its poll to be used in the BCS’ wacky equations.

As for sportswriters participating elsewhere, let’s make this clear: their votes go beyond somebody winning a trophy. Baseball players get six-figure bonuses for winning top awards. You could be sure Texas A&M will heavily market Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy, and not just this year but many years to come. And Manziel’s marketing power will be much greater once he turns pro.

For people who say there’s no money involved with Hall of Fame votes, guess again. A Hall of Famer sees a huge jump in demand and appearance fees. There’s nothing like being able to sign an autograph that includes the tagline: “HOF.”

Aside from the money, there’s prestige involved for the athletes with these honors, and in the case of the Hall of Fame, a legacy and sense of immortality.

I can go on forever about the potential conflicts for sportswriters being involved in these awards. The Tribune’s Hamilton faced them with his vote.

Ultimately, though, most sportswriters are responsible and do the right thing. In many respects, they are best qualified to do the job. But that isn’t the point.

Basically, it’s very simple: This is all about reporters not making news. Repeat, reporters DO NOT make news.

Sportswriters made news Saturday night when their votes for the Heisman Trophy were disclosed. It’ll be huge news in January when the Baseball Hall of Fame reveals their votes for the 2013 class. Will it include first-time eligibles Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa?

Baseball writers will be reporting on news they created with their votes. Is that right?

You wouldn’t allow a court reporter to be on a jury and then write about the case. I respect the political reporters who decide not to vote in elections so they can maintain an appearance of objectivity.

Several newspapers, such as the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, have decided not to allow their staffers to participate in votes. Others, such as my former paper at the Chicago Tribune, are OK with their writers being part of the process.

There are plenty of views on the subject. I just know how I felt on that morning in Miami in 1991.

I didn’t like seeing my name in that big pullout quote. I didn’t like making news.

What’s your view?








Journalism dilemma: Notre Dame beat writer, Chicago Tribune make decision about Heisman vote

Rule of journalism: Reporters don’t make news. Reporters cover the news.

The line gets blurred when sportswriters participate in things like college football polls, Major League Baseball awards, and Hall of Fame elections. Their votes become the news that they later have to cover and critique. Conflicts are inherent in such a process.

Brian Hamilton, the Notre Dame beat writer for the Chicago Tribune, felt uneasy about having a Heisman Trophy ballot this year. The question of possible bias because of Irish linebacker Manti Te’o resulted in the Tribune using an internal staff poll to determine Hamilton’s vote.

The section revealed the quandary in a story in Sunday’s paper. He wrote:

We’re in the business of creating as little question as possible — preferably none — about how we conduct our business as journalists. And the Notre Dame beat writer at the Chicago Tribune casting a vote in a Heisman race involving the Irish’s most prominent player in years creates enough questions to make us uneasy. Did you vote for Manti Te’o because you’re biased toward Notre Dame? Did you not vote for Manti Te’o because you’re biased against Notre Dame? Did you vote a certain way solely because you didn’t want it to look like you were biased a certain way?

I talked to Mike Kellams, the Tribune’s associate managing editor for sports (also my former editor), about the situation. He said Hamilton approached him about his vote a few weeks ago.

“He said, ‘I think this is something we should talk through.’ He was right,” Kellams said. “He hasn’t dealt with this before. It’s been a while since Notre Dame had a top candidate for the Heisman.”

Hamilton could have simply decided not to vote. However, if Te’o lost by one point because the Notre Dame beat writer decided to pass, they would have had to call in extra security at Tribune Tower. That element looked as if it influenced Kellams’ decision.

“I don’t disagree with that point,” Kellams said. “However, my thought was if we don’t vote, we change the outcome. Those points aren’t going to be awarded to the other players, not just Te’o. If we do participate, we change the outcome. Either way we were making a decision that was going to have an impact.”

Ultimately, Kellams decided to use a panel of five Tribune writers and editors who handle college football for the paper. Teddy Greenstein, who covers Northwestern, was not included since he had his own Heisman vote.

The results of the internal poll saw Hamilton’s vote go for Te’o. Naturally, right? Notre Dame is the Tribune’s hometown team. Well, not exactly. Hamilton had Te’o listed second behind Collin Klein. I’m sure he heard from some Notre Dame fans Sunday. And Te’o barely won the Tribune poll over Klein.

The Tribune’s dilemma illustrates why several newspapers won’t allow their sportswriters to vote for awards and Hall of Fame selections. Even within Tribune Co., Kellams notes the Los Angeles Times has its writers on the sidelines for votes.

The issue, I believe, is going to escalate with the upcoming Baseball Hall of Fame ballot that features Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa for the first time. The writers will be generating major news by making a statement about the steroid era, a period the majority of them all covered.

Kellams is well aware of both sides of the argument. For now, he is comfortable with his writers participating.

“This wasn’t a new discussion for our department,” Kellams said. “There’s no denying that if the writers are being asked to vote, they are going to create the news they have to cover. I wouldn’t argue if they (Heisman, Hall of Fame, etc) decided to do something different. But if we’re asked to participate, I believe our writers have the ability to separate themselves and make the right decision…If we believe they exercise good judgement every single day of the year (covering sports), I expect that they can exercise that good judgement when it comes to casting a vote.”

It will be interesting to see how the Heisman voting committee reacts to the Tribune’s decision regarding Hamilton’s vote. Will it demand that it should be one-voter-one-vote? Will Hamilton be invited to vote next year? After all, Irish quarterback Everett Golson is only a sophomore and could find himself in the Heisman picture in 2013.

Kellams wouldn’t speculate on the Heisman’s reaction. He also wouldn’t say that other papers follow should suit if they have a beat writer who covers a top candidate in the Heisman race.

“I feel good about our process in this case,” Kellams said. “It was the right way for us to do it under the circumstances.”







Saturday flashback: Perspective on Ohio State-Michigan from Keith Jackson

As a child of the Midwest growing up in the 1970s, there only was one game that mattered: Ohio State-Michigan. Woody vs. Bo.

Both men are long gone, but their impact remains. To put you in the mood for college football’s best rivalry (Sorry, Alabama-Auburn), here’s a classic opening from Keith Jackson for the 100th game in the series in 2003.

Improbable tale: BTN show recalls Northwestern’s run for roses in ’95

I grew up going to Northwestern football games, which is to say I didn’t see many Wildcats victories. They were epic bad, bottoming out with a record 34-game losing streak from ’79-82.

So the notion of Northwestern going to the Rose Bowl was as preposterous as getting a sunburn in Chicago on Jan. 1.

Then a miracle happened. On Jan. 1, 1996, the purple rode into Pasadena.

The latest edition of Big Ten Elite (Tuesday, 8 p.m. ET, BTN) chronicles Northwestern’s incredible 1995 season. The Wildcats, under third-year head coach Gary Barnett, won the Big Ten with a 10-1 record and faced USC in the Rose Bowl.

The Wildcats, 7-2 going into Saturday’s game against Michigan, are decent now. But at the time, their rise from last to first had to rank among the most unlikely stories in college football history.

Big Ten Elite executive producer Bill Friedman grew up two blocks away from Dyche Stadium (now Ryan Field) in Evanston. So obviously this story hit home for him.

Here’s Friedman on:

Completely unexpected: The Wildcats went 3-7-1 in ’94 and that was a good season for them at the time. Nobody could have forseen on Sept. 1 (1995) what was going to happen to this team.

For me, what stands out is the (17-15 upset victory over Notre Dame in South Bend in the season opener). Northwestern was a 20-point underdog taking on the blue bloods of college football. But when you watch the game again, you can see Northwestern was the better team. It wasn’t a fluke. They outplayed Notre Dame. Then you start to think, ‘Hmm, maybe this team is pretty good.’

Interview with players and coaches: One of the strengths of the show is that we were able to talk to everyone, with the exception of (fullback Matt Hartl, who died of cancer, in 1999). You have Gary Barnett (and his wife, Mary), Darnell Autry, Pat Fitzgerald, Steve Schnur, Rob Johnson. We have all the people you’d expect to hear from and then some. And they all gave candid and honest interviews about how that year affected their lives.

Friedman’s Rose Bowl story: I was born in 1973 and left for college in 1992. My best friend and I always said, ‘If Northwestern ever goes to a bowl, we’re going to go.’ It didn’t matter where or what bowl. We were going to be there.

It just so happens that not only did they make a bowl, but it’s the Rose Bowl. We were away at school, and my friend’s mother stood in the freezing rain to get us tickets.

I went out to Pasadena a couple of days early. I didn’t have a car and I had nothing to do. Each day, they opened a section of the Rose Bowl so you could go and see the inside of the stadium. I must have spent two or three hours sitting in there each day. I kept taking pictures of the endzone. I couldn’t believe it was purple and white.

Even thought it’s been 17 years, the images still are very vivid.



Cover story: Sports Illustrated stands by reporting in Mathieu story; Nelson suit against SI dismissed

Update: A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Reeves Nelson against SI. Details below.


Tyrann Mathieu is on cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated. However, it is not exactly the way he envisioned.

piece written by Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel focuses on the personal problems that have the LSU star on the sidelines this year. It contains some allegations that Mathieu might have broken some NCAA rules. It could derail a return to LSU next year.

The most interesting part of the piece is that it includes quotes from his father, who is serving a life sentence in prison for murder.

Mathieu declined to be interviewed in the story and claims SI harrassed him. From Fox 8 in New Orleans:

Sheila Mathieu calls the article “unfortunate” and says she can’t understand why Sports Illustrated would respond so viciously to a family’s decision to keep private matters private.

“They twisted things and cobbled together details from past articles because we wouldn’t sit down with them,” she told FOX 8 Sports.  “We have always believed in being a tight-knit family. God first, family second, work and school third. That’s what Tyrann is doing now, and he’s on an avenue to success, making good grades and putting his life in order.”

A Mathieu family lawyer wrote SI, asking the magazine to leave him alone.

Demand is made that you cease and desist from any attempts at making contact with Mr. Mathieu or any member of his family.

There also are allegations that Sports Illustrated tried to bribe a promoter to get damaging material about Mathieu. Knowing SI, I have to say that notion is ridiculous.

Here’s Sports Illustrated’s response:

Sports Illustrated stands behind the reporting and the facts of the story. These absurd allegations are completely fabricated and with obvious motive.

Thamel did a podcast with SI’s Richard Deitsch. Thamel said that even though Mathieu isn’t playing, he still is “the most interesting player in college football.”

“People are fascinated by Tyrann Mathieu,” Thamel said.

Thamel didn’t discuss the allegations by Mathieu in the podcast. He said he and Evans covered the story through interviews and by using their sources at LSU.


Meanwhile, in other legal news involving the magazine, Nelson won’t get his day in court against SI. From the San Marino Tribune:

A judge today tossed a defamation lawsuit brought by former UCLA basketball player Reeves Nelson against Time Inc., the parent company of Sports Illustrated, and a reporter concerning an article critical of the player and the Bruin program.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Murphy agreed with attorneys for the media conglomerate and reporter George Dohrmann that the complaint concerning the Sports Illustrated story “Not the UCLA Way” infringed on their clients’ right to free speech. She also found that Dohrmann had numerous sources to back up the facts in his article.

“This man spent a lot of time and talked to a lot of people,” Murphy said.

Nelson’s attorney, Olaf Muller, declined to comment outside the courtroom. He argued during the hearing that Murphy was incorrect in her finding that Nelson, although a college athlete at the time, was nonetheless a limited public figure who had to demonstrate that Sports Illustrated and Dohrmann acted with malice toward him.

Muller said Nelson was an amateur who did not even have a publicist.

Defense attorney Daniel Petrocelli also declined to comment.











Q/A with Andrea Kremer: Why NFL Network hired her to cover league’s most controversial issue: player safety

The biggest threat to the future of the NFL is the repercussions of increasingly bigger players banging into each other at increasingly higher speeds.

Not to be a doom and gloomer, but if something truly catastrophic happens during a game, it will cause the country to re-examine this thing called football.

So it’s big news that the league-owned NFL Network just hired Andrea Kremer to cover the one issue that threatens the entire sport.

Sunday, Kremer made her debut on the network as the new “health and safety” correspondent. She did a story (here’s the link) on Oakland receiver Darrius Heywood-Bey, who recently had to be carted off the field after a concussion. Heywood-Bay talked openly about what happened, and Kremer’s interview with a doctor at Cleveland Clinic showed with graphics what happened to Bey’s brain. Sobering stuff, to be sure.

Kremer is an important hire for the league and the network. It begs many questions about the motives and how much she will be allowed to do.

A long-time reporter for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Kremer is one of the best in the business as an investigative journalist. Given the subject, her reports on “health and safety” could make things uncomfortable for the NFL and football, in general. She said her domain will span the entire spectrum, including youth programs.

Kremer also is anxious to learn some of the answers. Several times she used the phrase, “cautiously optimistic” about her work with NFL Network during an interview with her last week.

How did it come about?

The NFL Network decided they wanted to launch this unit covering health and safety issues. When I first heard about it, my skepticism oozes out from every fiber of my being. What? Why?

I talked to Mark Quenzel, (senior VP of programming and production). He says to me, ‘Look, we feel we need to do more substantive stories. And the key issue is health and safety.’

They are hiring my credibility, my reputation. I didn’t build that–put it in parentheses over 30 years–to have it reduced to propaganda. That’s not the way it is going to be.

My role isn’t to take anyone down. My role is to present the issues out there. We are not bereft of ideas.

What were behind your initial reservations?

You don’t want to be a mouthpiece for the NFL. There are a lot of issues that exist. I view this as trying to enlighten the audience about these issues in a deeper way. It’s that simple. There is a lot of stuff out there about concussions. What can we show differently about it? There is a lot of concern and misinformation about concussions.

This is like a managing editor position. My job is to generate content. We walked into a brain-storming meeting with 12 very smart people in the room. I have this huge file in my hand. I go, ‘You guys have been thinking about this for about 10 days. I’ve been thinking about this for about 20 years.’

When you talked to Quenzel, what did you say to him? What kind of assurances did you get?

There are never assurances for anything. There’s always good faith, but it’s not as if I had anything written in my contract. I know what I’m comfortable with and not comfortable with. It’s a fluid situation. We’re working on a case-by-case basis. I go back to what I said: ‘I didn’t spend my entire career building up my credentials to have it tossed out here.’

The best way to put it is that I’m cautiously optimistic. I have no reason to not think I won’t be able to bring a different level of programming and ideas to the network.

What kind of statement is NFL Network making by hiring you?

I give them a lot of credit. I know there are people there who said, ‘Do you understand what you’re doing by hiring her? Do you understand what you’re getting yourself into?’ That was respectfully, not negatively. They said, ‘Yes, we do. If we’re going to be credible, taken seriously, this is what we need to do.’

I sense the network is fully aware that this is a huge issue. They have not fully dealt with it. They need to deal with it from a journalism perspective, and they will. But it’s definitely a learning curve for them.

Former players have filed lawsuits against the NFL. Will you be able to report on stories on an NFL-owned network when the league is a defendant?

I haven’t been told (she can’t). Dealing with the lawsuit would be no different than how the NFL Network–or quote-unquote–TV partners with the league dealt with the CBA, handled the refs, or other issues. You had plenty of people at the NFL Network pining about how poorly the refs were. The commentators have been very honest with their assessment.

That’s part of what’s going on. If there’s a former player we wanted to profile who had a number of significant issues, in my mind, as long as we go to somebody at the league or with the players association, if we can find that person to tell their side of the story, then we’ve presented both sides. Our job is to provide the audience with enough information to reach their own conclusion.

Are you concerned that people will view your reports through the prism of the NFL Network? As a result, people might not feel you are totally objective.

I learned through the Twitter universe there’s nothing I can do to mold people’s opinion if they have some agenda.

I can say this: Not only have I been given any indication of censorship, I’m sure not being given any special treatment. I’m not going to get people just because I work for the NFL Network. I’ve been trying to work on a story, and I’ve put in requests and I’ve been rebuffed.

I know how I’m going to approach my job. I know my comfort level; I know what my obligations are, and that’s what I’m going to adhere to.

You’re a top reporter. If you found a story that blew the doors off this issue, are you confident you would be able to run it on NFL Network?

It’s so hypothetical. Here’s all I can say: I’m going to try.  I am cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to do something that’s impactful.


5-0 Notre Dame has NBC smiling; Herbstreit says Irish will be in BCS conversation

Is it time to starting sipping that Irish Kool-Aid? You bet if you’re a TV executive at NBC and ESPN.

A 5-0 start has ratings soaring for Notre Dame’s games on NBC. And with the Irish suddenly relevant, ESPN isn’t wasting any time.The network is hustling Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and the rest of the GameDay crew to South Bend Saturday.

Herbstreit can’t believe it has been seven years since GameDay did a show from Notre Dame.

“It’s been way, way too long since we’ve been there,” Herbstreit said.

NBC also is bulking up. For the first time, NBC Sports’ college football studio show featuring Liam McHugh, Doug Flutie and Hines Ward will go on the road and broadcast on-site from Notre Dame Stadium. Prior to the game, a special NFL Films- produced behind-the-scenes look at Notre Dame Football, Onward Notre Dame: South Bend to Soldier Field, will air at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

With all the pregame build-up, NBC should generate another strong rating for the Irish’s game against Stanford.

Through three games, NBC’s rating is up 45% vs. last year (4.2 million vs. 2.9 million). Primetime coverage of the Miami-Notre Dame from Soldier Field last Saturday night was watched by 3.7 million viewers, up 131% vs. last year’s third game on NBC (Air Force, 1.6 million) and up 76% vs. last year’s second Notre Dame primetime game on NBC (Maryland at FedExField, 2.1 million).

All in all, it’s a huge jump from what NBC faced last fall. Home games against Air Force and Navy only generated a 1.1 rating, a record low for Irish games on the network.

How long has Notre Dame been a relative non-factor? Saturday’s trip will mark GameDay’s first to the Domers since Charlie Weis’ first year in 2005. That’s incredible considering the Irish’s stature in college football.

Naturally, Herbstreit is excited about returning to South Bend.

“It’s awesome,” Herbstreit said. “Any time, Notre Dame is up there in the rankings, it’s good for the sport. They are a polarizing team. You either love them or hate them. For us, for people who love the sport, when you have teams like Notre Dame and USC, Texas, the high profile schools out there that have great years, it makes it a lot of fun.

“Selfishly, to have GameDay back in South Bend, it’s great. It’s nice to see that they have a high-profile game at home. It’ll add to the atmosphere on Saturday. They are very deserving.”

I know it’s early, but I asked Herbstreit if Irish fans can start dreaming about a BCS bowl?

“They took the nation by storm (with the win over Michigan State),” Herbstreit said. “A lot of people walked away from that game saying, ‘Notre Dame is one of the top defenses in the country.’ To follow it up with the way they corraled Denard Robinson, and the way they played against Miami…Their front seven might be playing as well as anyone in the country.

“Without a doubt they will be in discussion for the BCS. Brian Kelly, though, will be the first one to tell you there’s still a long way to go. When you look at who they still have to play, beginning with Stanford….They’re on the road against Oklahoma and USC. Their fans are pointing to those games as three of the most challenging. If they’re able to get able through Stanford, it’s time to start bracing yourself if you’re a Notre Dame fan. Then you’re just a couple games away.”

Of course, it all could slip away with a loss to Stanford Saturday. But who wants to ruin a good story on Wednesday?

Keep sipping that Kool-Aid.




Fox Sports crashes college football party with Erin Andrews, Gus Johnson

Did you expect Fox Sports to quietly enter the room with its first full-blown season of college football? Hardly.

The network has two highly creative ads touting the “Gus Effect” of watching the high-voltage Gus Johnson call its games.

And here’s a second promo featuring Erin Andrews.

Fox Sports knows how to get everyone’s attention. But maintaining it at this crowded college football party is another story.

Fox will have a full season of Saturday night games, debuting tomorrow night with USC-Hawaii. The schedule includes the Pac 12 and Big Ten title games.

Fox hopes Johnson, who will be paired with Charles Davis, becomes the life of the party. Working on the big stage, I would expect Johnson’s over-the-top calls could elevate him to cult status on campuses throughout the country.

The telecasts will be preceded by Fox College Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. Fox’s new studio show will be hosted by Andrews with Eddie George and Joey Harrington working as analysts.

Andrews already has a big following, which is why Fox paid big money to bring her over from ESPN. She gives the new show a presence it needed.

Here’s Andrews from a teleconference this week:

Andrews on her transition from sidelines to studio: “I’ll miss being on campus. I did it for 10 years. I’m a sports fan and who doesn’t love having the best seats in the house right down there on the sidelines? This is another way to become more versatile and I’ll have my opportunities to get out on the field for NFL.”

Andrews on working with Eddie George and Joey Harrington: “The No.1 thing that sold me on this college football show was Eddie and Joey. The second I sat down with those two and started talking college football I was so excited. They live and breathe it. They don’t agree on a lot of things and that will separate our show from a lot of other shows. You don’t want guys that think the same way about teams, players and coaching styles.”

The focus, though, will be on Andrews to see if she is worthy of being in primetime. It’s a big jump from hosting the early GameDay show on ESPNU.

Fox College Saturday also won’t be your typical Saturday morning pregame fest. It will be airing at a time when there are more live games going on than you can count. Fox will have to make its program compelling enough to make viewers switch to a studio show.

One thing is for sure: You know Fox will try to make it interesting. Let the party begin.




Q/A with BTN President: A regret and bouncing back with 4-plus hours of coverage today

The Big Ten Network did what it is supposed to do today. Cover the big news and cover it hard.

The BTN was on the air for 4-plus hours this morning covering the fallout from the NCAA handing down harsh sanctions to Penn State. The network had reporters in State College and Indianapolis, numerous phone interviews, and the studio team of Dave Revsine, Gerry DiNardo and Howard Griffith offered clear and measured analysis.

All in all, it was quite a contrast to what occurred nearly two weeks ago when the BTN was hammered from not airing live coverage of the explosive Freeh Commission press conference. Instead, the network ran a replay of an old football game.

What changed? I just did a Q/A with BTN President Mark Silverman.

Why didn’t the network cover the Freeh press conference?

We wanted to have covered it. Frankly, it was human error. There was an internal communications issue. We regret not having shown that press conference.

What went into the decision behind today’s coverage?

We need to cover the story as well as any other news entity. We knew this was going to happen, and it allowed us to get ahead of the game.

I like we have such experts on the Big Ten. You have Howard, who was a former player; Gerry was a former coach; and Dave brings the journalistic integrity. You bring it all together and try to provide as thorough coverage as possible.

When you didn’t cover the Freeh press conference, there was a perception that the BTN, which is owned by the conference and member schools, doesn’t want to handle negative news. How do you address that perception?

That couldn’t be further from the truth. The conference wants us to be credible. We’re going to be honest and candid in our coverage. It’s not in our best interest to sugarcoat things.

I wanted to bring in reporters from other entities today. I didn’t want it to be only our announcers. I wanted to have a cross section of people to have the debate and discussion. These are difficult topics, and we want to handle them carefully. But we have to be candid.

Since November, we haven’t shied away from this topic. We had a big miss which we regret, but other than that we’ve covered the story well and have been a service to our viewers.

DiNardo was a friend of Paterno and has spoke of his admiration of the coach. Yet he has been critical about what transpired. What’s been your reaction to how DiNardo has handled this situation?

Gerry is a professional. He brings a candid view. But if you look closely, you could see the emotion he’s experiencing over someone he considered a close friend.

Going forward, if the Penn State football team falls from the weight of the sanctions as expected, what will be the implications for their games from a ratings standpoint?

That’s a difficult question to address. What kind of impact will it have on ratings remains to be seen. I just don’t know the answer.