Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach recently released a book, Swing Your Sword, that was co-authored by ESPN’s Bruce Feldman. Feldman is one of ESPN’s most respected college football writers and had previously written a well-reviewed college football book. It appears as if – though ESPN refuses to confirm it – Feldman was given permission by ESPN suits to write the book. Well, excerpts of the book hit the internet this week … and now Feldman has reportedly been suspended indefinitely by ESPN. Last night and this morning, ESPN has refused to comment.
Some background: Leach turned Texas Tech into a power in 2008, rising to No. 2 in the rankings after knocking off No. 1 Texas (Tech finished the year 11-2). The following year, Leach was fired by Texas Tech, and at the center of his exit was one of his players, wide receiver Adam James. He is the son of ESPN announcer Craig James. It got nasty. Between James talking about it on ESPN and Leach firing back – “he was acting like a Little League dad” – the saga turned ugly for everyone involved (especially ESPN, which handled the firing poorly when it aired the Alamo Bowl game days after the story broke).
In 2010, Leach decided to sue ESPN. If I had to guess, ESPN’s going to hide behind this as a reason for Feldman’s suspension – Feldman spent time with Leach, and Leach is suing us, so we were told by our lawyers to muzzle him until this book release blows over. In the 5+ years this blog has been around, I’ve found ESPN to be a thin-skinned operation … but they couldn’t possibly be so foolish as to suspend Feldman for writing a book he was given permission to write, right? And ESPN couldn’t be so petty as to suspend Feldman over what was in the book about one of his colleagues, right?
ESPN’s Joe Schad was just spewing this stuff that Craig James and Spaeth Communications were feeding him: “Alleged electrical closet” … “Alleged electrical closet” … “YouTube video of Adam James in the alleged electrical closet is available” … “I’m told the alleged electrical closet is approximately 4 x 10 feet.”
Then “SportsCenter” showed Adam’s YouTube video from the electrical closet. Too bad they never said Adam went in that electrical closet after he was specifically told not to go in there.
Swing Your Sword will no doubt get a nice little bump from the Feldman controversy.