Bruce Feldman Leaves ESPN For CBS After Non-Suspension Suspension

After reports that college football writer Bruce Feldman was suspended by ESPN, the network says Feldman was not suspended. He's gone to CBS.

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ESPN Reacts To Bruce Feldman's Claims, Gets Last Word In

You knew ESPN would respond in some fashion to former employee Bruce Feldman's Thursday multimedia blitz. After Feldman tore apart the company on the Dan Patrick Show, at SI.com and at the Wall Street Journal over his suspension last month for participating in Mike Leach's book, the college football world granted the floor to ESPN:

We have significant disagreements with Bruce Feldman's account. Beyond that, time to move on.less than a minute ago via web Favorite Retweet Reply

Nothing changes the fact that ESPN still allows Craig James to talk about college football after he hired a PR firm to get a college football coach fired, and nothing changes the growing perception that ESPN's Longhorn Network is already affecting its coverage of the team.

Based on that recent track record -- not that that's exhaustive, mind you -- it's hard not to assume the version of the story offered by one of college sports' most-trusted journalists is closer to the truth than ... whatever ESPN's version is.

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Bruce Feldman 'Suspension' A Semantics Argument That No Longer Matters

Bruce Feldman wasn't suspended. Or maybe he was. None of us know for sure, and it will probably stay that way, with one side steadfast in the assertion ESPN put him on the sidelines and ESPN steadfast in the assertion it didn't. And at this point, the argument has devolved into a debate about semantics, triggered by an oddly-worded press release from the WorldWide Leader.

Read the press release again, noting it says Feldman was never suspended, but will now resume his normal duties. Call it what you want, but throwing in a line about him resuming his duties clearly implies some kind of suspension -- pressing the pause button, if you will.

This is what Chris LaPlaca had to say in response to the uproar. Mind you, this was after he blamed Twitter for spreading false news about Feldman's status.

Chrislaplacatweet_medium

That's spin from a public relations man, and it's also incorrect. To the dictionary, which is important in any semantics argument.

sus·pend (s-spnd)
v. sus·pend·ed, sus·pend·ing, sus·pends
v.tr.
1. To bar for a period from a privilege, office, or position, usually as a punishment: suspend a student from school.
2. To cause to stop for a period; interrupt: suspended the trial.
v.intr.
1. To cease for a period; delay.

Taking a timeout is, in fact, suspending the game for a short period of time.

To borrow a better sports analogy, "suspended pending the results of an investigation." We see this all the time, especially in college football, Feldman's realm of expertise. A player does something stupid, breaks a rule or gets arrested and is suspended until his boss, the head coach, can figure out what happened.

Feldman did none of these things, but it would seem ESPN wanted to figure out what it had on its hands with the impending release of Mike Leach's book. Network executives hit the pause button, called a timeout or suspended him; whatever you want to call it. A mass uproar forced ESPN's hands,and Feldman was back in action, with the network whistling innocently and acting as if nothing happened.

Whatever happened here is almost insignificant at this point. The dialogue was about much more than Feldman or his suspension, and there's no erasing the black mark whatever ESPN wants to call this move left. Because of the perfect storm -- the SI profile on Leach, the release of the book, the lawsuit, everything -- ESPN put itself in a losing position by investigating Feldman's pre-approved involvement in the book. It appeared petty, controlling and downright wrong.

The semantics don't matter here and by arguing about them, we're ignoring the real, underlying issues in the situation. Denial was not the public relations strategy; distraction was the motive of the statement. The point was to create misdirection: If people are talking about whether Feldman was suspended, they're not talking about the questionable decisions made in this entire ESPN vs. Mike Leach saga.

Call it what you want to call it, but the perception is already out there in the open, allowed to fester thanks to almost a day of silence from ESPN. This whole situation was bungled in the worst way by ESPN, and it sparked a discussion about the journalist standards at the WorldWide Leader. Somewhere last night, Mike Leach was laughing maniacally, looking like a genius in a room full of fools.

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ESPN Statement: Bruce Feldman Was Never Suspended

After being mercilessly ripped on Twitter for the better part of a day, ESPN now says that its suspension of Bruce Feldman for participating in a book by Mike Leach (after getting the network's permission to participate) wasn't a suspension at all. Here's the entire statement (which seems to be loading right now).

"There was never any suspension or any other form of disciplinary action. We took the time to review his upcoming work assignments in light of the book to which he contributed and will manage any conflicts or other issues as needed. Bruce has resumed his assignments."

Maybe I'm just a stickler for silly things like 'coherence' and 'the meanings of words,' but ... if he wasn't suspended, what was there to "resume"? Why was he (apparently) not even allowed to tweet during the review period? And if he honestly wasn't suspended, why did ESPN wait to make a statement while every sportswriter from Tallahassee to Tacoma was trashing the network Thursday night? It's good to see that Feldman is back on the job, but let's be clear - by every indication, he really was suspended, and what's really going on here is that ESPN has given up trying to defend the indefensible.

For more on the Bruce Feldman situation, follow this storystream.

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Mike Leach Discusses Bruce Feldman Suspension, Says ESPN Has 'Agenda'

Bruce Feldman, as you probably know by now, has been suspended indefinitely by ESPN. The college football writer has basically kept quiet over the fallout following a book he assisted former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach in writing. The book takes some shots at analyst Craig James and the roll he played in Leach's firing, something ESPN apparently did not take kindly to, despite the "sports leader" giving Feldman approval to work on the book.

While Feldman has remained quiet, though, Leach has been very publicly defending him and the book. During his interview with the Big Dog, Joe Rose on WQAM in Miami (via Sports Radio Interviews), he accused ESPN of having an agenda and responded to the assertion that James may be the channel's golden boy:

"He evidently is because if you look at the public reaction, if you look at the blogs, everybody sees through it and understands it. People are recognizing the truth and nobody appreciates Craig James’ role in this. It’s insulting to everyone’s intelligence. Between Craig James and ESPN both they’re starting with this. Me being too dumb to see through what they’re doing and then it became well the public is too dumb to see through what they’re doing. Then with this thing with Bruce they think it’s almost like they’re so smart that we won’t understand it anyway and they’re so powerful that we have to do whatever they want no matter what. Everyone is seeing through it and everybody resents it."

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Bruce Feldman's Suspension, ESPN, And An Order For Watermelons All Around

Bruce Feldman's suspension from ESPN has nothing to do with Craig James' godlike powers, and everything to do with giant infants in business suits.

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Bruce Feldman Suspension Draws Anger From College Football World

Many sports personalities are furious over ESPN's indefinite suspension of college football writer Bruce Feldman, who ESPN is essentially forcing to disappear from the internet after he participated in the writing of an autobiography of former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach. The suspension reportedly came despite the fact that Feldman had received permission to participate in the book project.

Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel is leading the charge.

One of the finest writers in the profession was suspended today because of a company's own irresponsible journalism.

Here's another tweet from Mandel.

If you appreciate journalists who do their job professionally and with respect ... then boycott ESPN. Seriously.

Yikes.

The National Football Post says that Feldman's suspension is a "travesty":

First off, I've only crossed paths in-person with Feldman one time, which came this past February at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, and I was as impressed with his professionalism as anyone I've ever met. Second, being suspended for his role in Leach's book is nothing short of an absolute travesty, especially if he truly was given the 'OK' by ESPN management.

SB Nation's Conquest Chronicles says that if Feldman were allowed to leave ESPN, he would be "snatched up faster than you can breathe." Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel echoes that sentiment, saying Feldman would be "a great get" for the website. Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples, meanwhile, says that if SI had to, it would be wise to fire him - meaning Staples himself - in order to hire Feldman.

Clearly, writers throughout the business are assembling behind Feldman on this one. We'll see if ESPN releases a statement in response. If the company decides it's through with Feldman, there will be a queue lined up to hire him.

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ESPN Suspends Bruce Feldman Indefinitely, Apparently Over Mike Leach Book

Senior writer at ESPN the Magazine Bruce Feldman has been suspended indefinitely by the Worldwide Leader in yet another display of muscle-flexing from the head honchos in Bristol. Via Sports By Brooks:

(ESPN Vice President and Director of News Vince) Doria, (ESPN the Magazine Editor-in-Chief Gary) Hoenig and (ESPN.com Editor-in-Chief Pat) Stiegman informed Feldman today that he has been banned from writing for any ESPN entity, is forbidden from appearing on any ESPN platform, is not allowed to Tweet from his Twitter account nor participate in any promotion of a recently-released book in which Feldman played a role ...

... Multiple management and editorial sources at ESPN have told me in recent months that Feldman would only participate in the Leach book project upon direct approval from ESPN management - which Feldman indeed received.

Leach, of course, was fired from his head coaching job at Texas Tech amidst allegations he mistreated ESPN college football analyst Craig James' son Adam James. Not only has ESPN not forgiven Leach for these apparent injustices, it also apparently seeks to exile Leach from the sporting world, Robinson Crusoe-style.

If SbB is to be believed, the move is not only a head-scratcher, but a ridiculously over-the-top one. Feldman is a talented writer — just read this piece he wrote on Mike Leach before the whole controversy blew up — who doesn't appear to have an ulterior motive to bash the mothership.

More on this as it develops.

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