Media bias is nothing new in America. Ask any Republican and they will tell you the media has been slanted against them for more than 100 years. Democrats will tell you that all Fox News reporters are Ronald Reagan worshippers. It’s a fact of life. And don’t think for one minute things are any different in the state of Alabama when it comes to college football.
Let’s quickly look at last week’s events around the state and you can judge for yourself whether the state media is manufacturing stories to help a particular program to the north.
It started last weekend when Auburn got tons of publicity from Big Cat Weekend. Stories were everywhere around the South lauding Gene Chizik for the attention he was bringing to the Auburn program and for hosting some of the top prep players in the country.
Alabama quickly countered by gaining a public commitment from the state’s top cornerback, Demarcus Milliner. Did Nick Saban plan this announcement? He almost certainly did - nothing wrong with a chess match between two rivals.
The following day, Auburn countered by getting a commitment from the top wide receiver in Alabama, Jeremy Richardson. Did Chizik plan this announcement? A logical person would guess yes. Again, nothing wrong with competition between two schools.
Then something odd happened on Friday and again on Saturday morning. Out of the blue, former Auburn offensive coordinator Tony Franklin appears (again) on The Paul Finebaum Show to rehash his problems with former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. If you didn’t know better, you’d thought this was the first time the story had been told.
But things didn’t stop there. On Saturday morning, The Montgomery Advertiser runs a long, in-depth interview with Franklin, again retelling the story of his struggles with the coaching staff and problems within the Auburn Athletic Department. For the record, there was no substantive new information revealed by Franklin.
When did this story become news again?
Why not do a reunion with Mike Price and the girls from Arty’s or maybe do a best of with Gene Jelks and Antonio Langham? For that matter, let’s invite author James Kirby in and have a discussion on whether Bear Bryant and Georgia’s Wally Butts really fixed the 1962 season opener between the two schools.
Is it just me or is it ironic that just days before the NCAA is expected to come down hard on the Alabama program for player violations, Franklin is brought in for an encore? Since when does retelling a year old story with no new information warrant front page headlines and a prime time spot on the state’s most listened to radio show?
Is it possible that Chizik and his staff are having an effect on recruiting – enough so that some believed Auburn’s dirty laundry needed to be rehashed? Is it possible the NCAA might be dropping the hammer harder than some in Alabama circles originally thought? In light of the ramped up attacks on Auburn this past week, what are the chances the NCAA goes public this week?
Maybe this is all just a big coincidence. Maybe people around the state enjoy catching up with Franklin and really are interested in what his Middle Tennessee State offense is going to do this season. And I believe that both, Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann are fair and balanced. Call me hypersensitive, but the events of the past few days just don’t pass the smell test.