This week marked the release of Mike Leach's book "Swing Your Sword" which details the background and circumstances surrounding his sudden and surprising departure from Texas Tech in 2009. The book holds no punches and lays out a scenario that paints ESPN personality Craig James, his son Adam and several major players in the Texas Tech athletic department as a group on a witch hunt. Plain and simple, Tech wanted Leach out and James provided the means to do so.
One of the key players in helping to bring this book to the market was ESPN college football writer Bruce Feldman. Feldman is one of the most respected writers in the industry and one of the most respected writers covering college football. The agreement to assist Leach with the autobiography was actually reached before Leach's firing and was reached with the blessing of ESPN according to SportsbyBrooks
Well before Mike Leach was terminated by Texas Tech in late 2009, Feldman had agreed in principle to assist the coach in compiling material for a Leach biography.
Because of Leach's acrimonious departure from Texas Tech, which allegedly stemmed from complaints about the coach's alleged treatment of the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James, Feldman's participation in Swing Your Sword was not initially assured.
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.
So what we're hearing is that Leach enlisted Feldman to assist in a biography. Leach is fired in controversial fashion and due to the connection directly back to ESPN through Craig James, Feldman may or may not in fact recieve the permission he originally had. But according to SportsbyBrooks who cites ESPN sources, he did recieve that permission after the fact.
Which brings us to ESPN. The worldwide leader in sports and a network who's reach and influence has become so substantial that some might argue they can drive the world of sports in whichever direction they choose. Upon release of the book, a book they approved Feldman to work on, ESPN has now suspended Feldman and banned him from writing for anything that ESPN is affiliated with.
The question might be why does this matter and maybe it doesn't. But it is a move that seems to have infuriated some of the college football world from fans to broadcasters to those inolved directly in the game. ESPN swings a big sword but this situation is certainly turning into a public relations nightmare for the behemouth. Perhaps Feldman can find a new gig writing for SBNation.