Headlined "College Football’s Most Dominant Player? It’s ESPN," the story -- one of three stories in a spectacular package of sports and business journalism -- details how ESPN tells teams and conferences who will play whom, when they will play, where they will play and what time of the day they will play. Neither teams nor conferences lift more than a few fingers without running the decision through the prism of ESPN, which has both its advocates and its critics.
This weekend's Alabama-Virginia Tech game in Atlanta? It's an ESPN-created event.
The Times wrote, "Far beyond televising games, ESPN has become the chief impresario of college football. By infusing the sport with billions of dollars it pays for television rights — more than $10 billion on college football in the last five years alone — ESPN has become both puppet-master and kingmaker, arranging games, setting schedules and bestowing the gift of nationwide exposure on its chosen universities, players and coaches.
"The money and programming focused on college football by ESPN, as well as its competitors, have transformed the game, creating professionalized sports empires in the midst of academic institutions."
The first story was published Sunday in The Times. Today's story, "At Louisville, Athletic Boom Is Rooted in ESPN Partnership," uses the University of Louisville as an example of how ESPN can literally transform a middling team into a college football power.
At this rate, it'll be very interesting to see what the third story in The Times' series says on Tuesday.
-- Phillip Tutor