52 REASONS ESPN/ABC/DISNEY SUCKS

While not strictly a college football issue, we all as sports fans consort with the many-armed devil that is Disney/ESPN/ABC in our attempt to digest as much football in the precious time we're allowed each season. And in doing so--either in watching the games, searching for highlights, or zoning out after downing five beers in front of the television--you will come across much, much, much to dislike. Actually, we thought of fifty-two things we don't like.

1. Synergy. Promo the games you have the rights to while barely mentioning the big games on in other places, no matter how important they might be. Push your product over THE GAME. Vile corporate entertainment thinking that yields little but viewer disgust.

2. Regional broadcast fiascoes. No shit here--the Tampa Bay area enjoyed the Rutgers/WVU game on the weekend of the Texas/Oklahoma game because...well, because the evil spider god in charge of everything decreed it, we suppose. Here in Atlanta we frequently got the Tar Heels getting knocked around the yard instead of a better matchup across the country.

3. Stuart Scott. His poetry slam two days ago didn't happen, because if we did admit it, then we'd wake up crying in a ball in the corner struck by the sadness of what has become Sportscenter.

Boo. Yeah, boo.

4. The absence of Keith Olbermann.

5. The continued, painful obsolescence of Keith Jackson. Yeah, that's more of a complaint with God, but pending a response from the Deity himself, we'll blame his corporate masters who act as accomplices.

6. Sportstainment! The next few are attached to this umbrella concept of the idea that sports isn't entertainment all by itself. Consider them pieces of evidence in one long indictment of Disney's attempt to force ESPN into becoming the story, not the medium.

7. Nick Lachey, interviewer.

8. ESPN Hollywood. Lower ratings than "Christopher Lowell, After Hours."

9. "The Hot Seat" segment. Nothing more excruciating than watching former partial qualifiers attempting to think against the clock.

10. Dream Job.

11. Stephen A. Smith. Mark Shapiro, the prime mover behind Sportstainment! and former head of ESPN, said he just HAD to hire Smith after every focus group detested his ass. Well, there you go. Would love to kick the ass of the editor of Highlights magazine for bewitching him with those devilish puzzles all these years. Makes a sport we already don't care about all the more ignoreable--and isn't that what a great spokesman for the sport is supposed to do?

12. Tom Berenger's horrible old man prosthetics in The Junction Boys. Bear Bryant as burn victim, evidently.

13. WHOOSH. Fox shares some blame here, but we'll still fault ESPN for jumping on the bandwagon by putting sound effects to every gesture.

14. Chris Berman's "WHOOP!" noise. Berman will make several appearances here, since he's one of the worst things about the network, so we'll just list the offense and the death strike we think is appropriate. In this case, we think the two hand spiral neck snap, an old Seagal move, would be perfect.

15. TomBob Ley's banishment. Outside the Lines, one of the best shows on ESPN, is relegated to the status of "Sunday Morning Boring Old Man News Thing." How Ley stays at the network when he could be at HBO's Real Sports is a testament to his loyalty--or his laziness, perhaps.

16. Dan Patrick's hair dye. Has now moved squarely into Wink Martindale territory.

17. I...love...highlights without shtick...songs that don't suck dick...and twins!!!

18. Speaking of songs that suck...Big and Rich have made their way onto our Orbital Death Ray list, along with Mark Shapiro. For a long time college football existed as a fiefdom apart from the Sportstainmenttastic! world of ESPN--pleasantly stodgy, frills-free coverage of a sport that allowed you to soak in the atmosphere of each game through the screen. Now we have Nick Lachey interviewing people and Big and Rich suggesting that we need more Ying with our Ying Yang. Two old pieces of redneck jerky--including one who one of our readers pointed out, bears a striking resemblance to Phyllis Diller--who were pulled out of a hat at random by marketing schmucks in New York who were like, "Okay, people. Red state sport---we need us some edgy country!" Total, horrid, absolute fecality soiling the last show we watch on the network.

We're coming...and we're shit-tayyy!!!

19. Making the story, not reporting it. Two words: Terrell Owens.

20. High school kids committing live on the network. Recruiting's creepy enough with Tom Lemming involved. Upping the ante to national coverage only adds to the ick factor.

21. Ron Jaworski's backseat role. His explanation of schemes and coverages is pure, elegant analysis. So he's forced to do it at 11:30 with a concussed madman and a very cute lesbian. That's a push, we suppose.

22. Berman's lack of preparation. He's ad-libbing half the time and doing so badly, stuttering and stammering while barely concealing his head-tracking reading of the teleprompter. Appropriate death strike: spinning heel kick, Walker, Texas Ranger- style.

23. Desmond Howard. We just hear happy music while he blabs on about whatever he's talking about. Mostly bossa nova, actually.

24. The Outdoor Games. In a typical move, ESPN takes our insomniac treats--including the World's Strongest Man competitions--and packages them into Sportstainment!. What they fail to understand is that we liked them because they were on when we got home from the bar drunk enough to find them entertaining.

25. Lee Corso. Not so fast, my friend! His analyses come down to "Ooh! They're tougher than the other guy!" or "Kirk said this, so I'll disagree with him and put on this mascot head!" Makes the already superb Herbstreit look like a bona fide savant in comparison, which may be his role.

26. Mike Gottfried. America's most dyspeptic college football announcer. Frowns at babies and accuses them of lack of discipline for shitting their diapers. Misses calls frequently. The opposite of fun.

27. Berman's clip of him throwing a football to catching the ball from Doug Williams. Yes, you were skinny once. Now you're fat and an easy target. Appropriate death strike: run over with Brinks Truck, chase him down with a lawnmower.

28. The forced animosity between John Clayton and Sean Salisbury. Team Under Armor vs. Goliath has more verisimilitude.

29. Wide angle shots, fades, and pensive shots of young athletes recounting the trauma of growing up poor/fatherless/in Bosnia/stricken with acne/slightly nervous/average/motherless/with rickets/etc in puff pieces. Adversity, dear ESPN, is boring. Show us how long it takes for Matt Leinart to pick up a girl in a bar--now that would be Sportstainmenttastic! Hey-yo!

30. Woody Paige. In our hometown, this guy cleaned your septic tank. On ESPN, he's an "expert."

31. The rape of Buster Olney, a fine sportswriter.

32. Fake news conferences.

33. Flavor in our broadcasts. Yes, Dan and Keith did it very well. But show us a goal, td, basket, point, or homer without a "SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND" once, and we will send you a shiny dollar in the mail.

34. Mark May. The youngest disciple of the Gottfried school of broadcasting, a nasty, choleric presence on the screen whose vagina-pelt-looking goatee only added to his dislikeable on-air demeanor. Makes pure evil presence of Lou Holtz seem agreeable in comparison. Oh, speaking of...

35. Lou Holtz. You have a speech defect, and should not make a living talking on television. Oh, and you're a cheater. Would be entertaining only if they made him speak from behind his own salad bar shield; we're guessing it would look like those shots of cobras striking at people behind plexiglass in zoos, with spit flying in gobs all over the surface.

36. Chris Berman's nicknames. Appropriate death strike: in honor of their upcoming Big 12 championship game, how about a dim mak Brown shot to the throat?

37. Beano Cook. Beano's visage just plain scares the hell out of us. Plus, he's been trying to kill us for years, with the last incident being a failed stabbing on the streets of Singapore in 2003.

38. World Series of Poker. Not bad in an hour's dose. Unbearable in four hour stretches.

39. 3: The Dale Earnhardt Story. Find us someone who thinks anyone actually calls their father "diddy" in the South NOT named Bowden, and we will show you an actor two years out of drama school.

40. ESPNU. Not even sure what this is, but it's unknown and strange--therefore by instinct we must hate it.

41. Chris Berman referring to himself as "The Schwam." Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck you. Appropriate death strike: cruise missile while singing onstage with Huey Lewis.

42. ESPN, the Magazine. Huge pages, fellatio-style coverage of the shittiest citizens of the athletic world, and very, very little content.

43. Mark Shapiro, the man behind the Sportstaimentization! of the network. Gone, but not forgotten.

44. Mike Lupica. Only makes two statements a year about college football, both atrociously wrong and dumb. Abrasive without insight. We'd say he represents the worst of Northeastern sportswriting, but Dan Shaughnessy still breathes in Boston.

45. Mel Kiper, Jr. We shouldn't really hate on Mel--to be this wrong and still get paid for it bespeaks of a certain grandiose swindletude we have to admire. But that said--no one gets their assigned pundit beat wrong with greater consistency. Built entire reputation on saying Trev Alberts sucks, which, well, duh?

46. Not enough Sumo. The Bashos rule, and we have no idea when they're on.

47. The ESPYs.

48. Rush Limbaugh, football analyst. Yes, it's ancient history--but the shame remains.

49. The disappearance of Chris Mortensen. He's your NFL insider, and you put him--literally--behind the set. Because he's working back there during the show! It Sportstainmenttastic!

50. PTI. Not for the show itself, but for its shambolic impact on ESPN programming, which now features argumentative elements in even the least confrontational formats.

51. Jim Donnan. Looks like he rolled out from beneath an overturned fishing boat in someone's front yard, put on a tie and and a coat, and rolled into the studio for a segment or two.

52. Chris Berman's BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK BACK call. Appropriate death strike: kicking knee break, joint-lock arm hold, thrown into path of oncoming commuter train.

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