Something smells fishy in Bristol.
Over the past several years, with the exception of 2019, one of the most popular aspects of ESPN’s coverage of the annual college football national championship game has been its coaches’ film room broadcast.
Coaches such as Bret Bielema, Gary Patterson, Mike Gundy, Gene Chizik and Mack Brown have joined a panel of other coaches hanging out giving us a fly on the wall perspective of what coaches see when they watch other teams play.
ESPN was clearly looking for something different this year, which is why a panel of Sam Pittman, Josh Heupel, Dan Mullen and Dabo Swinney would have made perfect sense.
Pittman not only coached for Georgia head coach Kirby Smart recently, but he, along with Heupel and Mullen, coached against both Georgia and Alabama.
Swinney gets thrown in not only to avoid it being an all-SEC crew, but also because he’s spent nearly his entire head coaching career trying to beat Nick Saban in the playoffs, and had the dubious pleasure of opening this season against Georgia.
But that’s not going to be the plan.
This past Thursday ESPN announced it is going to switch up the traditional coaches’ room by having Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher and his assistants comprise the entire film room.
This turn of events has raised eyebrows in various corners of the college football world. It seems quite the coup to get Fisher and his staff all alone on ESPN for four hours.
How did it happen?
There doesn’t seem to be any explanation as to how it happened other than one newspaper’s vague speculation that it could be because of COVID, but testing the night before and the day of the event could have easily handled that issue.
With A&M boosters coordinating together to throw around $30 million to boost recruiting and help Fisher buy the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class, it wouldn’t be surprising if later on we found out this is more or less an ad buy to heighten the program’s profile right before trying to close the deal with a few remaining top recruits.
Such a move would be unprecedented, but then again, we’re talking about a school that brings together thousands of its fans to practice yells about a team it no longer plays at midnight before each game.
Most likely, this somehow traces back to the day Fisher spent an entire day driving around his ranch with the SEC Network’s Marty and McGee on a sweltering Texas day filming spots for the pair’s Saturday morning TV show.
ESPN probably felt it owed Fisher for doing them a solid. However, all that valuable commercial time spent promoting Fisher and making him a likable alternative to Alabama’s Nick Saban was priceless for Texas A&M.
Giving Fisher and his entire staff another set of freebees seems a little over the top.
For A&M fans, it will be the next best thing to actually being in the national championship.
For the rest of us, it will be a missed opportunity.
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