ESPN didn’t need any additional help from former Husky Ed Cunningham on the Championship Drive show on ESPNU this past weekend when he couldn’t decide if he thought Marcus Mariota is an accurate passer. On Sunday, it was “Mariota has accuracy issues.” Monday night, he’s now back to being an incredibly accurate passer. If it was just Cunningham, whose University of Washington background has made him consistently biased against the Ducks, that might be understandable, even if lacking a certain professional credibility in front of a national audience.
The constant gaffes in regards to breaking down Oregon football and providing “expert media opinion” is bordering on laughable, if it wasn’t for the fact that we are less than a month from the first every College Football Playoff Championship Game.
Skip Bayless has already come out publicly and said that Johnny Manziel will make a better Pro than Mariota, citing in part Manziel being a more accurate passer, which has been debunked numerous times. Cunningham made his accuracy remarks after ESPN published statistics showing that Mariota’s completion percentage on passes 15 yards and deeper ranked 2nd among Power 5 schools.
On the College Football Playoff show on ESPN, the Top 5 Impact players for the Rose Bowl between Oregon and FSU were ranked from 5 to 1 from a pool of 8 players from both teams. Of the four Oregon players on the board, one was Oregon TE Pharaoh Brown, whose injury during the Oregon/Utah game was so horrific it made national news. The young man, as talented as he is, may be fighting just to run normally, much less play football again. Had ESPN pointed out he was injured, and made his loss a factor because he was such an impact player, that would be completely justified. Instead, they put up a young man who may never see the field of Autzen Stadium as a player in the Rose Bowl?
College Gameday’s very own Desmond Howard picked against Oregon for the Oregon/Oregon State Civil War. While OSU’s history of upsetting Top 10 ranked teams is a freak of nature, and last years’ game was closer than most anticipated, there is no sports analyst or fan of football who thought the Beavers had a chance in that game, and Oregon proved it.
ESPN has some fantastic writers — Ted Miller, Kevin Gemmell, and newcomer Chantel Jennings are all extremely talented, and represent the Pac-12 and Oregon with deep insight, knowledge, and a quirky humor matched with consistent statistics. Mike Bellotti on ESPNU and CFN Championship Drive has done wonders to add credence to Oregon as a program. But these are not the faces that America sees week in and week out — they are not the voices that dominate the radio airwaves and blow through our televisions everyday, telling us why Oregon has a weak front seven, they could never defend a real wide receiver such as Amari Cooper, the wide receiving corp is too young, and Mariota has accuracy issues.
But hey, at least Stephen A. Smith had the guts to admit he doesn’t watch the games.
Top Photo Credit: Gary Breedlove