ESPN’s challenge to Scout and Rivals

ESPN the Worldwide Leader in Suck has launched its competitor to Scout and Rivals. Sites around the country like wearesc.com, and insidetheU.com are now joined by Auburnundercover.com. The sites provide objective analysis and a healthy dose of unbiased recruiting information.

This conglomerate hired the right man when it tapped Phillip Marshall to lead its Auburn affiliate website. Marshall has spent the last decade sucking up to Tommy Tuberville in print.

Damn.

If being a shill (or cheap whore) is all it takes to get a good paying job, sign me up. I want to be the next beat writer for Auburn. I’ll make Tuberville’s Leni Riefenstahl (Marshall) look like a hack.

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No recruiting disaster would be too big, nor off-the-field turmoil too major for me to spin to Tuberville’s advantage.

Want to duck hunt? I’ll distract the masses with lies about how the new long snapper, or how some unheard of private school player is the greatest thing since Bo Jackson.

Marshall will take those skills along with his other talents to the ESPN-affiliated site. Marshall announced on his blog that he’ll write about recruiting at auburnundercover.com.

Uhhh.

This is the moron who didn’t see the obvious statistical relationship between five-star players and success in the NFL draft. This is the moron who believes anything Tuberville and the Auburn staff tell him.

I’m told access to the coach is the main requirement for the new fan sites. Bluntly, one source told me the coaches get to shape the story coming out of these fan sites.

“If you couldn’t get (the coach), you couldn’t write about it.,” I was told.

So much for real media standards of objectivity.

The site pay is good for a media job. It pays a base salary and about five-percent of subscriptions to the site. ESPN has shopped the same type of job around the Alabama beat, but so far has not announced a hire.

I’ve always respected Rivals and Scout, but taken their information with a grain of salt.

I’ll be needing a salt shaker, or maybe a pound or two when I read the recruiting nonsense coming from Marshall and ESPN.

Of course, it isn’t a real ESPN job either. I’m told ESPN is only lending its name to the sites in a money grab. It isn’t like the Worldwide Leader is doing this to further its journalistic integrity. It just wants to grab a piece of the recruiting pie.

The good news from this announcement is that Marshall is out June 27 from the Huntsville Times.

The bad news, what little journalistic integrity ESPN had is being sold out to compete with Rivals and Scout. It doesn’t matter that these sites are quasi-independent of ESPN; the Worldwide Leader’s name is on the site, and thus inextricably linked to content.