Monday, December 03, 2007

Les (Miles) Coverage is More

There was quite a media stir over the weekend concerning LSU football coach Les Miles.
Speculation had run wild all week that Miles would return to his alma mater as the next coach at the University of Michigan. On its GameDay college football show Saturday morning ESPN reported through "reliable sources" that it was a done deal and Miles would be the next Michigan coach. Later that afternoon, and just two hours before the kickoff of the SEC Championship in which his LSU team would play Tennessee, Miles took the unprecendented step of holding a news conference to quash the rumors. He chastized the media for reporting incorrect information and firmly stated that he would be the LSU coach next season. ESPN counter-attacked, saying that it had the story straight and Miles probably backed out of the deal when the story broke early. It turns out that even though Miles had permisson to talk with Michigan he never actually did so.
I'm as much a First Amendment guy as anyone else, but I'll have to go with Miles on this one. Far too much rumor gets into ESPN (and all the other sports shows) these days credited simply to "reliable sources." Several times in the past ESPN has reported information like this that later turned out to be completely false; classic cases of smelling smoke and yelling fire. To be fair, ESPN does break some important information from time to time, but far too often it sacrifices accuracy for speed. Isn't it still more important to be right than to be first?
I'm not saying Miles was completely a victim in all of this. He received permission to talk with Michigan earlier in the week, which only fueled the speculation. Miles should have said that any discussions would have to wait until after the season. But given the circumstances he acted appropriately by calling the news conference, where he scolded the media and asked that in the future their only credible source on the matter should be him. That's taking it a little too far and the media certainly have the right to go elsewhere to get their information, but it's not a bad starting point.


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