Inside the controversial hiring of Urban Meyer by Fox Sports

For the uninitiated, there is a thing in the media world known as the Friday news dump. If you have news you might be too embarrassed to announce, wait until late Friday – when everyone has left for the weekend – to make your announcement.

You put it out there, hope no one notices, and count the minutes until happy hour.

That’s actually what Fox Sports did on Friday. It was so quietly announced that it went unnoticed by many until Monday. So here’s the news: They’ve hired former coach Urban Meyer as a college football analyst.

To the uninitiated, the rent looks good. Meyer had a great career as a college football coach, previously worked as a broadcaster (including at Fox) and has a household name. That’s a pretty good resume for a broadcaster.

So why not make a big deal about it? Why continue to dump Friday news? Why not shout it from the mountaintops?

It’s true that Meyer won college football national championships at Florida and Ohio. But it’s also true that his tenure at Ohio State ended after a scandal over how he handled (or mishandled) an assistant coach accused of domestic violence. Meyer eventually became the head coach of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars – which is really where his coaching career took off.

As ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio wrote, “He left his post after Thursday night’s game in Cincinnati, unable to accompany the Jaguars home to Florida after a tough loss. Instead of returning with his team, he drove to Columbus for the weekend, where he was publicly caught on video making out with a woman who is not his wife. He allegedly kicked a kick (he denied it) and was allegedly verbally abusive to players and coaches.

He almost lost the respect of his team and was fired before even finishing his first season, losing 11 of 13 games.

Still, even after all that embarrassment, Meyer is back on Fox Sports’ “Big Noon Kickoff” pregame show — where he served as an analyst in 2019 and 2020.

To be clear, this is not about cancellation culture. It’s about credibility.

Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina, who called attention to the “dumping of Friday’s news,” criticized Fox Sports’ decision, writing, “So while Meyer might be fine breaking the X’s and O’s, how on earth is he going to on national television and talk about the behavior of college football players or what a player’s character means or how a player can’t let his teammates down? He will do it because it will be his job and he has no shame. And Fox will pretend Meyer doesn’t have a trust issue because Fox doesn’t care about his trust issue. Fox wants to do everything it can to compete with ESPN’s iconic College GameDay, and if that includes Urban Meyer because he’s a Florida-Ohio tie, so be it.”

Jack Baer of Yahoo Sports wrote, “Of course, the standards of ‘NFL head coach’ and ‘college football talking head; are very different. Fox apparently believes audiences still want to see what Meyer has to say about college football, an area in which he’s clearly seen plenty of success.

Doesn’t Fox realize what he signed up for? Meyer has become a joke for many football fans.

Florio wrote, “It will also be interesting to see what he has to say about his time in the NFL. Will they smear it? Will they force him to own it? Will he get mad if one of the other guys on set makes a smart remark about his time with the Jaguars? (Coach might want to kick me under the table for saying that – OP!)”

But Traina pointed out that even if Fox Sports was proud of the hire, it would have made for a scandalous announcement. But they didn’t. Why?

Traina wrote: “Because everyone, including Fox, knows that bringing back Meyer as if his 2021 doesn’t exist is embarrassing.”

John Allsopp of the Columbia Journalism Review discusses Brian Stelter’s departure from CNN in “Brian Stelter’s Terribly Timed Defenestration.”

Alsop writes, “It’s not clear that even Stelter knows exactly what happened to his show. Appearing on the air for his final episode (Sunday), Stelter let at least a hint of embarrassment cross his typically sunny demeanor, noting that “Reliable Sources” is CNN’s longest-running show — it recently marked thirty years on the air, nine of which with Stelter as host – and that his ratings are good.”

There has been much speculation as to why and how Stelter was fired. Perhaps it has something to do with perceived political bias. Perhaps it was a cost-cutting move. Maybe it was both. Maybe it was neither. New CNN chief Chris Licht told employees that more changes are coming at the network and that employees should let them play out before reacting. But Alsop writes, “Licht could, of course, publicly clarify his plans for CNN — and why exactly Stelter doesn’t fit in — any time he wants.”

CNN will continue to cover the media, but for now there will be no more Sunday broadcast, and it is unlikely that “Reliable Sources” will ever return. Allsop writes, “Still, Stelter’s departure and the cancellation of ‘Reliable Sources,’ the TV show, undoubtedly add up to a significant downsizing. Reserving even an hour a week of cable airtime—a limited commodity, unlike the Internet—to allow the media to scrutinize itself was at the very least a token statement about the value of introspection and placing it directly in front of viewers who might not otherwise give it much thought. about the way the press works. Blurring that statement would be sad any time. At this point, it is unwarranted.”

Here’s what I wrote about Stelter’s last show and the legacy of “Reliable Sources.”

The conservative media has been claiming this theme lately: President Joe Biden wants to hire and arm 87,000 Internal Revenue Service agents to hunt you down. Let’s be clear. This is not true.

How do these things start and then spread like wildfire?

Check out this piece by Grid’s Jason Palladino and Maggie Severns: “Behind the ‘87,000 Armed Agents’ Lie: How an Obscure Factoid Was Turned into a Popular GOP Talking Top.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, pictured here in May. (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s infectious disease expert who has advised seven presidents and become one of the most prominent voices during the COVID-19 pandemic, says he will retire in December. But he’s not retiring, even as he moves on to what he calls “his next chapter.” Fauci, 81, has led the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.

For the latest on Fauci, see:

Here’s a great column idea from New York Times sports columnist Kurt Streeter. The upcoming US Open is likely to be the final tennis tournament for the legendary Serena Williams. So the headline in Streeter’s column: “Serena Williams Brings New Fans to Tennis. Are you one of them?

Streeter wrote about Williams’ influence on fans, writing, “If this is you, I want to hear your story. Especially if you’ve made the pilgrimage to see Williams play in person. Even if the “up close” was the nosebleed seats of the Rio Olympic tennis stadium. Or if you’ve made it to one of the smaller tournaments on the WTA Tour, without the Grand Slam crowds and prices.”

After Streeter writes about what it was like for him to watch Williams play, there’s an interactive section at the bottom of the column where readers can share their experiences watching her. And the Times, with permission, may publish some of those responses.

Got feedback or advice? Email Poynter Senior Media Writer Tom Jones at [email protected]

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