OU coach: 'Anybody who's on TV' has agendas
NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Tuesday college football poll voters should be aware that ESPN has a contract with the Southeastern Conference when they consider the cable sports network's analysis that Auburn should be the nation's No. 2 team and not Oklahoma.
Stoops mentioned ESPN's contract with the SEC during his weekly news conference, but stopped short of accusing the network of bias.
"I'm not saying that," Stoops said. "I'm saying I'm aware of what their contracts are with. Whether people are directed in certain ways, I'm not going to say that. I think all the people ought to be aware who their contracts are with and what some of their agendas may be."
Stoops would not say whether he thought ESPN altered its analysis to favor SEC teams, such as Auburn.
"That would be for everyone else to comment on, not me. I don't think that's appropriate," Stoops said. "I just understand TV and what happens with programs. Ratings matter. I don't know what to say about it."
Josh Krulewitz, a spokesman for ESPN, said the network's rights holders understand that ESPN will not compromise journalistic integrity because of business arrangements. He said the company's business operations and news operations are separated like "church and state."
"The direction we provide our commentators is to be fair, to be objective and to give their opinions," Krulewitz said.
Auburn, which had trailed Oklahoma in the AP media poll all season, moved even with the Sooners this week following a 24-6 win over Georgia, which had been No. 8. Oklahoma beat unranked Nebraska 30-3.
Oklahoma maintained its No. 2 spot in the coaches poll, although its lead was cut to two points over Auburn.
Asked whether he thought ESPN had an impact on poll voters, Stoops said, "It probably impacts some people."
"Surely, AP or the coaches are all aware everybody has agendas," he continued. "Anybody who's on TV has one. You know, that's viewership and ratings and those kinds of things. The closer it becomes, the better for them.
"I think it's fair to say, too, they have a contract with the SEC. I'm fully aware of that. I can't be the only one who recognizes that. It's impossible to remove agendas. They have producers and ratings. I don't know what impact they have, but I'm sure they have some."
ESPN has agreements with the SEC to televise football and men's and women's basketball. The network also televises Big 12 men's and women's basketball.
Big 12 football is televised on ABC, a sister network of ESPN under the Disney umbrella, as well as Fox Sports Net and Turner Broadcast Station.
Stoops also said he agreed with Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville's questioning of why Southern California, which is No. 1 in both polls and in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, was exempted from discussions of who belongs in the top two BCS spots, which decide who will play for the national title.
"That's fair," Stoops said. "I would agree with coach Tuberville there, too. Their schedule strength, who they've beaten away from home and ranked teams all should be scrutinized compared to what everyone else is doing."
Stoops said it was possible that USC was still benefiting from its selection as preseason No. 1. USC, Oklahoma and Auburn are each 10-0.
"There's some people that are up there that have just stayed because they started there," Stoops said. "I would think that would be a great idea to start it once everybody's played four or five games."
However, Stoops said he didn't think the Trojans were getting a "free pass."
"I don't think any of us are," he said. "You still have to play and win. There are no free passes out there. But, you know, the discussion seems to center around us and Auburn and they're left out of that discussion."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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