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OU coach: 'Anybody who's on TV' has agendas

11/17/2004 - Oklahoma Sooners

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."