It's probably a bad idea to bash potential employers in this economic climate for newspapers, but I can't help but be aghast at how irresponsible ESPN is on a routine basis. The latest is this headline from their "rumors" department: "Charlie Strong... as Coach of UGA."
When you click on the link, you're treated to yet another great headline: "Would Georgia Go After Strong?"
Boy, two headlines suggesting Mark Richt is on his way out and the Dawgs have clearly focused on landing Florida's excellent defensive coordinator.
Except here's what the actual "rumor" is:
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Or in this case, raid them of their best assistant coach. Gene Frenette of Jacksonville.com has an interesting take on what could finally weaken the Florida Gators more than just Tim Tebow graduating. It would be the exit of D-Coordinator Charlie Strong.
The Gators have beefed up to become the best defense in the country under Strong, who is now a hot commodity in the head coach carousel. And, if all that fan grumbling of Mark Richt is true, one of the obvious suitors for Strong's services could be the Georgia Bulldogs.
Frenette writes, "If Georgia and everybody else in the Southeastern Conference is looking for a way to cut into Florida's league dominance of the past four seasons, maybe they should begin lobbying football programs with potential head coach openings to promote the most overlooked coordinator in the country." A Strong defense is just what could put an end to the Gator dominance of the Bulldogs and the rest of the SEC.
Not a word about Richt's job security other than there's "fan grumbling" and the only basis for any supposition about Strong comes from a hypothetical column in the Jacksonville paper that never so much as mentions Richt or Georgia beyond the quoted graph above which talks about lobbying OTHER schools to hire Strong.
All Gene Frenette writes in his column is that the best way to hurt Florida might be to make Strong a head coach elsewhere. After all, Strong certainly deserves a job. But at no point anywhere has anyone suggested anything about Strong coming to Georgia.
Look, I realize that in the age of the Internet, a rumor is as good as a story. But this isn't even a rumor. This is just ESPN downright making sh*t up.
I'm not a Georgia fan, so I'm not going to take the time to get angry about how ridiculous this is for the Bulldogs. I'll let you guys handle that. But as a journalist, this makes me sick to my stomach. ESPN is not some fly-by-night blog. They have editors, and whichever one wrote these headlines ought to be fired. They are an embarrassment to my profession.