If you're a regular visitor to Awful Announcing, you may notice something different today. A new face is on our Mount Rushmore, ESPN college football analyst Craig James. Senator James was the surprise champion of our Joe Morgan Memorial Tournament, in which one current sports media personality would replace Joe Morgan on AA's Mount Rushmore.
The Joe Morgan Memorial started with 32 of the most awful sports media personalities around - from Joe Buck and Joe Theismann to Skippy and Stephen A. to Cowherd and Berman. Being honest, I have to give credit to my broski Ryan for coming up with the idea (he always was the smarter Yoder), but it was an awesome experience that was hopefully as much fun for you as it was for us. Thanks to everyone who took part in the tournament, especially to the folks that took the time to leave comments, tweets, and especially vote. We had over 50,000 votes in the semifinals and finals alone!
Brian Powell started AA back in 2006 as an open forum for fans to voice their feelings on announcers and as the place to go for news, information, and opinion on announcing and the sports media. That's why we gave you the decision for Joe Morgan's spot on Mount Rushmore (and who knows, maybe we'll do it for the other spots in the future). When it all started, Craig James was nowhere near the list of favorites to be etched in Awful Announcing immortality. However, your votes carried James to an overwhelming victory in the JMMT.
James defeated his broadcast partner Mike Patrick in Round 1 and was never tested along the way, also beating out some of the biggest names in AA lore - Rick Reilly, Stephen A. Smith, Chris Berman, and Joe Buck. His victories over Berman and Buck were astoundingly ginormous. 77% of the vote against Berman and 85% of the vote against Buck (over 21,000 votes in the Final were cast for Craig James).
So how did we get to this point where average college football announcer/pundit Craig James became an unstoppable force that made Joe Buck look like Marv Albert and took him to the top of AA...
The summer began with this ridiculously over the top advertisement touting James' new non-political political group "Texans For A Better America." Although James' Senate hopes have never actualized into a campaign, the following makes me want to see him run for office soon, if only for the chance to make fun of nauseating videos like this...
I was really hoping Craig would be wearing a cowboy hat on Mount Rushmore. Oh, well. That laughable production was only a drop in the bucket compared to the proof of James' corrupt behavior during the Mike Leach scandal in December 2009. In case you've been in the Alaskan wilderness the last two years, James' son Adam was at the center of a scandal that resulted in Mike Leach being fired from Texas Tech. Since, Leach has been on a crusade against Tech, Craig James, and ESPN in what appeared to be a "he said, she said" kind of roundabout argument.
But when excerpts from Leach's new book, Swing Your Sword, were introduced it was a gamechanger. Now, we had visible proof through e-mails between James and his hired trolls at Spaeth Communications that the PR campaign against Leach was largely bogus. Spaeth and James conspired to falsely vilify Leach, forward lies from Adam James as truth, pollute blogs with fake comments, and feed fabrications to ESPN "reporters," all the while grinding a personal axe against Leach for not treating Adam James with the regality that he deserved. Simply, Craig James took part in a false character assassination using his position in the college football media and on the "leader" to do nothing more than carry out his petty, childish, pathetic personal agenda.
If you have any doubts about James' overwhelming victory in the Joe Morgan Tournament, I submit to you this SportsCenter interview with Steve Levy when the Adam James story was at its peak. Keep in mind that while you see the "Father Of Adam James" play the martyred victim role to a tee, Craig James was lying in America's face and ESPN was all too happy to sensationalize their star ex-jock-turned-analyst's sob story...
And that is why Craig James is taking his rightful place on AA's Mount Rushmore. In a sense, Craig James is symbolic of something bigger than awful announcing. James represents the idea of using power and privilege to corrupt and mislead. Ironically, it stands for the most un-American and un-Texan values one can imagine. I would rather have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver talk about nothing for three hours than be lied to through the media. Give me boring announcers or botch after botch instead of somebody with no credibility. As inflammable as Colin Cowherd can be, at least he truly believes what he spews.
Perhaps the only thing more appalling in this scenario is ESPN's blind faith and stubbornness in sticking with Craig James for two of its marquee college football broadcasting slots this fall. ESPN's Waterloo moment with Bruce Feldman also put into light the shocking tolerance of James in Bristol. Contrasting the much respected and "suspended" Feldman with the disparaged and exalted James created a further backlash against the former SMU star that will likely continue until the end of his announcing career and the beginning of his political one. When that day comes, we'll be here to hold the Craig James Memorial Tournament.