One of the biggest conspiracy theories against ESPN is their bias in favor of the SEC. Watch the network and you'll see plenty of hype for the conference. You'll see the prominent "SEC on ESPN" logo all over the place. Then, there's been reports of ESPN and the SEC working on their own network.
Does ESPN show bias towards the SEC, thus driving up the money made and power received by both? Doubtful. I'd like to think it's not a grand conspiracy, but rather a couple of factors that are more easily expainable. One is the SEC's streak of national championship victories, which has obviously put the league at the top of the college football world and deservedly so. The other factor is merely ESPN's bias towards stories and powerful players, teams, and yes, conferences. ESPN is simply going to spend more time on the SECs of the world the same that they spend time on the Yankees and Lakers and Tebows and Bradys and LeBrons of the world. It doesn't necessarily make it right, that's just how it is. ESPN is going to treat Kansas State differently than Florida.
However, in college football, that amount of coverage bias is more important than in any other sport because of rankings and the role media perception plays in rankings. It's not ESPN's fault there's always 5 SEC teams in the Top 15, but the environment that coverage creates is going to be one where the SEC has a built-in advantage in the polls.
But with all that said.... there are times ESPN doesn't help themselves in making the more paranoid section of college football fans think there is in fact a vast SEC conspiracy. Like when they dedicate an entire magazine issue to the LSU-Alabama game next week. That's according to Businessreports.com...
The LSU-Alabama rematch is being billed as "1 Day, 1 Game" by ESPN The Magazine, which is dedicating an entire issue to the gridiron contest that will be published the following week, says LSU Sports Information Director Michael Bonnette. "Their publication has requested 48 credentials, 25 of which are photographers," Bonnette says.
Why, why, why. ESPN The Magazine has moved in this unique direction recently, often dedicating entire issues to one subject. I'm no magazine expert, but my relatively simple mind don't understand it. Why narrow the market space for your magazine so much with such a narrow focus? I'm sure there will be great in-depth features and reporting, but is that worth the tradeoff? And why do it for a game that has much less intrigue than last year when both teams were undefeated? What if Alabama falls at home to Mississippi State Saturday night (unlikely) and both have a loss before their game? If that happens, the demand for this issue would decrease dramatically.
After having to sit through not one, but two Alabama-LSU games last year, I'm suffering from a bit of fatigue over the series and the end-of-the-world importance of their football game. Again, this isn't really an SEC thing, it's more an obsessive compulsive JetsCenter saturation thing. If there's one thing sports fans nationwide aren't clamoring for, it's more coverage of the Alabama-LSU game.
Couldn't ESPN have waited and done this for Oregon vs Oregon State instead?
It's probably the safest choice for a huge game... Alabama on the road in their toughest game of the regular season... I like it. Looking forward to it.
I have to say, the Bulls-Heat 1 game issue last year was really interesting. The writers found new aspects of the game to cover. It is an interesting experiment. I think ESPN the Magazine is is trying to distinguish it some from Sports Illustrated. They might be competing for a different kind of magazine reader.