ESPN, the sports entertainment network, is so big and greedy and arrogant that it is attempting to swallow the U.S. Army. But it may end up with a big stomach ache.
The U.S. Army has sponsored an all-star high school football game since 2001. The game, televised on NBC, has been played in San Antonio, Texas. Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming picks the players who participate in the event.
A year ago, ESPN launched its own all-star game. It was televised on ESPNU and played in Orlando, Florida.
Now ESPN is going for the jugular. Next January, it plans to stage its all-star game on the same Saturday (Jan. 5) as the U.S. Army game. It will be televised on ABC.
In fact, it already is promoting the game by claiming that it has commitments from more of the top 100 players than the U.S. Army game. But it is using its own list, not Lemming's or Scout's or Rivals' or anyone else's.
It is amusing because it is the first time I can recall that Lemming and Scout and Rivals have agreed on anything. In this case, they agree that ESPN's list is poppycock, something they contrived to make themselves look good.
For example, ESPN claims that they have commitments from four of the top five players in the country and nine of the top-rated position players. Or so their list says.
But Lemming said the U.S. Army game has commitments from seven of the top 10 players in the country on his list and 18 of the top 25. Scout said six of its top p10 and 19 of its top 25 will play in the U.S. Army game. And Rivals said seven of its top 10 and 18 of its top 25 will participate in the U.S. Army game.
Of Lemming's top 10, the U.S. Army has commitments from quarterback Terrelle Pryor (1) of Jeannette, Pa., running back Darrell Scott (2) of Ventura, Calif., linebacker Arthur Brown (4) of Wichita, Kan., quarterback Blaine Gabbert (5) of Ballwin, Mo., defensive lineman Marcus Forston (6) of Miami, Fla., linebacker Nigel Bradham (7) of Crawfordville, Fla., and running back Sam McGuffie (10) of Houston, Texas.
Interestingly, the three top players on Lemming's list who are committed to the ESPN game--wide receivers Julio Jones (3) of Foley, Ala., and A.C. Green (8) of Summerville, S.C., and running back Jermie Calhoun (9) of Van, Texas--and defensive back Will Hill (16) of Jersey City, N.J., appeared with their teams on ESPN's series of televised high school games in September.
Pryor, whose team also appeared on ESPN, said he was pressured by the network to commit to the ESPN all-star game but opted to participate in the U.S. Army game. However, there are indications that the other four agreed to play after bowing to similar pressure from ESPN.
The U.S. Army game will feature three Chicago area products--linebacker Steve Filer of Mount Carmel, defensive end Darius Fleming of St. Rita and two-way lineman Sean Cwynar of Marian Central. There is a possibility that two others could be invited, two-way lineman Garrett Goebel of Montini and wide receiver Brandon Green of Robeson.
The ESPN game hasn't invited any players from the Chicago area.