Adventures in Atrocious Mainstream Media Sports Writing: Dennis Dodd Edition

This is part one of two, taking some swipes at CBSSports.com blogger/"reporter" Dennis Dodd. The second installment will look at Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Meet Dennis Dodd, one of the national types that fancies himself as a national college basketball writer of the first order. He has a blog for CBSSports.com after all, which means he's important. But just because you have a national audience and you're writing a blog instead of a traditional column, doesn't mean that a mainstream media outlet should ever print the type of cockamamie crap Dodd put out hours before the Gophers were set to play Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Dodd reported that Tubby Smith was ready to jet to Auburn to become the Tigers' new coach. This from Dodd.

I reported Thursday night that Auburn is "close" to hiring Tubby Smith as its new basketball coach. That's according to a source close to the situation.

That sounds imminent, right? Sounds like it's a done deal? I mean, Dodd wrote that it's "close," so it must be, according to his one source. Note the one source thing. Dodd wrote "a source," suggesting one source. I thought mainstream media outlets waited to get two sources on things like that? Guess Dodd doesn't apply because he writes for a mainstream media blog. But it gets better. Dodd continues talking about this deal that's "close."

It could be nothing. ...

Oh, really? A deal that is "close" one sentence later "could be nothing."

Dodd and his editors at CBS should be absolutely ashamed they printed this garbage. You don't take one source--with unknown motivations--hours before the NCAA Tournament begins and start a rumor that could impact the outcome of a game. Who knows how college kids are going to react to a story that reports a deal is "close," even if that same story contradicts that two sentences later? And who knows what interests would want to plant a story like that. Could the "source" have been motivated to distract Minnesota players? Could the "source" have been motivated to derail Tubby Smith's recruiting at Minnesota? Could the "source" have been working on Auburn's behalf to gauge fan-base interest in Tubby Smith as the Tigers' coach? I have a feeling Dennis Dodd was used and manipulated here.

I have another question for Dodd. Did he try and contact Coach Smith? It would make sense for University of Minnesota spokespersons to decline comment, but was Coach Smith contacted? Because after the game against Xavier, Tubby declared he's intent on staying in Minnesota. Dodd didn't seem interested in updating his blog with that news. Perhaps that's because Dodd was more interested in becoming the news, by presenting a one-source fake scoop and having his name thrown about on national television.

The only thing that can vindicate Dodd in my mind now is if Smith does indeed head to Auburn. If Smith stays put, I'm never reading Dodd again and would hope the CBSSports.com editors revisit their standards for reporting one-source rumors on blogs.

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