Bruce Feldman is a very popular sportswriter who specializes in college football coverage. Until today, you may not have heard of him unless you follow the sport and/or are a regular visitor of ESPN.com. Now, thanks to the popular #freebruce hashtag, Bruce Feldman is now a star of the Twitter universe, and his employers are taking an absolute beating. Feldman, according to multiple reports across the sports blogosphere, has been suspended indefinitely by the Worldwide Leader for acknowledged reasons unknown.
Speculation, however, centers on a book Feldman took part in, one that told the story of Mike Leach, the former head coach of Texas Tech's football program. Leach was fired from his position for the apparent mistreatment of a player, Adam James. James' father, Craig, is a prominent, yet oft-lampooned, announcer for ESPN's college football broadcasts. After he was fired, Leach put some of the blame towards the senior James use of ESPN's reach as the story progressed played no small part in his termination. If you'd like the comprehensive background, the details are available all around the Internet, including Wikipedia.
Suffice to say, Leach, James and ESPN were no longer on each other's Christmas card list. Enter Feldman, who was commissioned to write a book from Leach's perspective, something ESPN apparently gave Feldman permission to do.
Both the SBNation's college football page and the SportsbyBrooks blog are front and center for coverage of this developing story, and the idea is Feldman was suspended for, well, taking down and organizing content from a former head coach who doesn't see eye to eye with a current ESPN employee. Furthermore, ESPN is not talking about the Bruce Feldman situation, making it appear as if the speculation concerning Feldman's apparent suspension hits the nail on the head.
Now, support for Feldman has spilled over into the Twitter world, with, as pointed out by SbB, Sports Illustrated college football scribe Stewart Mandell leading the charge:
It's safe to say Mandel is championing Feldman's cause, something the following retweets demonstrate quite well:
Don t know detalls about the sit. with Bruce Feldman but I know he has been a super asset to ESPN.com- wow rec'd lots of tweets about Bruce.
Vitale's tweet also appeared in Mandel's Twitter stream. Clearly, Mandell is quite adept at rousing the masses, because, as indicated, #freebruce is now a trending Twitter topic, and ESPN is taking a beating.
Some highlights, seeing how that's what made ESPN famous in the first place. You may notice a trend of sportswriters changing their profile pictures to Feldman's as well:
I doubt this story will make the evening SportsCenter...
While Twitter trends normally receive all kinds of responses, what's a little more unique about this one is other prominent sportswriters following Mandel's lead. People like Jason Whitlock, Greg Doyel, Andy Staples, and others. While Whitlock's issues with ESPN have been well documented, which helps explain him taking the opportunity to throw gasoline on the fire, seeing the outcry from others in Feldman's field is refreshing.
For another great look at the Feldman situation, and that part Craig James plays, or perhaps should play, check out the excellent article by perhaps the best college football blogger/writer in the business, Spencer Hall. Until then: