Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Ron Franklin Out at ESPN

Today ESPN's Ron Franklin was relieved of his duties with the network following some disparaging remarks directed towards his sideline reporter, Jeannine Edwards. The comments were made within a meeting with other ESPN personnel while waiting on Florida State Head Coach, Jimbo Fisher. This wasn't the first time Franklin expressed comments towards a female sideline reporter. In 2005, Franklin had also insulted sideline reporter Holly Rowe on air late in a Notre Dame blowout of Purdue.

In 2010 Franklin, along with his football analyst of four seasons, Ed Cunningham had the opportunity to broadcast two Iowa Football games for ABC. The first was Iowa State and then later in the season at Michigan. Cunningham had been a friend of the Iowa Football program for years. I believe his first broadcast of an Iowa Football game was at Nebraska in 2000, but we started to get to know him in 2001 when he and Sean McDonough traveled to Iowa City for the Hawkeye's game with Michigan. That was the beginning of many Hawkeye games, including the 2003 Orange Bowl. Ed has always been first class and supportive of Head Coach Kirk Ferentz and his program.

But 2010 was the first time I had the opportunity to meet Franklin. Knowing of his run-in with Rowe in 2005 I was anticipating the worst. Rowe has also covered the Hawkeyes many times, the first in 1998 with Iowa State. Rowe is always personable, fair, and enjoys being a part of college football as much as we do. But my first meeting with Franklin was not what I was expecting. A humble, appreciative announcer with no arrogance--kind and respective. I thought either this isn't the Franklin I remember or it was an isolated incident. The same respect was there upon our trip to Ann Arbor. I walked into the booth minutes before kick to say hi, and both Ron and Ed expressed their appreciation that I stopped by and wished us luck in the game with the Wolverines.

The news of this past weekend is disappointing and sad. Whether it is Brett Farve or Ron Franklin you want your lasting impression of someone to be good and to exit on their own terms, not being pushed out for the wrong reasons. Franklin apologized for his comments, but the damage had been done. The football season for Ron was basically over, with only a radio commitment for the Fiesta, which he was taken off of. The news came out and Ron is done immediately. The behavior is inexcusable, but along with this incident being remembered, so should his good memories he brought college football fans.

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