South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner is miffed, and the SEC Network, which still is 10 months away from launch, may have its first headache.
Tanner believes ESPN analyst Paul Finebaum crossed the line this week by referring to Gamecocks defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as “the biggest joke in college football” after Clowney sat out last week against Kentucky due to a rib injury.
“It was really a hateful comment,” Tanner told The State at halftime of Saturday’s game against Arkansas. “It was inappropriate. It was unprofessional, and it was unnecessary. I don’t know how you make any kind of comment about a student-athlete along those lines.”
Finebaum, a longtime SEC commentator who recently was hired by ESPN, will be a major part of the SEC Network’s programming when the network debuts in August, 2014. At the moment, that thought is not appealing to Tanner.
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“My understanding is he will be a part of the network going forward, and there are 13 other ADs in the SEC, and I am not so sure they feel much differently than I feel about the situation,” Tanner said. “Analyze, investigate, speculate. I understand that from the media, but to call out a student-athlete in the fashion he did is inappropriate.”
Tanner will communicate his frustration with SEC commissioner Mike Slive, he said.
“I will absolutely tell them how I feel, and I think they probably know at this point,” Tanner said, adding, “His comments were not on the SEC Network. That network doesn’t exist yet.”
Of Finebaum, Tanner said, “I know he doesn’t care what I have to say, and I don’t really care what he has to say.”
Tanner first raised his concerns on the team’s pregame radio broadcast.
“Coach (Steve) Spurrier made his comments. Jadeveon visited with the press this week. Coach Spurrier visited with the press. It was all well documented, and then we have Paul Finebaum who says he is the biggest joke in college football?” Tanner said. “To me, that wasn’t merited. I felt compelled to defend our student-athlete.”