It was a good football season for Michigan State and a bad one for Michigan, but both Spartans and Wolverines fans can likely agree that no one in this state wanted to see Matt Millen in the booth to call one of their team's games. (Here at SB Nation Detroit -- and at Pride of Detroit -- Sean Yuille ranted on the subject a number of times.)â†µ
Yet ABC/ESPN seemed almost defiant in assigning Millen to a broadcast, provoking outrage among fans who don't want to be reminded of how he ran the Detroit Lions into the ground as the worst general manager in the history of sports. Many people wanted to know why the network would assign such a universally loathed figure to regional broadcasts.â†µ
In his latest "Media Circus" column for SI.com, Richard Deitsch was able to speak with ESPN executive vice president Norby Williamson on some topics readers have frequently written in about. The Millen issue was one of them. As you might expect, Williamson defends the decision. Here's an excerpt of his answer:â†µ
"[...] we are doing a regional and sometimes national telecast and I have to put the best people on the best games to get the best dissection of analysis and perspective on those games. That's my job. My job is not to aggravate any fan bases. Ultimately, you have to look at the bigger decision. You put the best people in the best opportunity to succeed. I don't really get [the] Michigan football connection with Matt. I get the Lions. But I get that it's clearly an issue among some fans in that area. The extent of the issue is the question."â†µ
Go over to SI.com for the complete answer, in which Williamson attempts to portray some ignorance as to why Millen would be so unpopular among college football fans in the state of Michigan. Okay, fine - the No. 2 or 3 crew gets assigned to a particular game. We get that.â†µ
But is the fan outrage really that difficult to figure out? Is he really not aware that Detroit fans who follow the Lions also root for Michigan and Michigan State? Come on, Norby.