For 17 years, college football fans heard from ESPN analyst Bruce Feldman every week during the season. After the advent of Twitter, they heard from him almost non-stop. Among the most respected and widely-read journalists in the country, Feldman has been as much a part of the college football season as fight songs and rivalry games. This is why it didn't go unnoticed by his fans or his colleagues when he was unusually silent during the summer.
Until this morning, the last tweet from Feldman's account had come on July 13. Up until that short missive on an injury to a defensive tackle at Georgia, Feldman had been prolific on Twitter. But then the torrent of information and analysis stopped.
Shortly after Feldman's silence began, the rumors were spreading, catalyzed by a post on SportsByBrooks, that he'd been suspended by the brass at the Worldwide Leader for his involvement in Swing Your Sword, a book that Feldman co-authored with Texas Tech coach Mike Leach with the permission of his employers in Bristol.
With the wider world convinced that he'd been gagged by ESPN, Feldman became the No. 4 trending term on Twitter and was the benefit of what Richard Sandomir of The New York Times described as "a wild geyser of pro-Feldmanism."
ESPN denied suspending Feldman, but the silence continued and #freebruce took on a life of its own. The drama ended today when Feldman returned to Twitter with a major announcement:
After 17 yrs, I'm leaving ESPN. I'm excited to announce I've joined @cbssports. My first day is today.
Breaking his silence, Feldman appeared on Dan Patrick's radio show. Feldman began his spot by saying, "It's been a crazy six weeks." He then went on to explain in detail his departure from the Worldwide Leader, or the "Mothership" as Patrick referred to the network.
Speaking with SI.com today, Feldman recalled being "literally the first hire on what became ESPN.com" and then talked at length about how he lost his trust in his employers and the way in which they turned on him.
"Let's put it this way, I was told not to blog, not to tweet, not to do any radio interviews," he said to SI.com. "When I asked on that conference call [with ESPN officials], which was on a Thursday, about being scheduled to cover the SEC media kickoff in Alabama a week from then, I was told, 'No, you can't go.' The day after the conference call, when ESPN was claiming that there was no suspension, Chad Millman, the editor-in-chief of ESPN The Magazine, actually added more restrictions. He was stopping me from being able to do my job.
Although his relationships with his previous bosses appear irreparably harmed, CBS couldn't be happier to have added such a respected veteran to their team. In his new gig with CBS, Feldman will appear across CBS platforms in various pregame and postgame shows.
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"There aren't too many writers covering college football with the experience and talent of Bruce Feldman and we're thrilled to have him join the team at CBSSports.com," said Jason Kint, Senior Vice President and General Manager, CBSSports.com in a press release issued to announce Feldman's hiring.