Thursday, January 21, 2010

NASCAR Team Owner Blasts TV Networks


Right in the middle of the Charlotte Media Tour, an article appeared on the official NASCAR.com website written by a longtime friend of the sport, Joe Menzer.

Veteran owner Jack Roush took this opportunity to pass along his ideas on who exactly is to blame for the sport's recent slump. His conclusion? Television, of course.

Click here to read the entire article on the NASCAR.com website.

Here are some excerpts from the Roush comments that we are going to discuss:

"We have not had the level of support from the TV studio box that the other sports have. I would hope that FOX and ESPN and everybody else (would) really think about what they are doing."

"The complaints have come from reporters and the media that has maybe a vested interest -- if you look at [announcers and former driving champions] Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace and all the ex-drivers and ex-crew chiefs that are out there. It's not unreasonable to say they've got some ax to grind over something that frustrated them in their careers when they were on the firing line. We need to reel that back in; that needs to be something that's not carried out front to the fans and to the public."


Needless to say, ESPN spokesman George McNeilly was quick to respond. His point was that ESPN hired five former Cup champs who were credible on the racetrack and are now credible providing commentary and analysis away from it.

Over at Fox Sports, a spokesman provided the following statement to TDP:

"Our on-air team is as passionate about NASCAR as any driver, owner, crew chief or fan, and our analysts speak their mind based on the immense experience and success they enjoyed during their on-track careers."

"The broadcast booth is not a pulpit, neither is it a mouthpiece, and FOX Sports respects that. It is place from which to describe the action and provide thoughtful commentary, which all fans deserve. NASCAR fans know their sport and they’ll know if a broadcaster holds back, and once you cross that line, all your credibility is gone."


The frustration over a lackluster season began to be pointed at the media last year after a relatively harmless interview of three TV personalities took on a life of its own. Reporter Dustin Long, the President of the National Motorsports Press Association, spoke to Kyle Petty, Larry McReynolds and Jimmy Spencer.

The three TV commentators spoke rather passionately about what they would like to see changed and how the sport could get back on the right track. Unfortunately, that was not the way NASCAR saw it. Within days, McReynolds was calling Long a liar and saying he should not be trusted.

Petty shrugged his shoulders and kept a low profile. He was suddenly absent from Twitter for months. Wednesday, SPEED announced that Spencer had been relieved of his duties on both NASCAR RaceDay and the post-race TV show called Victory Lane. Those two shows were his TV career for years.

Freedom of speech is never going to be affected on the Internet, but television is a very different story. There are only three sets of analysts who call the entire Sprint Cup Series season. They are hired by the television networks who hold the rights to show the races, practices and qualifying.

Roush may be a little odd at times, but he is a smart man. Only weeks before the season begins, he uses Menzer and NASCAR.com to fire a shot across the bow of the three Sprint Cup Series TV networks. He even called out Darrell Waltrip and Rusty Wallace by name.

It should be interesting to see how Fox, ESPN and SPEED react as they all begin coverage of Speedweeks. A major Cup Series owner points directly at the TV coverage as causing harm to the sport and says publicly that commentators have a personal ax to grind because of their past.

Where do you fall on this issue after watching the series all last season? To add your opinion on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated for content prior to posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

41 comments:

jmnlman said...

I've lost some respect for Roush. If NASCAR received one 10th of the criticism that the NFL, Major League Baseball or NBA faces on a daily basis they'd suffer nervous breakdowns. Much of ESPN's schedule is based around shows that slammed players, coaches and leagues. If you want to be a big player you're going to have to suck it up and deal with it.

John said...

Spencer gets his own show, Petty takes over for Jimmy. Sounds like SPEED is snubbing it's nose at Jack.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Roush never fails to speak his mind when he has a problem with NASCAR, but now he wants to reign in others? That's laughable.

And it is true that the on-air types covering NASCAR are not nearly as critical as those covering others sports.

Buschseries61 said...

Roush doesn't suprise me. He is very quick to point the finger when things don't go his way, and pout about it. (5 car rule, pouting about Toyota entering the sport, missing part controversy with MWR, etc.) His comments should be taken with a grain of salt.

Freedom of speech is a necesity. Broadcast personalities should not be punished or silenced for speaking against the sport. I constantly see NFL & NHL announcers questioning calls & decisions the sanctioning body makes. They are not silenced.

This is what is killing the sport. There is little fun, open personalities. Everyone is afraid to speak their mind and must be politically correct.

Vicky D said...

Well what we saw during the Chase was JJ driving around and around, I guess that's what Jack saw also. I liked Jack's comments.

Darcie said...

Whenever I watch shows like First Take or even segments on Sportscenter, all I see is any number of people criticizing whatever sport they're talking about. Even in print media, you see writers blasting the likes of Bud Selig and questioning the integrity of baseball, Roger Goodell being taken to task for his decisions such as trying to make the NFL a global operation, and David Stern is always being bashed, but you never hear that those who are doing the bashing losing their jobs. Why is it only in Nascar that whenever anyone speaks their mind that they lose their job or are at least sent to Nascar prison? I've heard broadcasters, many of whom are former players, rip into the their sport without so much as a blink from anyone. So why is Nascar so insular? Are they afraid if anyone knows the entire truth about the sport, Nascar would be destroyed?

What is Nascar hiding that they have to silence their critics?

While I'm not a fan of Jimmy Spencer, and I used to respect Larry Mac and Kyle Petty until they had their heads put on the block and backtracked on their comments. I thought what they said was a breath of fresh air and the first time anyone had the cojones to speak the truth. I think most of us agreed that the problems with the sport are not the fault of TV, but Nascar needed a whipping boy and the networks and their employees were the best option.

As for Jack Roush, he's living in a fantasy. The networks are not the reason why the sport is flailng. The networks can only do so much with what they're given, and that's what I kept saying all last season. Sure, there were problems with ESPN's bad broadcasts, but when you're working with a sub-par product, you do what you can.

To Mr Roush, wake up, sir and realize your sport is stinking up the place. If you want to blame something, blame the idiots who developed the COT, the imbiciles who insist on keeping the Chase---the thing that is the single reason why fans are subjected to seeing nothing but cars driving in a straight line in order to rack up points, rules being changed on a week by week basis, stupid things like the Top 35 rule, boring tracks and even more boring drivers who are whitewashed into robots with absolutely no personality. Those are the things that are destroying Nascar, and not the TV broadcasts.

Mr Roush, look in your own mirror, and the giant Nascar mirror to see what's wrong with your sport. And believe me, it's not the TV networks who are at fault.

Newracefan said...

I am by no means saying that Nascar's TV coverage was perfect, there are flaws but...... (anyone who frequents this site is well aware). I really am no fan of Jack Roush and this didn't help. Dude worry about making your teams more competitive and stop being an a.. I wonder if he'll get his hand slapped like Larry Mac, I'm thinking not but he might want to be careful about biting the hand that feeds him. Oh by th way when's the last time he watched a cup race on TV anyway, not to mention won't he be listening with a biased perspective?

Newracefan said...

Another point Rick Hendrick is footing the bill for twice a day flights to Haiti. Resources in orphaned and injured out and Jack's bitching about TV. Just sayin.....

Matt said...

I wish everyone would stop insulting our intelligence. We have eyes and ears. We have brains too. We don't have to be told what to think. We can see what's in front of us. If the sky is blue and you tell us its pink, we aren't going to agree just because you say it. It's time NASCAR and it's teams get off the media's backs or they won't have a media to promote their sponsors with.

Haus14 said...

I can hear David Hill now... "Tough!"

Richard in N.C. said...

Sounds to me like Jack Roush settling a score. The on-air talent on all 3 networks are far more honest and unbiased than a substantial part of what is or was the print media - but the print media almost always gives Roush a pass and reports what he says as virtual gospel. Despite facts to the contrary, the print media reported Roush's "warning" about the coming Toyota menace as if Moses brought it down from the mount.

Anonymous said...

MR.Roush often offers critcism while never offering any alternative.M.Waltrip(whom some say is a NASCAR mouthpiece)often criticies ,but offers alteratives.

Photojosh said...

"So there is no complaint from the fans regarding competition"

Hmmmm, I don't know about that Jack. Perhaps you need to spend some time with real everyday fans.

I will say that guys like Jack keep the sport interesting. NASCAR would be worse without him.

Matt TSB said...

Roush seems to be under the same same mistaken belief as many who make their living in Nascar and a good number of fans; that the media "Partners" are supposed to be Nascar's PR department.

Sally said...

Once again, someone assumes that Nascar fans are too stupid to form their own opinions, and stare blankly at the TV, listening to the announcers and/or Nascar, taking what is said as gospel. That attitude is the very reason Nascar finds itself in the situation of having so many empty seats and falling ratings. We all know that the changes Nascar is making for the upcoming season have little to do with 'what the fans want', and more to do with the slimming of the Nascar wallet. It seems to me that the comments from the media are more that they are reflecting the attitude of the fans, rather than forming that opinion. But, like Nascar, it's always easier to blame someone else than take that long, hard look at yourslef.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree with Rousch to a point. He is right that there are lots of conflicts of interest with the current announcer. They own teams, they have family member that are participants, they have old axes to grind and they have strong ties to many in the garage. Unfortunately that's the way it is and there are very few qualified candidates (if any) that could step into that role with any credibility.
It's just something we have to live with (like death and taxes).

Anonymous said...

I think anon 7:12 has a point--there are probably things behind the scenes that we as fans are not aware of; and we have discussed the 'bias' thing many times. I have, at times, rooted for Roush teams so I've heard him spout off his opinions many times. He's just a crumudgeon. But I do think there needs to be a balance on TV. I want the analysts to be critical when they needs to be, but they also need to show some enthusiasm for things that happen (and not just wrecks.) That is what I personally liked about TNT's coverage; they actually seemed to enjoy what they were watching. And the networks focusing endlessly on certain teams doesn't help (and at times, those teams included Roush's.) I find myself wondering if the sponsors feel the negative vibe as well. Not saying I want them to show it through rose-colored glasses, but they do need to bring some energy (which we hope will improve this season. I think Waltrip (at his best) does this well, as does Joy. ESPN not so much, at least, in the past.

The best thing I read today was no more Spencer on Raceday. Thank goodness.

JohnP said...

Listing to Jack Roush complain is like listing to a kid cry. He complaned that Ray Everham had a "secret indegrediant" that Everham was putting inside Gordon's tires back in the 90's when Hendrick kicks Roush's butt. Almost got in a fight over it on tv.

The point I'm trying to make, He complains about EVERYTHING that does not go his way.

He ought to look at Nascar itself. Yes Jack, the big dogs in the room. Yes, the media broadcasters are to blame. Some. As others I got sick and tired of Jimmy Time on my TV.

But Nascar is ultimatly to blame. They Hired the broadcasters. And if Nascar didn't put some kind of control factor into their contract with the broadcasters Nascar is nuts. The buck stops with them. Hell, Who knew when a race would even start in 2008 or 2009?? Had to go to the internet every Sunday to find out. Yes, that's fixed for this season. Good. But it's like shutting the barn door after the animals are already gone. No, not compairing Nascar fans to animals. We are the most inspired fans in sports I think. But, a lot of us follow the NFL also. So look out Nascar.

Not many of my NFL friends follow Nascar, but ALL my Nascar friends follow the NFL.

Be warned Nascar. Straighten YOUR broadcasters out, or pull the contracts due to broadcasting negligence. It's the same as medical negligence that we all know about. It's called "non-performance"

At the end of the day it's up to Nascar, Jack. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that Mr. Roush is an important part of the nascar drama, however, as a 40 year racing fan and a former racer the thing racing needs most is people who can speak to controversy and tell it like it is, more jimmy spencer, larry mac, and kyle petty and the less Waltrip Bros. Michael the official alls well with nascar Waltrip ,DW boogity boggity boogity did I tell u how great i was,and my favorite Kenny Wallace the living proof that one does not need a substantial IQ to be a tv personality.

50 yr. fan said...

The comments made by the FOX
spokesman sounded good, but they
should reign in the announcers when
they start they turn into shills
and parrots for their own causes/affiliations. The fans
are quick to recognize this and
all credence is gone.

dawg said...

I guess The Rat in the Hat, want's "homies" in the booth like the Baseball teams have. Just another insult for the fans. We won't know it sucks, if someone doesn't tell us. Yeah right.

MRM4 said...

Has Jack Roush actually watched any of the TV broadcasts? I wouldn't say that any of the broadcasters are using TV to vent their frustrations or blast NASCAR. I actually think they are right down the middle. Now, some of them can be accused of self-promoting themselves (DW store, etc.).

I think the biggest problem with television right now is how they present the races. With ESPN, it's all about the Chase. Nothing else matters. For TNT, they are saddled with some of the worst races on the schedule. And for Fox, it's about self-promotion as much as it is presenting the races. I think that's where Roush needs to point his fingers.

JohnP said...

@annon 8:56

Crumudgeon.. LMAO.. Had to look that one up.. But it fits, great word.. Lol..

GinaV24 said...

Obviously Jack Roush doesn't read the comments on this site. If he did, he'd KNOW that there were a lot of fans who were unhappy with the racing, as well as the TV coverage.

This guy ALWAYS whines about something. What a sourpuss.

I've been fortunate (or unfortunate in some cases) to attend some races and see in person how the racing is, not just what I see on TV. And yes, there have been more than a few times when I've wished there was a place at the track where I could lay down and take a nap, too. I froze my butt off at Charlotte in the fall sitting in a cold drizzle while Bruton Smith's kid wasted a ridiculous amount of time "saluting the fans" instead of getting on with the race.

Does the TV coverage of NASCAR need to improve across all the networks? Yes, absolutely. But saying it is there fault that the racing is boring is stupid. Nope, that fault lies directly on NASCAR -- they are the ones who made the decisions to put in the POS car that was ugly and unraceable; they are the ones who have made the races into the IROC series; they are the ones who put in the "chase" (ugh) so that instead of racing for wins, the drivers point race for the first 26 races.

I'd much prefer if the broadcasters actually talked about reality on the track, called the race as it is and didn't talk about points through the entire race. Oh and actually be HONEST about things, not live in fear of NASCAR pulling their hard card for saying something that Brainless and Helton deem "detrimental to racing". Geez, Jack, get a grip, instead of griping.

Anonymous said...

I've never liked Roush, but after hearing the news about another year of MW on TV, I'll take Roush at his worst.

Anonymous said...

Roush is not completely off base as he did point out 2 big problems with NASCAR TV coverage. By mentioning Rusty and DW by name, he did point out the two weakest people. They both struggle with professional delivery, they both blatantly push their own agendas, DW being much worse than Rusty.They are miles away from the complete on air objectivity that viewers like and should be given. So yes I believe many of us get tired of the cheer leading schilling for their own agendas.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Kill the messenger, much? One person’s freedom of speech is another’s whining. Roush is no hero to me but he brings up a good point which seems to have been missed by most of the posters here. (Hmmm, could it be their own personal agendas as non-Roush, non-COT, non-Chase fans?)

As one can see by CAREFULLY reading his (unfortunately not included in this article but to which it is linked) statements, Roush is talking about the denigration of the sport by television’s commentators as uncompetitive.

Anybody with any notion of the history of this sport and the ability to compare it with other forms of automobile racing statistically, will acknowledge that NASCAR is the most competitive it has ever been. Good Old Days be damned!

When I hear commentators continuously insisting DURING the telecast that the racing we are watching at that moment at Talladega is boring because the drivers have decided that the relatively conservative approach of drafting each other will get them further than taking the risk of pulling up next to their opponents, I get livid.

Trust me on this, there is nothing boring about trying to maintain a constant distance behind another car at 190 mph with yet another car nestled up within inches of your rear bumper, with twenty cars doing the same things behind them. One slip by anybody and alot of people are history.

Try it with your spouse and your other family car in an empty parking lot at 10 mph! I guarantee you’ll be tapping the brake pedal like you were afflicted with cerebral palsy!

The negative comments are a lack of respect for what is actually happening out there, borne out of maybe familiarity or something else more self-serving, as Mr. Roush suggests.

And whether the posters of this column want to admit it or not, they become attached (or actively unattached) to these personalities and are swayed by their opinions and the constant repetition of them, just as they are swayed by other commentators in other forms of media, sports or otherwise.

I wouldn’t feel poorly about steroids in baseball except that I was told I should.

The debate about health care is a perfect example. Commentators tell us we should shout down the opponents of our particular point of view, so we do, even if it is counter-productive to understanding and participating in the process of improvement.

But I digress. As Mr. Roush states, racing is as competitive as it has ever been and that is borne out statistically. It is also better covered by television and other media than ever before. When those commentators repeat broadcast after broadcast that the COT has to be fixed, we believe them because they are experts. There are few scientific facts to which they can point. When the commentators say the racing is boring we believe them because they are experts. No matter that they may be jaded having watched racing all their lives. No matter that they may be tired of being at the race track and want to just get it over with and get home.

It is lazy reportage. The commentators should be finding the exciting elements of what they are seeing, then educate and report on those elements of that particular event. There is enough depth in what is required in this sport that they wouldn’t have to worry about repeating themselves for many, many broadcasts.

Mr. Roush thanks for risking your reputation and using your own freedom of speech to take what may be an unpopular position against unreasoned points of view. Now get back to work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jack that Rusty, DW and others at time do not act professionally and definitely are conflicted to the point of annoyance. I personally believe Rusty lacks broadcast talent--to the point that I mute or skip his bloviating. The sport was more fun before the big money times. We have also become a generation of whiners and complainers. It's stock car racing -- its entertainment. Be entertained or watch something else.

Anonymous said...

I don't know how many of you have old tapes of races. I still have several and watch them from time to time and most of the old races really were less competitive than today. Don't count the ESPN classic races as they tend to be some of the better old races. Society has changed so much, expectations so much higher that people have little patience for a less than exciting race in today's world. The one thing about the old time racing I really miss is the credibility of the broadcasts. NO rooting for Toyota's in the booth, No DW store schilling, etc. Ned and Buddy were not finely polished but they sure were credible and understood what fans wanted to hear. ( don't cite the one time NED was told to root for Dale at Daytona, that was a one time deal) That's the difference I see clearly today, and it bothers me a lot. I also hate a TV person telling me,screaming on air how exciting a situation is when I know it is nowhere near that exciting.

Martin Vincent said...

@Anon 2:24pm

The one thing about the old time racing I really miss is the credibility of the broadcasts. NO rooting for Toyota's in the booth, No DW store schilling, etc. Ned and Buddy were not finely polished but they sure were credible and understood what fans wanted to hear.

To those who enjoyed TNT's 6-race run last summer, you don't have the turn the clock back so many years to see the same kind of coverage. NBC/TNT's coverage in 2003 was very good (in my opinion) compared to today's Fox and ESPN broadcasts. With Bestwick, Dallenbach and Parsons in the booth, races were a lot more enjoyable than the product we see today. Pre-2001 ESPN broadcasts were also a great yardstick that today's networks should try to bring back to the fans.

I've never liked Fox's broadcasts and their idea that they are the show rather than the racing itself. Chris Myers should really stop reading the script they put in front of him, it makes him look like a total idiot who hasn't made any progress in 9 years of hosting the "show".

I'm really enjoying watching races from 7+ years ago, in case you haven't guessed yet.

Anonymous said...

Jack your an idiot, the problem is with the media, although I personally think the media types are jokes for the most part they just cover the sport for the free perks. But all you're really trying to do is avoid the questions of why your team went from very succesful to basically also rans for most of the 2009 season.
You should really worry more about fixing your own program than whats wrong with the media. I know Matt,Carl,Greg,and david would appreciate it.

Anonymous said...

@Darcie, Ferrari-F1's di Montezemolo, in December, suggested that maybe the F1 races were too long & should be shorter, (they are 2 hours). I wonder what he would think of a Pocono 500 marathon? Back to F1...can you imagine them with a Chase? Nope. They would become a laughing stock. Ditto for other race series. If it were such a good idea, other series would have picked it up by now. If Chad & JJ are so good they can win with or without the Chase. If Nascar keeps the Chase & JJ wins again there will be louder murmurs of credibilitiy & WWE...& nothing will stave off the exodus from Nascar. I hope that Chad does take another offer from another team for next year. Nascar needs that to even out the playing field. Marybeth

ric said...

nascar problem is they interview the same drivers all the time .during the race they show the same cars also .would you put up 20 millon for a race car and not be shown on tv .during a 4hr race at least show every car once or twice.all nascar fans doesn/t pull for tv and nascar favorit drivers

Darcie said...

Marybeth, you have great points. Can you imagine the yelling and screaming if F1 went to a Chase format? No freakin' way. And I've said from the beginning, despite what the good old boys club of retired drivers have said, JJ winning four in a row is NOT good for the sport. Add to that the total dominance of Hendrick teams/cars, it's just not fun being a Nascar fan anymore.

I'm personally sick and tired of the rah-rahing we hear from the likes of Hammond, Spencer, Wallace et.al. They just keep singing a happy tune, refusing to tell it like it is---that Nascar is in trouble, and things like the Chase and Hendrick dominance are most of the reasons why. It's just sad that a great sport is being ruined by Brian France and his cohorts. And, BTW, the sport is not being ruined by the networks--they just show what they're being given.

Mike said...

I'm not the biggest fan of Jack Roush but I tend to agree with him on this. When the racing is boring I just deal with it,when the TV coverage is bad I get mad. I yell at the TV when they switch cameras away from a pass or accident to show someone riding by themselves or go to a commercial. I grew up a D.W. fan and hated Rusty but but now I can't stand DW and Larry Mac but Rusty really doesn't bother me that much. I have noticed that I really watch the foxtrax and follow the ESPN chat and the TDP chat more than I watch the TV but during the TNT races I actually watched the TV and a little bit of race buddy mostly during the commercials and pit stops. JD do you notice more traffic on the web site during some of the networks than others?

AndyPandy said...

If I had any respect for Jack Roush's opinions, I wouldn't after this. However, I don't, so it didn't change a thing!

Anonymous said...

To Newracefan at 10:24 pm

Yes, Rick Hendrick is a saint.

On the other hand, Jack Roush never had a felony conviction for mail fraud. That was in connection with bribery of Honda officials to the benefit of Hendrick's auto business. And Jack Roush never had a friend buy a presidential pardon for a $500,000 donation to the presidential foundation in the last days of the Clinton administration.

I am amazed at the animonsity Roush critics express any time he speaks up. He expressed some of the same views I have expressed regarding the lack of objectivity and blatant conflict of interest of numerous announcers. NASCAR's broadcast partners don't even seem to consider this an issue anymore.

I don't look for heroes or idols among public figures, particularly NASCAR owners or broadcasters. But if I did, I would choose Roush, Childress, Penske, or some of the smaller names. I'll leave the plaster saints of Gibbs and Hendrick to others. I have no tolerance for hypocrisy.

Chris from NY said...

Finally, someone IN the sport actually gets it. Agreed w/ Cat in the Hat. The networks NEED to know what kind of a job they are doing.

Richard in N.C. said...

I guess it is just a coincidence that Roush's negative comments about DW and Rusty came a couple of days after Roush and Rusty were inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame.

Jonathan said...

I hate to say it people but you all need to relax! God you make it sound like are sport is done for, your all nuts thats all I have to say! I agree with Mr. Roush 100%. I've been a big fan sine 2004 and I go back to some of the older tapes i have including up to the first COT race from Bristol in 2007 and the coverage up until then was off the charts. We had excitment in the booth, great camera work including the DLP CAM (what happened to that???) you watch any broadcast compared to one say from 2005 or 2006 may it be fox, tnt, or nbc to espn,compare it to race from 08 or 09 the coverage from the networks have gone backwords way way way backwords..... The racing might of gone down some when the COT was ran the first 2 years but this year the racing was getting much better its just the tv coverage didnt show the product on the track only what they wanted you to see. Im sorry but no other stick or ball sport including the all mighty NFL come close to a Nascar race plain and simple. I wanna throw my tv out the window during these playoffs they suck! i can not wait for the 6th of Febuary I think I will cry that saturday night I will be so happy! You all should stop complaining so much and be thankful for what we have! Nascar will be just fine and will have come out much stronger because of this crazy economy

Anonymous said...

I always thought the wrong Sprint Cup owner got into the wine business.

Roush has made the best "whines" since he got into motorsports.

Man I wish someone would cram that stupid hat in his mouth and shut him up. Then again, his recent team's performances on the track certainly have silenced him lately.