Gregg Doyel, CBS Sports Ain’t Wright

CBS Sports and Gregg Doyel apparently have no need for facts. Doyel raises a serious insinuation about the veracity of Georgetown’s report, and Chris Wright’s confirmation, that he will return for the NCAA tournament. Doyel first raises an eyebrow about the inconsistency between Syracuse’s report last year that Arinze Onuaku would return from a knee injury for the 2010 tournament and Onuaku’s eventual non-return. Then, Doyel suggests that Syracuse’s report may have been a lie to retain the favorable seeding it would have had with Onuaku in the line-up, and not, for example, a mere set-back in an undoubtedly complex and uncertain rehab. He then takes a greater leap to connect the Orange’s supposed misdeeds to the current injury status of a star of Syracuse’s arch-rival. Doyel suggests, insinuates, and all but says that Georgetown is doing the same this year, trumping up Wright’s recovery from a broken bone in his hand in an effort to get a better seed. Nary a medical report, quotation from a medical expert, or consultation with anyone at Georgetown smudge Doyel’s unvarnished speculation. What’s worse, CBSSports.com saw fit to post Doyel’s “analysis,” along with a prominent photograph of JTIII next to Wright, on its homepage. (What’s double-worse, Doyel links Georgetown with the spawn of Hades, Syracuse, as bed-fellows in a pair of purported misrepresentations.)

Doyel’s statement that he “hopes it isn’t a lie” is little more than an under-handed way of generating unfounded rumors. If Doyel’s piece, and CBS Sports’ ostensible endorsement of it, are merely entertainment, then they’re both short-sighted and bizarre: how does a prominent sponsor and beneficiary of the tournament benefit from questioning the honesty of one of its participants? If the piece is supposed to be journalism, it fails on its face: Doyel cites no factual support for his speculation. If he has no support, he should attempt to find some by, say, interviewing JTIII or just calling the press office at Georgetown. If he’s unable to land an interview–perhaps because he’s posted a hypothesis without any reference to any support, or perhaps because the Hoyas are busy preparing for Friday’s two possible opponents–he should say as much.

Had Doyel done even a modicum of research, here’s what he would have discovered. On February 23, Wright was injured in Georgetown’s home-court loss to Cincinnati. The next day, Wright had surgery to repair a broken bone in his hand. Also on February 24, JTIII stated, “Our medical staff is optimistic, and although we do not have an exact timetable, we expect to have Chris back before the end of the season.” Eight days later, on March 4, Ronny Thompson tweeted that Chris Wright shot jumpers that day and the day before, while Tarik El-Bashir followed up that “G Chris Wright’s recovery from a broken left hand is progressing as expected, JTIII told me. No change to time frame for return.” Four days later, on March 8, El-Bashir again turned to Twitter, this time to report that, “JTIII all but ruled out Wright for the BE tournament. Said the expectation is that the Hoyas will get their PG back for NCAAs.” Four days after that, on March 12, the above-linked story surfaced that Wright, consistent with all previous reports, suggestions, and inferences, would be back in time for the NCAA Tournament. On March 13, that story was confirmed, also as linked above, by Wright himself.

Maybe JTIII has pulled in his brother, an industrious reporter from a nationally renowned publication, and Wright himself in an effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the national press and, in turn, the NCAA selection committee, all in an effort to gain a small bump in seeding. Or maybe the consistent message in the three weeks since Wright’s injury–that he’d be back before the end of the season–is the truth.

Without reference to any of the factual foundation laid out above, Doyel impugns a program, a coach, and a player unconnected to dishonest conduct generally or the misrepresentations that he insinuates more specifically. Or previously unconnected, at least. If Doyel can’t be bothered to pick up the phone, run a few online searches, or engage in other basic forms of journalism, he should keep his tin-foil-hat theories to himself, and CBS should stop sanctioning his malicious foolishness.

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