Today in Bias, Or: When Fans Report!

By now you've all heard that sophomore wing T.J. Taylor, after just a couple of weeks on campus, has left the Marquette basketball program for what Coach Buzz Williams termed "personal reasons." In light of (1) the haste with which Taylor left the team, (2) the fact that it's July, and (3) the somewhat-precarious state of Marquette's backcourt for the 2012-'13 season, this qualifies as relatively big news.

This qualifies as such big news, in fact, that it managed to rouse Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Enlund from his summer's nap long enough to write this article on Taylor's exit from MU.

Except that it didn't. That article, as you'll see in the byline, was penned by UW-Madison beat reporter and Professional UW House Organ Jeff Potrykus, which is odd not only because Potrykus (who lives and works in Madison) presumably doesn't have his finger on the pulse of the Marquette basketball program (we'll get more into that in a minute), but also because he's a hack.

Just so nobody misinterprets what I'm saying here: Jeff Potrykus is a hack. Not only that, he's the worst kind of hack, the kind of hack who goes home after a hard day of lobbing softballs at Bo Ryan and/or Bret Bielema ("If you were writing an article about how awesome you are, Coach, would you put three or four 'super's in front of awesome? And I have a follow up: would you italicize one or more of the 'super's?"), puts on his Bucky Badger pajammies and posts until the wee hours of the morning on various Badger message boards (no hyperbole on that last point, BTW), but nevertheless insists that he's an objective, "just the facts, ma'am" kind of journalist.

To be more precise: Jeff Potrykus is the kind of the hack who will take an oblique shot at Buzz Williams like this on the Buckyville message board, in response to a Badger fan joking about finding a stray golf ball with a Marquette logo on it on the golf course and tossing it into a creek:

I assume you had a replacement ball lined up before you realized the ball in hand would be better off with a different golfer and sent it on its way.

... and then has no apparent compunction about including wholly unrelated things like these:

However, this is not the first time a recruit has suddenly departed the program.

Guard D.J. Newbill called Marquette his dream school when he signed two years ago but in the summer of 2010 was told the scholarship offer would not be honored.

Newbill eventually signed with Southern Mississippi and later transferred to Penn State, and Marquette brought in transfer Jamil Wilson from Oregon.

Aaron Durley, who was set to join the program this season, was released from his scholarship in April. Less than a month later, Lockett announced he would transfer to Marquette.

... in a story about T.J. Taylor, a kid who, as best as can be ascertained at the moment, quit the program because he wanted to go (or at least play ball closer to) home.

I'm not going to defend what happened with Newbill and Durley, of course, because I think I've made more than clear that that kind of crap turns my stomach. What bothers me, instead, is that it's readily apparent to anyone with a modicum of sense that T.J. Taylor's situation is completely, indisputably, 1200% different than Newbill's and Durley's. Newbill and Durley never even set foot on campus. They weren't especially highly-rated recruits, and they certainly weren't expected to be major contributors in their rookie seasons. Taylor was both, especially since nobody seems to know whether Todd Mayo's going to suit up for MU this year. In short: there's no reason whatsoever to suspect, let alone suggest, that Buzz Williams yanked Taylor's scholarship.

That said: I suppose that's the level of professionalism you can expect from a guy who also includes this note in his article:

A Marquette source said Wednesday that Taylor, a native of Denison, Texas, was homesick. The source noted there were posts on Taylor's Twitter account referring to personal issues back home.

Emphasis mine.

I'm not a practicing journalist, so I don't know if the rules about calling people "sources" have changed, but I don't really understand how someone who read T.J. Taylor's Twitter feed -- indecipherable as it is -- qualifies as a "source." More to the point, though: Taylor's feed isn't protected, Jeff. If you could've spared 30 seconds, you could've checked it out for yourself, rather than going through this silly charade of calling one of Taylor's 750 Twitter followers a "source."

ANYWAY, this has all been a long way of saying: if the Journal Sentinel is in the business of letting fans of rival teams write articles like this, I have some thoughts on UW-Madison. They're poorly sourced and primarily based on my own personal belief that Bo Ryan is a 700-year-old Bulgarian vampire, but, based on what I've read today, that doesn't appear to be a problem.

The Admiral knows how to get in touch with me. Lemme know.

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