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Sports media: 'College GameDay' feature on Tua Tagovailoa may have had some viewers cringing

You’d think a seasonlong media narrative about Heisman Trophy candidate Tua Tagovailoa might reach a point where nothing new could be revealed about him.

By the way, did you know the Alabama sophomore quarterback isn’t a natural left-handed passer? During CBS’ coverage of the Alabama-Auburn college football game over Thanksgiving weekend, Jamie Erdahl reported that Tagovailoa does everything right-handed, except throw a football.

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“He even kicks a soccer ball right-handed,” she said.

Tagovailoa has not had a defining Heisman moment while passing for 3,353 yards and 37 touchdowns during No. 1 Alabama’s 13-0 march. But ESPN provided a cringe-worthy moment on the last major Saturday of the season.

A four-minute feature on Tagovailoa before the Southeastern Conference title game on “College GameDay” gave reporter Tom Rinaldi a somewhat disturbing entry point to a fresh take. Afterward, a tone-deaf GameDay studio panel came off as treating the idea of corporal punishment — or potential child abuse —as lighthearted as a right-handed soccer kick.

Tagovailoa dealt “with a lot of pressure,” he said in the report. “If I don’t perform well, perform the way I’m supposed to, I’m gonna get it after.”

Rinaldi interjected with an odd grin, like NBC “Dateline” host Keith Morrison might do: “When you say ‘I’m gonna get it,’ just be clear what you mean there, Tua.”

The 20-year-old continued: “Oh, well … just know the belt was involved and other things were involved as well. It’s almost the same as school. If I don’t get this grade, I don’t get this grade, I’m going to have to suffer the consequences.”

Tagovailoa’s father, Galu, chuckled when asked about his “simple” philosophy of discipline: “I was tough. [Tua] could go 15 for 15 with four touchdowns, but when he throws a pick, it’s the worst game.”

Tagovailoa’s mother, Diane, reiterated this was a belief in “the Bible and the belt.”

Instead of throwing crimson flags, ESPN followed the theme that the discipline was all part of Hawaiian culture, or “ohana” (family). When it was time for the GameDay crew to comment, Desmond Howard referred to Galu Tagovailoa as “the Hawaiian version of Joe Jackson.” That drew snickers from Howard’s cohorts, Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso. Howard’s reference was to the late patriarch of the musical group Jackson 5 , and how he infamously punished his children, as Michael Jackson would reveal, with belt beatings and other abusive measures.

ESPN’s next live shot at talking to Tagovailoa and his parents could be Saturday from the Heisman Trophy ceremony in New York. Meanwhile, the piece remains up, unapologetically, on ESPN’s website.

Kliff diving

Depending on your news source of choice, Kliff Kingsbury is a) pondering a deadline offer to join Clay Helton’s USC staff as an offensive coordinator; b) has already been hired as the Trojans’ new offensive coordinator; c) is leaning toward teaming up with Rams head coach Sean McVay; d) opened a Christmas tree lot in Yorba Linda awaiting paperwork from his agent on the Green Bay Packers’ new head coaching job.

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Warning: if it comes up on a website couched with the headline “Report: Blah, blah, blah,” you’ve been resubmerged in a modern-day journalism burst to be first, which usually leads to worst.

The next landing spot for the former Texas Tech head football coach is to be determined. But in trying to determine credible reporting, we occasionally come out coughing and wheezing from the viral mushroom cloud of confusion.

Last Thursday, USCFootball.com/247sports.com had the headline: “USC set to hire Kliff Kingsbury as OC.” It updated it with “now conflicting reports” to cite The Athletic as saying “no concrete decision has been made.”

Too late. The Big Lead already amplified the signing/non-signing.

Too many shoot-ready-aim websites exist simply to mine the Internet for key words, aggregate them into some form of an out-of-context inaccuracy, then post something without a fact check to get a Google search in motion. Mistakes are overlooked. Keep moving.

In the breakneck pace to break news, more is done to break down the credibility of the news-gathering business.

Remote notes …

The Pac-12 Network could use more subscribers, and fewer PR blunders, but it will remarkably shrink its base even more. AT&T’s U-verse dropped the conference network’s bundle of channels as of Sunday, having waited out negotiations to extend until the end of the football season. The decision came as no surprise in that AT&T recently became the parent company of DirecTV, which has refused to pick up the network since its 2012 launch …

The Lakers’ LeBron James-infused Spectrum SportsNet games this season have seen increases of 30% in household ratings (2.53 vs. 1.94), 31% in the 25-to-54 age demo (1.45 vs. 1.11) and 31% in average viewers per game (204,407 vs. 156,531) compared to the network’s first 23 games of the 2017-18 season. Spectrum SportsNet has had even more side-by-side broadcasts with ESPN thus far than last season. One of them was James’ return to Cleveland on Nov. 21, which was ESPN’s highest-rated NBA regular-season game since 2016. SportsNet also had percentage increases for the team’s “Lakeshow” and “Backstage” programming …

Showtime will replay for the Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury heavyweight pay-per-view match on Saturday at 9 p.m., including a show called “All Access: Wilder Vs. Fury Epilogue” that captured footage during and after the live event.

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