With Ari Fleischer on the college football payroll, the team never has to wait long for the next round of negative comments. They have an advertising consultant who specializes in generating negative publicity. Exactly the opposite of what you want.
Fleischer’s appearance as an official at the Saudi-backed LIV Golf press conference on Tuesday was just the latest emotional moment for a man who has never failed to work with the PSC. He also appeared regularly as a political commentator on Fox News, causing some concern for the college athletics organization that tries to remain apolitical. Then there’s almost everything he touched on in his role as a college football advocate.
Fleischer was part of a doomed PR effort to save the Bowl Series and avoid the playoffs — that should have been enough to disassociate him from any role in the sport’s next iteration, but no. Fleischer stayed on board as a consultant to the CFP, proving magically resilient in the sport’s playoff issue.
(It seems really hard to kick you out of the Old Boys who run college football.)
Whatever influence the former White House press secretary under George W. Bush had in the first seven years of the races, it seemed insignificant. It wasn’t until failed plans to expand the playoffs from four to 12 teams were mooted last year that the June leak unhappily surprised many of the conference delegates, all of whom remember that the CFP is a media advisor had. The chaos surrounding this expansion plan was enough to derail expansion for the foreseeable future.
CFP is inherently controversial – four teams personally chosen by a selection committee out of 130 stand a chance to win the National Championship. The playoffs made matters worse with a weekly TV show showing his rankings in the final third of the season, with his work mocked every Tuesday night. The list of affected limbs is long and noisy every season.
Why add to the accumulated criticism by creating an internal problem for yourself with a counselor like Fleischer? why be this man In the room with the most powerful people in college football when they make the big decisions?
Bill Hancock, CEO of CFP Sports Illustrated Tuesday that Fleischer remains a consultant to the group. Hancock noted that Fleischer consults with a number of other entities outside the PCP and is not required to report to him on every assignment he undertakes. Neither Hancock nor many CCP leaders seem to have any idea what exactly Fleischer might be.
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Taking Saudi government money has led to a massive backlash from a number of the world’s most prominent golfers, from major winners Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson to Graeme McDowell, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer and more. They are willing to accept criticism for linking guns to a brutally repressive regime for big paychecks, and at the Fleischer-led press conference on Tuesday, they did their best to pretend there was no controversy.
When golfer Liv Taylor Gotsch was asked about Saudi Arabia’s “washing of sport” for its inappropriate world view of human rights abuses, he replied: “I don’t think that statement is true.” Then he tried to get out of this sand trap by essentially portraying himself as just a dumb golfer. “I’m not that smart,” Gooch said. “I’m trying to hit a golf ball into a small hole. Golf is hard enough. I try to worry about golf and am excited about this week.
Fleischer seems to have done his part to provide cover for poor millionaires who were asked about anything other than hitting a golf ball into a small hole. Associated Press reporter Rob Harris was reportedly interrupted and escorted out of the press conference after he tried to ask a follow-up question about reconciling Saudi efforts to wash sports to buy positive impressions by buying golfers. Then he was allowed to return.
Harrig: There’s a treat on the PGA Tour here, and professional golf may never be the same.
It is a healthy business. Just good people trying to grow the game of golf.
Like golfers, Fleischer seems to have a price at which to abandon his beliefs. By Kevin Van Valkenburg of ESPNDuring the LIV press conference, Fleischer was asked: “How did he reconcile his current relationship with LIV Golf with his previous tweets claiming that Saudi Arabia is spending billions to ensure that Mohammed bin Salman doesn’t leak, and it wasn’t an example of that?” Fleischer said the tweet was “a long time ago.”
One can assume that there are several dollars.
The combination of Ari Fleischer and sports seems to have resulted in very few embarrassments, pitfalls and slaps. Why would the college football playoffs want to keep pushing these nincombobs to help form an annoying strategy like reluctance to expand the playoffs?
More games better. Less ari is also better. No Ari is the best.
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