As you know by now, Washington lost to Auburn on Saturday. All things considered, it was a strong performance by the Huskies. Chris Petersen’s crew traveled 2,000-plus miles to play a de facto road game, without preseason All-American left tackle Trey Adams, and climbed out of a 9-0 hole to carry a 16-15 lead in the fourth quarter before losing, 21-16.
A day later, ESPN announcer Mark Jones tweeted this.
Washington Huskies took one one on the chin. Where’s Montana ?
— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) September 2, 2018
Jones did not call the game (he was in Houston for Ole Miss’s win over Texas Tech), but he has an undeniably adverse relationship with the Washington program.
Last October, it was Jones’s crew who ignited an anti-ESPN firestorm at Washington for criticizing the Huskies’ (admittedly light) non-conference schedule.
In case you wanted to see the cupcake schedule thing for yourself: pic.twitter.com/U5RXEqwRDi
— Kevin Shockey (@KevinShockey) October 8, 2017
There’s a lot of context behind that 29-second clip. The sideline reporter, Quint Kessenich, used food props to make points throughout last season, and a bit like that isn’t something the play-by-play man would authorize on his own anyway.
But Washington is naturally sensitive, as are all Pac-12 programs, against a perceived anti-West Coast bias within ESPN (fueled largely by a glut of night games the Worldwide Leader schedules out west).
The controversy went into over drive that following morning, when ESPN’s biggest college football voice said Washington and the Pac-12 “should be thanking” ESPN for its coverage at whatever time the Huskies are fortunate to play.
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) October 7, 2017
So, there’s a lot going on here beyond a simple tweet from Jones. But it was enough for the Pac-12, according to San Jose Mercury-News writer Jon Wilner, to sever whatever relationship it had with Jones.
ESPN's Mark Jones won't be assigned to any Washington games this season, per UW official
— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) September 3, 2018
For what it’s worth, Jones, likely sensing heat coming from out west, later backed off his tweet.
Hey don’t get me wrong…I still think Washington will have a great season..losing to Auburn in their backyard is a lot better than what a team like Miami did to their CFP chances. All love Seattle. S/o to the bruthas at Greenlake Park ✊🏾
— MarkJonesESPN (@MarkJonesESPN) September 3, 2018
It’s questionable how many Washington or Pac-12 games Jones would have called anyway considering ESPN put him in the noon ET window on Saturday, but the Huskies were clearly sensitive about receiving fair coverage from Jones, so now the two will be kept away from each other.
As of right now, Washington only has one game earmarked for an ESPN broadcast, a Week 3 visit to Utah. That game kicks at — you guessed it — 10 p.m. Eastern.