ESPN PULLS COLLEGE FOOTBALL SPOT

Tennessee Students Offended by Ad's Southern Stereotype

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- ESPN pulled a TV ad for its "College GameDay" pregame football show that depicted fans of the University of Tennessee in stereotypical Southern fashion.

The spot, one of a series that highlights "College GameDay," showed analyst Lee Corso about to step onto a hotel elevator filled with Tennessee fans that included a woman holding a pig, another woman still clad in a robe and shower cap and a young couple "making out," among others.

Fans complain
While Tennessee fans reportedly called the school's football office in droves, an ESPN executive said the network received very few calls at its Bristol, Conn., headquarters complaining about the ad. The executive said the spot, which was pulled on Tuesday, was due to come out of the GameDay rotation, anyway.

The ad was created by independent Ground Zero, which did the remaining "College GameDay" spots in the rotation.

Ironically, the "College GameDay" show, which broadcasts each Saturday from various campus sites, is scheduled to visit UT's Knoxville, Tenn., campus twice this season.

Knocking heads
This isn't the first time that ESPN and fans of the Volunteers have knocked heads. In 1997, Tennessee backers accused "GameDay" of waging a national on-air campaign for Michigan's Charles Woodson to win the Heisman Trophy instead of Tennessee quarterback Peyton Manning. Not only did Woodson win, but "GameDay" host Chris Fowler called Tennessee fans "trailer park frenzy." Fowler later apologized for the remark. Two years later, an ESPN.com investigation alleged academic wrongdoings in the university's football program. However, the NCAA looked into the claims and found no improprieties.

ESPN is a unit of the Walt Disney Co.

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