Many in the sports industry consider Yahoo! Sports to have the best collection of sports journalists, so it makes perfect sense for one of their own to be leading the way in the field. Dan Wetzel’s investigative journalism has been earning critical acclaim for some time now, but this year has really been Wetzel’s time to shine.
Corruption has become a
niche in the sports field that Wetzel has more or less dominated. Back in 2000, he and Don Yeager wrote the
book Sole Influence which documents
the corruption that companies such as Nike bring into the “amateur” athletics
of college and high school. The interest
in corruption of college athletics seemed to continue growing when Wetzel began
to take perhaps the biggest and most obvious form of college corruption, the
Bowl Championship Series.
Throughout the NFL
season, Wetzel is known to take a quick break and write about the NFL. Last year, Wetzel wrote on the legal troubles
of Detroit Lions defensive lineman Nick Fairley. Whether it is the NCAA or the NFL, Wetzel has
corruption in football on complete lockdown.
Death to the BCS
is the highly successful book that Wetzel wrote along with Josh Peters and Jeff
Passan. The book clearly lays out not
only the corrupt system and brash suits behind the system, but also an
alternate system. The alternate system
was a basic form of a playoff that, unless the suits were deemed mentally
incompetent, would have to be put in place because it made them more money than before. It took a few years but eventually they
realized what needed to be done. Whether
or not the book was of any influence remains to acknowledged, but it was
inherently critical in fueling the fire.
was one of the very few (maybe the only
national) sportswriters covering the Sandusky trial on a daily basis. We aren’t talking a simple one column summary
of the day. Wetzel was going two-a-days
during many of the days during the two week trial (check out his archive here to see the incredible work). Even after the verdict, Wetzel is not waiting
until the sentencing to continue his stranglehold on the story nationally. He has written columns about the Paterno
Papers and every detail that has come out since.
To make his work on the
BCS and the Sandusky trial even more remarkable, he was working on parts of
both of them simultaneously. College football agreed to a four team
playoff on June 26. The Sandusky trial’s
verdict came on June 22. The grumblings
of college football began long before the final approval which meant that it
needed to be written about multiple times per week. The Sandusky trial was a two week affair
whose aftershock was written about weeks after the verdict was reached. He went back and forth each topic fluently
and did not sacrifice content along the way.
The reason that Dan
Wetzel is such a great journalist is that it’s clear he does not write with
some hidden agenda. Wetzel tells the story
how it is. He doesn’t preach about how
these guys are ruining the sports they play.
He doesn’t make vast generalizations that get the media talking in
circles. Wetzel, plain and
simple, reports the news. In this day
and age of media where everything is done based on number of views or retweets
or ratings, it is refreshing that there is somebody at the top of the
journalism game that doesn’t worry about all the “popularity” stuff. Wetzel lets the stories speak for
themselves. His writing is well-crafted
yet it isn’t overbearing. Dan Wetzel is
one of the best investigative journalists in the industry as we speak. It’s time for everybody to take notice.