More to the media than meets the eye
You might not agree with what appears in the paper today, but at least you have the opportunity to read it.
At Texas A&M University-Commerce two weeks ago, a group of football players stole every copy of the campus newspaper because it contained a front-page story detailing the arrest of two of their players. Last week, Texas A&M-Commerce coach Guy Morriss came under fire for calling the players‚Äô act ‚Äúthe best team-building exercise we had ever done.‚ÄĚ When asked if he had seen the edition of The East Texan in question, Morriss said ‚ÄúI don‚Äôt read that crap.‚ÄĚ
Morriss gave a half-hearted apology this week, saying that his remarks were meant to be humorous and not to be taken seriously. This would usually be the end of the story, but as a fellow journalist, something about this got under my skin.
Since when is it OK to endorse activity that warrants police investigation so long as you lazily retract it later?
If you haven‚Äôt heard, it‚Äôs hard out here for a sports writer. Working for a newspaper, even if it‚Äôs only a college newspaper, is a daily test of faith. It‚Äôs hard enough to put out a product every day without worrying about it being taken.
Writing unpopular stories always results in an uproar. But it appears the only objection Morriss and his players had to this story was that word of the arrests was printed at all.
I wish I could say this was the only case of a football coach being unreasonable toward a campus news outlet, but there are probably more instances than could fit in this column. Last season, Montana coach Bobby Hauck belittled and froze out reporters from the school newspaper after it printed a story on two football players who allegedly committed assault.
Hauck could have acted like an adult and articulated whatever his objections were, but instead he chose the petulant route and went into lockdown mode.
All of the effort that goes into putting campus newspapers in their place is enough to make you wonder why any of the coaches care so much.
I understand the dilemma for coaches in such matters. Most in Division I revenue sports are accustomed to a high level of control, but they wield almost none when it comes to dealing with the media.
Of course, coaches have every right to object if they feel like any part of their program, especially the players, has been put in an unfair light because of factual errors or biased reporting. But this requires a dialogue, not temper tantrums like the ones seen at Texas A&M-Commerce and Montana. Maybe next time coaches like Hauck will try holding their breath until they get what they want.
When players and coaches are upset with what appears in the newspaper only because they are ashamed of their actions, they have no one to blame but themselves. And instead of viewing the media as the enemy for reporting on their miscues, college coaches and athletes should think about how to foster a positive relationship with news outlets.
Little of this, however, is applicable here at USC. You might be able to run and hide in Montana and East Texas, but there are few spots of refuge from media in Los Angeles. That‚Äôs not to say the school is always totally forthcoming or all its coaches embrace the media, but stunts like the ones Morriss and Hauck pulled won‚Äôt work here.
If they ever want to learn how to operate on the same level as USC, then bully coaches like Morriss and Hauck should look to this school and other major universities to see how top programs deal with the media.
Despite their lack of people skills, Morriss and Hauck have found at least some modicum of success as coaches ‚ÄĒ Texas A&M-Commerce finished 5-5 last year, and Hauck translated another successful year with Montana into the head coaching job at UNLV. It‚Äôs clear that both have solid football minds.
But imagine how much better they would be if they didn‚Äôt care what was printed about them.
‚ÄúTackling Dummy‚ÄĚ runs Thursdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Michael at¬†email@example.com.