What day is it? Whatever the day, it is time for more anti-Saban attacks from the national media. I really should begin by saying I dislike any restrictions on media access. I think it does a disservice to the fans and the football team. Players, assistant coaches and others should be available to the mediaâ€”in an ideal world.
However, we don’t live in an ideal world. The world of college sportswriters is composed of petty, spiteful and inept persons. Coaches are careful, because members of the media lack judgement. I have seen reporters burn bridges over trivial matters, even in athletics. Reporters who leak “coonass” tapes out of a spiteful intention to injure, harm all other reporters.
With unethical reporters, is it any wonder football coaches dislike the press?
With the petulant whine of the Montgomery Advertiser’s Josh Moonover the weekend, the first shot in a new round of attacks on Saban was fired. This was quickly followed by Stewart Mandel’s attack on Saban.
Mandel didn’t pull any punches in his attack:“I left town certain of two things: That Nick Saban is every bit the jerk he’s made out to be — and that he’s exactly what the doctor ordered for the Alabama football program.”
Is Saban a jerk? It depends. Mandel does a good job of making Saban sound like one with allegations the Alabama coach blew off a pre-arranged interview. Is this true or media spin?
Do you know what is sad, the fact we would even have to ask that question. There was a time, when you could give the benefit of the doubt to a reporter; however, with reporters making up stories, inventing sources and doing other unethical things, only a fool would trust what this guy or any reporter said without corroborating facts.
I want to believe the reporter because I’ve seen far too many coaches behave like arrogant pricks; however, I’ve seen the same, if not worse, behavior from the press.
And not to be left out of the fun, CBS SPORTSLINE’s Dennis Dodd joined the chorus writing about Saban’s alleged brush-off of Mandel.
In this case, Dodd provides a reasonable analysis of the problems facing the media and college coaches. And Dodd examines how the media’s own mistakes have driven a wedge of mistrust between coaches and reporters. He also points out the absurdity of how some coaches act: “Purdue’s Joe Tiller closed spring practices the other day because he was wary of bloggers. Purdue. You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking: Great move, Joe. Purdue is way overexposed. It doesn’t need any more coverage that might compel recruits to go there.”
Dodd makes a few additional points about why restricted access to football teams should matter. But one that bothers me is:“By and large, these kids are on scholarships paid for with public money. Even without the scholly, they are public figures subject to media scrutiny.”
I’m sorry, but just because these kids are on scholarship with public money doesn’t mean anything. Almost everyone on campus with a scholarship is getting public money. Does that mean a reporter has the right to go in and demand access to every scholarship student on campus?
And just because these students are “public figures” doesn’t entitle the press to access.
Even so, the press should be given broad access to the program. Little harm will come from the beat writers having a few extra minutes with players and assitants.
Of course, this is Nick Saban’s program. And as the boss, he gets to call the shots. If he wins, then he’ll be here a long time. If he loses, no tight media control will help him.