WVU Head Coach Denies Fans Ability To Hear From Players
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s players didn’t show up Saturday afternoon at Mountaineer Field.
We’re not talking about the 50-39 beating administered by No. 11/12 Oklahoma State.
We’re talking about post-game interviews, and that’s inexcusable.
Maybe if we were Holly Rowe ….
The ABC-TV sideline reporter was the last member of the media to chat with a WVU football player.
Quarterback Will Grier opening his house so she could join the Mountaineer quarterback, his wife and daughter for breakfast this week.
We’re not knocking that gesture. She was doing her job and Grier was doing his. It made sense. He was still being looked at as Heisman candidate then, WVU needs the publicity and his is a warm, nice story.
It was the right thing to do.
And we’re not saying it was Grier or any of his other teammates who took a knee on post-game interviews.
That had to come from the head coach, Dana Holgorsen.
And that’s wrong.
Not for us, the media.
We’re simply the go-between for 57,507 fans who shelled out there hard-earned cash to sit in the rain to watch what was a tortuous afternoon of football and the players.
They want to know what the players have to say, what they think.
Yes, what they have for breakfast.
And that says nothing about the thousands of fans across the nation who watched the game on television, fans who want to know no only what happened to make Will Grier throw four interceptions and Justin Crawford to fumble but how it was linebacker David Long could play like an All-American with 18 tackles, seven for losses, or Kenny Robinson could intercept a pass and run it in for a touchdown.
Fact is, we can’t ever talk to Kenny Robinson due to the fact he’s a freshman and they are off limits to the media.
Now part of playing college football is growing up and you have to learn to take the good with the bad. Interviewing skills are as much a part of many of these players’ future as is their ability to run with or catch the football.
The picture painted of them by the media helps them to advertising contracts and, if you turn on any sport, color commentators or, yes, sideline reporters.
It’s hard, no doubt, after a loss to go out there and listen to some mindless questions … and the media asks a lot of them, especially in a college setting where a good many of those credentials media are inexperienced journalism and broadcast students.
You have to learn how to deal with it on both sides.
I know, for I had to approach the great and quite intimidating pitcher, Bob Gibson, after he had lost a 2-0 game to the Atlanta Braves on a two-run home run by Felipe Alou, one of only three hits Gibson would allow in the game.
There really is no good way to go about this, but I did learn on that day that you do not open the interview by asking Bobby Gibson after he lost a 2-0 game on a home run what pitch he had thrown.
Suffice it to say the answer I got was unprintable and I could do little more than slink away and talk to other members of the Cardinals, a valuable lesson learned the hard way.
West Virginia tries hard to do a good public relations job, but media has changed in recent years with the rise of social media and IMG holding the rights and thereby putting the school in a position to put things out as they want them.
The interviews with the coaches were fine. They faced the music, offered up insights and told the story they had to tell about this loss.
But it’s the kids who play the games and who really are the face of the program. They have a story to tell, too, a necessary look into why Grier would throw five touchdowns or why he would throw four interceptions.
See, in sports, for every home run there’s a pitcher who threw it, for every fumble recovery there’s someone who fumbled it, for every winner there’s a loser … and each has a tale to tell that completes the experience of the fan, the reader, the viewer or the listener.