It’s interesting covering preople as a TV reporter, or a sportstalk show host, or as a sportswriter or columnist.
The media has changed so much of the last dedcade. The role of the media is now drastically different. How we are viewed, how we are treated, trying to do our job, is very much a different landscape now.
Taking you into a Coaches Press Conference, giving you a close up look at the coaches we deal with, and letting you decide whose right vs wrong in their approach..
Meet Rocky Long, head coach San Diego State, a career genius as a defensive coordinator, doing very well now in his only head coaching job. He works at a team with a limited football tradition, with limited resources in a conference few fans in a major league city pay attention too.
Meet Mike McCoy, Chargers head coach, working for a money rich team, with a superman star quarterbackk, with all the resources an NFL franchise could ever have, in a city whose fans love the 50-plus years of quarterbacks and offenses.
One coach is winning. The other coach is losing. One coach is like a book of quotations, with a candid smile on his face. The other is losing, condescending, not very friendly, and failing at his job.
College coaches run and control their programs. They recruit the players, they coach them up, and in their fifedom, have longevity, and the ability to guide young people. They make decent money in the Mountain West Conference, enormous money in a place like the SEC..
NFL coaches are under the pressure and paranoia of having to win at everything. The money is different, the egos are greater, they are at the mercy of horrific injuries, poor ownership, and a prying media.
The ability to creatively package and execute on game-day is something to see. Sure you want to win, have to win, but game days at a college stadium are very different. Game days in the NFL are tension filled, with the next play likely to lead to failure, second guessing and condemnation.
Coaching at San Diego State and with the Chargers is so very different. And so is the relationships a Rocky Long builds and a Mike McCoy fails to appreciate.
Walk thru the Aztecs Athletic center and you can feel the energy going floor to floor. Walk into Chargers Park and you see locked doors, limitations everywhere, and a not very friendly culture. Night and day. Heaven and Hell.
On Monday’s we sit and listen to McCoy dish out cliche after cliche, witholding any useful information, as if extolling why a 3rd and 2-pass call did not work, would be leaking CIA information to the enemy, the next opponent.
Rocky Long often talks about decision making in games, his philosophy of going for it on 4th down, the dynamics of the matchups he wanted to run, and why a play worked or did not work.
Ask an injury question and you get stonewalled with the Chargers, even if the national media is about to talk about a torn rotator cuff or a fractured ankle. Pose the same question about an injury at SDSU and you get a time frame, and a rehab schedule, and an honest assessment.
Detail a question about a coaches conversation with his GM or a team captain, and there is the ‘private’ conversation response. Do the same to the college coach about his feeling about conference expansion and tv contracts and starting game times, and you get a strong sense about what he feels.
Ask about a position change, and the NFL coach will give you some stoic statement about the best interest of the team. The college coach will go in depth about the move of the tight end to left tackle, the challenge and the mechanics of such a change.
It goes on and on, with McCoy and Long, just coming at it from different directions.
It’s our job to ask the questions, get some answers, and draw conclusions.
Mike McCoy, week after week, empties his waste basket of cliches on the table on Monday’s.
“Best interest of the team”….”Put a good game plan together”…..”Keep that conversation to ourselves”……”When he’s ready he’ll be on the field.”
It worsens, when you are caught in a lie, and the key working media loses trust in your honesty.
On Tuesday, Rocky Long goes a good half hour, detailing his feelings about Bowl matchups, coaching salaries, the pressure to win, injuries, position changes, philoshocial feelings about the college game. There is never the feeling of “Next Question-I refuse to answer the last question.”
Though not everyone will agree when a coach details a star player’s marijuana suspension, he treats them like men, and holds them accountable.
A prime example was McCoy saying a top player was ‘dinged’ when he really suffered a catastrophic-career ending knee injury. That compared to Long detailing a player whom they helped with Bi-Polar disorder even after he left the program.
So Mike McCoy is losing games now. He’s lost the support of the working media that finds him distant, condescending, and just not very friendly. He gets his traits from an owner who acts the same way.
Congrats, you’re (2-7), and if you haven’t noticed, have lost your fans too.
So Rocky Long will talk to us next about a wide variety of topics, not caring whether you agree with the answers, but hopeful you appreciate the responses to what we feel are important questions, covering college football.
Congrats to him, and by the way, his team is headed to another bowl game, and possibly a (9-3) season.
To quote a former Chargers General Manager, AJ Smith, who had his way of offending people, and defending his philosophies, the statement stands tall in San Diego.
“It is what it it is”. Mike McCoy could be well liked and get the benefit of the doubt. He’s created a miserable situation. Rocky Long has made it fun to be around his program, even from the days of bad records, bad starts to seasons, and bad play calls. He gets it, and enjoys it.
It is what it is-though in some cases, it doesn’t have to be that way.