It’s interesting covering these coaches as a TV reporter, a sports-talkshow host, a sportswriter or as a columnist.
The media has changed so much in the last decade. The roles of the media are now drastically different. How we are viewed, how we are treated, trying to do our job, is very much part of a different landscape.
Taking you now into a Coaches Press Conference, giving you a close up look at the coaches we deal with, and letting you decide who’s right vs wrong in their approach to us.
Meet Rocky Long, head coach San Diego State, a career genius defensive coordinator, doing very well now in his only head coaching opportunity. He works at a team with limited football tradition, limited resources, in a conference few fans in this major league city have an attachment to.
Meet Mike McCoy, Chargers head coach, working his first head job ever after a good career as an offensive assistant. Working for a money rich team, with a superman at quarterback, with all the resources a franchise as to offer, in a city whose fans love the franchise.
One coach is winning. The other coach is losing. One coach is like a book of quotations, forever with a candid smile on his face. The other is struggling, condescending, not very friendly, never smiling.
College coaches run and control their programs. They recruit all the talent, they coach them up as players and develop as men. In their fifedome they have longevity, make decent money in the Mountain West, and enormous money other places. Their goal is to get kids ready for the pros, and hope they can graduate everyone else for there life’s work.
NFL coaches have fame and lots of fortune. They are under enormous pressure, live with paranoia. The money they earn is amazing, the egos are greater, and they are at the mercy of horrific injuries, poor ownership, and a prying media.
For Long and McCoy, the ability to creatively package game plans and execute are very different. Rocky wants to win, but game days in a college stadium are electric. Mike has to win before crowds that are demanding and hostile. Game days in college football are parties. Game days in the pros are tension filled with split second decisions and weeklong second guessing.
Coaching at SDSU and at Chargers Park are so very different. And so are the relationships Rocky Long builds and Mike McCoy fails to appreciate.
Walk thru the Aztecs Athletic Center and you can feel the energy on every floor. It’s a spirit grab for sure. Walk thru Chargers Park, you see locked doors, limited access, and not a very friendly culture. It’s as different as Night and Day, or Heaven and Hell. The Aztecs have made it one way, the Chargers the other.
AD-Jim Sterk is always available. When was the last time you heard from the leader GM-Tom Telesco?
On Monday’s we sit and listen to McCoy dish out cliche-after-cliche, witholding any useful information, as if extolling why not going for it on 3rd and 2, has to be a CIA secret, information you’d be leaking to the enemy you play next week.
Rocky Long talks on Tuesdays, often about play-calling and philosophy, going for it on 4th down compared to kicking field goals, often discussing specific reasons.
Ask about an injury to a player, you get stonewalled with the Chargers, even if the national media is reporting specific facts, while the coach talks in generalities. Post a question about an injury at SDSU, you get time frames, details and an honest assessment.
Detail a question about a conversation with management about players, and it becomes none of your business in Mission Valley. Ask the same in college, and you get the whys and wherefores of the decision making process up on Montezuma Mesa..
It goes on and on, with McCoy and Long coming at it from different directions.. It is our job to ask questions, get answers, and then draw conclusions.
Mike McCoy, week after week, empties his waste basket of cliches on the table.
In the best interest of the team. Putting a good game plan together. Keeping that conversation to ourselves. When he’s ready-he’ll be on the field. Every Monday, the same stuff. The sessions sometimes less last than 15-minutes.
He fails to realize when caught in a lie, his credibility is gone just like his honesty.
Rocky Long goes a good half hour, detailing his feelings on anything and everything about college football. He bares his soul and tells you what he believes, whether you side with him or not.
McCoy told the media a key player was dinged, when in reality, he had a catastrophic career-ending knee injury. Long goes into detail about suspensions and the rationale in player moves.
McCoy is losing games now. He’s lost the support of the working media, who find him distant, condescending, and seldom friendly.
Congrats, you’re (2-7) losing games and losing your fans too.
For Long, this may be a (9-3) run the table-bowl season and maybe win a championship year too.
Congrats to him for all the accomplishments against alot of adversity.
To quote a former Chargers GM-AJ Smith, who had his ways of offending people, and losing his job, his statement still stands tall in San Diego.
“It is what it is”. Mike McCoy could be well liked and would get the benefit of the doubt. He’s created a miserable situation. Rocky Long has made it fun to be around his program, even when there were bad days, bad losses, and bad starts to season.
They’re both driven to do well. 1-makes it a fun job. The other fails to grasp this part of the role of being a head coach.
In San Diego, “it is what it is”, though it doesn’t have to be that way.