By Jose M. Romero / @RomeroJoseM
If only all Pac-12 coaches were as cool as Mike Riley at Oregon State.
Not only does Riley have a reputation for being one of the nicest guys in football, he also opens up his practices to all fans and media. Anyone, conceivably, can watch Beavers’ practices in Corvallis and sit in the stands on a nice fall day. It’s a reporter’s and fan’s dream.
But the drawback is that anyone with a mobile device who sees a player go down in practice can immediately send out tweets about what happened. Competitive disadvantage? Sure. Maybe. Or maybe the easygoing Riley is such a good coach that he understands injuries are part of the game and he’s confident in the next man on the depth chart.
The coaches in Los Angeles are taking this idea of information being leaked too far. They’re being too paranoid.
There’s Lane Kiffin at USC, who earlier this month revoked a reporter’s credential and walked out on reporters who asked about an injury. And this week, there was UCLA coach Jim Mora, who booted everyone – Bruins media relations staff, too – off the practice field when a couple of TV cameras were set up in a restricted area.
What is up with these coaches and this behavior?
I’m a fan of Mora. I was when he was a defensive coordinator in the NFL, when he was the Atlanta Falcons’ head coach and when he was both assistant and head coach with the Seattle Seahawks. And I know he was excited to get back to coaching again, taking the UCLA job.
But wow, this is just odd. I mean, Mora is supposed to be the good cop to Kiffin’s bad cop in L.A. Mora got a little terse with reporters in post-practice sessions before, but this move was taking it too far.
I’m biased because I am a former beat writer, and I was lucky to have access to Seahawks practices and plenty of media availability to coaches and players. It’s a better situation in the NFL. I never once had a problem with the access I was granted, and 99 percent of all lines of questioning were not off limits.
The NFL has a media policy and it’s a good one. The Pac-12 needs to enact a policy, too. This business with the coaches taking matters into their own hands has to stop. Or at least USC and UCLA should just do what Oregon does and close practices in full.
Of course, any access is preferred, but if the teams don’t let reporters in, the media has to do whatever it can to break stories and news. Better, I guess, to just shut it down completely then make a scene by kicking everyone out of practice.
I can’t understand what might have gotten into Mora. Was there something he didn’t want anyone else to see? He’s known for making some knee-jerk decisions, that’s part of why I like his coaching style. But this one was not the best one.
I’m a media professional, so I’m on the news organizations’ side on this. Us being allowed to watch practice and do our jobs is better for the fans and the college football programs to increase exposure. To ban us is to deny that, and therefore, Trojans and Bruins fans are being underserved and the teams are not publicized as much.
A coverage boycott due to the coaches’ actions. Now do the Trojans and Bruins REALLY want to be in the public eye for that?
USC and UCLA are both pretty good teams. L.A. has no pro team. There has to be a better way to make all parties involved happy.