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What do you do when a coach goes ballistic?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by williemcgee51, Sep 9, 2008.

  1. I was watching Mike Gundy's infamous press conference rant tonight and just could not stop laughing. I mean this is freaking hilarious. Here's my question, say you are at that press conference, or the one where Dennis Green says, "The Bears are who we thought they were" or Jim Mora's "Playoffs? Don't talk about Playoffs." do you act professional? Or do you sit back and enjoy.
    I think you act professional. You have a job to do and this is a privilege and not a right. Thoughts? Suggestions? Any funny stories anyone has to share?
  2. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    I covered a golf tournament the other day in which there was some accusation of cheating among high schoolers, yelling, coaches getting pissed and people completely uninvolved insulting each other.

    I stood there quietly like a fly on the wall, paralyzed because I didn't know what to do, though I felt awkward. Obviously if you're at a post-game press conference and the coach starts flying off the handle, that's the best quote you've got to work with, so you sit there knowing he just made your job a little easier.
  3. anson2995

    anson2995 New Member

    I've been in the room for a few of those, and while it's definitely newsworthy, it ain't no fun. You just sit there quietly, maybe look away, and hope it ends quickly. Trust me, when a guy like Mike Ditka or Dennis Green is loud and angry, nobody in the room is laughing.

    What happens more often but is reported much less are tense confrontations between players and reporters in the locker room. Those are almost never captured on video. When those start to boil over, everybody steps back.

    The NFL has changed a lot over the last ten years or so... not sure if this is true of other sports, but access to players and coaches is much more limited. Post-game pressers are more tightly controlled by PR staff, and the handful of guys we do get to hear from are much less candid. It's as if they've been trained to say nothing while appearing to answer questions.
  4. not sure what universe you're covering the NFL in, but nfl locker rooms are open post-game until the last player is gone. if you're only hearing from "a handful of guys" then stop going to "pressers" and get into the locker room
  5. Batman

    Batman Well-Known Member

    He hardly went ballistic, but I covered a Saints game right at the end of Ditka's tenure there. They got their ass whipped by the Rams, speculation was rampant that he was about to get canned, and the first question someone shot out was about his job security.
    He asked, very tersely, "Anybody have any questions about football? No? Good." And left. A 45-second press conference. It's never fun in those situations. I mean, what do you ask there to follow that up? Something about how Kurt Warner shredded his secondary? Why the offensive line couldn't block worth a damn? It's hard to get them back on track.
    Basically, you just let them go -- but use whatever's useable -- and chase down a player or three.
  6. tapintoamerica

    tapintoamerica Well-Known Member

    I think you have to let the coach/player rant. The more he says, the more likely he is to say and/or do something stupid. Make absolutely certain that the answer is over before you ask a follow-up. Remember that you're never going to look like a hero for being tough.
  7. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    That you ask this question makes me think you've never covered city government. :)

    Let 'em rant, then report it.
  8. tonysoprano

    tonysoprano Member

    Precisely. You rant. I quote the whole thing. Just did it in May.
  9. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Let them rant.

    I was there for the "Playoffs?" presser (sitting right in front of the guy who asked the question that elicited that response). Mora walked in and his opening statement was one of his famous rants -- he was complaining about Peyton Manning's fifth TD of the season to the other team.

    You just sit back, do everything you can to keep a straight face, laugh if something is said that's supposed to be funny (Gundy's rant was not), and quote the whole thing.
  10. anson2995

    anson2995 New Member

    I've heard of the locker room. I even mentioned it in my previous sentence. The question was about coaches exploding *at press conferences*, and my reply was in that context. Those have become more formal, tightly controlled events, and the NFL's good PR guys will keep that stuff from happening. That was my point.

    Players going off in the locker room is a whole different conversation.
  11. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    Didn't somebody get cut by flying debris when Hal McRae had his famous fit?
  12. editorhoo

    editorhoo Member

    I think it's exremely important to remember that when we talk to coaches/players after games, they are in an extreme emotional state. These guys aren't nine-to-fivers who check their work at the door when they clock out. They put everything they have into what they do, and when they "fail" it hurts them like a cheating wife. They're not in the right state of mind. It's best to just let them rant, do your job and ask the questions you need for your story.

    Most of the stories here have been about large press conferences. The main beat I cover, I am generally the only one interviewing the head coach. He and I basically have been working one-on-one for 13 years. He's been remarkably successfull, which makes my job easier, but there have been moments of friction.

    Last season, 12 of his players were suspended for getting caught by the police drinking alcohol at a party. When I explained to him, that I had to mention this in my season preview story, he went balistic. I explained to him that it simply was my job. He didn't like it one bit, but in the long run, our relationship didn't suffer

    This past week, his team was playing a state-ranked team that is two divisions higher than his team and has twice the enrollment. In our weekly picks section, I picked the other team to win. When I walked into his office (again, I was the only reporter there), he immediately took a shot at me for picking the other team.

    Friday night comes along, and his team lays a rare egg and loses 28-6. His team had the capability to win the game, but it played awfully, which is a rare occurrance.

    I walk into his office after the game (again, alone) and the first thing he says to me is, "At least you got your pick right." I blew off the comment and went right in to asking questions about the game.

    Bottom line was, he wasn't pissed at me, he was pissed at his team for playing like shit. He was just taking it out on me. In an odd way, I take it as a compliment. We're hardest on those we are closer to because we know when the shit-storm settles, those closest to us still will be there. Once he cools off, our relationship will be back to normal.

    Face it. Sometimes in this business, we're whipping boys. Just ride the wave and it all works itself out in the end.
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