College Coach Yelling at Reporter is Nothing New


So a couple days ago, a reporter down in Florida made some news when he quoted a Gators wide receiver as saying it would be nice to play with a "real quarterback" this year. The reporter, Jeremy Fowler, then got chewed out by Urban Meyer at practice yesterday. You remember Urban Meyer, right? The former Florida coach who retired...resigned... took a leave of absence... relaxed for five minutes.... apparently never left the program and hasn't changed at all despite saying he would try and reduce his stress levels this season.

Meyer had this to say to Fowler, caught on film by Gatorbait.net:


You'll be out of practice - you understand that? - if you do that again. I told you five years ago: Don't mess with our players. Don't do it. You did it. You do it one more time and the Orlando Sentinel's not welcome here ever again. Is that clear? It's yes or no."
Fowler responded:

"Urban, come on. Don't make any threats," I said. "That's fine. I'll play by rules. But all I was doing is quoting the guy. I don't think I was the only one."
And Meyer finished with:
"You're a bad guy, man," Meyer said. "You're a bad guy."
I think my biggest complaint about Meyer's actual response isn't his personal threat at Fowler (which, I truly doubt he'd ever follow up on), but his threat to ban the Orlando Sentinel. If he actually followed up on that, then I'd suggest that the Sentinel and other members of the Associated Press refuse to vote for Florida in the AP Top 25 poll.

Also, I've seen people arguing both ways regarding whether Fowler was right or wrong to write his original blog post, but what's more interesting (at least to me) is the sentiment from a lot of the sports media that "if you haven't been yelled at by a coach then you're not doing your job right."

Now, I'm not sure that's true, because doing a good job doesn't REQUIRE pissing people off, but I will say that if you ARE doing a good job, and the people you're covering AREN'T, then likely they're going to get pissed off at you, regardless of whether its justified or not.

Let's flash back to 1999, and my personal "getting chewed out by the coach story". At the time, I was a sophomore at Towson University, covering the women's basketball team. I was home for Thanksgiving and working on a story about teams playing early season non-conference tournaments, and wanted to get the men's basketball coach's perspective on it, so I left him a message asking him to call me back.

Well, a few days before this happened, there had been a front page story in our paper about a raid at Gator's (a local bar) in which a number of Towson athletes were caught drinking with fake IDs. In that same issue, a member of the men's basketball team -- who was also the center of the raid, since most of the athletes were there to celebrate his 20th birthday -- was named the Athlete of the Week, a feature that happened to be sponsored by the same bar. Whoops.

Now, understand that I did not write the story on the athletes at the bar. And I was not the men's basketball beat writer at the time. I was the sports editor though, and therefore could have vetoed the selection of this player as the Athlete of the Week, but he had led the team to a runner-up finish at the Battle of Baltimore, averaging something like 18 points and 10 rebounds in the event (I don't remember the exact stats but it was something like that).

So, when the coach called me to discuss my story on preseason tournaments, he started off by chewing me out about the Gator's story and the Athlete of the Week connection. I tried to explain that I don't write the news, and I don't sell the ads, but he didn't care. He thought the front page headline, with the giant font about athletes being caught in this raid, was sensationalistic, and he wanted to make sure I knew his opinion (and he did so in a tone of voice more appropriate for a locker room halftime speech).

That was the first time I'd really been chewed out by an interview subject, and it wouldn't be the last. But for all the actors, singers, rappers, pro coaches and superstar athletes I've ever interviewed, the only people who've ever really chewed me out have been college coaches. I guess it's just something about the job.

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