Cherry. Brice Cherry. Agent Double-Oh Seven-Point-Three, to be exact.
As a member of the media that covers college football, I am a master of espionage. I have a particular set of skills, skills I’ve acquired over a very long career, skills that make me a nightmare for people like you college football coaches.
Yes, my mission in life is to steal secrets from my sworn enemies — college football programs and coaches — and to expose those secrets to the enemies of my enemies. Namely, other guys in coaching shorts.
So say those coaches themselves, whose rampant paranoia causes them to create the most insane and inane guidelines for the media following their teams.
Exhibit A: Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly. Among the recent stipulations that Kelly handed down for media wanting to report on the Fighting Irish: Reporters could not reveal a specific type of play, alignment or personnel of any packages Notre Dame runs in practice. If I were a Notre Dame beat writer, this would be a crushing blow, because it’s my perpetual desire to bore my readers to tears by breaking down the intricacies of that third-down screen pass.
Human interest? Bah! Who needs it?
At Notre Dame, Texas and, really everywhere in between, college coaches close the gates on their practices to the media’s nosy purview. If you’re able to watch anything at all, it’s generally the first 15 to 20 minutes (when players are performing top-secret, highly-classified acts like bending at the knees and touching their toes) or the last 15 minutes, when guys are sitting on the ground in huddles.
Personally, it rankles me to no end that — as a member of America’s free press (and, as mentioned, double agent for the bad guys) — I’m forbidden from watching football practices. Clearly, there is nothing more riveting than practice. This is drama in its highest form. Allen Iverson doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
In Donald Trump’s America, why should anyone trust the disgraceful, good-for-nothing media? College football coaches understand this. And they’re taking the battle to bold, new extremes.
They dole out ordinances like a third-world dictator. You may talk to this guy, but not this guy. Don’t take our picture. If you do take our picture, take it only from our good side. Don’t reveal injuries. Don’t ask us about anything controversial. Stand here. Do not stand there.
No, seriously, I’m not kidding. Down in Austin, the University of Texas recently handed down a policy that reporters could not stand behind Tom Herman as they’re asking a question.
No matter that the pack of reporters surrounding the coach at a UT media gathering usually stands six deep. Texas clearly doesn’t want to put Herman in a vulnerable position, where some villainous character like Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman might jam a ballpoint pen into his jugular.
It’s a legitimate concern. We sportswriters are a dangerous lot, I’m telling you. Have you ever seen us ravage a press box buffet?
We’re talking about a cutthroat, bloodthirsty media that so has it in for Herman that it performed dirty, underhanded tricks like (1) putting him on the cover of Texas Football magazine, (2) picking Texas fourth in the Big 12’s preseason poll, and (3) voting the Longhorns in the top 25 of several preseason rankings.
The coaches have the right idea. Why give the enemy any quarter? Why should the media be able to talk to the hometown free safety? What gives us the right to film a two-minute video of Coach Veinpopper cussing a blue streak at practice? Why, that might skew the perfectly-crafted image the university’s social media department has put together on its own athletic website!
Like I said, it all makes complete sense. The members of the press covering college football want nothing more than to tweet, write and broadcast misleading and damaging information. We want to use our high-tech secret agent gizmos — like recorders and notepads and microphones — to take down these teams from the inside.
We are weaponized, and we are not going away. These oppressive rules can’t faze a superspy.
For we are shaken, not stirred.