Second thoughts on Charlie Strong restricting local mainstream media access to University of Louisville football coverage other than access to the spring game and post-game comments. Mostly on the Courier-Journal because it bears the brunt of the media ban and nobody counts much on radio and TV coverage:
- If the coach’s action prompts the Courier-Journal to reassess some of its policies, it’s a good thing. The sports section of a local newspaper should include much more coverage of a local team than one located 70 miles away. People reading a Louisville newspaper should be expected to be more interested in what they hometown university is doing. Only in the sports section are they bombarded with Lexington news, and that’s the case in all daily editions.
- C-J columnist Eric Crawford has done his usual masterful job in the comments section of his blog in pointing out that UofL stories significantly outnumbered UK stories for several months. He also happens to be correct in his assessment that the media freeze doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for the Louisville football program. (Crawford has been so active in defending the C-J that one has to wonder whether he’s in line to become the next sports editor, succeeding Harry Bryan who is taking an early retirement package.) But it also isn’t realistic for the C-J to ignore what he is building, even if it’s only spring practice.
- UofL greatly restricts access to individual players, as compared to the UK football program, making it difficult for sportswriters to get much more than comes from the university. This could be because of Charlie Strong’s micro management approach, favoring a team approach over individual personalities, limiting opportunities for feature stories. As a result, fans have limited knowledge about the players. Fan message boards are great for discussions but much of the chatter is redundant and will never be considered an adequate substitute for indepth reporting.
- As difficult as it may be for a football man, Charlie also needs to acknowledge that having two basketball teams in the Final Four was a milestone, setting up an historic match between the state’s top universities, especially in a state so football-challenged for much of its existence. His goal now, as it has been since he took the job, is to deliver football championships, finishing the job that Bobby Petrino failed to persevere. Who will ever forget 40,000 UofL fans traveling to Miami for the BCS Orange Bowl?
- This is quite a dilemma for Kenny Klein, sports information director and his assistant Rocco Gasparo, who bend over backwards to provide information and access wherever possible. The boss has tied their hands, making it impossible for them to do their jobs. Strong should stick to coaching football, leaving media relations to the professionals. The coverage will come in barrels if his team delivers on the field.
Time to end the ban. The coach has made his point, sending the C-J sports section an important message. The newspaper couldn’t stop covering UK even if it wanted to. But UofL should be its top priority, with the football program deserving much more attention than it has been receiving lately.