The word from Charlie Strong’s office is that the local media is banned for the remainder of the University of Louisville football’s spring practice sessions.
Is the coach miffed about all the basketball coverage in recent weeks that forced football to a couple of paragraphs deep inside the Courier-Journal? One shouldn’t be surprised. The C-J seems to have plenty of ink and personnel for basketball but little for football.
Kentucky teams advancing into the NCAA Final Four were accompanied by WAR-sized headlines on the front page, sports sections and special sections. This from a publication shrinking in terms of number of pages, stretching the newspaper’s resources to the limit.
While Strong recognizes the significance of the Final Four, he has to wonder about the over-the-top coverage. He came to Louisville from Florida where football never ever takes a back seat to basketball. There are only four states in the union where that could happen — Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina — states that have never enjoyed much success in football.
The C-J exploits the fanatical obsession with basketball on a year-round basis, despite the indisputable fact that football is the premier sport in college athletics. The rest of the country emits a collective yawn, goes to bed early during the championship basketball game and quickly refocuses its attention on how spring football practice is going. Like the name of last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, many sports fans will have already forgotten in two months who won the NCAA basketball tournament.
There’s also the possibility that Strong is making some major changes in the playbook or in personnel, changes he wants to keep quiet as much as possible in a micro sports world. But we doubt it. Some argue that it may be foolish to ban the local media, that it’s counter-productive. That may be but he finally has their attention.
Now that the newspaper and other media have been banned from practice sessions, we can expect a resurgence of interest in UofL football. Nothing peaks media interest into a situation more than being denied access to it. They’ll be back in a couple of days, count on it.
Strong knows from firsthand experience what happens when a community or a state has had sustained success in college football. That’s what he says he is committed to bringing to Louisville. For that to happen, he also has to educate the local media in the process, one stuck in the yesteryears of football mediocrity, getting all of its jollies on another sport.