The Football Writers Association of America sent this letter this week to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive in response to Steve Spurrier not taking questions from the media after the Nov. 1 South Carolina loss to Tennessee.
On behalf of the Football Writers Association of America we're writing you and other SEC administrators, as well as officials at the University of South Carolina, to express the FWAA's disappointment and concern Coach Steve Spurrier failed to take questions from the media at what was supposed to be his press conference after the Gamecocks' loss to Tennessee on Saturday night.
For any coach — but especially one who coaches in the SEC and has the stature of Steve Spurrier — to walk out on the media and not field any questions is totally unacceptable.
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While Coach Spurrier's frustration after an overtime loss is understandable, media covering the participating teams we're sure felt a lot of frustration because they weren't able to properly cover a game that means so much to their readers and viewers.
Now that closed locker rooms are standard operating procedure for most major college football teams, and a few players and perhaps a couple of assistant coaches are made available for interviews after a game, it is absolutely essential for media members to be able to ask the head coach questions and get his answers.
While Saturday night was a home game for South Carolina, there were many Tennessee media there, and perhaps media from regional or national outlets who may have gone to a lot of time, trouble and expense to cover the game.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette staff traveled to Starkville, Mississippi, for Saturday night's Arkansas-Mississippi State game along with many other Arkansas media, and after the Razorbacks' suffered another agonizing last-second loss, as FWAA members we cannot begin to express the anger and frustration we would have felt if Coach Bret Bielema had walked into the interview room, talked for less than a minute and then gotten up and left without taking questions.
Coach Bielema had plenty to be frustrated about, too, but he spoke for about 10 minutes and took several questions.
That's the way it's supposed to work in the SEC, where as we all know college football is a passion and way of life.
Along with short-changing the media, Coach Spurrier also let down fans who follow his program — and many of whom support it financially — by not answering questions after the game.
SEC fans may be disappointed by a loss, but they want to hear from their head football coach.
Steve Spurrier is well paid to coach South Carolina and winning games may be at the top of this list of things to do, but fulfilling media obligations in a professional manner — and thus speaking to the team's fans — is also high on that list.
It is the FWAA's fervent hope that officials at the SEC as well as at South Carolina have made it known to Coach Spurrier that his behavior after the Tennessee game is not acceptable, cannot be tolerated and will not be repeated.
Mike, we all know the SEC is loaded with big-time coaches, but we also know that you, not the coaches, run the conference.
Thanks for your attention to this matter.
On behalf of the FWAA, we also want to extend our best wishes as you continue your treatment for prostate cancer. We miss seeing you at SEC events and look forward to seeing you in the future for many years to come.
Bob Holt, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, FWAA SEC Pressbox Chairman
Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman, FWAA 2014 President
Ron Higgins, Nola.com/The Times-Picayune, FWAA Past President
Wally Hall, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, FWAA Past President
Steve Richardson, FWAA Executive Director
CC: Greg Sankey, Chuck Dunlap, Steve Fink