My, what a day for college football-media relations. Earlier this afternoon, Brooks told us about a TCU official who was able to get a student reporter yanked from the Mountain West TV network just because he had an opinion about a Horned Frogs player. And if such hard-handed tactics can work with the big boys of college ball, it surely can work with the smaller schools, too.
(”Please, no questions from the student media - EVER AGAIN!!!”)
Lance Leipold is the head football honcho for the Division III University of Wisconsin-Whitewater squad. Since his arrival in 2007, Lance has led the Warhawks to a 27-3 record and finished as 2007 national champion & 2008 national runner-up, while grabbing himself a couple of national coach of the year awards in the process.
Such success can sometimes get to a person’s head, making them feel like they’re invincible and beyond mere mortal criticism. Leopold apparently reached this point, as a critical column in the school’s newspaper led the coach to ban the paper from covering his team.
The student paper in the question, the ROYAL PURPLE, said that Lance’s lashing came about after columnist Michael Daly penned an article in Wednesday’s edition entitled “Spoiled Athletes Need Reality Check“. Coach Leipold didn’t like what was written, and he let the paper know - without mincing many words:
“This is [expletive deleted] bullsh*t,” Leipold said. “It’s going to be a bitch to try to cover football next season.”
Moreover, Leipold made it clear anyone affiliated with the student-run newspaper could not call anyone associated with the football team unless he approves. Furthermore, his athletes and coaches will not be allowed to answer questions from student reporters at games for the 2009 season, Leipold threatened.
But a livid Leipold didn’t end his diatribe without suggesting how the paper can fill the void of no football stories:
“The door is shut,” Leipold said. “Go cover soccer, I have [head coach] Greg Henschel’s number, I’m sure that will be fun.”
Freedom of the press, eh? Maybe Lance would prefer a student media outlet that wasn’t so disrespectful to the system - like Pravda.
But wait - unlike the terrible TCU story, the Whitewater affair does have a happy ending. Just as quickly as he erupted, Coach Leipold realized the error of his whacked-out ways & apologized to the Royal Purple for being such a pain in the neck:
“I want to sincerely apologize for my recent behavior,” Leipold wrote in the e-mail. “Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am passionate about the Warhawk football program and sometimes that passion clouds my better judgment. Some of the language I used with you was inappropriate and I am very sorry. You, UW-Whitewater campus community and alumni expect and deserve better from me as the Head Football Coach and the example I need to set for our program. I am open to meeting with you anytime to discuss this further.”
See? It can all work out in the end when cooler heads prevail. So, why’s the bug still up your butt, Mark Cohen?