TCU Media Relations Rips TV Reporter Off The Air

I hate to play the “I was a student sports reporter” card twice in a week, but the WIZ OF ODDS has a story that I just couldn’t ignore.

Mark Cohen Mall Cop

(TCU Media Relations Director or Mall Cop: What’s the difference?)

The Wiz reports today that TCU’s director of media relations Mark Cohen ripped TCU student reporter Brian Smith off the Mountain West’s TV network, The Mtn., because Cohen didn’t agree with Smith’s on-air opinion about TCU football’s quarterback situation.

On an April 14 broadcast, Smith said that freshman quarterback Casey Pachall, who graduated early from high school to enroll at TCU, is good enough to unseat Andy Dalton as the starter.

“I think it’s going to be tough to tell if Andy’s really as solid a starter as everybody believes he is,” Smith said. “And I think the reason for that is because Casey Pachall, a true freshman who enrolled in January, really looked good during drills and during the Purple and White game, and in my opinion he really could challenge Dalton for that starting spot.

“He can manage a game and he can play not to lose, but I don’t really think he’s the kind of guy who can win you a game. And Casey Pachall is that kind of guy.

Whoa, the gall of Smith! To actually have an opinion! Thank goodness though order was soon restored.

TCU’s athletics media relations department heard the comment and decided to ban Smith from using the camera equipment, which is property of the Mountain West Sports Network.

“My office will not take time out of its busy schedule to assist in putting TCU students on the air to make negative comments about our student athletes,” director of media relations Mark Cohen, right, wrote in an email to Mountain West officials.

Although the camera belongs to The Mtn., the network has backed down.

If you’ve ever dealt with folks from a media relations department of any color, this doesn’t surprise you. They’re the late night security guards of the journalism industry. Or the $8-a-night bouncer at the door of the club you can’t get in - even though it’s completely empty.

That second observation rings especially true when it comes to Cohen, who claims his office has a “busy schedule” when it comes to servicing the Ft. Worth media on the wonderment of TCU sports in April.

Right, so busy that he’s monitoring student television broadcasts around the clock.

I covered sports for the UGA student daily a century ago, and, like every school in The Union, we had our own Mark Cohen. After one of my opinion columns in the student paper was published, whose readership was lucky to reach four figures, I’d be forced to endure a 30 minute phone call from the school’s media relations director.

That of course was because my guy was just as “busy” as Cohen.

So what did officials at the Mountain West’s official TV network, The Mtn., have to say about Cohen going Hugo Chavez on student reporter Smith? Well I’m happy to report they defended him to the hilt and demanded that he be allowed back on the air and given a chance to voice his unbiased opinion on the team.

… Just kidding, they threw Smith under the bus:

“Long story short, they agreed to disagree on the subject matter,” (The Mtn.) producer Frank Ellis said. “But while it is our camera, it is under [Cohen’s] supervision and, like I said before, he has the keys to the car. So we’re going to abide by his decision.”

But let’s not focus on the negative anymore. Some day Brian Smith will move on to a real job in journalism where he won’t be ripped off the air for voicing an innocuous observation about something few care about anyway.

And I’m also happy to report that Mark Cohen is your leading candidate for the coveted Leonid Brezhnev Memorial media relations director of the year award, to be given out at the industry’s annual convention in Zimbabwe.