Big 12 Football

The Media’s Role in Tom Herman’s Quest for Alignment at Texas

The Longhorns began their fall camp last week, but what caused the most buzz around Austin and the state of Texas really didn’t have much to do with football.

The UT Sports Information Director sent out a statement following practice on Wednesday that essentially stated the media couldn’t use social media during the post-practice interviews. You can read the full statement here.

While the wording of the statement is a little questionable, Tom Herman addressed the situation with follow-up comments to clarify that the request was a preference, and not necessarily a policy.

So what’s the big deal?

Apparently the media members covering UT don’t like having to wait until after post-practice interviews are complete before posting anything on social media. But from the comments I’ve read on Twitter from fans like me, a good portion of the fans don’t care about getting immediate information. They just want the correct information reported accurately. That’s what Herman and UT is trying to do by suggesting the media wait until after the interview session is over to post anything.

Now, I understand society as a whole today wants information immediately when it becomes available. And I understand it’s the media’s job to report that information. But the fact that many media members were flat out whining about the new policy/preference is simply uncalled for.

And when they go on social media to air their frustrations immediately after they read the request, they are proving why the “policy” has to be in place to begin with. Did they stop and think why Herman might want them to not Tweet during the press conference?

From what I’ve seen in Herman’s media availability sessions, he gives every reporter his undivided attention and answers each question as thoroughly as possible. Not only that, but he wants to make sure he understands exactly what the reporter is asking.

I have a hard time believing the media gives Herman the same respect. Of course, I can’t see the media on TV or on the radio, so I could be completely wrong about this point. I just imagine Herman trying to look someone in the eyes to answer a question, but all he sees is the top of heads of people looking down at their phones.

But what does all of this have to do with Herman’s quest for alignment?

I don’t believe Herman’s request was put in place to control the media, as some people are suggesting. He just wants his quotes and the quotes from his players to be put into the correct context. Tweeting with 140 characters during a press conference doesn’t allow that to happen.

The result is readers like me could take a quote the wrong way. Even worse, players or recruits may see it and wonder what’s going on. And you can guarantee those groups of kids are all over social media reading this stuff.

I know quotes can be taken out of context even in a newspaper article that prints the next day after a press conference. But if that happens, then it’s something Herman will have to address with the writer one-on-one.

From what I’ve seen, Herman is about as transparent as a head coach of a major university can be. And he’s probably that way because he doesn’t want any speculation about certain things. Speculation leads to rumors, and rumors can circulate within the locker room and around the program. That’s not his idea of alignment.

Call it controlling. Call it paranoia. Call it whatever you want. Herman calls it alignment.

I like getting my Texas football information through social media like everyone else. But waiting an additional 30 minutes doesn’t matter to me and it probably doesn’t matter to the vast majority of the fan base either.

I’ve heard many media members say they want Texas to be good again because it makes their jobs easier. Well if you have a coach who you think can turn the program around, then listen to what they say and quit complaining about it. The players have to do it, the coaches have to do it, so why doesn’t the media have to?

Give Herman the benefit of the doubt, honor his request, and let’s talk football instead of creating unnecessary distractions like this.

E-mail Chase at chase [dot] holik [at] campuspressbox [dot] com and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.
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