Another year and another Steve Spurrier feud with the media. Last year Spurrier made national headlines for refusing to talk when State newspaper columnist Ron Morris was in the room. That policy lasted all of about a week. Now Spurrier is refusing to take questions from anyone in the press room for the same reason: he doesn’t like Ron Morris.
This would be the equivalent of refusing to talk to any of your friends because you are upset with one of them, or ignoring everyone at your office because you are mad at the guy in the cubicle next to you.
Spurrier was chipper after the Gamecocks win over Missouri Saturday, but left the podium without taking questions after about a three minute opening statement. No one made too much of it. But Sunday when he did the same thing on his Sunday teleconference, people realized Spurrier was upset and trying to make some sort of point. He was clearly upset about something or someone.
Well, we have learned that something or someone is once again Morris. Spurrier’s latest beef stems from Morris’ piece last week questioning Spurrier for playing Connor Shaw against UAB. Morris, like a lot of people, was skeptical about Shaw’s health going into the Mizzou game. Obviously, Shaw put those questions to bed with his performance Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the skepticism wasn’t without merit.
Spurrier and Morris used to be close enough that they called each other’s cell phones. Now they don’t speak. But now Spurrier is paranoid that Morris is planting questions with others in the media. His solution is not to take questions from anyone in the press, based on the chance it could be coming from the person he doesn’t like.
This isn’t about defending Morris or the media, this is about defending the role of credentialed reporters asking questions and gathering information and being able to freely share their opinions without being cut off. But these days if you don’t cheerlead you are considered a threat. These days it is getting harder and harder to tell the reporters from the fans. Nowadays it isn’t uncommon for someone wearing Gamecock apparel to ask questions at a press gathering. It also isn’t uncommon for a USC employee to ask a question at a press gathering. It’s like this almost everywhere now. Furthermore, those who dare question what a coach or school spoon feeds them get accused of having an agenda and being biased.
No coach is beyond reproach. Remember Joe Paterno? Whatever your stance is on the Penn State case, it is a reminder of how important it is to have a skeptical media and how severe the consequences can be when that doesn’t happen.
Spurrier has every right to take issue with, deny, or defend anything he believes is unfair. He has a platform to do that. But this notion of shutting down anyone and everyone who dares question you is flat wrong.