The day begins with a fantastic meal provided by the ACC. Commisioner John Swofford then begins his twice a year forum where he speaks with the media, answering questions. As this concludes, everyone breaks up into their respective groups to interview the student-athletes from each school.
The format allows for members of each style of media to gather inside the Grandover Resort and spend a few minutes with each team’s representatives. Players are brought into each room, placed in front of microphones and the attending media members are given free reign to ask virtually any question their heart desires.
Inside the “Taped Radio” room, 10-12 members sit quietly. Once the go ahead is given, the awkwardness begins. Usually, 5-10 or more seconds go by before someone steps up and asks that first question and gets the ball rolling. In reality, most media members could not care less what the players have to say. In fact, as a general rule, once a set of players answers the questions asked, you could just play back that same response when the next set sit down. Of course, you’d want to change the voices. But, in general the responses all sound like an episode of Charlie Brown, with the teacher spouting a series of Wah whaa wha, wha whaaa wha wha.
The player’s answers are pretty consistent. “We approach each game the same way”, “Coach has really increased the intensity of our workouts”, “We feel like this is our year to step up”, “Losing XXXX is tough, but it gives other guys a chance to make an impact”, “We’re just try to get better every game”.
Of course, some years are different. In 2011, the University of North Carolina brought their players into a firestorm, with the program under investigation. The “handler” for the players asked the media members to refrain from asking about the investigation. That worked out like it does when you ask a 5 year old to stay away from the open paint container. Media members aren’t very cooperative when asked not to do something.
Speaking with several media members along press row, the feeling seems to be mutual. In reality, the media members play their part, and the student-athletes play their part. But, the real meat and potatoes occurs on Monday when the coach’s descend and take their positions in the hot seat.
Last year, North Carolina’s Butch Davis sat down to that proverbial firestorm. The questions started generic, but they soon moved to questions about his program that was under investigation. Within a few questions, his “handler” was rushing him out of the room, and within a couple of days he was fired as the head coach. Apparently the folks in Chapel Hill thought they could just sweep him through. Lesson learned.
So, today everyone plays their respective part. Later tonight, dinner will be served and the festivities will begin and roll late into the evening. Media, coaches, and players will wake early for the annual Skeeter Francis Memorial Golf Tournament. Once complete, the coaches will take their turns. Ears will perk up, tape recorders will actually be turned on, and hopefully the fireworks will begin.
In fact, could we just skip along to the Miami Head Coach? I hear there are some funky things happening down there in Florida. Tomorrow, we shall see.