Adams: Please the fans, not the media

John Adams

If you detected a whine emanating from Neyland Stadium late Thursday afternoon, that was media at work. The sound was a predictable journalistic response to denied access.

In this case, the denial was historic. With rare exceptions, Tennessee football scrimmages have been open to the media, regardless of the coach in charge.

New coach Derek Dooley has changed that. Scrimmages, like the bulk of every practice, are closed to the media.

The reaction from UT fans was predictable. Thousands of them gathered outside the football complex Friday to protest the closed scrimmage.

Just kidding. Killer bees are a more pressing concern to the general populace, including casual and hard-core football fans who have figured out that media access has no correlation to winning or losing.

Accessible coaches like Bobby Bowden at Florida State and Pete Carroll at Southern California won multiple national championships. So has Alabama's Nick Saban, who, compared to Carroll, is downright reclusive.

Bill Snyder, whose rebuilding job at Kansas State ranks with the greatest accomplishments in college football, has run his program with a tight fist. Mike Leach, who had a successful run at Texas Tech, was as restrictive as any coach in the country. He didn't lose his job for locking out the media. He lost it for locking up Craig James' son.

You can find examples of success and failure on either side of the access issue. Whether Dooley puts his program in a compound with guards at the gate or declares open house for fans and media alike, it won't put the Vols one game closer to a bowl game this fall.

His media policy, which also limits access to assistant coaches, won't even have much impact on coverage. Only if a coach disallowed player interviews would you notice a significant change. Not even Saban does that.

Dooley's policy is revealing nonetheless, and the revelation has nothing to do with the media. It speaks to his flexibility.

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton was wowed by Dooley's organizational skills in the interview process. As an inveterate planner, I can appreciate that. When you ask a head-coaching candidate to outline his grand plan, the last thing you want to hear is "Day to day, Dude; I roll with whatever they throw at me."

But sometimes, the grand plan needs editing. You don't have to stray far from UT's football office to find an example of that.

UT basketball coach Bruce Pearl took his team to the Elite Eight this season by eschewing the full-court, up-tempo game that he learned and embraced as an assistant coach under Dr. Tom Davis and later implemented as a head coach. But this team's personnel was better suited to a half-court game, so Pearl adapted and adjusted.

If you set aside your how-to-build-a-program handbook, you might conclude that the current state of UT football could be enhanced by more access, not less. I'm not talking about the media. I'm talking about fans.

And I'm talking about something as intangible as goodwill.

The best way to build goodwill is to win all the time, and by outrageous margins as often as possible. As you might have heard, that's not the consensus prediction for the next couple of seasons.

The next best way to build goodwill is to build a connection with the fans. So why not open all spring and preseason scrimmages to the general public and invite groups to practice? You could have student day, car dealer day, doctor day, and - if you're willing to risk the possible litigation that could ensue from someone tripping over a sprinkler head - attorney day.

Give the fans a chance to see how hard your team is working. Let them see how organized and up-tempo your practices are. Let them know that "we're all in this together."

What's the worst thing that could happen? It might slip out that the offense doesn't remind anyone of "The Greatest Show on Turf"?

When you're winning championships, you can kick the athletic director out of practice. In the meantime, if fans want to watch this team scrimmage, welcome them. If they're that invested, maybe they would be more apt to stick around in the fourth quarter next season when Alabama fans are threatening to take over Neyland Stadium.

And none of them could say, "I can see why they didn't want anyone to see their scrimmages."

John Adams may be reached at 865-342-6284 or adamsj@knoxnews.com.

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Comments » 34

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Interesting article on what it takes to get your jersey number retired at Tennessee...

http://www.rockytoptalk.com/2010/4/2/...

orangecountyvols writes:

Adams, Hooker and co. don't need to see the practices.
They already know it all anyway.

Don't worry about the fans..........they aren't the ones complaining.

VOLinAthensGA writes:

Actually, the day I heard Coach Dooley p'd off the media is the day I donated to the VASF for the first time after graduating twenty years ago. I thought it was a great move, and I am not alone. GBO!

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

CDD has enough on his plate. He does not need the media looking over his shoulder - - suggesting what to do or questioning his decisions. He must get to know who and what he has and build the team and the game plans with the hand he has been dealt. I'm sure he is trying players at different positions and some of that will not work out; he will have to make those decisions and he does not need any media type helping him. What UT puts on the field next year will be a "secret" and it maybe somewhat different than the teams he had at La. Tech; simply because of the personnel he has available to him at UT. Having a "secret" game plan is good. Besides I've never seen the media win a football game!!! Besides no matter what a coach does someone in the media will always question something that went on during the season. He was hired to rebuild Tennessee Football - - he knows and understands what that means to the UT Fan. He grew up watching SEC football close up!!!

vut56#231073 writes:

Excellent comments thus far; the press grumbles because their product is limited. Out of 100,000 or so, who will pony up to attend games...how many have the time or inclination to watch practice? A few dozen?

If one will take the time to look at a cross section of other papers covering major programs, including the pros, KNS stands out with overkill. Elsewhere, if there is no news, no news is reported. And, rarely, is there four or more reporters/editors scrambling each day for something to write. At KNS, we are fed scrambled news; can't tell the news from the opeds. Sad for us, as it could be better.

KNS should report what news there is to report, and give an opinion with one is called for. Don't need to attend practice to offer an opinion. I just have.

OldNumber7 writes:

Bunch of whining babies.

Waterturkey writes:

I actually agree with John on this one. A reason to believe in this guy would be nice. I can't see how this overall reclusiveness is helping the program.

OrangePride writes:

CDD will do it his way and we will all have to wait and see how it all shakes out on O/W day. That said, one or two open scrimages would not hurt in the PR department. But if CDD decides to keep things more controlled, I'm not going to lose any enthusiasm for our VOLS. Looking forward to Orange and White Day.

tnaseevol writes:

I hope that we won't be saying: 'Now I can see why CDD didn't want anyone seeing practice'

We shall see on April 17!

GBO

TnScooby writes:

Ok so now since the "media" aren't allowed access the fans should be in an uproar because their access is limited as well....I for one trust CDD to do things HIS way...He will be the one responsible for the results...But to write this article in an attempt to stir up the fans...wow...that's a stretch...Not being allowed at practice only adds some mystery to it all...The ultimate will be watching the games and if any Vol fans need info, there are PLENTY of ways to get it...Do it your way CDD and let the chips fall where they may.....

FWBVol writes:

I've said it before and I'll say it again...from what I've heard about the General he had less use for the media than does Derek Dooley so I wonder how he would handle all of the modern press distractions.

Dooley has a job to do and that is get our team up to speed. He's trying to teach the team a fourth offense in four years and the defense a third defense in three years. I understand why he is trying to keep outside influences and distractions away from practice.

As a fan, as long as there are the normal fan day activities associated with the Orange and White game and CDD takes part in the off season events UT coaches are expected to participate in, I'll be satisfied.

These coaches and players are still getting to know each other and that takes time to bond together as a football family without inviting everyone in the neighborhood.

pinevol writes:

Adams, you are a leach. Whether the media has access or not does not mean a thing to the average fan. Stop trying to patronize them. I am positive you will find a way to avenge Coach Dooley's obvious snub to the almighty.

newportvol writes:

Can all the sports writers for kns move west and cover USC.. Unprofessional.. Belongs Out west not Here.. Adams you suck and it just goes down the line to Strange Hooker And Griffin.. Please Leave..

99gator writes:

i don't think some of you read adams' article or seemed to miss what i took out of the article as his main point......and i would agree.

what i got out of it is that making the media angry is fine, but you might want to be fan friendly especially since the team will struggle in the next couple of years anyway.

and i completely agree.

you may disagree now, but you will begin to say things like....."we used to watch practice before and that's when we won 10 or 11 games, not 6". or "it would be nice to hear what someone else in the program has to say besides a coach who can't win more than 6 games".

you don't think you will say those things, but i think you will......especially if the team stinks up the joint.

rusty_shackleford writes:

Overcome, adapt, improvise! No one respects a whiner.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

in response to 99gator:

i don't think some of you read adams' article or seemed to miss what i took out of the article as his main point......and i would agree.

what i got out of it is that making the media angry is fine, but you might want to be fan friendly especially since the team will struggle in the next couple of years anyway.

and i completely agree.

you may disagree now, but you will begin to say things like....."we used to watch practice before and that's when we won 10 or 11 games, not 6". or "it would be nice to hear what someone else in the program has to say besides a coach who can't win more than 6 games".

you don't think you will say those things, but i think you will......especially if the team stinks up the joint.

Think Brantley can get you back to the SEC CG?

No more fullback taking direct snaps, you know.

99gator writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

Think Brantley can get you back to the SEC CG?

No more fullback taking direct snaps, you know.

yeah, i believe brantley will get them there. once they get there is a different story.

he better not get hurt.

but, if not florida.....who?

springtx_vol writes:

I for one have no desire to watch a practice for any sport. Why do fans or media think they have the right to do whatever they want? As to building good will, I would rather see CDD, the assistants and the players mixing with the fans out in the community rather than on the practice field. The practice field should be business first.

CrankE writes:

I think the whine was coming from the KNS megaplex off Western Avenue. Not Neyland Stadium. And what do you care, John since you do commentary instead of factual journalism. I mean, isn't Tebow in a combine somewhere you could go see him or something?

Fire John Adams.

RockyTop1 writes:

Maybe KNS could do reporting - meaning a little leg work instead of rewritting other papers material? GO CDD and GO VOLS!!

pomp_and_circumstance writes:

What has changed? Rucker of the Chatt.Free Press has been our only source of Vol football hard (or soft)news for the past few years anyway. Without him and ESPN, KNS would have no MEDIA imprint at all.

vols2#227315 writes:

Why not fire Hamilton and Doodley. Let Hamilton pay Doodley the 4 million buy out of his salary and benefits. We need a real football coach.

back2backchamps writes:

in response to Navalorange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

If you actually believe a coach (especially a Saban disciple) is going to lighten up with regards to access if he is successful then you are naive. Coaches like Dooley, Meyer, Saban, etc. believe the more control they have over their program the more successful they will be.
It always amazes me that the same people that get on here and bash KNS for not writing more articles about UT, have no problem with the media having less access.

nola_vol writes:

"The next best way to build goodwill is to build a connection with the fans. So why not open all spring and preseason scrimmages to the general public and invite groups to practice? ... Give the fans a chance to see how hard your team is working. Let them see how organized and up-tempo your practices are. Let them know that "we're all in this together."

Gee, I never presumed otherwise. Goodwill? You mean, I might be rooting AGAINST Dooley's success? I might have thought they were NOT working hard; and that practices were DISorganized?

Maybe it's because I DON'T live in Knoxville. Once you get out of K-town, Big Orange loyalty is pretty firm.

CroKev writes:

I doubt he ever does but can you imagine Dooley or any of his assistants reading this site? Let's get real here. This is a site for hard-up Vol fans looking for any info they can on the football team. It doesn't matter what our opinions are or what the media's opinions are. Dooley can do WHATEVER he wants and his recent contract makes that explicit. If he goes under .500 the next 2 seasons, he's still not going to let that change his mind on letting outsiders have access to his practices. UT is not going to fire him because of the 'parachutes' in place in his contract. Whine all you want but no fan or media person will have any effect on how he runs his team. And you know what? That's how it should be.

roloyo writes:

If pizzin' and moanin' will change things you and Hook should be at the stadium bright and early in the morning. If you happen to find out that doesn't work, maybe you should just STFU about it.....I know I'm tired of hearin' it.

Note: P and M didn't work for me either when I didn't get a bonus this year.

GBO

dvol writes:

in response to imnotDC:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree 100 percent. Unless D.D. is changing everything about the offense and defense. Which by the way with his success at his other job. That wouldn't be a bad ideal. Next season when the fans can't believe how bad we are. We will all wonder what they did in all those closed practices.

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

in response to orangeluvr:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Thanks for telling us about it...I really enjoyed reading it. Here's the link: http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/20...

SuckTheseVols98 writes:

in response to Waterturkey:

I actually agree with John on this one. A reason to believe in this guy would be nice. I can't see how this overall reclusiveness is helping the program.

it's called FOCUS...

OrangePsyched writes:

just read the article on Matt Simms in the Free Press. Very good read. I still believe that if it finished close that Simms gets the call and let Bray put on some weight. I would like more of these player profiles. You don't have to be at practive necessarily to write these. Dooley do what you feel is necessary as it is you name we will be praising or cursing this fall.

not_guilty writes:

in response to orangeluvr:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This is not the school's site. It is the newspaper's site.

FireJohnAdams writes:

"The next best way to build goodwill is to build a connection with the fans."
************
I can't believe John Adams wrote this!!!! Absolutely Hilarious! Oxymoron, pun intended!

hueypilot writes:

Anything that works a hardship on the media is fine with me. Bunch of blood sucking bottom feeding leeches.

JMO.

Colliervol writes:

Since we're on the topic of the media and newspapers in particular, I had a question for the folks in Nashville and Knoxville. Are the Tennessean and KNS shrinking like the Commercial Appeal? One would swear that the CA is on the Atkins Diet since it has lost so much weight. Not sure but I'm pretty certain that their Monday edition is now smaller than the Paris Post-Intelligencer. Look at it any day and if you totaled up the articles in the sports section, they would add up to about one page out of five, the rest being ads. It truly isn't worth reading any more. Wouldn't surprise me if it closed up shop at any time and Memphis was left without a newspaper.

I know. Shocking as it may seem, there are some of us down here that can actually read.

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