Inside Scoop: Interactions with Sports Information Directors
Earlier this evening we had something happen that we want to share with our audience.
It started with a typical text, this one from a coach we weren't familiar with. "Coach ____ is going to be out at _____." This probably won't shock anyone reading this; but yes, we do get quite a lot of texts like this. Our standard protocol is to attempt to verify this information before publishing. At most programs we have a contact we can call to verify things fairly quickly. In this case, and this is fairly rare, no one on our staff had a contact at the program described. We sat tight.
About 15 minutes later we received a second text relaying very similar info as the first text. This time, the sender is a trusted source who frequently sends us information that is accurate. We text back asking if it was good to publish the info and he said it was. Think about how bad it would be if players, or even staff members, found out about a head coaching change from reading it on FootballScoop.
See, the goal of this website isn't to "break news"; in fact it pains us to have to report that coaches are being let go. However, nearly every coach around the country utilizes FootballScoop these days to follow and understand (and even get out front of) the flow of coaching movement. Our goal is to help coaches through the delivery of timely and accurate coaching job information; and we've been doing that pretty well since 1999.
OK, so back to the events of this evening. Upon receiving the second text (from a trusted source) we decided to publish the information; but at the same time I lobbed in a phone call (and subsequently an email) to the SID just to verify and to let them know we were publishing it. We never reveal sources and don't want to provide too much information to divulge the program and coach involved; but here's the issue. We were told that the coach has been notified that this upcoming game will be his last with the program; but that's tricky if the team hasn't been told.
At some programs, the SID would not even return the call / email. At some programs he'd give the party line, "I can't discuss that" or "I have no knowledge..."
Tonight was different and that's why we're writing this article. Tonight, the SID responded via email nearly immediately to say, "Please hold off publishing that. I'll be back in touch shortly." [Our short blurb on The Scoop had been published for a few minutes and at this time we decided to remove it as a courtesy.] About 5 minutes later the SID emailed again to say, "Let's just say that the agreement has not been completely signed off on and all parties have not been informed. We would appreciate it if you would hold off publishing that until everyone involved knows. When it happens you will be the first person I tell."
Not every SID would respond like that; but we sure do appreciate it (and find it professional) when they do. In this case, it saved the program involved from having to deal with a very awkward situation. It would be nice if everyone in the business acted as responsibly as this SID did. For those that think we're doing the wrong thing by not publishing the information, think about how you would feel if your wife or son or your players read that you were being let go on the site before you told them yourself. This will play out within a few days. No need to rush the news of a firing.
On a related note, this morning we saw this tweet from Vanderbilt offensive line coach Herb Hand:
The temptation to form premature theories upon insufficient data is the bane of our profession. -Sir Arthur Conan Doyle // Rumors vs Reality— Herb Hand (@CoachHand) November 20, 2012
The truth is, we at FootballScoop think rumors are horrible for the profession and we've worked extensively to help coaches deal in reality since I bought FootballScoop nearly five years ago. I personally make a number of calls daily to coaches and sometimes to Sports Information Directors / Media Relations staff to discuss the rumors and offer to set the record straight. If there is something that is not true that is floating around out there that is causing a problem for your staff or your program feel free to give me a call anytime and I'll help set the record straight.
I'll offer up this final nugget and then I'm out... a wise man once advised me, "Do the right thing, and always tell the truth and you'll never get in trouble."