Bowden Speaks On Gundy, Media Criticism

by - Correspondent -

Following is the transcript of part of Dan Scott's Thursday interview with head coach Tommy Bowden Thursday on The Drive, 104.9 FM, WCCP.

DS: In your press conference Tuesday you were asked about the blowup by Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy at the reporter. But there was one question that wasn't asked that I thought was at the heart of this matter. You've always made your players available to the press, treating it as another lesson they have to learn in the life of a college football player. But the question I had was about the type of criticism a player gets. Some of Jenni Carlson's criticisms of the OSU quarterback were personal, not on performance. And I think that's where Gundy got upset. Do you have an opinion on what the media has a right to criticize and what it doesn't?

TB: I think most of the criticism should be directed at the coach. As I said in my press conference, I'm not 100 percent but I try to be as high a percentage as possible. If a player messes up he wasn't prepared by the coach. The position coach (or) the coordinator. Ultimately it comes down to me to see that those people are doing their job. If a quarterback doesn't perform...then to me attack the position coach, the coordinator or head coach. If a player doesn't perform it's the coach's fault, not so much the players. Now, I might have a different opinion in my own personal staff meeting or a private team meeting. And I'm not always 100 percent accurate myself making that clear to the press. But that's what I try to do.

DS: Some criticism is unavoidable. You used the example that if a receiver drops four passes, he drops four passes. There's no getting around that. But in this case when the reporter insinuates he's a mama's boy, insinuates he's too scared to play because at one time he admitted he was nervous, in your opinion does that cross the line a little bit?

TB: Yeah, I think that's going above and beyond...Adults are more mature. Have a little more wisdom. At 18, 19, 20 years old there's a lot of pressure on them anyway. A lot of it is self-imposed pressure. Players want to do well. But to criticize a guy personally from a media standpoint, I think most of your media people wouldn't think that would be fair or be the proper etiquette.

DS: What about the argument that's being made by some of the people defending her that players are public figures, and by virtue of being a public figure they should expect this type of thing?

TB: In the professional ranks, yes, when they're paid. At the NCAA level the criticism should be directed toward the coach and not personally toward the player...Professional athletes, I think they're fair game. But not at the collegiate level.

DS: One final question. Are you sure that just for one week you and I can't change jobs? And salaries?

TB: (laughs) Football coaches are well paid. But I tell you what. We get a chunk taken out of our rear. I never thought about that, because I said when I was an assistant 'Boy, you give me that much money (and) I'll take it.' I'm sure a lot of people in a normal profession (would too). But then throw your name out there nationally as one of the worst coaches in America -that public criticism - then your child, your wife, your father have to take it. You say 'Yeah, I can take it for that much money.' But personal is personal, and family members take it personally. There are people that are well paid, but boy it takes it out of you mentally and physically when you are publicly criticized. Don't get in the profession if you can't handle it.

And I'm sure you're criticized a good bit, by either Clemson or South Carolina (fans), depending on what you say or write. You get criticized by 50 percent of the people, so you get some yourself. It's never fun.

DS: Hey, I get criticized when I go home and usually it has nothing to do with sports.

TB: My wife, I'm taking her off the payroll. She gets me worse than anything.

DS: As always thanks for the time coach and good luck Saturday at Georgia Tech.

TB: Thank you, Dan. See ya'll in Atlanta.

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