College Coaches: Let your players talk!

Photo: AP Sports

680 THE FAN, ATLANTA – It’s time for college coaches to have more trust in their players. One way, is with the media.

I’m just going to say it. Georgia is one of those programs who should open up their program to the media and let the fans get to know these players for more than just being about football. Kirby Smart definitely follows the same playbook that Nick Saban does over at Alabama.

I get it, if you don’t want freshmen to talk. But, please allow for the other players in your program to be able to go through the interview process.

We hear coaches preach accountability and growth. Be about it in all ways. One of them, is players finding out how they’re perceived without the helmets and pads on.

I know what some people are saying… Coaches might be afraid of what these players might say. You shouldn’t worry about that. If they say something their not supposed to let out, that’s part of life. Address it with them and it’s no longer an issue.

Another thing I hear, is they’re trying to “protect these guys.” From what? Please tell me a media entity in all of college football, who is looking to do a “gotcha” on an 18-21 year old kid. Chances are, they won’t be interviewing your players for long.

It’s also painfully obvious that some of the players who speak to the media are incredibly coached up on what to say. Let them decide how to address questions. That is part of life. If they’re being asked about football, it’s not going to be a quantum physics exam. Trust me, they’ll be just fine in interviews.

Let’s also think about the fact that these men will have to hang up the cleats some day. That means they’ll soon be sitting in an office, across from someone who is trying to decide if they’r right for their company. Interview skills are important and would serve them beyond the game of football.

The largest kept secret in football, is that critical thinking doesn’t seem to be encouraged. It’s very much read and react. That’s fine. But if you want your players to succeed after the game, critical thinking is something that will surely benefit them.

I’m not going to harp long on the way coaches are handled. But if we’re being honest, the coordinators have no business being off limits from the media during the season. If people are going to be critical of their decisions, why are they not able to speak up for themselves? Besides, don’t you want them to become head coaches some day?

Coach, I’m sure you can even agree that you learned a lot from your first season, in regards to how you handled yourself with the media? Why shouldn’t others get that chance?

Coach Smart, I really think you’d notice a huge difference in the way your team is covered. Familiarity is a good thing.

When Mike Smith coached the Falcons, he’d throw a yearly golf tournament for the local media. Three members would be paired up with a coach. It was a fun day and no “secrets” were divulged. It gave us a chance to get to know them as people.

I’m not asking you to completely open the door to everyone. It would just be nice for a lot of players to get their chance to grow through the interview process. The more they do it, the more they’ll become confident in their answers. That’s a chance to grow.

Also, when you have experience, the less likely you are to make mistakes. That way, everyone wins.

Players want a voice more than ever. Please give them that opportunity.

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