clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

College football players speaking their minds is a good thing

New, 48 comments

These are big boys. Let 'em say what's on their minds.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

One of the many running jokes around Good Bull Hunting is our inability to get press credentials from the Texas A&M athletic department. The GBH Pirate Ship gets credentialed by the Southeastern Conference, neutral site stadiums, bowl games, and just about anywhere without Texas A&M letterhead.

In fact, the 12thMan.com website has verbiage that looks to be cobbled together to keep Good Bull Hunting specifically away from it's top secret sports enterprises.

Internet Sites: Credentials will be granted to the official website of each participating institution, the Southeastern Conference and contractual rights-fee paying media and/or the official online service of the national network televising the game. Also receiving consideration will be websites that are part of a national network and those that are affiliated with a national media entity of another form and/or those organizations whose primary purpose is gathering news and disseminating it and for which other commercial activities are ancillary (e.g. espn.com, cbssports.com, si.com, etc.)

Online media with an emphasis on the recruitment of prospective student-athletes (that meet the above qualification) can request a credential(s) for the purpose of writing a game/event recap. These requests will be reviewed on an individual basis by the Texas A&M Media Relations Department. Contact with prospective student-athletes while on the Texas A&M campus is strictly prohibited.

Due to the multitude and wide-ranging requests from outlets that fall under this category, all requests are subject to review by the Texas A&M Media Relations Department with emphasis on the following areas.

1) Must show intent to be viable news organization, not fan-centric site

2) Overwhelming majority of content must be original-news stories, not satirical/fan-related posts or re-posts of non-original news from other media outlets

3) Cannot be inflammatory toward others schools, media outlets

4) Must have established record of meeting the above criteria, either by individual or organization

Credentials will not be granted to any online agency operating sites that are in any way affiliated with gambling. Nor will credentials be granted to "fan-submitted" or un-edited sites that are not affiliated with an established news-gathering organization and/or sites whose sole entity is fan-generated message boards that allow the posting of anonymous comments.

Blogging: The Texas A&M Athletics Department does not credential bloggers. Media representatives already covering the game for an approved media outlet may participate in blogging in accordance with blogging policies of the NCAA and SEC.

This is all paralegal speak to keep the likes of GBH out. And that's fine. GBH does not need credentials to give you, our dear reader, informative, witty, thought-provoking, free content.

Frankly, if you're a REAL media member covering Texas A&M football, I'm not sure that a nifty badge on a lanyard gets you any meaningful access in today's media landscape.

2015 was an incredibly odd, tumultuous year for the football program, but you'd never know it if you only listened to the press conferences. I like to dog the media who covers A&M football for their lazy, softball questions in pressers. The reality is, they run the risk of losing what little program access they have if they veer from the banal sports-speak script that makes for tidy news snippets and an easy job for the Sports Information Director.

Ideally, the implied agreement of getting a press credential is that a professional journalist gets inside access that the average fan does not. In return, the pro journalist will dispense information as they see fit to an audience with an appetite for the aforementioned access.

Recently, A&M-to-Houston transfer quarterback Kyle Allen spoke with Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports. Allen talked about the culture of the football program while he was there, what it was like after Johnny Manziel, and some of the challenges the team faced.

What became so glaring to me as I was reading the piece was just how little we knew Kyle Allen while he was at A&M. We all remember watching that excruciating game in Oxford in late October when an injured Kyle Allen was left to futilely attempt to lead the A&M offense in a losing effort.

Anyone who watched that game knew something was significantly wrong with Allen, but the message from the coaching staff and athletic department was he was fine. Ship shape. Just a tough loss for the team.

I understand Sumlin wanting to keep things in house. I know why teams are vague about injuries. Playing your cards close to the vest works until you've been called bluffing on a losing hand like the program was in December.

Broadly speaking, I appreciated this interview with Kyle Allen because we got to at least hear a little bit of his side of the story. We got to know this kid a little bit. Finally. Yeah, it's hard to read that the culture of your beloved football program is shaky at best.

Because I'm an adult with a couple brain cells to rub together, I also understand context. I know that I'm getting the side of the story from the 20 year old in his exit interview. That's fine. I don't think Allen was out to grind an ax nor did the grapes seem sour. He gave some candid answers about his time at A&M and his reasons for transferring. What was a rather innocuous interview wound up being pretty refreshing.

Coincidentally, back in December, Ed Sherman wrote a compelling piece about the dwindling access to college football players in the last several decades. While the number of media platforms has exploded over that time frame, access has shrunk.

In the last calendar year, we've been left with many more questions than answers around Aggie football. Maybe if the A&M football players had more opportunity to be candid and open with their thoughts and opinions we'd gain even more context. Hell, by allowing these young men to think freely and speak openly the culture of A&M football might start to show signs of characteristics that are too often absent - accountability, leadership, and professionalism*.

Most of these young men are treated like faceless cogs in a billion dollar enterprise. Let's get to know them. Let them tell their stories. Let them be human.

They might just surprise us. Football is fun, after all.

*I wish we paid them so they'd actually be professionals, but that's a rant for another day.