Big 12 Media Days: Kabuki Theater

If you're wondering where all our updates from Big 12 media days are.... uh, this is probably it.  Although some of the journalists who cover the conference make the most out of a dull situation, on the whole the event is far too predictable and scripted to be of much interest.  Journalists waste time either trying to create something resembling a sensational storyline (see: Longhorn Network hysteria), or asking extraordinarily useless/predictable questions that garner extraordinarily useless/predictable answers.

Those two points actually combine to introduce the only thing I'm interested in discussing related to Big 12 media days: Mack Brown's decision to bring three defensive players (Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho, and Blake Gideon) and just a lone offensive player (senior RB Fozzy Whittaker).  Asked why he didn't bring any quarterbacks to media days, Mack Brown explained:

I thought that all of the questions would be what you all know they would be. After doing this a long time. Who's going to start? How many reps are you getting? Why should you be starting? Why do you have a right from last year? What happened to you, Garrett? Why did you mess up? Why did you have so many turnovers? What about the coach? What about coach Davis? Compare him to coach Harsin. And I didn't think any of that was helpful at all, very honestly.

So, what I thought we needed was to get back to work. We needed to make sure that our quarterbacks were focused on one thing, and on one thing only. And that was learning the new offense. Which was going to be complicated. And I didn't need them to have distractions. I didn't need Bryan to have to answer every day about who he thought looked better when he didn't even know their names. He didn't know anything about them. And I did not want the quarterbacks competing for a job until they learned the offense, because I was worried they'd worry more about starting than learning.

David Ubben asked whether Brown was "justified in protecting" his quarterbacks, and I think the answer in the context of media days has to be a resounding yes.  At least right now, prior to fall camp even starting, there's simply no upside in subjecting Gilbert or McCoy or any other QB to a bunch of journalists desperately seeking some interesting copy.  It might be a different story if you could expect journalists to approach the coverage with all appropriate nuance, but Mack Brown is plenty justified in assuming that the focus of the questions would be on the getting the quarterbacks to talk about last year's struggles, a QB controversy, and the like.  There's plenty of potential for the experience to be destructive, and little-to-no upside.  Mack Brown was wise to keep the QBs out of media days.

If, however, as a companion question, we're asking, "should Mack Brown try to protect his quarterbacks all through the fall?" then the answer changes.  The reasons for keeping the QBs out of media days don't necessarily apply once the lights turn on and competition is under way.  That goes for fall practice and games alike.  Once there's football to talk about -- real competition, real practices, real performances, real evaluations -- Mack Brown shouldn't be coddling anyone, and indeed seemed to make things worse for Gilbert last year by doing so. In the meantime, best not to let the journalists create a story where there is none yet.

To be fair to the journalists, these types of media events are trapped in a vicious cycle.  Because the coaches are nonresponsive to so many questions, journalists are forced to create news they can chase.  And the coaches are so wary of journalists' hunger to chase the sensational that they are guarded and unresponsive. 

For the most part, what we get is kabuki theater.  Which is why this is probably the only comment we'll have on Big 12 media days unless Dime makes an appearance to round up links.

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