Did some digging today and before I get to that colleague Mark Wogenrich of the Morning Call has a good recap of everything that’s transpired from this Rose Bowl fall out.
I talked with BCS media rep Bill Hancock this afternoon. Hancock is out in Pasadena for the annual BCS meetings. Here is what I got from him on the situation.
First, he said was totally unaware of the statement issued by the Rose Bowl late Wednesday. So I caught him up to speed.
Second, he told me the rule is this; The locker room is supposed to be open, however any player that does not play in the game does not have to stick around for availability afterward.
Third, the reason Joe Paterno was fined/punished for his non-interview with Lisa Salters is because per the agreement with ABC and the Rose Bowl and teams involved in the game, both coaches must either open their locker room before the game to allow TV to film the pregame speech he delivers to the team, or they must conduct an interview with a sideline reporter on the sideline prior to kickoff. Joe did neither, that’s fair game as far as I am concerned.
Those rules are in agreement with the BCS, Rose Bowl and Football Writer’s Association of America (of which I am also a member of). Apparently the FWAA, which has had issues with Joe and the PSU brass in the past, got wind of this, fired off a letter to the Rose Bowl and there you have it, a couple of slaps on the wrist and/or a fine come out.
After a mandatory 10 minute cool-of period after the game, Paterno was taken via golf cart to a tent on the side of the stadium, almost opposite of where the PSU locker room was, he conducted his postgame presser with Daryll Clark, Deon Butler and (if memory serves me correct) Lydell Sargeant. At this time if you choose to opt out of going to the press tent for the coaches, some players came out of the locker room and were available.
Close to 20 players were available to us postgame, all starters, with the exception of injured running back Evan Royster and Stephfon Green, kicker Kevin Kelly and punter Jeremy Boone were available. Dennis Landolt might have slipped out as well but remember he was also knicked up in the game.
One reporter who is not a regular on the PSU beat, was upset at the lack of “openess” to the locker room, mentioned something to a PSU rep and shared his feelings with others in the pressbox after the interviews were over, a couple of others nodded in agreement and voiced the same criticism. But the issue is this….out of the 20 or so players who were available to speak were significant players, including Aaron Maybin and Mo Evans, who we had badgered all week about the NFL rumors, including Navorro Bowman who played the game despite finding out some 12 hours before hand that his high school coach and close friend died in an accident, including members of the secondary who were torched in that game, including Daryll Clark, you get the point.
Who else was needed for interviews? Why make a point of arguing about the openness of the locker room when there is no need to do such? Just asking. Who was going to be interviewed? A freshman o-lineman that didn’t see a snap?
As a member of the FWAA, I do like the open locker room policy, I think it’s something I wish all colleges did even during the regular season, but I am not going to bicker about it especially if I am someone who doesn’t cover Penn State on a regular basis. Out of the hundred or so reporters that covered the game, none from the USC side had complained they had no PSU locker room access, and none on the PSU beat did either….heck, we probably had more access during that postgame than even a regular season game at home.
If this is in addition to some of the tricks Jim Tressel has pulled in recent years, such as leaving a star linebacker out of a defensive media day, not bringing a quarterback to an offensive media day and cutting off access to a freshman quarterback during the last two bowls, then something has to be rearranged when it comes to rules and access granted during bowl weeks.
What it came down to on the night of the Rose Bowl, with fans filing out, with writers walking around the stadium trying to find the media tent, with guys sweating deadline (some weren’t even able to go downstairs for comments because of deadlines), you had to choose what you wanted. Did you want to do both the media tent and the locker room? And if so, what you got from both was good enough.