Yesterday we reported news of a grad assistant leaving one program to accept a quality control position at another program. We do this nearly every single day this time of year, our bread and butter. We report it...the coaching profession appreciates & relies upon this info. Trust me on this.
In this case a defensive grad assistant was leaving Mississippi State for a quality control position at Miami.
So, I was taken aback a bit when Mississippi State's director of media relations Bill Martin chose to tweet the following in response to our report that one of their guys was leaving for Miami.
Martin's tweet wasn't thinly veiled, it was a direct shot at FootballScoop.
A friend brought Martin's tweet to my attention 20 minutes or so after he tweeted it and I found it out of character for Bill. I picked up the phone and called him...and then things got really weird.
I'll paraphrase to keep it succinct:
Martin: Boy, I bet I know why you're calling [snicker].
Scott: Hi Bill, so, that tweet seemed a bit harsh and, well, unprofessional.
Martin: If you took it as unprofessional, well that's your perspective.
Scott: Well, it was a direct shot at my company and it isn't even close to truthful.
Martin: Scott, I have a file in my desk of every single tweet you've made in the past two years about Mississippi State. Every one of them is inaccurate. Every single one of them.
Scott: Well Bill, let's discuss those. What we tweeted today was accurate. We reported that Hopson was offered the final spot...
Martin: Dan has said publicly that we haven't officially offered him and we won't offer anyone until after signing day.
Scott: I'll stand by my sources on that one; but if it is wrong we'll acknowledge. So next we reported DeShea was leaving for the NFL which was true. You guys hired Sirmon which we reported when we heard it at the AFCA.
Martin: Yep, both of those were right.
Scott: We had reported that O was Dan's first choice for DC. If you tell me that's wrong then you simply don't know the truth.
Martin: I'm not saying you were wrong we just didn't appreciate the way you characterized it as Dan being "all in" on O.
Scott: Ok, I then reported that Paul Rhoads was coming to town for second visit and noted that nothing was signed yet. That was accurate.
Scott: Before that we broke the news that Sleepy was leaving to accept a job at Jackson State.
Martin: Forgot about that.
Scott: Well, just before that we broke the news that Savage was going to be the new head strength coach.
Martin: I see where you're going...
Scott: Wait, there's more...We reported that Tony Hughes was going to get the Jackson State job...and you guys flat denied it. In fact, you fed local media a line of "Tony hasn't even spoken with them" the day before he accepted the job.
Martin: Well, you reported that right in the middle of a critical recruiting period.
Scott: Right, and it was a done deal when we reported it. Then you guys deny he's even had contact with them and then miraculously the next day he's the new head coach. That's not right Bill.
Martin: Look man, I don't view you as traditional media. We're trying to train our local coverage that everything needs to come through us first. We've told them point blank that they shouldn't write articles based off of your tweets or reports.
Scott: Bill, I'm not "traditional media" but man you guys have to deal in reality.
Martin: I wouldn't credential you. I wouldn't give you access to our press box.
Scott: Bill, I'm not asking for a credential or press box access. [???] My point is that tweet you pushed publicly was really unprofessional. You could have called me if you had some issue with me; but at the very least be truthful in your tweet.
Martin: Well I didn't mean not to be truthful but I don't think I was unprofessional in the tweet. I've had a lot of people tell me they agree with my tweet. I mean I get hate mail tweets all the time. It's part of the business. You have to be able to deal with it.
Scott: Bill, if MSU Super Fan tweets stupidity at me because they don't know what is really going on I'm fine with that and ignore it. But I think the profession expects a higher standard from an SID.
Martin: I'm not a Super Fan. If you felt that tweet was a shot at you, well that's your choice; but man I get hate mail tweets all the time. You have to have thick skin.
Scott: Well it was, and I think just by having this conversation you now realize that your statement in your tweet that this was the first accurate thing from FootballScoop in years was silly and irresponsible.
Martin: Again man, that's your perspective. The point is you've reported a lot of things about Dan trying to get other jobs and I just don't think that's the case. You reported that he was trying to get Miami and that he was the leading candidate for Virginia Tech when that simply wasn't the case.
Scott: Well actually, ESPN reporters were the ones who confirmed Dan was seeking the Miami job.
Local Miami reporters reported it and I think the C-L even came around to reporting it eventually. We just noted that the ESPN guys had reported it. We didn't break that news. Regarding Virginia Tech, we were told that VT was seriously considering Dan. They ultimately hired Fuente. If our info that they were considering Dan was wrong, then I'm sorry. I believed the source who I felt was in a position to know.
Martin: Look man you've reported a lot of things about Dan that didn't happen. That's just a fact.
Minutes later Martin called me back:
Martin: Scott, look, let me make you an offer that I bet no one has ever offered you. How about anytime in the future when you have something regarding Mississippi State you call me. I'll tell you if it is true and if it is a good time to report it.
Scott: Bill, first of all, I presumed you knew this; but our sources are almost always the guys involved or their head coaches. At 99% of the programs nationwide we either get the info from someone with direct knowledge or we call someone there and check. I used to call Dan until last year with Hev when you told me not to call you or Dan anymore.
Martin: I didn't tell you that.
Scott: Um, yeah, you did. Remember the night when we reported Hev was going to get the USC offensive line job? I had called Dan and Hev to confirm but they didn't answer or respond. You then called me and said Hev wasn't leaving and that I shouldn't call you or Dan in the future. I then got in touch with Sark who confirmed Hev's interest but said he was just one of a few guys still involved...and ultimately we all know he didn't get the job. Our initial info on that, that he was going to get the job, was wrong and we corrected it that night, within an hour or two I think.
Martin: Oh, yes, now I do remember that. Ok; well going forward call me if you want to know what is good to report.
Scott: Bill, I really don't think you guys should be dictating to folks when they should be reporting things.
.... We exchanged pleasantries and moved on.
Here's the deal, twenty plus years ago I went to Ole Miss so naturally Mississippi State fan assumes I'm anti State. The truth is I think Dan Mullen is a quality football coach who has forever raised the bar in Starkville. These past few years with Dak Prescott have been program-changing for State and the beat down they put on LSU for 3 plus quarters in 2014 in Tiger Stadium was one of the biggest whippings I've ever witnessed. I'm not anti-State. We simply report what is happening in the coaching profession to help other coaches know what is happening... and we're generally considered exceptionally accurate nationwide... other than by Mississippi State fan, and, well, apparently by Mississippi State's SID. We can live with that and we will always strive to improve; but I would hope we could all learn a bit of professionalism from this dialogue.