Dan Mullen spoke with reporters after Mississippi State's practice Tuesday. Nothing at all out of the ordinary there.Toward the end of an otherwise totally normal post-practice session, Mullen's availability took a very abnormal turn.
The turn started when a reporter asked about the status of injured players. His question was about wide receiver Gabe Myles and another player whose name the reporter couldn't get out before Mullen cut it off.
Here's the exchange in full:
Reporter: "You may have been asked this already, but do you expect maybe Gabe and....
Mullen: "I expect everybody to play, and I'll never comment on an injury again because you guys obviously don't need me to comment on injuries because you know more than I do. You report more than I would ever say, for the benefit of young people, not so you can get a scoop out, and their futures. We'll never comment on an injury again in this program again so please don't ever ask."
Coaches and the reporters who cover them have job interests than sometimes intersect in uncomfortable ways, none more than the reporting of injuries. But just because Mullen isn't talking about injuries doesn't mean reporters won't.
Reporters write about what their fans want to read about, and fans want to know about injuries. So simply not talking about injuries won't kill the demand for that information. Instead, it'll just send it underground.
Assuming he follows through with this new off-the-hip policy, it's hard to see how it won't end up backfiring on Mullen. Rather than provide a simple injury report reporters can officially confirm (the NFL provides more injury information than any college team, and that league seems to be doing okay), Mullen will send reporters scrambling for more unconfirmed information, leading to only more speculation. And that doesn't help coaches, it doesn't help fans or media, and it certainly doesn't benefit the players involved.