Colorado State head coach Mike Bobo does not have freshman players speak to the media. Freshman players stood out in Colorado State’s win over Northern Colorado. Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla was rather upset said players were not available to speak.
Kiszla accused Bobo of forcing players to “surrender their first amendment rights.” Their silence, per Kiszla, was “deafening.”
Hill and Kinsey are both old enough to vote for president. Or go to war. Bobo trusts them to keep him gainfully employed in his $1.45 million salary, but apparently doesn’t trust Kinsey or Hill to open their mouths without inserting a foot. I don’t get it. So, on Monday, I asked Bobo to explain his logic.
“Eighteen-year-olds, they’re off from home,” said Bobo, who believes freshmen are overwhelmed merely by learning the game plan and figuring out where class is every morning. “They don’t have mom waking them up or grandma waking them up. They got a lot of responsibility on their own. They’re seeing girls on campus. I want to limit the distractions. I can limit that one.”
College Football is not the NFL. Media members are dependent on schools to provide access. The access provided is often much less than in the professional league. That can stink if you are reporting on it. It’s also not an egregious abrogation of constitutional rights.
Yes, 18-year-olds can vote for president and go to war. They can purchase cancer-causing tobacco. They can even consent to sexual intercourse and publish film of it on the Internet. What 18-year-olds aren’t generally tasked with is being a spokesperson for a multi-million dollar enterprise. Most fully formed adults would be ill-equipped to handle that.
College Football is rife with unreasonableness. We can start with not paying the labor force. But, not having players who arrived on campus in August speaking before the national media in September seems sensible. They aren’t media savvy. The risk of said player causing an embarrassing incident for the school or for himself is real and not worth the “reward” of dispensing game performance bromides.
Media members aren’t going to think “hey, that’s an 18-year-old, maybe I should not tweet that dumb, inflammatory thing he just said to my thousands of followers.”
Shielding freshmen is also not uncommon. Johnny Manziel went through his entire Heisman season at Texas A&M without giving interviews. It was annoying to reporters. But, in retrospect, Kevin Sumlin putting a cork on him for that year was one of the best things anyone in football did for him.
This isn’t about the first amendment or “raising men vs. boys.” It’s about reporting ease. What’s right for media coverage isn’t necessarily right.