In the age of social media, the pressing need for media training in college football has become more prevalent than ever. UCLA head coach Jim Mora is no exception.
"When you're talking about UCLA, it's one of the great schools in the world—not just America, but in the world. It's a safe, beautiful campus in a great area of town. I mean, we don't have murders one block off our campus."
Most people's initial reactions after having heard that statement were, "Yikes." Yikes is right. Especially because Mora is now going to have a lot of angry USC fans at his doorstep after two Trojan students were killed near the campus last April.
Mora did apologize on Thursday before practice, per ESPN Los Angeles. He said,
"After learning the details of the shootings downtown earlier this year, I can understand how my comments on the radio yesterday could be interpreted as insensitive to the victims and their families. The interviewer and myself were talking about UCLA football and the tremendous attributes of the UCLA campus and I truly regret and I'm sorry if my words caused any pain. That was not my intention."
I believe him. Mora really did not intend to offend anyone. He was simply trying to talk about the UCLA campus, which is in a nice part of Los Angeles. However, what he said clearly came across as a dig at his cross-town rival.
This incident is just another in a long list of head coaches who have proved that media training is desperately needed in college football. Whether it is Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini snapping at the media during weekly press conferences or the University of South Carolina's head coach Steve Spurrier trying to be funny (but failing), there have been too many verbal missteps among college coaches. So, most schools would be wise to require media training.
Spurrier, for example, has sparked message boards from various schools all over the country talking about the things he has said. While the head coach may not care what his critics or opposing teams' fans think, he represents his university. That is something not many head coaches care to think about, but it is true.
It is important to note that no amount of media training will ever prevent a head coach from saying something he shouldn't, but it can at least equip him to hopefully convey what he means a little better. For coaches that are facing this level of media attention for the first time, media training can truly make a world of difference.
Mora never meant to offend anyone. However, one slip has put the head coach in a tough situation as he tries to prepare his team for the season. It will eventually blow over, but it won't be forgotten quickly. So why is there such a stigma of providing media training to head coaches?
After all, even the best of coaches can be the worst of public speakers.