Chris Foster of the LA Times tweeted today that USC and UCLA beat reporters would no longer attend Trojans and Bruins' practices.
The battle between the media and the two teams' head coaches has been brewing for weeks. USC head coach Lane Kiffin made headlines after he banned local reporter Scott Wolf at practice for two weeks. Wolf had apparently reported on an injury that occurred during a game and that ruffled some cardinal-and-gold feathers.
USC's policy asks reporters to refrain from reporting on injuries during practice, but injuries during a game were not included. Wolf was eventually reinstated and all seemed well.
Kiffin recently left a media scrum in a huff after a reporter asked about an injury after practice. Kiffin has never been known as a fan of the media, but he has always been courteous and genuine in his responses to questions. There hasn't been any Nick Saban-like death stares. Until now.
Granted, Kiffin didn't yell or throw a tantrum when the offending question was asked. He threw an incredulous glare at the reporter, said he had to go and walked off in a huff.
The same can't be said about UCLA head coach Jim Mora, who has a reputation for butting heads with the media.
Today was no exception. Except it was.
Foster tweeted that Mora was unhappy with two separate media entities (ESPN and local television station KTLA), and that shouting could be heard.
According to Foster, Mora kicked all media members out of the practice after a television crew set up their equipment on the field.
But it wasn't just the media who got the boot. The Times also reported that "sports information department employees were tossed out of practice."
Petulant coaches aside, tossing sports information department employees out of practice seems like overkill. If a coach is ticked at a TV crew for infringing on a restricted area, give them a warning. But kicking them out as well as his employees is absurd.
Was Mora angry they didn't do their job?
Perhaps. They are, among other things, responsible for maintaining integrity and access during practices. But causing turmoil within a department is not conducive to a good working relationship between the coaching staff and the sports information department.
Mora may be a control freak, but now he has alienated the media. And his sports information department.
That the Times won't be covering practices is a shame; feeding the public information about a team that desperately needs to fill up its home field with fans is a good way to get them fired up.
Throw them a bone and they'll eventually plan a feast. But now the Trojan and Bruin fans will have less information about their own teams. There are other local media outlets, but the Los Angeles Times is one of the largest publications in the country; its circulation is around 573,000.
By instilling this policy, the Times may lose more subscribers. Why would a sports fan pay for a paper that won't fully report on his favorite team?
Then again, it may not affect its subscriptions. A lot of Bruin fans have been upset at what they perceive to be biased coverage of their team. They specifically point to Chris Foster for negative reporting and TJ Simers as a Bruin hater.
The bottom line is while they may hate the coverage, they're still reading the Times, right?
In the meantime, we have a major void in sports coverage.
And two coaches who are approaching diva status. And it's only Week 5.
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