UTSA’s Jeff Traylor just gets it. Asked what his team’s key to victory is in Saturday’s C-USA slugfest against UAB, Traylor replied, “culture.” He did not launch into CoachSpeak, he did not resort to cliches, but instead framed his program in one word. Yes, there is a distinct UTSA football culture. And that is the Roadrunners’ greatest asset. Jeff Traylor just gets it.
Then there’s Manny Diaz. Wonder what he’ll be doing next year.
The Eleventh Commandment is “Thou shalt not criticize fellow play-by-play dudes or dudettes.” That’s some hard work. Passions can run high. That’s live and in color. Stuff can come flying out of your mouth before your brain can filter it.
But you signed up for it. You get paid for it. You are responsible for what you say. People listen to you and trust you. That trust must be continually earned.
So, Texas Tech radio football announcers Brian Jensen and John Harris screwed up. Big time. Period. No excuses. No defense. But, no, they don’t deserve to lose their jobs.
Jensen and Harris won’t be calling the Red Raiders’ game against Oklahoma State this weekend. They’ve been suspended for a week by Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. And Bowlsby is 100 percent correct.
Jensen and Harris started foaming at the mouth last Saturday during their broadcast of Tech’s win over Iowa State. The source of their ire? Officiating, of course. What else?
Harris: “I’ll say it right now. The Big 12 does not want Iowa State to lose this game.”
Now we’re rolling.
Jensen takes it up a notch, or 50, and calls out Commissioner Bowlsby. “Yeah! Bob Bowlsby, you need to answer to this. This is ridiculous. The inconsistency of this referee crew in favor of Iowa State! Unbelievable!”
The broadcast crew then singles out two officials by name. But they didn’t stop there.
Jensen, now in his bully pulpit. “The Big 12 should be embarrassed. The Big 12 should be embarrassed with this group! We’ve only pointed out two guys. I’m gonna read ‘em all to you!”
And then he did.
Uhhh…I don’t think so.
I mean, damn. Who did Jensen think he was? Dave South?
Sure, you can criticize a call. Sure, you can say, “Here’s what I’m seeing. Here’s where it appears to me they got it wrong.” Sure.
But you can’t question the integrity and motives of either the officials or the conference. Harris and Jensen are employed by Texas Tech. So, naturally they are going to be supportive of Texas Tech football. That’s not only ok, that’s part of the gig. (As opposed to broadcasters who are employed by networks, who must properly play everything right down the middle.)
In short, team announcers are not neutral. But they must always be objective and professional. Harris and Jensen were neither.
Here’s all I would ask or expect. Own it. Apologize for it. Publicly and privately. Learn from it. Make it clear that you KNOW where you stepped over the line. Go fishing this weekend, and then climb back into the radio cockpit next week with your “minds right.”
The problem is that Harris and Jensen are now folk heroes in Lubbock, even more than they were before. They’ll never have to buy a beer for the rest of their natural lives.
Fire them? Oh, just hell no. Some grace is in order here.
I can honestly say I have never done THAT. But did I ever tell you about the time in Tucson in 1979 that the NCAA threatened to turn me into a career shoe salesman? No? I’ll get around to it. (And the NCAA was dead right.)
So rise and go with God, Harris and Jensen. Some grace is in order here. But as James Dickey said in “Deliverance,” “Don’t you boys ever do nothin’ like that again, you hear?”