Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

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.

Tough job.

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?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.