“It was a journalism restraining order.”

Saban’s probably calling Steve Spurrier tonight to find out how to pull this off.

In 2011, University of South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier refused to talk to reporters while Ron Morris of The State — McClatchy’s paper in Columbia, SC — was in the room. The coach complained that the sports columnist was a “negative guy.”

Spurrier did the same thing a year later. “I don’t need any questions today,” he told reporterslast Sept. 22, then left. The coach, according to one sports site, quickly exited because he was feared Morris was planting questions with other reporters after being told by his own paper that he should keep quiet.

The 68-year-old football coach won’t have a repeat performance this year, though, because The State has told Morris he can no longer write about University of South Carolina Gamecocks football…

… Morris declined to talk to me, but others familiar with the situation — including former University of South Carolina and State staffers — described how The State’s publisher, Henry Haitz III, made his veteran columnist agree in writing that he would never again write about Gamecocks football or talk about the USC program on TV and radio shows.

The State hasn’t quit covering Gamecock football.  Quite the contrary – the paper has hired a real pro to fill in.

In late August, The State added longtime Gamecocks football reporter and self-described superfan Glenn Snyder to its sports pages. (He’s a contract writer, not a staffer. Snyder previously reported for a publication that’s sent to USC sports booster-club members.)

“I’ve now seen 343 South Carolina [football] games in a row,” the 67-year-old Snyder told me. “I love the University of South Carolina. I love Steve Spurrier. …Coach Spurrier and I have become friends.” (He noted that Spurrier often drops his name during press conferences.)

Spurrier told me that he helped “Superfan” Snyder get his job at The State.

“I did call The State newspaper and put in a good word for him, and they hired him,” the coach said.

Morris may be an ass, but, man, that’s embarrassing all the way around.


Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, The Evil Genius

41 responses to ““It was a journalism restraining order.”

  1. Billy Mumphrey

    Just plain sad.


  2. 79dawg

    No doubt – Just check out Saban’s presser today after the Yahoo story about DJ Fluker broke….


  3. AusDawg85

    And journalism continues to wonder why profits, credibility, and market share are in decline.


    • McTyre

      Sadly journalism largely reflects appetites of the consumer. This Board for instance harbors a large contingent of people with a compulsion to heard what they want to hear rather than the truth or a reasonably researched editorial. Quite the twist on the 1st Amendment!


      • Cosmic Dawg

        The people who visit this blog are way more objective, logical, and reasonable than the average bear, sports fans or otherwise.

        Of course, I may be biased…


  4. Long time listener. First time caller.

    Damn Senator. You are really on a roll this week. I really only check one website these days to get my fix. How do you find time to represent any legal clients?


  5. Wait to see how quickly the Tuscaloosa News is silenced should they dare to report on the Yahoo story.


  6. TennesseeDawg

    “That’s what happens when you open the door for Mormons, Mack.”


  7. Derek

    The money quote and the one Saban might try is: if this is part of the job I can just go to the beach.

    With that threat, he won. If you owned that paper would you want to be blamed for running spurrier into retirement?


  8. Rick

    This ‘replacement’ they have seems like an absolute embarrassment….

    And yet I can’t fault Spurrier at this point. Maybe it’s because my first year as a UGA fan was 2000 (since when we’re >.500 against Spurrier), but Sports ‘journalism’ is so f*cking godawful I find it eminently plausible that Spurrier was the more reasonable person in whatever that was. I have seen Schultz at the AJC go after Spurrier for it, but he’s another f*cking hack so what am I supposed to believe?

    Ultimately, the fact that places like this blog and many of the sbnation blogs can absolutely pants the ‘real’ journalists in terms of quality commentary gives me a heightened suspicion of any regional publication’s sports journalist. When that clashes with the overinflated egos of coaches, I don’t know what’s what. Spurrier gets the benefit of the doubt, f*ck the hack regional sports journalist, no matter how ‘veteran’.


  9. Mayor of Dawgtown

    This isn’t only stupid but dangerous, as well. The sports media covers a football team for a state university. The coach of that team not only gets to stop negative articles being written about him and his team (by getting a reporter banned) but also gets to essentially control what IS written by having de facto named his replacement. This is censorship of the rankest sort. I’m not going to get all hyper-legal about this (state action) but where is respect for the First Amendment? Where is that American flag newspapers love to wrap themselves in? Where is the backbone at this newspaper? A sorry state of affairs.


    • Ginny

      +2 My Grady professors would be ashamed.


    • Mayor, The average person under forty does not even know the First Amendment. Ask any immigrant….they don’t either.


      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Sadly, you are right Joy but that doesn’t change things. If freedom and justice are to prevail in the United States of America it is the responsibility of those who DO understand the protections of the Constitution, the First Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights and what they protect to speak out–for the benefit of everyone, even those who don’t have a clue and worse–those who don’t give a damn, like Steve Spurrier.


      • hhg

        “Ask any immigrant….they don’t either.”

        1. You only need three periods for an ellipsis.
        2. “They” is not the correct pronoun for a singular antecedent.
        3. You’re a bigot.


        • Hogbody Spradlin

          Drop dead. How do you know what somebody else thinks and feels, you bigot.


        • Hackerdog

          You think that a blanket statement on most people under 40, including immigrants, means that a person is a bigot? As the Senator frequently says, I don’t think that word means what you think it means. If you’re going to be pedantic, you really need to use words properly.


        • Listen HHG do not piss me off ….not today not ever!


          • hhg

            I was out of town, gents, so I’m only now getting a chance to respond. Since this post is so far down I’m sure no one else is reading, but I hope that y’all still are.

            Hogbody Spradlin: “How do you know what somebody else thinks and feels, you bigot.”

            I called him a bigot because he said a bigoted thing. Is there something unfair about responding to someone’s words? I guess that, as a practical matter, we can’t truly ever know how someone else thinks or feels, so should we withhold all criticism of anything that anyone says ever?

            Hackerdog: “You think that a blanket statement on most people under 40, including immigrants, means that a person is a bigot?”

            That’s pretty obviously not what joyridingdawg said. He said to “ask any immigrant….they don’t either.” The use of the word “either” is meant to add a second, distinct group of people to the first group he discussed.

            Hackerdog (cont.): “As the Senator frequently says, I don’t think that word means what you think it means.”

            I’m an OED man, myself (I can make pop culture references just like you and the Senator), but I don’t have mine handy. We’ll have to settle for merriam-webster.com: “bigot- a person who strongly and unfairly dislikes other people, ideas, etc. : a bigoted person; especially : a person who hates or refuses to accept the members of a particular group (such as a racial or religious group).” Wikipedia indicates that bigotry can demonstrated by fear, distrust, hatred, or intolerance based on, among other things, national origin.

            I’m comfortable with calling joyridingdawg a bigot. He asserted, without anything to back it up, that immigrants “don’t know the First Amendment.” Immigrants to this country actually have to take a civics test before they can become Legal Permanent Residents, so there’s at least a small subset of them that have passed tests involving questions about the Bill of Rights. Lack of facts aside, immigrants and immigration had nothing to do with the original post or anything in the comments. Joyridingdawg bringing it up was basically a non-sequitur. That kind of preoccupation with immigrants is troubling to me. It demonstrates unfair intolerance and dislike of that group of people. Again, I stand behind my original comment.

            Joyridingdawg: “Listen HHG do not piss me off ….not today not ever!”

            Joyridingdawg, you’re going to compose a grammatical sentence one of these days, I can just feel it. I almost never take the bait when I read stuff like this on blogs. Life’s too short, after all, and if I spent my time rebuking all of the small-mindedness on the internet I’d barely have time to do anything else. I guess there’s just something about seeing this filth on a blog discussing my alma mater that makes me respond. I guess it comes down to this: I took two degrees from UGA; I really wouldn’t want a passerby to think that a mouthbreather like you is representative of our fanbase.


  10. Urban Meyer

    What are you guys griping about. Coach Spurrier handled things exactly right.


  11. Gravidy

    This story is brimming with sleazy characters, but the cappers for me are the two newspaper execs who refused to be interviewed for this story. Isn’t that precious?


  12. Keese

    I’ll back spurrier on this one (cringe). Sports writers have developed entitlement attitudes. Case in point with Marshall Morgan and CTG nfl interviews. They just need to respect their place. It irritates me when these guys pepper coaches and players with mostly stupid questions (not always) and put zero creativity into their jobs. When they do stuff to irritate and stoke the wrong fire with coaches and players…their shit should be cut off. Fans never side with the sports writers vs the team. Chip is a great example. Shultz could not write another word and no one would care. Bradley is just a knucklehead. Makes anyone want to respect coach Richt even more considering the clowns he has to listen and answer questions to on a daily basis.


    • Hackerdog

      But the difference is that Richt is gracious and lets a dumbass’s work speak for itself. Everyone knows that Bradley and Schultz simply write negative articles for the sake of writing negative articles. That’s why they do it. At this point, they’re relegated to trolling for page views.

      If Richt went on a crusade against them, he would look petty and it would instantly give them credibility.


    • Darrron Rovelll

      Yes the problem here is the entitled sportswriter! Blame the media as opposed to the head football coach, a profession so well known for being humble and having perspective on their profession’s place in society.

      The fact that this came out the same week the Mark Richt said that he thinks Steve Spurrier is a “straight-shooter” gives me pause about every single one of them. Richt is probably the one coach you could consistently point to having perspective about the game of football and its real importance to society. Spurrier’s actions here show he is not a straight shooter. Just a self-important ball coach with a thin skin. Someone who cannot even fulfill his own boasts to “head to the beach” when it gets a little rough on the publicity front.

      If anything, this run-in between Spurrier and Morris shows just how little perspective Spurrier has. Morris may have written opinions (remember his a columnists so he paid for his opinion) that Spurrier did not like, but at what point did Morris call for USC to fire Spurrier? Instead, the highly-paid (but lightly entitled?) football coach used public bullying tactics and back room politicking to get a columnist removed.

      No it was the entitled football coach who is the jerk here. If Spurrier is really so put upon by the media sharks in Columbia, I am amazed he made it as long as he did in Washington. If it is really that rough, don’t be a chicken and quit – just like you said you would.


  13. BigSam

    Ask JoePa how that attitude works. An ‘all controlling’, egotistical, type A with no regard for anything except their plans-kinda-guy. When everyone in the room is afraid of the King, then Penn State happens.


  14. Bulldog Joe

    Loving the South Carolina meltdown…

    Fighting Gamecocks, indeed.


  15. Scorpio Jones, III

    I don’t blame Spurrier for trying it, he is certainly not the first coach to complain about a writer…but to my knowledge he is the first coach who got what he apparently wanted. Politicians and other government functionaries complain about writers all the time…it is part of the deal. But how the media outlet the writer works for deals with the situation becomes a reflection of their commitment to journalism.

    Clearly the State’s publisher drank too much of the Kool Aid at Penn State, and the comments linking the two from Morris appear to be spot on.

    It may piss Spurrier off when a comparison with Penn State is made, but this kind of thing is exactly why and how the Penn State horror show happened.

    That the University of South Carolina allows its football coach to pick and choose the reporters he will talk to…the governor, he can’t do that, the senator, he can’t do that…seems absurd…

    It appears to me this whole pile of crap is because both Spurrier and South Carolina and The State are weak in the knees.

    Phil Fulmer’s wife is reported to have thrown a soft drink all over a Knoxville News Sentinnel columnist….in the press box, but the News-Sentinel did not pull the columist from writing about UT…

    Man up, McClatchey…do your fucking job.


  16. uglydawg

    Spurrier has every right to refuse to answer anyone he chooses…on a personal level. But he represents the USC.
    This kind of controlling personality is a double edged sword…it’s what make him (and others like him) hightly successful coaching college football, and it might explain why he failed as a pro coach…grown men are less likely to put up with that shit.


  17. dawgfan17

    And people wonder how things like what happened at Penn State can go unreported for so many years. I choose not to read the AJC because I think they write hack jobs about UGA quite often but I would not want a guy in there simply to report all fluff and sunshine. A guy like Emerson is a really good balance. He reports the good and the bad without being a hack or stuck up the coaches/programs butt. Just my 2 cents worth.