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Media column: How the Al Golden story was handled; More local radio changes; NFL, BCS

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

In sports writing, the toy department of the media industry, there’s no story that consistently presents more landmines than a coaching search.

The people involved often do not like to speak on the record for assorted reasons. Some candidates have jobs elsewhere and don’t want their interest in another position to be known. Universities traditionally like to conduct these searches under a cloak of secrecy.

So journalists covering coaching searches need to rely on anonymous sources, some who prove to be accurate, some far less so. That happened again locally in the past week when Al Golden flirted with Penn State. And as usual, that led to overzealous reporting and some serious spinning.

Three reporters indicated that Golden was taking the Penn State job: WINZ-940’s Andy Slater, Charlotte radio host Mark James (a UM alum and the artist formerly known as Mark Benarzyk) and Gary Ferman, the publisher of a popular Hurricanes website, Canesport.com.

Ferman couched his report somewhat, unlike Slater and James, and said that Golden was likely taking the job, barring something crazy, while also reporting that Penn State and Golden had reached an “agreement in principle.”

What’s interesting is the difference in how they handled the story after UM's Blake James said Golden was staying, and after Golden announced he wasn't a candidate for any job. (CBS and ESPN reported  Vanderbilt's James Franklin will get the job.)

Slater, who posted on Twitter last weekend that Golden would inform the team Saturday he was taking the Penn State job, immediately held himself accountable.

“Zero excuse on my end for my tweets yesterday on Golden,” he told his 12,000 followers. “Trusted UM source had been 100 percent but was obviously wrong here. My apologies…. Heat is understood. Source was wrong, I passed it along. Inexcusable.”

It was inauspicious timing for Slater, a former WMEN-640 personality who on Monday began his new gig as the 2-5 p.m. host on WINZ.

James also took responsibility, tweeting: “For the record, I was WRONG about Golden going to Penn State. #Lesson learned.”

Conversely, Ferman defended his story and insisted that Golden had an agreement in principle, though a Penn State beat writer and others insisted an offer was never made before, during or after his Saturday meeting with Penn State officials. Ferman said Golden was offered the job but pulled out because Penn State did not deliver a written contract by 4 p.m. Sunday.

Is it possible that ultimatum could have happened, as Ferman reported? Yes, it's possible. But it also would seem illogical to think Penn State would offer the job to anyone well before a scheduled Sunday interview with Franklin.

“Everything that has been reported re: Golden and Penn State was accurate,” Ferman wrote on his web site. “These things happen in coaching searches all the time….The head coach just went to the brink with Penn State. We covered it every step of the way and annihilated every media outlet.”

Ferman said by phone: “We have an obligation to the people who subscribe to our web site to report all stories as aggressively as possible…. We had four confirmations that he had an agreement in principle.”

Regrets? Ferman said he has none.

“We knew the risks of running with it to the degree that we did, but we got a fourth and the strongest confirmation on Saturday night, and I decided at 8 a.m. Sunday to go with the story,” he said. “We learned Golden had given Penn State an ultimatum that he had to have a signed contract immediately. There was no doubt in our mind that Al would be at a press conference Monday at Penn State based on information we were receiving from several sources.”

The perception is that pay sites will take more chances, even at risk of being wrong, to try to entice potential subscribers. Ferman said he would never do that.

“I’m 52, started at The Miami Herald at 16, have 36 years of experience as a reporter,” he said. “I would never compromise the basic principles of reporting. Coaching stories are the most difficult to cover because the information changes so quickly.”

Bruce Garrison, who has taught journalism at UM since 1981, said pay sites “have to deliver something to their subscribers” but isn’t necessarily sure if that makes them more likely to take risks.

In general, “there is a lot of competition coming today from a lot of different directions,” Garrison said. “That creates pressure to perform to show your editors you know what’s going on. Some news organizations want that information and are willing to take a risk getting it right.

“What bothers me is people come out with speculation. I come from a generation when you rarely did that. You know you had it right or you don’t report it. The web has changed a lot of the journalism we do for good or for bad…. All we have is our credibility as journalists. If we are wrong, that credibility suffers.”

One decision that all journalists face in this Twitter age, including one I wrestled with in the past week: Using Slater’s tweet as an example, should reporters tweet that Slater has reported that Golden is leaving, while also making it clear that the writer of the tweet is not confirming the story?

“We’ve been doing that, but it’s risky to do that,” Garrison said. “If you want to pass along information, you make a judgment on whether the guy has had a track record of getting it right.”

Ferman has been criticized on local radio and elsewhere for his report three years ago that Jon Gruden was poised to become UM’s football coach.

Meanwhile, the most interesting journalism story regarding a coaching search this week had nothing to do with UM.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Mike Munchak interviewed for the Penn State job Sunday, Munchak then told The Tennessean that he had not, and Mortensen then tweeted that he checked again and Munchak “absolutely” did interview that day.

AROUND THE DIAL

### Former 790/104.3 The Ticket morning personality Marc Hochman, who will take over the 3-7 p.m. slot on WQAM-560 beginning April 1, has strong interest in hiring Zach Krantz as his co-host.

Krantz's voice has been heard a lot over the years as Joe Rose’s radio producer. Hochman also wants to hire The Ticket’s Joy Taylor.

### Saturday night’s Colts-Patriots playoff game will be the finale for CBS’ Dan Dierdorf, who is retiring after 30 years in broadcasting, including the past 15 with CBS.

“I’m a little melancholy,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to clutter the end of the game with anything about me. That would make me uncomfortable. Physically, it’s hard for me to travel 20 times a year. I’ve got to find something to do.”

### It’s highly unusual for a team-employed announcer to advocate the firing of that team’s general manager. So it’s notable that Rose, the co-analyst on WINZ-940’s Dolphins radio broadcasts, took that position on Jeff Ireland before his departure.

Asked about changes in the organization, Rose said on NBC 6: “It’s got to start with the general manager. Try something different.”

Some announcers have the popularity and job security to be able to criticize the team’s decision-makers, with Rose and the late, great Jim Mandich among them.

### Fox continues to tinker with production of the divisional playoff game not handled by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. After awarding the announcing assignment to Kenny Albert, Darryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa for many years, Fox gave it to Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick last year and will try Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch this year (on Saints-Seahawks).

### ESPNews’ coach’s film room production of the BCS championship game -- featuring Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Boston College’s Steve Addazio, Pittsburgh’s Paul Chryst and others -- was the highlight of the network’s Megacast, with the coaches offering dead-on insight (including predicting an FSU fake punt) and delivering it in a way far more conversational than a traditional game broadcast.

Less appealing was ESPN2’s version; viewers essentially eavesdropped on an ESPN party in which analysts and celebrities spoke over each other, including actress Cheryl Hines, who asked if the person who snaps the ball to the quarterback is called the snapper, then admitted, "I could have Googled it before I got here."

On both ESPNews and ESPN2, more of the screen should have been allotted to the live game feed.

### Please see the last post, updated several times in the past 36 hours, for on-field UM and Dolphins news. By the way, early enrollee Braxton Berrios -- considered the best receiver in this UM recruiting class -- tweeted this afternoon that he has a torn ACL.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz       

Comments

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AnonymousCane

Valentine is a good kid and I have talked with him on several occasions at his practices before the state championship. He was considering a switch to LSU long before he de-committed from the U. There were also some admission and qualifying issues. While the young man is a beast on the field and the U certainly could benefit from his commitment academics are an issue. New Orleans sports reporters were predicting his switch to LSU months ago!

Playthefreshmen

AL GOLDEN'S ACHIEVEMENTS...

49-49 lifetime
0-9 vs ranked teams
0-2 in bowl games
NEVER beat a team with winning record in MAC..
Worst defense in ACC (Yes people, behind Duke, WF, BC, Syracuse, Pitt and UVA)

You will be surprised how many people ignore these FACTS!!

jrp

i miss Edwin Pope,Thanks for all the negative s,,t about Al Golden,the best recruiter wev"e had in yrs.jimbo central fla n that guy that had the shirt on that said IT SUCKS TO BE U they r lovin your negativity again thanks from central fla

AnonymousCane

As for talent on the U's roster! The talent is young and recruited by Golden. Interesting is it not, that no senior on defense got invited to the NFL combine? That Chick got a 4/5 round grade and Perryman a third round grade and they are two of the upperclassmen who were starters and played a significant number of downs and most likely the most talented players Miami had on defense among upperclassmen. As for Miami having as much talent as Louisville, Oregon, Michigan St and Stanford? HUh? Wow that's quite a stretch! Actually that is laughable.

Johnny Leach

Miami cant keep a steady system um has been switching cordinaters for last 8-9 years soon as player learn a system they switch again
If i was golden ill go out and hire me a defense coordinate start olsen.......and go for a title.

Johnny Leach

Another thing Al golden is doing a good job on recruiting ...bethel maybe right who wanna play for a coach that sucks on defensive schemes rather d coach and golden are friends....no exception why um defense playing the way they are playing....to me tracey howard duke johnson are living up to hype coley is emerging bush the same...dorsett should blossom this year wit key offensive lineman commin in i would consider throwing olsen in fire early see what happens......and as far as bethel situation let it go move on one good player dont make n. Team.........Fsu prove to u wit the right chemistry a freshman can get it done........

mike

if needed we can switch elder back to running back he was one of the top rb last year .we still need more depth though at rb,receiver and on defense.

LarryW

I think the Herald has too many alumni from UF and FSU on staff who will sink to any depth to ruin the Hurricane recruiting class. They displayed these same skills throughout the Nevin Shapiro saga. It only cost us two players who turned coat and run (Powell and Valentine).

Reality Bites

It's very simple canefan. Cook bolted UF for FSU paving the way for Powell to go to UF. UF lost 3 corners paving the way for 5 star Tabor to bolt Zona for UF. Benjamin is leaving FSU early so Lane will probably go there. These are pretty obvious.
Kaaya is being pursued by UCLA, his hometown school for one. But more importantly, a program with a much more respected, proven and much more succesful HC. A ranked and very good program. Kaaya to UCLA is a no brainer.
Valentine has been commited to UL, UF and now UM, and he is still looking around. You cannot trust this guy until NSD, but compare the defense of LSU to UM's. Truthfully which one is better? Which one has been a consistent top D for the past several years and which one has been a disaster? Couple that with LSU having a few D linemen leaving early again and Valentine to LSU seems like a given.
As has been said before it's not who you have "commited" in the summer it's who you end up with on NSD.

Bob_bba70

Guys, start using your head. Golden has to prove he's a winning coach. The Temple card is totally played out. He has to make his bones here to get any decent job else where. Keeping his crappy staff will likely kill him next year and therefore kill any consideration for another decent job. In short I really don't think he will be going anywhere soon. He has to win here and unfortunately I don't see that happening and the more he doesn't win the more recruiting will suffer and the death spiral will continue until we fire him and yes, we start again. Stop living in the past. Lousy conference, lousy facilities lousy stadium. Really really where do you see national Championships coming from. I live outside Atlanta I visit UGA. There facilities coaches and stadium make Miami's look like a smoking dung heap and they can't win an NC. Oh, did I mention I would take Their coaching staff in a heart beat.

UGoCane

Reality:
In your comparison the validity of Valentine choosing the 'U' is much more real because he could come in and contribute now.
At LSU the wait might be 2-3 years if he is lucky. The point is do you want to play now, and compete or do you want to ride the wood and hope you get a chance down the line at LSU.
Big decision for a teenager, but a valid thought to help rebuild the 'U'.

Reality Bites

UGo I disagree. Valentine may ride the pine his first year @ LSU more likely he will see playing time as a reserve. He will develop there and become another DL LSU stud. In Miami he may play right away but will not develop and will be hurt by the clueless schemes and incompetent DC. Ask Chicken Man if he thinks he is a better player now than when he first came in. His best year was his frosh and he is getting worse every year. Players know this, that is why you have so very few top DTs coming in, you will probably end up with just Moten and a bunch of scrubs. Not enough. As long as you play the brand of D of the past 3 years very few if any top DTs will come. Even the DBs are starting to feel the same, just ask Bethel.
On the plus side canefan you do get top WRs every year.
Maybe you can switch some WRs to play CB. Or maybe that will turn out the same as when you had 10 TEs and wanted them to play DT, didn't work out too well.

GMan

Powell didn't have the grades to get into Miami.

long time cane

Reality Bites is beginning to make some occassional sense for being a Gator.Anyway....I ve come to the same point now that I came to last year at this time.That is that despite how little I care for D Onofrio and his bad coaching em up (of his defense)........Golden will NEVER abandon his best friend or give him any embarassment...EVER.So....again I just give up because we re stuck with Golden s poor choice of a Defensive Coordinator ....but Golden just doesn t care about that.Continuity is everything to him...even if it s continuously BAD.There comes a point when a man/mankind just must accept reality even if it s very sad reality.Therefore....again...no longer will I mention Golden s DC s name.I ll just mention the DC if ever I speak again in the future.That guy s name on this blog....I m sick and tired of typing because I must have typed it over 100 times in the past 1/1/2 years with my blasting him and dishing on him.I give up.Golden has forced me to watch and accept MEDIOCRITY and I m just so sick of talking about his BFF anymore.

j. williams

Al Golden will get a slight measure of respect from me if this upcoming season he can put together a 10 Win Season. UM played a cupcake schedule last year and did improve slightly up to 9 wins.

If Golden doesn't win at least 9 games, then its time for him and the entire staff to be let go. Golden's best claim to fame was that he led Miami thru to the tough NCAA allegations and penalty phase. That proved He does have high character, but it doesn't make him a Top Tier coach that will take the Canes anywhere near the heights of Schellenberger, Johnson, Erickson, Davis, or even Coker.

Miami's current roster is ripe for success IF THEY HAD A GOOD COACHING STAFF to push the right buttons and adjust schemes to take advantage of opponents.

Orlando Cane

I agree with everything said about the SUCK Coaching Staff at UM. Since they will not listen, do not show up at a game all year and money speak louder than words. I wish Jimmy Johnson would give us two years of free coaching until we find a good coach which will stay. I've also notice Golden is recruiting from NJ because not to many FL talent are going to UM. Even Central Florida will beat down UM given the coaching along and they never had the talent UM has but they know how to coach. Duke will continue to win with the UM schemes Defense Coordinator run. Some how, they think since they turn around a MAC conference team, it will work in the ACC. Not a chance! This is not a pee wee league like Temple was when they coached. I believe Penn State knew he did not have the ability to coach two star atheletes since Penn State is on probation. Heck, Georgia Southern will run UM out-of-town with their coaching given what I've seen with D Onofrio. He and Golden are joined at the hip and we have to put up with this for the next few years until it get so bad until no one in Florida will go to the U.
We also need to find a real OC and not an OJT OC. Now I see why Fisher did not let Conely call plays at FSU. He is a great recruiter and that is all. Dumb Golden bit on taking FSU leftovers. These recruits are not stupid, they are going where they will win first and play next. Plus, who is going to the game to see the same results as last year?

Cane in London

If you don't think Powell didn't get paid, do you want to buy the London Bridge?
The SEC has a regular money pipeline to recruits and their families that has existed for over 30 years. When I was a kid growing up in Mass., Alabama recruited my teammate who was a star DT. He came home with a brand new car. It was hilarious seeing the car in front of his home which was old and in poor shape, like mine.

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