The Spartans, a Top 25 team and one of the favorites to win the Big Ten Conference this fall, struggled mightily, actually trailing at halftime before dispatching an overmatched Eastern team.
The Spartans were plagued with inconsistent play from several sources, including a number of troubling drops by the team’s young crop of wide receivers. It’s enough to make a coach want to pull out his hair.
If Dantonio felt it was his place to take out his frustrations on his players or his assistant coaches, that’s fine. After all, they’re the ones primarily responsible for his angst.
Instead, Dantonio decided to take out his irritation at a group of reporters gathered in an interview room at Spartan Stadium following the game.
During his postgame press conference, Dantonio started out civil enough, but 90 seconds in, he began to lose his patience with the very legitimate questions reporters were asking.
“I don’t have a whole lot of time in front of the cameras today,” he said. “That’s the way it is.”
That’s fine. If Dantonio was too upset to spend much time answering reporters’ questions, then at least he could have the decency and respect to answer those questions during the two-and-a-half minutes he gave them.
Instead, the coach with the perpetual scowl became more and more irritated as the press conference went on. Each question that came his way, he fielded with a blunt, choppy answers, each followed by the phrase, “Next question.”
Coach, did you come away with any more clarity in the receiving corps?
“Did you? Next question.”
Coach, how surprising was your team’s lack of emotion?
“It was surprising. Next question.”
Coach, does your offense need to play better to be effective against Ohio State next week?
“Yes. Next question.”
It’s not like these reporters were nailing Dantonio with brutal questions. They were lobbing softballs his way, yet he insisted on acting like a spoiled little brat, refusing to give any kind of quote that these reporters could take back and use in their stories.
These reporters have a job to do. They’re not asking these questions for their own benefit. They’re trying to gather as much information as possible, and get as many good quotes as they can, to pass along to the readers, the fans of Michigan State football who have an insatiable desire to read all they can about their favorite football team.
This isn’t hard-hitting investigative news we’re talking about here. These reporters aren’t asking the hard questions to grieving mothers who have lost a child, or to a public official in hot water for breaking the law.
They’re asking a football coach what can be done about all the dropped balls or why a player didn’t get onto the field until after halftime. Heck, one even sought praise for players who had good games.
Coach, can you talk about (Dion) Sims and Le’Vian (Bell) and how big they were today?
“They were big. Next question.”
Moments later, Dantonio spat, ““I’m just loving all these questions because they’re great ones.” Then he walked out on the interview.
It’s not the questions that are the problem, Coach. It’s the answers.