A reader Tweeted, as I was headed to a late lunch (1:46 p.m. EST), “Eager to read your thoughts on Spurrier v. Morris.” I had not the slightest idea what he was talking about, but now I do. I’ve seen the video and everything. (Interestingly, I could not find anything about it on the mobile version of thestate.com, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t on the browser version at the time.)
Of course, by that time, the news that the coach, or Eric Hyman, or somebody, had thrown Stephen Garcia off the team — apparently for real, this time. Hyman explained, “For Stephen to return to and remain with the football squad this fall, we agreed on several established guidelines. Unfortunately, he has not been able to abide by those guidelines and has therefore forfeited his position on the roster.”
I don’t know what the guidelines were, as I don’t follow this stuff. But I did see the Auburn game, and a reasonable guess would be that one of his guidelines involved throwing the football straight. Yes, I’m joking. Sort of.
But Micah apparently wanted to know what I thought about the Ron Morris thing. Gee, I don’t know.
I’m not Ron’s editor; never was. If I were, right now I’d be saying, “What the hell, Ron?” Or perhaps I’d use some other, saltier, newsroom expression. And Ron would tell me what was going on as well as he could, from his perspective. Although, based on the performance I saw on the video, it might not be altogether clear to him what it’s all about (apart from the usual animus that, from what I’ve seen, Ron is accustomed to engendering). Anyway, assuming he had the information available, I would have Ron lay out for me his version of the story. Then, I would check it out as well as I could.
If Coach Spurrier had an ounce of professionalism in him, of course, he would already have communicated to me (as Ron’s theoretical editor) what his beef was. Let’s assume he does, and he did. In that case, I would already have had it out with Ron about it and, given the way Spurrier acted today, probably would have told him I’d decided to back Ron. Hence the public tantrum.
Of course, if the coach did NOT try the normal, civil route first, then his performance today was inexcusable. Perhaps understandable on some level given that his QB was just canned after letting him down, but still not excusable in a man paid $2.8 million a year by a public institution to represent that institution.
Speaking of which, if I were Eric Hyman or Harris Pastides, I’d right now be having a serious talk with the coach about his performance — a sort of mirror of the one I’d be having with Ron as his editor. We’d start by watching his game film. Some of the things I’d be asking him:
- What’s this really about, Steve? And don’t give me that nonsense about some column last spring. That was last spring; you blew up today. What’s really going on? (Oh, wait: Maybe THIS is the column Spurrier is referring to, in which Morris wrote, “Spurrier poached Horn’s program.”)
- What exactly do you mean when you say it’s “my right as a head coach” not to talk to Ron Morris? Is that some special right we don’t know about? Do assistant coaches, or ordinary mortals walking the streets, not have that right? Because one would think that they do; that any human being walking the planet would have the right not to talk to Ron Morris if they chose not to. (Unless, of course, they were working for us, and we were paying them $2.8 million a year, and we told them to talk to him…) So what’s this imperious “as a head coach” stuff? Have we really made you feel that important?
And so on. That would just be for starters. And I’d be doing that in between fielding phone calls from people over at the newspaper asking me, “What the heck?” Because they use language like that in talking to the public.
So, as I say, if I were charged with taking a position on this, I’d be in fact-finding mode now before making a decision. But if you held the proverbial gun to my head (and I’d much prefer that to a literal one), I’d have to choose Ron on this one. And I might get embarrassed doing so — I might later have to run a full retraction on the challenged column last spring or something if it turned out Ron was wrong. But if you forced me, I’d go with him on this, because I know him. Or at least, I know him better than I do Spurrier, whom I’ve never met.
That means I used to run into Ron in the hallway sometimes, and stop to chat. I never actually worked with him. I don’t think he was in the newsroom when I was (pre-1994), and even if he had been, we’d have had little occasion to deal with each other. But he has always struck me as a pretty thoughtful, careful guy.
I knew people hated him — people of the “Cocky is God” persuasion. And I used to wonder about that, but I’ve often had occasion to wonder about really serious football fans. Sometimes, when one of Ron’s columns caused a splash of some sort, I’d actually turn to the sports pages and read it. And it usually read OK to me — of course, I was judging it outside the context of having any particular knowledge of the subject matter.
So Micah, that’s what I think.