Nic Ryder, from IA Wrestle ( @nic_ryder ), respectfully disagrees with out sentiments on Episode #169 about the Cael Sanderson and the media topic. In short, we basically say a very concerned Cael after an injury to an undefeated defending national champion was not going to lead anywhere near a productive press conference. Publicly calling him out saying he was "ducking the media" after was excessive and off-target.
I still stand by this. While it is very appreciated that some coaches, win or lose, will rock the mic with whatever reporters/bloggers/fanboys happen to be standing there, I don't think post-match media is really all that imperative. If this was a press conference for winning a title, then yeah "ducking the media" could be appropriate if a coach doesn't appear. Otherwise, being outraged to me sounds pretty silly.
Here at Bloodround News we are fair and balanced (I just came up with this phrase) though. I told my good buddy Nic I would gladly publish his thoughts on the matter. There is a comment section below if you would like to chime in. We are also readily available on the Twitter as well.
Why Bloodround, and others, are wrong about Cael Sanderson
By Nic Ryder
Note: I put absolutely zero blame on Tommy and Kevin for their opinions on this. They were just the loudest and probably most genuine responses that I heard on this issue. I love Bloodround, I listen almost every week (though I do skip the intro, like I told Tommy when I last saw him I just skip ahead until I hear Kevin scream into the mic) and really enjoy it. I met Kevin when he was still a ghost, and I’ve had the pleasure of sitting with, drinking with, and getting picked up in the air like a rag doll by Tommy a couple of times. I think they’re great guys who are great fans who talk with an open mind and express their ideas and opinions however they want and it’s GREAT.
But that doesn’t mean I can’t disagree with them :)
On episode 169 of the Bloodround Wrestling Podcast (by the way, if you haven’t listened to it, you should, it’s good), Tommy and Kevin talked about a reporter (Keith Sargeant, from NJ Advance Media), who put out a Tweet (https://twitter.com/KSargeantNJ/status/957739560267640832) after the Penn State/Rutgers dual that criticized Cael Sanderson for not speaking to the media after the dual.
Here is Sargeant’s article on the topic. http://www.nj.com/rutgers/index.ssf/2018/01/rutgers_penn_state_cael_sanderson_nick_suriano.html
Despite the fact that Sanderson could probably “beat the s#!t” out of Mr. Sargeant, as Kevin suggested, doesn’t actually matter here. Although it would be fun to see a team of coaches vs. media members in some sort of athletic competition (perhaps not an actual fight).
Tommy goes on to point out that, “If some guy just had his national champion injury default, and he has other things on his mind then talking to us, we’ll give him a pass on that one. I don’t think he’s ‘ducking’ us, or something.”
I, personally, don’t know if Jason Nolf’s injury was the reason that Sanderson didn’t talk to the media. Because as far as I can tell Penn State never actually said WHY he didn’t talk.
But lets just say that is the case; that Sanderson didn’t talk because of Jason Nolf and the injury to his knee. And lets just pretend that Sanderson and the Penn State staff thought it was the worst case scenario, that Nolf had torn all the ligaments in his knee and that he would be out for the rest of the season.
Cael Sanderson still should have spoken with the media.
Every single team in the country, both in wrestling and in many other sports, lose athletes all the time. Teams lose their best, smartest, fastest, best-grades-getting, best-with-the-public, best-in-the-community athletes every year. It happens in the pros, it happens in college, it even happens in high school.
And the coaches of those athletes still take the podium and talk to media.
As they talk about in their podcast, Iowa head coach Tom Brands lost to Michigan for the first time in his career Saturday. Oh and he didn’t wrestle his 157 pounder Michael Kemerer, because he and his staff are worried about a knee injury. Brands still sat at the table after the dual, still answered questions about Michigan, and still answered questions about Kemerer.
And I don’t give Brands and Co™ a lot of credit on issues like that, so I’m making myself a bit uncomfortable. And you can bet if Brands ever did what Sanderson did, I’d be the first to say he ducked.
And that’s exactly what Sanderson did. He ducked the media.
So I don’t buy that Nolf injury defaulting out is the reason Sanderson didn’t talk to the media. Everybody knows about the situation at 125 pounds (Nick Suriano) between Penn State and Rutgers. And the dual was, perhaps, more physical/intense/closer than Penn State wanted. But Sanderson is a paid professional. He’s not a student-athlete, he’s not a volunteer. Part of his job is to answer questions from reporters. In fact I’d say that’s a major part of his job.
Kevin goes on to say, “He’s not afraid of talking to you, I promise you that.”
Well of course not. Nobody said he was. I don’t think that any head coach is actually afraid of talking to any reporter, but just like everybody else there are certain situations that one might be uncomfortable talking about. And it probably would be annoying to have every little thing you say scrutinized and turned into something that you might not have intended.
But that’s the job that Sanderson signed up for. That’s why Penn State pays him all that money. That’s what is expected of him.
As Sargeant said in his article, “Cael Sanderson is the biggest figure in college wrestling, a four-time NCAA champion wrestler who has coached Penn State to six National Championships since 2011.”
He, Brands, and John Smith (with Tom Ryan coming up on them) are the three best known coaches in wrestling. He’s as big as the sport right now - people who don’t follow wrestling closely know who Cael Sanderson is. He needs to be one of those people that we so often talk about to help “grow the sport.” All he had to do was stand there and answer questions. He knows how to avoid answering questions he doesn’t want to answer, but he needs to at least go through the motions.
This could have easily been avoided. It just makes Sanderson, and by extension, Penn State, look bad. This probably goes away in a few days, heck, most people stopped thinking about it after they read Sargeant’s article on Sunday. But it’s just one more thing that people will say about Cael Sanderson and PSU that doesn’t exactly put them in the best light.
And overall I think that hurts wrestling.