Media should stick Notre Dame's practice coverage policy where the dome don't shine


Notre Dame just issued a media policy for football practice that could have been dictated by Vlad Putin, or maybe the head of NBC.

The good news is Irish went 4-8 last year and most people didn’t even want to see their games, let alone their practices.

The paranoia of football coaches is legendary, and social media has made the control of information difficult, if not impossible, yet no responsible news organization should accept the terms that Notre Dame just handed out.

As a former president of the Football Writers Assn. of America, I do NOT approve this message.

Funny thing is Notre Dame used to be one of the most open, honest programs in the country. It relished its role as “America’s Team” and had an open-door policy with its coaches and players. Lou Holtz used to host media parties the night before games.

Of course, this was back in the day when Notre Dame won national titles. The Irish sports information staff courted the national media and made you feel important when you came to South Bend.

The school used to hand out, yes, the phone numbers of Notre Dame players, to beat writers.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Now, it is issuing terms and conditions for those who report, about Notre Dame, for the fans of Notre Dame.

Here are some of the “highlights” of the released memo:

Live tweeting, or posting of any kind on social media, from practice is not allowed until practice has concluded and\or Brian Kelly has met with the media. The following are general reporting policies for all media (specifically practice reports and all social media posts).

--No reference to plays run or game strategy. This includes describing formation, personnel groups, or non-conventional plays.

--No reporting of which players are practicing with individual units (goal line offense, nickel defense, ect.)

--May note which players are practicing as well as those who are not.

--May include non-strategy and non-game plan observations.

--Do not report on practice injuries until the team has provided an official update

--Do not quote, paraphrase or report comments made by coaches or players during a practice sessions (sic).

Hmmm. No reference to plays run or game strategy. Yes, imagine the media tipping off the strategy for that 10-3 loss at North Carolina State.

No reporting on “non-conventional” plays. What would those be at Notre Dame…touchdowns?

Look, I get it. The world has changed and people can’t be trusted. But neither can football coaches, particularly Brian Kelly, or sports information directors.

And who, exactly, is “the media” these days?

Does this memo, typed on official Notre Dame company stationary, include NBC, which holds exclusive television rights to Notre Dame football?

What about “Showtime,” which was allowed into the inner sanctum two years ago for a series that sometimes aired right before, or after, a triple-smut show filmed in the San Fernando Valley, if you know what I mean.

Hey, both shows provided good exposure and like I said, Notre Dame has changed.

Here’s the thing, Notre Dame. You can set any sort of media policy you want. But we, the media, should not accept those terms.

There is precedent for this:

UCLA, which also finished 4-8 last year, instituted a similar policy a few years ago. The Los Angeles Times, the paper I worked for at the time, responded by not allowing our reporters to attend practices at which they could not freely report what they heard or saw.

Chris Foster, our bulldog Bruin beat man, parked his lawn chair outside the practice gates and got all the information he needed.

In other words, these edicts tend not to work. The story will always get out.

“Someone is always eager to tattle,” Foster playfully tweeted Saturday morning in response to the Notre Dame media policy.

In fact, when UCLA star linebacker Myles Jack blew his knee out at a mid-week practice, I heard about it first from a reliable source. I was sitting 45 miles away at my office in Chino Hills.

The best policy, for a coach and a school, is to trust professionals to do their jobs.

The best way to stop the pajama bloggers is to give real reporters the real news and cut out the knuckleheads. Control the flow of information by telling the truth to the people who respect the truth.

And don’t get mad, if you’re not telling the truth, if you get called out on your lies.

If a reporter burns a coach, then cut that reporter off.

Don’t lump all of us together as if we were all hatched in a chat room back in 2002.

What you can’t do is allow real reporters into practice and tell them not to report.

That was never going to fly at the L.A. Times and it should not be tolerated by any credible news organization.

Notre Dame used to be bigger than this but, more important, these edicts tend to backfire.

First and foremost: WE don’t work for Brian Kelly.

UCLA, by closing practice, never got much over on Chris Foster. Ask Jim Mora if that is true.

News is like water. It always finds its way through the cracks.

And as I tweeted on Saturday: Brian Kelly shouldn’t be dictating to us about journalism.

Did you watch him in crunch time last year?

He was terrible on deadline. [/membership]