The Texas Longhorns are not having a good season. They are 4-6, got beat 30-7 by Iowa State on Nov. 6, and lost a 57-56 game to Kansas in overtime this past weekend. They stink! And yet, despite all the humiliations they have suffered on the field this year, the true lowlight of the Longhorns’ 2021 season occurred yesterday during head coach Steve Sarkisian’s press conference.
I give you fair warning: Unless you are, I don’t know, a youth pastor or some other kind of guy whose whole life is spent “breaking it down” in front of a captive audience, you are about to be very annoyed.
The question, if you can call it that, that started off Sarkisian’s presser was delivered by Terry Middleton of Horns Illustrated. In case you’d like to see if it reads as bad as it sounded:
Coach, a couple of years ago one of my good friends and I were facing a massive problem we couldn’t solve, and in his wisdom he said, “You know, at this point we need to stop and ask ourselves: What would an extraordinary person do in this situation?” This resonated with me the whole weekend, and I realized that of all the coaches who could be standing at that podium right now in those shoes, you are that extraordinary person, and you have a team of what I call coaching juggernauts. This is not only my opinion, this is a fact—I don’t think anyone can dispute this. So my question is: We write, you know, the Sarkisian Era story and we’re not even done with the first chapter yet. Can you unfold some of the onion of what are you working on, how are you solving this problem? I realize that you might not even know. But I want to steal from Julian Edelman: It’s gonna be one hell of a story.
Buddy, what the fuck are you talking about?
That Sarkisian was able to respond to this question with a straight face probably says more about how good coaches have become at navigating these things while on autopilot than it does anything else. As for the question itself, it is maybe something that could be forgiven if ol’ Terry had just gotten a bit nervous and blurted out a question from The Chris Farley Show without really intending to, but in this case there is evidence of premeditation:
Sorry, but we can’t be having this. Press conferences are already boring and borderline useless, and the only way I can think to make them even worse is for them to become venues for reporters who fancy themselves motivational meme influencers to waste everyone’s time with their peacocking. As someone who is in favor of press freedoms and against the carceral state, I cannot in good conscience recommend that Mr. Middleton be “sprayed with a hose the next time he raises his hand” or “yanked out of the press room by a comically large stage hook” or “imprisoned for life.” What I can recommend is this: Once per season, each reporter on the beat is allowed to throw one tomato at Middleton whenever he asks a question that is longer than two sentences.