Last week when Lane Kiffin walked out on UT, the Knoxville media were hungry for an explanation. The trouble was the media had to play by Kiffin’s groundrules.
The Knoxville media assembled in a University of Tennessee conference room. Bud Ford, UT’s associate athletic director is the man in the sweater vest. The man arguing is Bill Shory, news director for WBIR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Knoxville.
Kiffin told the staff he’d like to say something to the fans before hopping a plane for L.A. BUT, he had groundrules.
The conference could not be carried live. There would be no questions. And he would speak for only a minute. Plus, he didn’t want the first part of his comments to be videotaped. TV stations would have to cut their cameras. Radio stations would record it, but no tv.
Shory insists the cameras remain on and rolling through the whole thing. “He’s a public employee and in a public building” he said. But Ford says no and even begins some sort of threat to any station that would air the thing live.
A reporter from another station gets his news director on the phone while the angry mob turns on Shory. “If we don’t agree to this, we don’t get anything!” somebody says. Another tells Shory “We can’t make him be man enough to tell us why he’s leaving.”
“You’ll get zero!” Ford says. 12 angry men and women from the media are all yelling at Shory to give in.
“Do what you want to do” says Ford. “You’ll cut off your nose to spite your face tv”.
Shory did not budge. And Ford promises only 30 seconds from Kiffin.
Did Lane Kiffin really have something more to say? Why would he only say it if tv cameras weren’t rolling? Was he going to pull back a mask and reveal that he’s some sort of alien?
And why in the world did Bud Ford go to bat for him like that? Why did the athletic department stand up for a guy who threw the program under the bus? Surely Kiffin’s agent didn’t think fast enough to add a “no tv cameras for the first 30 seconds of the news conference” clause in his buyout contract. No way Kiffin tied the $800,000 he owes the university to a stipulation of that kind.
Kudos to Bill Shory for standing his ground. Especially when there’s a looming news deadline, the threat of not getting anything on tape, and a room filled with reporters and photographers shouting he should go along with Kiffin’s (and UT’s) demand.
But if Kiffin wanted to say something to somebody, Shory made sure he was going to have to say it to everybody. Radio got the same 30-seconds as tv. If Lane Kiffin really did have something else to say, he never said it. Is that our loss, or his?
Way to go Bill. You stood for something right.
Plus, you’re now the subject of a viral YouTube video.