I preface this by saying, I don't mind criticism. In fact, I encourage it. Thanks to some insightful commenters (even the guy who corrects my spelling on every minor typo), I've definitely reconsidered some opinions I had in the past or re-evaluated the way I put together a story or compiled this blog. So please understand, I'm not bothered by a critique.
What does bother me, however, is when someone who has no clue what they are talking about takes a swipe at my journalistic integrity. At the end of the day, that's all we as journalists have going for us (it sure ain't the salary or job security) and so I'm defensive about it.
When I wrote the piece for the blog yesterday on Lane Kiffin and Mark Richt's divergent approaches toward recruiting, I expected a little backlash and even considered not writing it because I didn't want it to come off as a ringing endorsement of how perfect Richt is and how childish Kiffin is. That wasn't my intention, but I'm aware it could have sounded that way.
As it turned out, I think most of you got what I was trying to say pretty clearly, and even those who didn't agree with it -- like UGABullldog14 -- had valid points to be made. Here's what he wrote:
Lane Kiffin has been annoying and has made a lot of enemies you don't want to have going into your first game as a college head coach, but I can't say that his antics will result in Tennessee on serious probation or UT having the ever-so-popular "bunch of thugs" on his team. I'm not saying you said this, but this is the idea I got.
I'm far, far from a Tennessee fan and probably have more animosity towads them than most UGA fans, but I think it is a bit much to say Kiffin will only get the rotten apples, or that he will get more rotten apples than most ('cause we're all gonna get some each year).
I think Kiffin is trying to create a fun atmosphere. I do not think he went about it the right way at all. I think he's a dubious character, too, judging from him making Al Davis look like the sane one (in my opinion). But I just can't say that Lane Kiffin is going to end up with a bunch of me-first players that do their own thing.
Different things work for different schools and different coaches. I hope this doesn't come as an insult to Florida, and I may be wrong, but they seem to be more of a business than a family, and look where that has gotten them. I judge that off of the overall feeling Urban Meyer gives off. Same with Southern Cal and Pete Carroll. I just think Kiffin is trying to show that he'll be a player's coach, and I think he went about it in the wrong way. There has to be something he could've done with a little more class that would've gotten UT off-season publicity from the start.
He brings up some good points, and I'm not inclined to disagree with any of them. There are a lot of ways to build a winning football program, and perhaps Kiffin's will work as well as Meyer's has. I guess my primary argument, however, was that if you recruit guys to be a part of a family, they are more apt to use that family as their motivation for four years, but if you recruit a guy by telling him he's the best, you're more apt to get a guy who is playing for himself. Not an air-tight theory, but my guess is it's true more often than it's not.
Anyway, UGABulldog14's comment was fair, well thought out and -- most importantly -- a proper reply to what I actually wrote. He didn't gloss over things or assume I said things I didn't. He gave his opinion which was a bit different than mine, and I respect that.
Now, here's the opposite of that, courtesy of an actual employee of the Georgia Rivals site. It comes from the message boards at Rivals, which I would not have read had someone not decided to post a link to my blog from there today (which, by the way, I do appreciate).
"Yes, he got a good class this time in terms of the valuations by recruiting sites (which are at least on occasion a bit dubious) but if this is Kiffin's method for recruiting, is he really getting the type of players a program wants?"
No mention of how the papers are a bit dubious a lot of the time nor how they wallow in bad news. Also I didn't see one guy from any newspaper out at the camps that I was at Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, etc. Kipp was at a different 7-on-7 camp so we could cover two camps. But I guess watching the recruits work out and compete is not as valid as sitting behind the computer watching Cheers and then saying "Hey, they were wrong about Mudcat. They must be dubious."
I know. Picky. Very Picky. I know- not even remotely the point of his article. But just the flippant brush-offs get a bit tiresome after a while. And just like any minority, one gets tired of repeated put-downs, especially when the offender doesn't even realize they are going it.
Might as well have said "You people..."
Again, I don't mind criticism -- and there was some criticism of the actual blog topic on the message board, too, which I found completely valid. I mind having my integrity questioned, and I particularly mind it when it comes from someone who also works in the media and should understand the weight of such accusations.
Allow me to counter this point by point:
1.) I was in Macon on Tuesday to talk to Mark Richt. I was at Butts-Mehre on Wednesday the entire day talking with players (and even said hello to Mr. Nabulsi, so he should know I was there). On Thursday I spoke with several other players on the phone for interviews. To suggest I don't get firsthand knowledge of the topics I write about is a joke, and if Mr. Nabulsi would like to compare time sheets from the past year, I'd be happy to do that.
2.) Yes, I work for a newspaper, which I assume makes me an "old world" journalist. But if you can find another "old world" beat reporter in this area who has embraced the Internet more or criticized newspapers more than I have, I'd love to meet him. (Heck, my next post after the Kiffin story was a response to Twitter inquiries!) I have no hard feelings toward the Internet sites at all. In fact, I write content for Scout's Web site and have worked closely with Dean Legge over the past year. Nearly every day I link to blogs covering Georgia that are far outside the mainstream -- not to mention links to Rivals on a regular basis. I'm on board.
3.) The camp Mr. Nabulsi discusses is A.) not part of my job to cover, and B.) off limits to media as directed by the SEC. So my hands were a bit tied there.
4.) Associating the plight of recruiting Web sites with that of blacks or Jews? Please, you can't be serious.
5.) And this is the most important one -- I DIDN'T INSULT RECRUITING SERVICES. All I meant was that no evaluation of a high school player can be considered a completely accurate prediction of how he'll perform at the college level. Anyone who wants to argue with that is simply wearing blinders.
To suggest that I simply sit behind a desk and watch "Cheers" all day before typing up an uninformed story is utterly insulting. The fact is, I don't even own a desk (unless that's what's under the giant pile of papers and unpaid utility bills in my living room).
Seriously, I included the Cheers reference because I try to make this blog more fun than the typical stodgy newspaper reporting. I spent nearly the entire week covering UGA football even though the season doesn't start for another three months. And what I said was not even remotely a criticism of recruiting sites.
So maybe it wasn't me who was uninformed here.