Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Local Papers Still Ignoring Tubby's Gophers

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I wrote about the lack of mainstream media coverage in the Twin Cities that is dedicated to big-time college athletics.

The fact is the Minneapolis Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press cater to larger audiences than your typical college-town newspaper. Ann Arbor, Evanston and Columbus, for example, aren't home to multiple professional sports franchises. So, the editors at the PiPress and STrib have to make more difficult choices. Unfortunately for those of us who bleed maroon and gold, oftentimes its the student athlete who is left out. And since the papers feel some pressure to lend at least some coverage to each amateur sport, even less print space is given to the team's most of us follow: men's hockey, football and basketball.

And don't think that this isn't noticed around the country. Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News picked up on this over the long weekend:

"Here's how Tubby Smith's life has changed: Sunday night, his new team, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, went on the road to UNLV and got crushed, 81-64. It was the second loss for the Gophers, who were down 14 at the half and never really made it a game. And in this morning's Minneapolis Star-Tribune, you had to turn all the way to Page C12 to find the account of that game. You're not in Kentucky anymore, Coach."
The reluctance to provide consistent, insightful coverage of U of M athletics is a broader problem than just the placement of one story. Check out the STrib's Gopher Gold blog. Unless you are an avid Gophers hockey fan, there hasn't been much there for you in quite some time. Kudos to Roman Augstoviz for keeping the hockey coverage fresh, but where is the inside information on the men's basketball team?

Story ideas shouldn't be hard to come by. How are Tubby's Gophers going to counter team's in the future with top-notch back courts? What else ... Tubby's mention of replacing Williams Arena sparked considerable Internet discussion. That could be a very good story. Could Spencer Tollackson's troubles deserve some exploring? Why did Travis Busch get PT during the first half of the UNLV game? Who was Tubby upset with? Is the starting lineup set, or are changes on the way now that the Big Ten season is going to begin? Or, if you want to get all smart on us, how about a look at the finances of the athletic department, which finished in the red for the year.

Marcus Fuller at the PiPress has done a little better job than his competitor, Myron Medcalf, at the Star Tribune. But Fuller is at a decided disadvantage, as the PiPress apparently has him covering every Gophers sport, whereas the STrib reporters have a more manageable beat. The two papers shouldn't have excuses for the rest of the men's basketball season. The Vikings' season is over. The Johan Santana sweepstakes have died down. Nine people follow the Timberwolves. That leaves coverage of the Wild and Gophers until April when baseball begins anew.

So, hopefully the two papers step up the reporting on the Gophers men's basketball team (and the women too for that matter). If not, more and more people will turn to the message boards and the blogs for insight and information (which is one reason why newspapers are dying). And I guess that means I'll be happy either way.


From the Barn said...

I actually started my site because I was so frustrated with Myron Medcalf's poor writing and distinct lack of knowledge of Gopher basketball. In consecutive blog entries, he wrote about the Gophers having too many point guards, how their lack of depth was a concern,and then, just to contradict himself again apparently, how the Gophers success is because they are so deep that they can switch all 5 players out at anytime and be better than before! He also wrote articles both describing the various starting line ups used by the Gophers, and how Tubby doesn't change his starting line up because he is superstitious. With coverage like this, its no wonder the Gophers get buried behind the used car ads in the Strib. Who thought hiring a 24 year old who knows nothing about the Gophers was a good idea? Note to Strib editors, I'm not much older than 24, have followed the Gophers since I can remember, and will work for practically free!

I think Fuller does a great job, is quick to answer questions on his blog, and generally knows his stuff. But one man can only do so much.

But if the mainstream media doesn't meet the market demand, I won't complain either.

Friend Of Tubby said...

Decourcy is an idiot, as always. He's been a Tubby Hater for years and years.

Tubby is GLAD he's not in KY any more.

I like Fuller's coverage better than Minny S-T. Shelman is missed.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more concerning Metcalf. How about AT LEAST one post before and after each game? It just doesn't happen.

PJS said...

I try to give these guys some time to find their blogger 'voice.' It took LaVelle E. III a while to get comfortable with his Twins blog, I thought. After a few months, he started kicking ass at it. But Metcalf's a pup reporter covering a legendary coach. I'm not even convinced he knows how to cultivate sources and story ideas at this point. All he's given us is lackadasical game previews and recaps (in the paper) and nonexistent coverage on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is that the STrib misses Jeff Shelman. He was one of the best beat reporters in the nation.

alex said...

The coverage that the Gophers get from the local newspapers is abysmal, which makes blogs like this one even better. Marcus Fuller does an okay job considering, but the Star Tribune's Gopher Gold is pretty crappy unless you only care about hockey. They really need to work on improving their all-around coverage, especially as this team starts getting more and more buzz around campus.

Zach said...

Hey guys. I enjoy the blog and I also enjoy reading what you guys say on Gopherhole. I am the beat reporter for the Gophers for the Minnesota Daily, the student paper for the U of M.

One of your complaints I have noticed has been lack of updated blogs by the beat writers. Well, I thought I'd pass along the link to my Gopher basketball blog since the Daily does a poor job of advertising it. I update it before each game I attend (unfortunately I won't be at Michigan State tonight) and update it whenever there is other breaking news.

Here is the link:


Keep in mind it is a college guy blogging. I try to keep it fun and joke around a lot, but once in a while I actually do have useful information, especially the early blog entries from the season. I'd like to know what you guys think. Thanks.

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