Scooter Hobbs column: Kelly pulls back curtain just a tad
Published 10:00 am Friday, August 5, 2022
Brian Kelly has yet to call a single play at LSU and already the Tigers’ new coach is throwing caution to the proverbial wind.
Buckle up, Tiger fans, it’s going to be a wild, wild ride.
People hereabouts are going to think he’s split-pea crazy.
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This reckless behavior will certainly be a shock to the Southeastern Conference’s finely tuned system.
Maybe this silly stuff flies up in the Midwest, but not down here where It Just Means More.
No, sir, not on your cotton-picking life. You’re just out there sniffing around for trouble with a capital T.
But Kelly, well, he didn’t really announce anything.
Yet the simple email sent out to the media in advance of LSU’s August practices was quite the shocker.
To wit, and unless I’m misinterpreting something, apparently, LSU’s August labor will be conducted with something less than DEFCON 1 secrecy and mystery.
Talk about not fitting in with the new neighbors. Kelly just must be built differently.
But did he get this approved at the coaches’ confab at the SEC spring meetings?
Better yet, does Nick Saban know about this? Did he approve it?
Best anybody can remember, it was Saban, while he was LSU, that first decided that football practice was far too important to be trusted to the whims of curious and prying eyes not directly affiliated with the program.
Had it been anybody else, it probably would have been ignored. But it was Saban, so it was instinctively adopted by pretty much every coach in the SEC and most of those who have entered since. Perhaps it was self-defense.
It was never explained exactly how the football atom was being split to require such Manhattan Project-style zipped lips. But if Saban was doing it, it must be important or at least part of his ever-secretive “Process.”
Saban is also why very few SEC freshmen are trusted to talk to the media, but that’s another story.
And that was before the Twittersphere became a fourth branch of football government.
So you can imagine the risk Kelly is taking by opening up practice, if only a wee bit.
This is college football we’re talking about here.
It’s certainly not total access that Kelly is enacting. No media will be embedded with the Tigers. That’s only safe for America’s declared wars.
But far more portions of practices will be on display, including — and this is the biggie — those previously staff-eyes-only scrimmages, from which I’ve always suspected LSU keeps a sense of humor while making up statistics at random.
But understand, while football games are the land’s favorite spectator sport, if fans had to watch the practice ritual they’d be far less inclined to tailgate or tune in on Saturdays. It is sausage-making at its most monotonous, with a whole lot of “No! No! No! Let’s do it again!”
But Kelly still runs the risk that some media-type might accidentally notice an H-back going in motion and spill the beans, let alone some internal shoving matches.
Spoiler alert: curse words are not unusual at these affairs, including ground-breaking new combinations of the old reliables.
There will be hoops for media to jump through, of course, a long list of regulations for attendance.
For instance, one “may take notes,” even take “photos, video, etc.”
“But nothing can be reported or shared — live tweeting, etc. — until practice is over.”
Not sure what the point of that is.
Nor the strict edict of “No talking on the cell phone during practice.”
You’d think it was trivia night at Tiger Stadium.
There will still be media periods and non-media periods, the difference being that no student manager will get the thankless task of shooing the press corps away.
Media can still attend the non-media periods, but “Once the media period ends, you may observe practice but no video, photos, or live reporting of any kind.”
Just stand there and be inconspicuous, I guess.
It can all get pretty confusing, especially the part about what viewing parameters all this reporting and not reporting must be done from. But fortunately there are handy diagrams attached with the directives.
So, yes, Kelly is playing with fire here.
But, on the odd chance that something interesting comes from a practice, you’ll have a better chance of hearing about it.
The rest of the SEC can’t be happy about that.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org