Is Michigan State trying to protect three players that have been accused of sexual assault? Is Mark Dantonio just looking to avoid the media questions after his team went 3-9 last season?
These are questions we have no answers to, well, because Dantonio and the Michigan State football program has gone on lockdown to start Spring football. In an unprecedented move, Dantonio wasn’t made available to the media before or after the first practice of spring ball which took place on Saturday.
It is one thing to shut the media out from watching practice, it is a whole different thing to shut them completely out. Not a single interview with Dantonio is scheduled, no player is being made available to the press pool and there is no scheduled media availability all spring long.
However, things have gone to an insane level of rallying the troops around the athletic department. I mean, not even the internal video, photo or social media crew have said or produced a single peep out of practice.
Notable: MSU hasn't released any internal photos or video from its Saturday practice, as they usually do. So it's a total media blackout
— Kyle Austin (@kylebaustin) February 27, 2017
One look at the Spartans football Twitter account and you wouldn’t have a clue Spring ball was underway. Between Friday and Monday there was no activity on the social media pages, you know, as if Spring football didn’t even exist.
The only new tweet published is for fans to sign up for a contest to win a chance to meet Dantonio at the Spring Game or about NFL players who were Spartans first.
— Spartan Football (@MSU_Football) February 27, 2017
But, why the blackout internally if all you are trying to do is avoid the difficult off-field questions? It isn’t like they wouldn’t protect the wishes of the coaching staff and administration in carrying out the mission at hand.
You mean to tell me that there couldn’t be some video staffers going on camera to tell the folks at home what took place on the field? No quick recap of the first day of spring football?
Whatever the reason, Michigan State is walking a fine line here.
Those who actually pay the salaries of these coaches and contribute multi-millions of dollars to the athletic department via donations, season tickets and apparel sales have a right to know what is going on with the team on the field.
If MSU is looking to protect the three suspended players from being publicly named, there is a level of understanding for what is currently happening. After all, the Duke Lacrosse case and countless high-profile false campus sexual assault accusations in the past show just how damaging even the accusation can be.
Of course, should the three players be formally charged by the county prosecutor, the Spartans will have no leg to stand on in protecting the players names. Court records will make sure that doesn’t happen, but MSU should also be prepared to open up media availability.
MSU should’ve been prepared to find ways to showcase battles on the field, give short clips of practice and give the people a look at the program from an internal perspective. Would showing the QB’s throwing the football or wide receiver catching passes or DB’s breaking up said passes for a few seconds at a pop really give away who is actually suspended from the team?
If so, the simple solution would be to concentrate on the battles happening elsewhere in terms of the visuals. MSU’s staffers could simply mention those players who are there in a generic way as to what was seen at practice.
It is clear this program is doing all it can to hide from the inevitable questions about what is happening off the field. Given all that needs to be corrected on it, perhaps the media black-out is a good thing for the players.
But, it also is a troublesome situation for those in the media pool and for those who make financial decisions to attend games, give dollars to the athletic department and buy team apparel based off of what they see from this team heading in to the season.
What Michigan State is doing with this black out on all fronts isn’t good for anyone but the coaching staff, and it should be called on the carpet for this ridiculous action.