Saturday, November 14, 2009

Tommy's Tirade Reconsidered

Posted By on Sat, Nov 14, 2009 at 10:00 AM

• Consider this ironic twist on the last decade of Tiger football. National footage of any of the 6,000 yards DeAngelo Williams rushed for with Memphis was a gold nugget — and just as rare — for Tiger fans. But when his former coach unleashed a five-minute rant on what is needed to improve the program . . . SportsCenter! Now!

Tommy West
  • Tommy West

Those five minutes will live a long time in reflections of West’s time atop the U of M program. What’s regrettable is that his message — a sound one — gets lost in the volume and emotion with which it was delivered. Consider the words minus that volume and emotion (like, say, reading them): “History will repeat itself, folks, if [the administration doesn’t] do something about it. But our fans have to demand that the new guy be given a level playing field. Stobart stood here and he was a bad coach . . . but good enough to beat Southern Cal. Rip became a bad coach . . . but he beat Peyton Manning and Tennessee. At some point, we have to do the things necessary to make this program what we want, or do away with it. It’s too painful, for coaches, players, and people. Every day I’ve been here has been a fist fight.”

Had West chosen to deliver this precise message in an interview format, perhaps sitting down, the content would have been just as powerful for the Memphis community, particularly for its football boosters. And it would not have been picked up by national TV producers aiming to titillate, aggravate, and agitate. A great lesson for parents (and office managers) to pass along: It’s not so much what you say, but how you say it.

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