Kansas student reporter is another victim of Charlie Weis intimidation
Wait, before you start reading this post, just know that Kansas coach Charlie Weis did not give us permission to write it. And since it's going to be a post about the way Weis and his staff have been treating the Daily Kansan, a student paper, during the past week, this might be the last thing you read from Dr. Saturday.
At least, that would be consistent with the way Weis has decided to squash the First Amendment and take the frustrations of a miserable 1-4 season out on a 21-year-old student reporter named Blake Schuster by having an underling tell him how to do his job. Now, I don't know Schuster, but I know the behavior — Weis pulled the same bully move on me back in 2008.
We'll get to that in a second, first let me recount what I'm talking about.
Last week, Weis took to Twitter to complain about a cartoon on the cover of the Daily Kansan that depicted Willie the Wildcat reigning superior over a scared Jayhawk and a headline that read: "Road Kill Ahead."
Here's what Weis tweeted:
"Team slammed by our own school newspaper. Amazing! No problem with opponents paper or local media. You deserve what you get! But, not home!"
Well, at this point the Jayhawks were 1-3 with losses to Rice and Northern Illinois, their only win was against an FCS team and they were about to endure a 56-16 loss to their rival Kansas State.
But hey, the student paper should ignore all that and write flowery features on the team's uniforms and the third-string kicker, right? Yeah, a columnist from the Daily Kansan didn't think so either and penned a glorious column to that effect.
At this point, I will point out that Weis is hater of the First Amendment, freedom and fun... and apparently winning.
Which brings us to this week.
According to the Daily Kansan, Katy Lonergan, director of football communications, warned Shuster not to ask any questions during the weekly press conference because there was, "lingering ill-will among members of the football program."
Katy Lonergan, director of football communications, said she was looking out for the writer and reminded him that he had the same access of any reporter.
Sports writer Blake Schuster, a junior from Chicago, said the conversation was meant to interfere with his work.
He said Lonergan told him it would be in his best interest not to ask questions.
Lonergan and Schuster could not say where the hostilities were expected to come from, but coach Weis was the only member of the football program to take questions during the press conference.
While Lonergan may have said she was trying to help Schuster out, why is Weis gunning for this reporter who presumably didn't draw the art on the cover? This is bullying, plain and simple. Paint it any way you want, but Weis, days after the original art appeared on the cover of the newspaper, is trying to assert his authority over the student paper by causing a reporter to be afraid to ask a question because of the result.
[Sandusky's lawyer drank with Penn State students before sentencing]
I wish young Mr. Schuster would have asked a question, no, every question, in that press conference. Because honestly, what more can you learn about a 1-4 team that you don't already know?
This is vintage Charlie Weis. Notre Dame reporters could fill days with stories of Weis threatening access and just being an overall jerk. In fact, CollegeBlitz.com has a nice recap of some of the stunts Weis pulled in South Bend.
As for my story… On my first day covering the Irish four years ago, Weis had a beef with my employer, but decided to take it out on me. I had never met the man, but he still ignored all of my questions, wouldn't shake my hand when I introduced myself to him and even — as I was told later by one of his assistants — told his assistant coaches to ignore me if I tried to ask them questions. At one point, an assistant coach got up from his seat and walked away in the middle of one of my questions.
Here's an undeniable truth: If Weis' teams lived up to any of the hype he received as a former NFL coach with a "decided schematic advantage" then he wouldn't have to go around carrying a black censor bar and intimidating young reporters.
As it stands, his teams have not lived up to their billing, Kansas is not the changed program many expected it to be and so the media attention — even the on-campus attention — is just a reflection of the apathy that exists in the fan base.
And to be totally fair, outside of the cover cartoon, the article that went with it to preview the Kansas-Kansas State game had no malicious intent. In fact, it alluded to what a win could do for the Jayhawks' season.
So, take heed Daily Kansan and Blake Schuster, you are not the only ones to have to endure Weis mistreatment, you are just the latest. Think of it as a time-honored tradition.
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