Commentary: Nolan's Tirade Hurts UA

It wasn't a good day for the University of Arkansas when basketball coach Nolan Richardson launched a tirade against the state's media. Did he have a right to be mad? Perhaps, but it won't do him or the school any good in the long run. Also included here is a complete transcript of Nolan's media briefing from Monday in Fayetteville.

What caused Nolan Richardson's tirade on Monday? It's easy enough to figure that one out. It's what he identifies as unfair criticism of his coaching and his methods.

It's a consistent pattern. If he thinks he is being criticized by the media or fans (and he does listen to talk radio), then he will sound off. It's been like that for a few years now. And, by now we know or should know that Nolan's skin is not only black (since we hear his constant reminders), but extremely thin. His tirade against the media was another example of the thin nature of his skin.

Nolan didn't like what Bob Stephens and Wally Hall wrote last week, so he sounded off in Lexington, and again Monday in Fayetteville. At his media briefing on Monday, Nolan was by far the worst it's ever been. Nothing he's done previously matched the intensity of the way he made his points. I stand by what I said yestereday afternoon, it was a true tirade ... a speech of condemnation.

Was it deserved? I don't really think so, based on what I've been able to discern from studying real criticism of coaches. What Nolan thinks is a "rip job" is hardly that ... at least by modern-day journalistic standards. He is treated well by the media in Arkansas. If you want to see true "rip jobs," then take a sampling of the LA Times, New York Times, New York Daily News, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Tampa Tribune, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune, etc. See what the columnists there say about pro and college coaches. They hammer them daily. Each of those papers may have two columns a day that hammer the coaches in those markets. They second guess every single decision by every single coach ... even when they are winning championships. That doesn't happen here.

I don't have a problem with Nolan speaking his mind. He has that right. And, he had a right to say everything he said Monday. But, in the long run, those comments do not help Nolan, nor do they help the University of Arkansas. They are extremely counter productive to the mission both travel.

There may be fans that are irritated by things that Nolan did or said in the past, but usually they have been in the minority. Support has fallen a bit of late, but it is still good for a .500 team ... no, it's great for a .500 team. And, when there have been calls to talk radio shows that have been critical, there have always been just as many more calls of support. The majority of the fans were still behind Nolan ... until Monday. Many still support Nolan, but many left his ship on Monday and it did not have to be that way.

As far as Nolan's tirade Monday against the media and his decision to close workouts and limit access, I really don't care. If he criticizes the media, that's fine. He has the right to close practices if he thinks that will help him win games. I don't disagree and that's not the point here. If that is all he did Monday, then it would have been a non-issue. I don't think it matters to anyone if Nolan is mad at Wally Hall or Bob Stephens. Some will say, "Go get them, Nolan." And, they wouldn't care if he is mad at Clay Henry, although I don't think that is the case at this point. We did have a civil exchange at the briefing, and he did answer my question ... there was only one. Something else he did on my behalf in the past few days also tells me that he is not mad at me. But, if he was, or is now, that is still not the issue.

The issue is whether these tirades affect his ability to do his job. Will his tirade Monday and the national publicity it garnered via ESPN help or hurt Nolan? I'd think it will hurt him. It probably embarrasses Arkansas fans more than anything else, but it also will hurt Nolan's ability to do his job. It displayed him as an angry man, a man that feels he has been mistreated and maligned by Arkansas people.

There are probably mommas and pappas out there that saw that and are thinking why would I want to expose my son to that ... both Nolan and the Arkansas people. And, they are also probably thinking if Nolan reacts like that, he must be on the way out or want out. Even if they wanted their son to play for Nolan, they are probably thinking it wouldn't happen long at Arkansas because the man is self destructing.

No, that was not a good day for the University of Arkansas on Monday. Again, I do not write this because Nolan is keeping me from doing my job, because I don't think he's doing that. I do not think he is against the media at all, except a small segment that he identified on Monday as Wally Hall (along with his paper) and Bob Stephens.

But the fallout from this will be major, and it may last for quite some time. That's what made it a bad day for the University of Arkansas.


Transcript of Nolan's Media Briefing

Here's HI's version of Nolan Richardson's press briefing.  Richardson began the press conference by having Arkansas basketball sports information director Robby Edwards come to the platform to read a card he received from the parents of recruit Andre Iguodala. Robby struggled a bit in reading it, and couldn't tell who signed the letter, and Nolan helped him out with that at the end.

The letter as read by Robby Edwards: God has chosen you to lead our children on the path to success, courage and manhood and we are blessed that our sons path leads to the one path by you. Thank you for the kind words expressed in the newspaper after Saturday's game. We know in our heart those words are from your heart. Be patient, for God is not finished.

Nolan then asked Robby to tell who wrote the letter, and Robby said: From Linda, Leonard, Frank, Jr. and Andre (Iguodala)

NR: The reason I asked you to read that was I saw that article in the paper about kids coming to school and who they come here for. The No. 1 thing
that's talked in our deal is that the greatest thing going for the University of Arkansas is Nolan Richardson. Secondly, all the key football players talk
to Nolan Richardson. Why?

Anybody know? (Pause) I guess not.

The last thing, before we get started. I applied for Bowie High School. I applied for Western Texas Junior College. I applied for Tulsa University. I did not apply for the University of Arkansas. They came and asked me to come. I dont beg.

And the reason I said what I said and the young man (pointing to Robbie Neiswanger of the Morning News of  Northwest Arkansas) that said it was a tirade I always thought a tirade was like when (Bobby) Knight would go crazy and curse you all out. That's what I call a tirade and going off.

I spoke in these voices because when I was met outside by one of the writers (after the Kentucky game at Lexington), he said, "Nolan, after all these years youre still
getting criticized, talked about, blamed and all the other things, and Tubby Smith is going through the same thing. How do you react to this?"

Well, I'm not going to give this as an exclusive, I was thinking to myself, I'll address this inside. I've been asked not to do exclusives. It's like two years ago when they were going over my contract, Is he going to be here, is he not? All the comments.

I wanted to make sure everybody understood, and I said it in these words, those three guys that I named ... Frank, Dr. (John) White and Dr. B. Alan Suggs
... when they decide that its enough, that's when they can pay me off and Ill be on my way.

But I will not answer to the media, I will not answer to the fans or anybody. No talk show hosts, no anybody can do anything to me. I've earned, as I've said many times to you, I've earned the right to have the type of season I'm having.

I'm really tired of being so accessible to the press. I'm tired of my team being so accessible to the press because I thought I was trying to help you do a job. I feel sorry for you, (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter) Bob (Holt), because I don't have time for you anymore.

Bob, do not call me ever on my phone ... none of you ... at my home ever again. Those lines are no longer for communications with me. If you can't do things the
way they ought to be done, if you take what I say and use it any kind of way you want to ... (Morning News writer) Bob Stephens did that to me (about
guaranteeing win overAlabama on Wednesday).

You were in here when I talked about the kind of team I have. You were in here. You also know they dismissed the kid from Florida (Teddy Dupay) for gambling or presenting material. You also know what the situation was with (Stephens). You also know that nothing happened (to Stephens). And what kind of a message did that send out? You know that.

And when I look at all of the people in this room, I see no one who looks like me, talks like me or acts like me. Now why don't you recruit. Why don't the sports editors recruit like I'm recruiting?

From now on, you've got 20 minutes to ask me as many questions as you can and I have the right to answer them or like I did this morning (during the SEC
coaches teleconference in response to a question from Holt), No comment.

You will have the right to talk to my players only in here and only if you tell Robby (Edwards) who you want. I will bring them in the room just like the NCAA does and I will have a coach or myself present when the questions are asked. This will be the same through the rest of the season until my new classm comes in.

It will stay that way. I do not expect for you to be at my practices anymore. You don't have to be. My practices will be closed to the media from this day until I decide when I'll open it again, if I ever open it again while I am still the basketball coach here.

I will not stick around (after workouts) and answer questions about who is going to start. I will not allow you in my gym talking to players after my practices are over. I gave you those opportunities. That will not happen anymore, gentlemen. That will not happen anymore.

If that's a tirade, young man (talking to Neiswanger), I know that you are just getting here. I'm talking about you just getting into the (business). I know eventually you are going to be less like they are and I understand that.

In other words, when I speak, maybe it looks like because I'm big, I'm strong, I've got a heavy voice, you might consider that being angry. I talk to my players like this every single day. When I taught classes, this is the way I spoke in my classroom. I haven't hit anyone, I haven't thrown any chairs, I haven't even asked the media to look upstairs and kiss my whatever. I haven't done any of that.

All I've tried to do is help you do your job. I just want you to remember one thing: I did not apply. They thought I was the best one for the job and I got it. I've applied three times in my lifetime. Where would I go? I say this again, the more you are on my case, the longer I will stay here.

So maybe that's what you want. Because, nobody runs you anywhere, Nolan. I know that. My great-great grandfather came over here on the ship. I didn't,
and I don't think you understand what I'm saying. My great-great grandfather came over on the ship. Not Nolan Richardson. I did not come over on that
ship. So I expect to be treated a little bit different.

Because I know for a fact that I do not play on the same level as the other coaches around this school play on. I know that. You know it. And people of my color know that. And that angers me.

But I've dealt with it for 17 years. And let me tell you something, I'll deal with it for 17 more. Because that's my make-up. With that, I've cleared the air, you got questions, ask it. If I choose to answer it, I'll try.

I hope were all on the same page. Thank you. You can run that on every TV show in America.

Q (from Nate Allen): You looked at the tape?

NR: Nope. I'm going to tell you something, Nate, those kids played their hearts out. I didn't have to look at the tape. I felt real good. I felt so good. I didn't feel good about losing. No one hurts more than I do, no one hurts more than my players, no one hurts more than my family. Those are the people I'm responsible for and thats what bothers me the most.

Because if I'm happy, I think my family will be happy, my players will be happy, the school will be happy. But they all come after that. And I left that game knowing the kids tried their best. Knowing we still have the same problems, we can't score. I couldn't have felt any better about how hard they tried to execute and do the things we asked.

And I was so proud of that. That may have given me another 10 years of coaching. Because if I can get those guys to do what I think they tried to do in that ballgame and the other game against Alabama, that's fine. You can lose some, but it's fine because you can see some of the things you have worked on.

I felt (Jannero) Pargo, I was so proud of Pargo. Everybody else, was like, "He's got to shoot, he's got to shoot." Pargo played basketball. Pargo was a distributor, Pargo tried to score, Pargo got some steals, Pargo's defense was getting after it. Pargo was a totally different basketball player.

I told him that. I told, him, You scored, 28, 29, 33, been player of the week this and national player of the week that. This was your best game. The only thing missing was turnovers. He had five of them. If he cuts that to
three, its a perfect game.

Q (Bob Holt): You guys are rated the No. 1 strength of schedule ...

NR: No comment.

Q (Holt): Will that be the answer to every question I ask?

NR: Not necessarily. You're Wally Hall's eyes, ears and nose and everything else. Sometimes I don't think you give him the full report. You leave things out, or, I believe he cuts things out. Yall have a decision to make on that. Because how could he quote me, if he didnt get it from me and I never saw him?

Q (Holt): Which are you referring to?

NR: How could he know anything about what happened? I'm debating whether well have this (looking down at microphones and recorders), this is against the
law right here. If I decide to cut that (recording) out, it's over with. I don't have to be taped. You should come up here and ask me can I tape this?

Q (Holt): I'm not sure what you're referring to.

NR: Where did he get a blue-light sale from, Bob?

Q (Holt): I think he took it off the Internet.

NR: From who?

Q (Holt): The Morning News' (site).

NR: Well, you have to report to somebody. Who's you're boss?

A: Wally.

NR: OK. That answers it.

Q (Nate Allen): Mississippi State?

NR: Mississippi State is playing real good right now. They've always had a good team. We were fortunate to do a good job last time. The game is all based on whether we can put it in the hole. If we can put it in the hole, we have a chance to win. I dont think our kids have given up. We have a chance.

And I'm going to say this because it's on everybody. Don't go and say I went and guaranteed a victory. I've never guaranteed a victory in my life. I dont
play that game. But I always think I can win. That's a difference.

I think we can win. You can write it that way. But that's what I'm saying. That's how I feel. I think we can win on out. I think we can win the tournament. And the day I stop thinking that is the day I quit coaching.

Q (asked by Clay Henry): Are the players still believing?

NR: Absolutely.

You got five minutes.

Q (Robbie Neiswanger): Last week you divided your team into blue collar and white collar, do you feel the whole team has gotten on the blue collar page? You mentioned Pargo

NR: I'm glad you asked that question. I really feel that they understand it a lot better now and we can mingle it up a lot better now.

I think that was important to show what I was talking about. And in the (Kentucky) ballgame, we mixed it up quite a bit and I was very impressed with how hard they tried to do the thing that we wanted.

Good question.

I've got two questions left. (no other questions were asked.)

Thank you.

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