Did you see Frank Martin’s post-game interview with Kansas State analyst Stan Weber after Tuesday night’s tough loss to Baylor at Bramlage Coliseum? Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin can be exciteable, to say the least. The game was shown on Fox Sports Midwest and Weber, who normally does radio for the Wildcats’ Radio Network, was on television Tuesday night. It was his assignment to interview Martin after K-State’s two-point loss in a game they Wildcats looked like they would win numerous times.
That assignment ranks right up there with sticking your head inside a lion’s mouth and fishing for sharks inside a river raft.
You can see the video here, courtesy of YouTube:
Fun for Weber, wasn’t it? He asked the mundane questions you can always depend on being asked in the moments after a game. It’s a TV trick to get a coach on the floor immediately after the game is over, although at most schools the rule is for a 10-minute “cooling off” period, designed for a coach and players to get their legs under them after the emotions of a tough game.
Martin, obviously, was nowhere near ready to address his team’s shortcomings in the Baylor game or where the Wildcats go from here. He was ready to bite the head off a bat and poor Weber, who is Kansas State through and through, was in way over his head.
It’s never easy to ask questions of a losing coach, even after the 10-minute cool-off. In fact, it’s one of the toughest and diciest aspects of being in the media.
With a lot of coaches, you never know what you’re going to get. Winning games is their life-blood. Losing can send them to the unemployment line. So approaching a loss with a coach is difficult.
Yet if we’re doing our job as journalists – I’m talking those of us in the print media here, mostly – we have to ask the questions we think fans want answers to. The longer I’m in this business, the more I notice those questions being avoided. It was maddening to me last week that during his post-game news conference, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder wasn’t asked about his decision to punt the ball in the third quarter after the Wildcats had reached the Arkansas 37-yard line on 4th-and-5.
K-State, down 10 points at the time, booted the ball into the end zone and, in my opinion, gave up a rare opportunity in that game to put points on the board.
But it never came up as Snyder answered questions. Why didn’t I ask? Because I was on a tight deadline in the press box, writing my column. I couldn’t even make it down for the post-game, one of the drawbacks of such a late game. I always feel as if I’ve done only about 75 percent of my job when I’m not involved in the news conference after a game.
Not that I’m Mike Wallace of “60 Minutes.” But if there are questions that I think a knowledgeable fan would ask, then I try and ask it. Regardless of the repercussion. It’s my opinion that coaches respect good questions, for the most part. Some bristle when asked to explain any decision, but most are willing to address an issue if they deem it to be an issue.
Nobody likes being second-guessed, least of all coaches. That’s where our jobs – as journalists and coaches – clash the most.
Back to Martin.
He needed some time to formulate his thoughts after Tuesday night’s game. It was such a tough and emotional contest. But television is immediate and FSM had to cut to him quickly before going off the air. And that raw footage is what we got. It makes Martin look bad, to some degree, because of his shortness with Weber and because of the way he stormed off after giving a quick answer to Weber’s second and last question.
Here’s guessing Weber didn’t mind that Martin bolted so quickly, especially if he was going to ask a third question. There was no need for a third question. Martin’s abruptness and scowl spoke volumes.