By Matt McCoy
Ever wonder why Jim Tressel made a career of talking a lot but saying nothing...or why may athletes shy away from speaking to the media? What happened to Ohio State receiver Evan Spencer Monday is the answer.
Spencer is a well spoken, upbeat kid. When he's made available to the media, we like it because he has personality and gives answers beyond the generic, run of the mill, "we're taking them one game at a time" variety.
That's why when Spencer met with reporters following Monday's practice, he was a popular guy. He spent about 15 minutes at a table, visiting with groups of reporters answering a variety of questions.
When speaking about Ohio State's place in the race of the national title, the line of questioning turned toward how Spencer felt the Buckeyes stacked up against Alabama, Baylor, Oregon and other top teams.
"Well I guess I'm a little biased but I think we'd wipe the field with both of them but that's just my biased speaking," Spencer said with a smile and a laugh. When asked which team, besides Alabama, he meant by 'both of them,' Spencer said "whoever...whoever."
In the interest of full disclosure, at the time Spencer said it, I was not at his table but I quickly heard about it and my initial reaction was 'what was that kid thinking?' Eventually, I had the audio forwarded to me by a colleague and when I heard it, my reaction did a 180.
Without context or tone, like my first reaction, the "we'd wipe the field with both of them" comment seems inflammatory. It looks that way on Twitter as well and the comment spread quickly in social media. Only minutes later, stories were posted on sports websites nationally, claiming that Spencer was 'calling out' Alabama and Florida State. (It should be noted that the second ranked Seminoles were never mentioned in the conversation.)
If you listen to the audio posted here...
...it's rather obvious that Spencer wasn't beating his chest with with bravado, wasn't claiming that the Buckeyes should be number one, and wasn't calling Alabama, Florida State or any of the top teams, overrated. What it was, however was a kid, admitting his biased and using a fun and light hearted way to say he believed in his team.
Hours later, Spencer went to Twitter to clarify and apologize.
"I did not mean to disrespect any FB team today. I am confident in my team, and as is evident in the video, I was having fun...
..with the media answering their questions. I should have chosen my words more wisely. There was no intent to disrespect any other team"
Spencer referenced the video which defines the tone even more. NBC 4's Jerod Smalley was recording Spencer at the time and posted this link to it on Twitter.
As Spencer said in his clarification, the use of the words "wipe the field" was not a good choice. He should have been more diplomatic. Having said that, I have to admit, it does bother me that his comment was portrayed as disrespectful bulletin board material. I have heard such comments before...this wasn't it.
Buckeye defensive back Bradley Roby took to Twitter to defend Spencer:
"Man the media be so thirsty to twist somebody words around just to make a story....Don't believe everything you hear"
I retweeted Roby's comment and got a response from another member of the media directed to both me and Roby. It said: "I was standing three feet away, I heard him say it."
Sure...technically, yes...he said it...and he's probably learned a lesson...but the next time we are declined an interview or get generic, stale, Tressilian answers from Spencer, Roby or other Buckeye players, don't complain about it. What Spencer dealt with Monday is why.
Urban Meyer Presser
Urban Meyer had his weekly meeting with the media Monday. To listen to his comments click here: