Interesting thread on sports journalism and the asking of hard questions. I had a reply to one question that quickly became post length.
So here goes:
Most veteran coaches -- and Capt. Kirk has this skill down to a science -- wouldn’t say $hit if they had a mouthful. Talk to the these men and women and they can give autopilot answers to almost any question. Politicians are like this, too. It’s a skill skill that, in and of itself, is pretty amazing.
The best “quotes” tend to be pretty squirrely and high strung, at least in my experience. These folks have a habit of burning out of high-profile jobs. Or they don’t get high-profile jobs at all. The best route to long-term success is to stay bland, control your emotions and step up to the mic with a poker face.
If you want a good, meaty story, sometimes you have to put in the leg work first. You have to gather and check sources, build your story and then ask for a comment. What do they tell trial lawyers -- never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to? It’s like that.
True story from my old days as a sports hack. This was about year three of the Ferentz Era and Iowa coaches were doing the rubber chicken bit on the summer I-Club circuit. I get five minutes with Kirk and I’m getting the stock answers, which is OK, since I’m doing a stock story.
Just for fun, I see if I can throw him a curveball. I ask: “Aren’t you glad you don’t have to play Nebraska this year?” Remember, they had just been taken to the woodshed two years running by the Huskers.
Kirk looks me dead in the eye. I can see this twitch on his face. Just a flicker of surprise and anger and then gone, just like that. “We’d be happy to play anyone.” And he smiles.