Will Muschamp not happy with local newspaper

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday May 08, 2017

The relationship between a head coach and the local media can be a strained one at times, and Will Muschamp made it clear he’s not happy with The State newspaper in Columbia right now.

A week ago, The State reported that South Carolina players Skai Moore and Deebo Samuel and a former player were allegedly involved in a bar fight, based on an account in the incident report.

Samuel told Muschamp he wasn’t there. Moore said he was trying to defuse the situation, and both were cleared from any involvement over the weekend. Muschamp talked with the paper’s editor about it, and with both now cleared, he wants an apology. Here was Muschamp’s full comment when asked about it Monday. He didn't hold back.

I’ve talked to both young men and the gross inaccuracies of The State newspaper sicken me. To take a shot at the University of South Carolina and those two young men (who) since I’ve been in Columbia have been phenomenal young men in how they handle their business. They’ve been no issues for me.

“I talked to both of the young men on the day the article was printed, and Deebo said, ‘Coach, I wasn’t there.’ I trust our guys. He wasn’t there. Skai said, ‘Coach, I was there, but didn’t feel like I did anything wrong. I tried to diffuse the situation.’ The investigating officer commended Skai — let me say that again — commended Skai on his behavior and how he handled a hostile situation. That day, I called (assistant AD for media relations) Steve Fink. I said, ‘Steve, I think our guys represented us the right way. How do we attack this?’ He had heard from a police spokesperson that said they told The State newspaper, ‘You really don’t need to run this, because this is the account of one person in the bar that night. One person’s opinion of what happened.’ It was totally incorrect.

“So I called (executive editor) Mark Lett, the editor of The State paper. I said, ‘Mark, you really messed this one up. Deebo Samuel wasn’t there, and I think in the investigation, we’re going to find out Skai Moore didn’t do a whole lot of anything.’ He wanted to stand by the story. He wanted to stand by the incident report, after he was told you don’t need to run this because it’s inaccurate and could be really wrong.

Since that time, we haven’t heard anything. We haven’t heard an apology, haven’t heard a retraction, and I think it’s sickening to me that these two young men have been put through this and they’ve done nothing wrong. It’s not about getting the story out when there’s factual information. It’s about getting the story first. That’s really what it boils down to.”

“I’ll look at The State newspaper like the National Enquirer now. Seriously. The magazine with aliens and stuff. They come up with these sensational stories that aren’t true, and they don’t back up anything with factual evidence to say, ‘We were wrong in this situation.’ But it’s gross what they’ve done to these two young men, and we expect an apology or retraction. I don’t know that we’ve had one. Maybe we had, I don’t know. I don’t subscribe to the National Enquirer or The State paper, so it doesn’t really affect me until something comes across my radar. No offense to any of you guys writing for The State or the National Enquirer.”

Moore also released a statement through his representatives asking for a retraction and apology. The stories by The State were written by local news reporters, not sports reporters, and the player names came from a public document, but that reporter-coach relationship just got more tense.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.