clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Once again, Geno shows he's the media's master

Geno Auriemma is brilliant both on the court and in the press room.
Geno Auriemma is brilliant both on the court and in the press room.

Geno Auriemma said some stuff on Sunday that got people fired up. So we're all on the same page, here's the quote:

"I just know there wouldn't be this many people in the room if we were chasing a woman's record. The reason everybody is having a heart attack the last four or five days is a bunch of women are threatening to break a men's record, and everybody is all up in arms about it.

"All the women are happy as hell and they can't wait to come in here and ask questions. All the guys that loved women's basketball are all excited, and all the miserable bastards that follow men's basketball and don't want us to break the record are all here because they're pissed. That's just the way it is.

"Because we're breaking a men's record, we've got a lot of people paying attention. If we were breaking a women's record, everybody would go, 'Aren't those girls nice, let's give them two paragraphs in USA Today, give them one line on the bottom of ESPN and then let's send them back where they belong, in the kitchen.'"

That, understandably got a reaction. Some people said he was just wrong. Tony Kornheiser killed him on PTI yesterday. Others accused him of trying to steal the spotlight, or being misguided, or, in the case of SI's Ann Killion, of sullying an "otherwise great moment." 

So yeah, lots of reactions, but none of those were my favorite. Nope, my favorite was from Jeff Jacobs, who wrote a long column about the win, and didn't mention the quote until the last line, where it was a glorified footnote. The reason for that, I suspect, is that Jacobs could tell what Auriemma was really doing, and no one in the national media could.

You see, Auriemma's quote, while based in truth, was clearly hyperbolic and designed to attract attention, and this is something Geno does all the time. It's just that no one notices.

It's brilliant coaching really. Whenever Auriemma's team gets in a situation where the pressure or media attention could distract his players, he opens his mouth, says something he knows will get a ton of attention, and takes the focus of his squad so they can prepare for the next game.

To wit:

  • Before UConn traveled down to play at Duke for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup and the first sold out women's game at Cameron Indoor, Auriemma said this: "You know, there are just as many Duke graduates waiting on tables as there is from any other school in the country. They may just be working at a better restaurant." That raised some eyebrows, and instead of the Cameron Crazies going after his players, all they could focus on was yelling "Luigi" at Geno.
  • A few years back, when Rutgers was good, Auriemma quipped "Rutgers fans, they're just born miserable and they stay miserable all their life." So what did Rutgers fans do? They focused on him and not his players.
  • After UConn's last long win streak was snapped, at 70, Auriemma lost his temper and went after a Daily Campus reporter. It wasn't pretty, was tinged by anger and Auriemma had to apologize a few days later, but it had the same effect. No extra attention on the players going into the NCAA tournament, everything on Geno. That team won a national title.
  • And don't forget each and every time that UConn played Tennessee. Because of his mouth, the story was always Geno vs. Pat, and never about pressure on Diana Taurasi or how the Huskies could contain Candace Parker.

The point is, Auriemma does this all the time. It's part of what makes him such a good coach. He knows he's going to have to deal with the media, so rather than let it get in the way of his team, he uses it as a tool to take pressure of his players and put it on himself. It's brilliant. 

Jacobs knows this, so he didn't dwell on Geno, the national media doesn't, so they freaked out. That's all.