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Kevin Schnepf, Published August 10 2013

Schnepf: Bohl's media policy similar to one at Kansas State

Fargo - Craig Bohl’s decision to ban the media from North Dakota State football practices this fall may have been a bit of an overreaction, especially when his program may be one of the few among FCS programs (if not the only one) to adopt such a policy.

Then again, Bohl’s two-time defending national champions, who are heavy favorites to three-peat, do not open their season Aug. 30 against an FCS opponent. They open against Kansas State – a powerhouse among the major college ranks, where banning media from practices is common practice.

In fact, Kansas State has been doing it since 1989 when Bill Snyder started turning around what used to be the worst program in major college football. It’s Snyder who was among the first coaches to limit media access.

“He’s probably the first coach who triggered all this at this level,” said Kansas State sports information director Kenny Lannou. “It’s just his philosophy. It’s just kind of his way.”

If the Fargo-Moorhead media thought Bohl’s new policy was controlling, take a look at what the media in Manhattan, Kan., has to deal with.

Prior to the week leading up to the season opener against NDSU, the media covering Kansas State has had only three chances to conduct interviews – media day, conference media day and fan appreciation day.

That’s it. Under Bohl’s new policy, the local media can interview players and coaches after each practice. That seems to be the standard practice even among most major college programs.

But not at Kansas State – where the 73-year-old Snyder, as one Kansas scribe phrased it: “sometimes gives off the impression he’d prefer even the games be played in a windowless room the public isn’t allowed to enter.”

This mindset partly explains, I theorize, why Bohl has joined the major-college boys in limiting media access. If Snyder is going to keep limiting the chances of information leaking out into the world of social media, then Bohl is going to do the same.

Bohl refutes this theory. But word has it Bohl and his staff were able to unearth valuable pregame information about a Colorado State team they manhandled last year.

“I won’t comment on that,” Bohl said. “Believe me, I’m knocking on the door for Kansas State, but we’re not picking much up.”

College football coaches have always seemed to be a paranoid bunch. So does more and more success – like two national championships – create more and more paranoia?

“It’s not paranoia,” Bohl said. “What has happened for me is the onslaught of social media. You got this phone right here and you pop it up and you’re looking at a red zone 7-on-7 formation. You look and see it posted somewhere and you go, ‘Wow … how did that happen?’

“Does that cause a coach to be paranoid? Yeah, pretty much. Believe me, I’m not the lone ranger on this.”

No, he is not.

While the nine other Missouri Valley Conference members still have open practices, they do prevent media from taking pictures or video of certain formations or plays. The same can be said for the University of North Dakota or the seven FCS teams that had the highest attendance figures last season (Appalachian State, Montana, James Madison, Old Dominion, Delaware, Georgia Southern and Montana State).

Another fear among coaches is the media or the public announcing an injury on Twitter even before the trainer is aware of it.

“I understand the media has a job to do, and I understand it from a coaches’ standpoint,” said Western Illinois SID Patrick Osterman, who spent a few years trying to control such messages at Georgia Southern. “It’s a fine line.”

Not so much for programs struggling for wins and coverage.

“We are in a completely different situation than North Dakota State,” said SID Bryan Boettcher at South Dakota, which is picked to finish last in the Missouri Valley for the second straight season. “We are trying to get coverage.”

So while Bohl’s no-media policy may be the only one at the FCS level, he maintains the amount of media coverage his team gets is not typical of the FCS, either.

“Without question, a lot of FCS schools are not as privileged to get as much media exposure as we do,” Bohl said. “We certainly welcome that … that’s why we are trying to work out a workable arrangement. And this is what I feel personally comfortable with.

“It may not be what everybody likes. I understand that, I really do. I just felt that this was important for us to do.”

Especially with Bill Snyder and Kansas State looming on the horizon.


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

or kschnepf@forumcomm.com