There’s always time for another call

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The Daily Kansan’s B.J. Rains writes a wonderful lead to a football preview, putting the Jayhawks’ game this weekend into perspective. He also adds some intrigue in the lead.

Coach Mark Mangino may not want to say it, but several of his players will.

Friday night’s game at No. 19 South Florida has all of the makings of a game that could make or break their 2008 season.

Win, and silence the critics and build momentum for another successful season. Lose, and stir more whispers that last year’s success was the result of a weak schedule.

Kansas receiver Dezmon Briscoe then explains the chip some Kansas players have on their proverbial shoulders, that the Jayhawks can’t win the ‘big game.’ “If we win, we will have people jumping on the band wagon. If we lose, then they are going to jump off and say how bad we were and how we didn’t play anybody.” Would like a comment from USF’s coaches, but, still, this is a good piece.

Sources I believe it was longtime Boston Globe sportswriter Will McDonough who said there’s always time to make another phone call. Of course, he was right, as he was with so many scoops and stories. If you have a few more minutes, make that extra call to another sports information director or coach or player to get more information. That call can yield a terrific insight, breaking news, or a great comment. Too frequently, though, journalists settle into comfortable (and lazy) habits, which might mean speaking with the same sources time and again, or hanging out only in the home-team’s locker room. Our job, however, is to report.

The Northern Star made that extra call for its football gamer. “You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Time Hiller,” Western Michigan head coach Bill Cubit told the Northern Illinois newspaper. “He took control out there.” Sportswriter Ben Gross took charge as well, writing an interesting game story that included comments from both teams. … LSU’s Reveille reports that the school’s game against North Texas will be played in Tiger Stadium, a week after Hurricane Gustav pounded the state. The story cites officials from North Texas and LSU confirming the game (unless, of course, Hurricane Ike slams the area.)

Juice Williams led a rushing attack that rolled up 399 yards on the ground against Division I-AA Eastern Illinois University (alma mater of Tony Romo and home to a mighty fine journalism department). The Daily Illini does a good job in its gamer, speaking with coaches on both sides. The Daily Eastern also covered both locker rooms, speaking with coaches and players on both teams after the game in newly renovated Memorial Stadium.

The Wisconsin Badger-Herald reveals that UW, surprisingly, turned into a passing team in its rout of Marshall last weekend. … Meanwhile, the Daily Wildcat relies on a coach, assistant coach and player in covering Arizona’s 41-16 victory over Toledo. … TCU’s Daily Skiff gets comments from its own head coach and some players after a 67-7 victory over Stephen A. Austin. (One guy against a whole team?). How did the Horned Frogs score so frequently. That’s often best learned from the opposing team.

Don’t use second-hand info for commentaries Not sure why an InsideVandy sportswriter is focusing on the Southern Cal-Ohio State game, especially since there is no original reporting. Please, report on your own campuses where you can attend practices and speak with sources. Instead, the paper could have previewed either Vandy’s football game against Rice or the women’s soccer game against Missouri. Readers can get news on USC-Ohio State elsewhere.

Leads Avoid lengthy introductory clauses in leads. If you must use an intro clause, void using ‘it,’ ‘they,’ or other equally vague pronouns as a sentence’s subject. Consider the sentence below:

As the transformation of college football continues to shift toward the spread offense, just as Arizona did prior to last season, it may seem like the running back could be the odd man out.

What does ‘it’ refer to? To the ‘transformation?’ To the ‘shift?’ The pronoun reference is unclear. This lead could be punched up by a shorter, direct sentence, such as: “Running backs are increasingly turning obsolete as college coaches shift to the spread offense.”

The Badger Herald also relies on an introductory clause in its footgamer lead.

After rushing for 404 yards and only throwing the ball 10 times against Akron, the University of Wisconsin offensive attack took on a different identity Saturday.

Why not invert the sentence, tagging the intro subordinate clause at the end of a more directly worded declarative statement, such as: Wisconson’s offense took on a new identity Saturday. The Badgers threw for more than 300 yards on 26 attempts against Marshall, a week after rushing for 404 yards and throwing only 10 times the week before.

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2 Responses to “There’s always time for another call”

  1. Andrew Ford Says:

    I’m having trouble getting in contact with coaches for the opposing school on our football stories. I’ll call and they’ll be busy, won’t call back, or will get the busy signal repeatedly. What can I do?

    Andrew

  2. Joe Gisondi Says:

    You can call the opposing team’s sports information director and set up an interview with either a head coach or an assistant coach. You can also request to speak with a player, but give the SID a few days lead time whenever possible. Start calling on Monday or Tuesday so you can get them for your football preview story. If that does not work, look up the coach’s phone number and call in the morning when they won’t be out at practices. At least you are trying. Good job on that.

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