All of us, when we're kids, struggle to contain our thoughts. Rarely are we able to censor what comes out of our mouths. We tend to just blurt things out without really thinking about their impact on the people that hear it or the potential consequences that come with it.
As you get older, you develop what can best be described as a filter. You're able to decipher what thoughts should stay in your head and which are suitable for public dissemination. The reality of course, as men, is that if we said even half of what we are normally thinking, we'd end up saying it from the unemployment line, behind bars or worse. So, a filter is definitely a good thing.
Over the weekend, Boston College Athletic Director Gene DeFilippo must have forgotten his.
For those that are unaware, DeFilippo made some poignant comments from Death Valley in South Carolina this past weekend on twitter that could be (read: have been) interpreted as a veiled shot at his already enraged fanbase.
Very impressive to see ALL Clemson fans in their seats 10 minutes before kickoff, in time for the National Anthem.
Now, I didn't get my bachelors degree in Public Relations, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that it's probably not good policy to make a comment like that without any context whatsoever.
Predictably, that tweet set off a mini-firestorm among BC fans who fired back at Gene with a variety of responses, some well-thought out, and some others that aren't suitable for printing in this particular space. The general theme of those responses was pretty much the same though: Clemson is undefeated and ranked in the Top 10, they put an exciting product on the field, they have one of the best pre-game rituals in college sports, and they had seven hours of tailgating/socializing before game time, so obviously they have more incentive to be in their seats for kick-off.
DeFilippo didn't stop there though.
In Sunday's Boston Globe, he was quoted by the Big East's Minister of Propaganda, Mark Blaudschun, as having been the guiding force that led to UConn being passed over by the ACC in favor of Pittsburgh during the latest round of conference expansion.
"We didn’t want [UConn] in,’’ he said. "It was a matter of turf. We wanted to be the New England team.’’
That, in and of it self wasn't so bad. It wasn't even really news. Most people, myself included, believed that BC was working actively behind the scenes to try and keep UConn out of the league thanks to their proximity to the school and the lingering issues stemming from an expensive 2004 lawsuit filed against BC for "conspiring to weaken the Big East".
But, absent his brain to mouth filter this weekend, Gene would go on to imply that ESPN had stuck their noses into the expansion discussions and helped push the conference toward Pittsburgh and Syracuse based on their potential football revenue.
"We always keep our television partners close to us,’’ he said. "You don’t get extra money for basketball. It’s 85 percent football money. TV - ESPN - is the one who told us what to do. This was football; it had nothing to do with basketball.’’
Once again, I'm not a public relations expert, but I'm going to venture a guess and say that it's probably not very smart to imply (or in this case, directly implicate) BC's and the ACC's "sugar daddy" in what could be construed as illegal activity. Even if true, this is something that your average cubicle dweller probably wouldn't utter to a close acquaintance, let alone a major media outlet.
If ESPN had indeed "told" the ACC who to invite, it would be a gross conflict of interest and would undoubtedly be grounds for a lawsuit for the schools that were potentially affected (paging Richard Blumenthal).
Naturally, news outlets all over the country took DeFilippo's comments and ran with them today, bringing even more negative attention to a school that, quite frankly, doesn't need it right now. It's one thing if the newspapers and the other media outlets had picked up the story on their own, but when it's coming directly from the horse's mouth, you're setting yourself up for trouble.
This is, of course, the same network that will handsomely reward Boston College with an eight figure paycheck at the end of this year, despite their utter incompetence on the football field, and Gene just dragged them into a public relations nightmare. Probably best not to portray them in a negative light.
BC fans are already agitated.
They've been forced to watch a woefully unprepared football team flail around aimlessly on the field for the last six weeks with almost no signs of improvement, spearheaded by the AD's hand picked coach, Frank Spaziani. I've already expressed my thoughts on Spaziani, so there's no need to go into any real detail. Suffice it to say that the man needs to be relieved of his duties, regardless of the short term impact to the program.
To make matters worse, you've now got the AD publicly scorning his constituents for not showing the same passion as those of a team that is undefeated and spouting off to the local papers about how he helped black-ball UConn from the conference and that his sugar daddy led the way...illegally.
Until DeFilippo is ready to announce that new leadership is needed in the football program, it might be wise for him to lay low. By lay low, I mean keep your face off TV, keep your name out of the papers, and keep your thoughts off twitter.
But, if you simply can't resist the urge to be in the public light, maybe change the batteries in that brain to mouth filter first.