Ute football coach Urban Meyer was uncharacteristically testy this week. As reporters approached him for interviews Thursday, he chided them for being too slow.
"Come on! Come on! I'm in a hurry!" he said.
Later, a TV reporter asked about "expectations," to which he tersely replied, "Whose expectations?"
When the reporter mentioned media and fans, Meyer remarked that the only expectations that matter are the team's.
By Friday, nothing had changed. When a writer asked defensive lineman Steve Fifita what he would consider a good year for the Utes, Fifita replied a 12-0 season would fill the bill. Informed of the remark, Meyer fired back by saying the team was certainly not thinking that far ahead and he didn't like the line of questioning.
"Hats off to you (media) guys. You're doing a good job putting (stuff) in guys' minds that I'm not going to tolerate," said Meyer. "In all seriousness, let's worry about Utah football. Our edge is we work harder than most people.
"If this continues, the team will be off limits to the media. You're dealing with guys that are probably put in situations they're not used to."
Clearly, Meyer's not all that used to it, either. For all his previous success at Bowling Green, he probably didn't have to deal with questions about undefeated seasons. And it's irritating him.
Inquiring minds want to know.
I understand a coach's insistence on taking it "one game at a time." But fans don't buy season tickets based on one-game-at-a-time. They buy them based on hopes of a great season. While Meyer may be focusing solely on Texas A&M on Sept. 2, fans are also focusing on Arizona Sept. 11, New Mexico Oct. 1, North Carolina on Oct. 16 and BYU Nov. 20.
To date, Meyer's practices remain open and players are available to the media which is a good thing. Prohibiting player interviews would only hurt his cause. There would be less interesting stories, and almost certainly fewer.
Rick Majerus, the former Ute basketball coach, wouldn't allow freshmen to talk to the media. It may or may not have helped his freshmen, but it didn't help his relationship with the media and public. That relationship was one factor in his decision to retire.
Meyer's aversion to hype began in earnest earlier this summer, when quarterback Alex Smith and center Jesse Boone talked of making a BCS bowl game. Shortly after, the sports information office issued a press release saying players would be off limits until two-a-days.
Though Meyer may not know it yet, the predicting continues. A preseason issue of Sports Illustrated quotes safety Morgan Scalley saying the team goal is a conference title ... "But if the stars are aligned, we feel we can go undefeated."
That's not likely to go over well with Meyer, either.
It's not as though Meyer is the only coach who has to deal with preseason hype. BYU defensive end Brady Poppinga stated this week that the Cougars will win the conference title. Tight end Daniel Coats added, "We're going all the way. Definitely BCS bowl. Definitely."
Poppinga said on Saturday, though, that he draws the line at predicting number of wins; there are too many variables.
"I'm a confident guy," he said. "I'm not going to hide it, but I'm not going to come out and make a guarantee."
That doesn't mean he won't be asked for one.
Meyer needs to accept the fact he can't have it both ways doing TV commercials to promote the upcoming season but complaining about the media's preoccupation with expectations. With the season still 18 days away, media and fans need something to talk about.
But if he still wants to blame someone for his predicament, he should blame himself. He's the one who orchestrated the 10-2 season last year.
LaVell Edwards put up with the same type of questions at BYU for two decades. But he also knew what to do about it.
E-mail: [email protected]