Reporters who cover the Utah and BYU's football programs need to be more creative than ever as access windows become narrower.
Gone are the days when you could just interview coaches and players if they were available. Now there are gateways, policies and time restraints that are increasing every year.
There is an exception to this at Utah State where reporter access has been open, accommodating and unrestrictive, and more like it was a decade ago at BYU and Utah. Sports information director Doug Hoffman has made it easy to find his coaches and players, often at all times of the day and night when available and practices are available to media coverage.
Here in Utah, reporters are actually kind of lucky when compared to what has happened in the Pac-12, especially at the University of Arizona under new football coach Kevin Sumlin. He welcomed reporters for spring, granted some interviews, and then restricted access to his spring practice sessions until the spring game.
This hasn't gone over well with longtime league media. It has even prompted one columnist to write a letter to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, kind of making fun of it after the "Conference of Champions" just experienced its worst postseason ever in the two major sports.
Arizona is obviously protecting information about its team, trying to gain an edge for its opener against BYU in Tucson. And, to be fair to Arizona, it might be punishing the media for reporting that hoops coach Sean Miller would be fired, only to have Miller coach his team in the league tournament in Las Vegas and in its short-lived NCAA run. A repercussion is restricting access to the program.
BYU is as restrictive as it has ever been regarding media access, but reporters still have been able to report on the progress of players, the QB derby, watch some practices, and chat with coaches and players. Our guys who cover Utah say the Utes are also increasingly more restrictive with access policies.
We should count ourselves lucky in a world of coaches that are becoming ever more guarded if not paranoid.
Gaining any edge is a must in this profession.
Editor's Note: This blog has been updated with a correction on USU availability.
Correction: The original version of this blog stated that Utah State restricts media access to football practices or scrimmages. Utah State football does not restrict access to the media.