Perceptions . a matter of opinion

Marcus Charter

Perception is everything. How someone is viewed may seem more important than how a person acts, especially when all people have to judge others by is perception. Truth be damned.

Yesterday, I heard some comments made about Cyclone Coach Larry Eustachy. It was just one story, but the perception of the events surrounding it make for an interesting column. Allow me to explain.

As I was driving my car yesterday morning listening to The Jock 96.1 FM, I heard radio host Steve Deace talking about the men’s basketball team media day that took place Wednesday.

Deace was recanting his thoughts on the press conference with Eustachy. It was Mr. Deace’s perception that Eustachy was treating Ames Tribune reporter Erik Brooks rudely. Deace referred to Eustachy singling out Brooks to seemingly pick on him or making fun of him.

“I thought it was tacky what he did. I was a little uncomfortable listening to it,” he said.

Deace went on to point out that the attitudes of Eustachy and football coach Dan McCarney’s attitudes towards members of the media couldn’t be more different. While McCarney will bend over backwards to accommodate every media request, no matter how small the publication or story, Eustachy is often not available and doesn’t care or need the local press.

The point could be valid when considering the fact that McCarney is still trying to fill seats, while Eustachy has a National Coach of the Year award collecting dust on his mantle.

“Larry doesn’t need us, he doesn’t have to talk to us,” Deace said, while also adding that he invited Eustachy onto his radio program seven times, resulting in seven unreturned phone calls.

Coach Alford at Iowa has been a guest three times on the same program.

In all fairness, Deace said Eustachy is a tremendous coach, but feels Eustachy isn’t media-friendly. He is entitled to that opinion.

A quick phone call later, I had Brooks on the blower. He said he also noticed that the treatment he received from Eustachy differed from the other reporters, but like Deace, can’t put a finger on exactly why.

Brooks works hard at his job, and I’m sure at times he can be aggressive in attempting to get stories, but at least Brooks and Eustachy speak to each other.

When Tim Floyd left for the Bulls, he and Tribune reporter Adam Thompson weren’t on speaking terms. Thompson couldn’t get a quote out of Floyd with a crowbar and chisel.

Brooks can only speculate as to why Eustachy would have any ill will towards him. If he had to guess, he said it could be because of some negative reporting he has done in the past.

Brooks wrote a piece on the departure of Zach Fortune, after Fortune accused Eustachy of verbally assaulting him. In another story, Brooks reported about Cyclone recruit Tommy King being booted from his JUCO team for a drug-related incident.

There is a perception by some that Iowa State expects local media to exclude bad news from their reporting. Brooks said he doesn’t subscribe to this school of thought.

“Some people want us to be a homer [a partial newspaper], and they are entitled to their opinion. I disagree,” he said. “I am going to be there for the good and the bad. I am going to be fair and honest about it.”

Brooks added, “when there is trouble on the team they want us to ignore that and I never will.”

He said he hopes and feels that Eustachy likes him.

Eustachy was indeed upset when Brooks ran those stories, but shouldn’t be reason enough to hold a grudge.

To conclude my roundtable discussion, I enlisted one more person present at media day to give me their take on the events.

WHO TV13’s Todd Bailey told me that he also noticed the remarks directed at Brooks, but said he feels they were made for a different reason.

Bailey said it’s his opinion that perhaps Eustachy feels comfortable dealing with Brooks in this manner because he is around so much, or because Brooks is a relatively young guy, as compared to some of the elder statesmen of the media.

Bailey also said he feels that Eustachy is simply not an extroverted person.

The media makes him slightly uncomfortable, so his reaction could be some kind of defense mechanism.

One very important note to add is that Bailey feels that Eustachy acts the same now as he did before all the prestige. Meaning, now that he has gained notoriety, he isn’t treating local media any different than before.

So there you have it. One radio broadcast, a variety of different perceptions, including my own, and thousands of listeners of morning radio.

Maybe Eustachy hates local press, maybe he doesn’t, who cares?

The interesting point out of this is that a few simple comments, made by a coach, turned into more comments made on the radio, that some people will believe and some people won’t. I guess it’s how you perceive them.

In the end, this hurts nobody. Opinions are just that, opinions.

Chances are Eustachy really likes Brooks and is just messing with him. After all, Cyclone radioman Pete Taylor has referred to Eustachy as the “funniest man I have ever been around in my life.”

For the sake of peace and harmony, I hope this all ends in a good laugh.

Marcus Charter is a junior in journalism and mass communications from Ames.