The “PC Friars: BDTM” series (Show #3 above) features Friar fanatic reporter Brendan McGair and Warrior Friar Superfan Daniel James examining the tough end of season schedule the team has, the Big East Tournament and potential Friar involvement in the Big Dance.
The group of beat writers chronicling the happenings related to UConn had just returned from listening to Dan Hurley, who was preceded by Ed Cooley in delivering postgame remarks after the Providence Friars were run out of the building in lopsided fashion (87-69) back on Feb. 22. As one of the Connecticut-based scribes prepared to sit down and peck away at his computer, he looked up to where I was sitting and asked, “Is he always like that?”
He – being Ed Cooley.
You could understand why the Connecticut media folks felt they were treated to a show – sans the popcorn. For those who don’t regularly attend Cooley’s question-and-answer sessions with the fourth estate, it can be an eye-opening experience akin to that morning cup of coffee where you feel a jolt in no time flat.
Naturally, Cooley spent part of the postgame session – one that lasted nearly eight minutes – recapping PC’s struggles. He also dove into other topics, touching upon the discounted beer promotion that was offered – “This was a heck of an environment to be in. There was so much energy,” said Cooley – to telling the UConn basketball fanbase to appreciate the spoils of winning.
“Breaking Down The Madness:” YurView’s annual deep dive into the Big Dance begins on March 13 on YurView, Cox channel 4 in Rhode Island. See full schedule at the end of this article.
————————————Here’s the full quote: “This fan base [meaning UConn] is extremely spoiled. Appreciate winning. Appreciate that. There’s a reason why them dudes are in the Hall of Fame, on the men’s and women’s side. Don’t get arrogant with it, appreciate it, and try to get the next one. That’s what an educated fan base appreciates and that’s what the Friars do.”
It was a poignant message from an opposing coach that clearly struck a chord with UConn’s followers. Within days of Cooley’s comments, T-shirts that read, “ARROG4NT AND SPO11ED” were released with the numbers 4 and 11 serving as a reminder of how many national championships and Big East titles have been won by the Connecticut men’s basketball program.
The larger point is that pressers featuring Cooley behind the microphone can take on the tenor of, “when he speaks, it’s best to listen.” Case in point, let’s rewind to this past Monday – a media session held before that day’s practice – when the coach was asked about his good friend Mike Martin and Brown University fighting for their Ivy League Tournament lives this coming Saturday night at home against Yale.
After saying how proud he was of Martin and mentioning that he speaks with him a few times a week, Cooley went down the proverbial rabbit hole concerning the Ivy League and the conference’s decision to only invite four of eight teams to its postseason tournament.
“I think the Ivy League is doing those students a disservice to only have the top four compete. These young men and women go into college athletics trying to compete for postseason opportunities. It’s a one-bid league, but I just don’t think it’s fair to the student-athletes to put in just four teams,” said Cooley. “If you’re really looking at the interest and emotional welfare of the student-athlete, the presidents, board members, and athletic directors at all those Ivy League schools … it’s only another day of school that they’ll miss. I know they are highly-driven academic institutions, but if we’re being honest and fair, and thinking about ‘student’ and ‘athlete’, you would make sure all eight teams play in that. I think it’s a crying shame and they should be embarrassed for not having eight teams there.”
The TV cameras and recorders were still rolling Monday when Cooley punctuated his thoughts on the setup for the Ivy League Tournament with, “Please put that on the record and have each one of those schools listen to that.”
In this day and age where words are twisted like a pretzel to fit whatever the agenda-driven narrative happens to be, it’s refreshing to hear a coach talk candidly and speak without wondering if his words will land him in hot water. Clearly, Cooley is comfortable enough to speak about what’s on his mind without fear of backlash.
If recent developments from his press conferences tell us anything, Cooley has proven that he can be an asset to the T-shirt industry. If you happen to make the trek to Brown University’s Pizzitola Center on Saturday night and happen to see someone in a shirt that reads, “Crying Shame” and “Embarrassed”, be aware that those words happened to be echoed by a coach who understands the value of getting a message across through the power of the media.
Brendan McGair is a sportswriter and columnist with the Pawtucket Times and the Woonsocket Call. A graduate of Providence College, McGair is a five-time recipient of the R.I. Sports Writer of the Year Award as voted by the National Sports Media Association (NSMA).
Follow McGair on Twitter @BWMcGair03 and on Instagram @bwmcgair.