College coaching rivalries are some of the most enduring in all of sports, and there are plenty of compelling and useful questions to ask coaches about each other. At the press conferences ahead of the women’s Final Four in Tampa, Florida, a reporter gave a masterclass in how not to ask about coaching rivalries, when he asked Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw a very odd question about her hypothetical friendship/romantic relationship with UConn’s Geno Auriemma.
With the very first question of the McGraw presser, the reporter asked:
“[Baylor women’s basketball coach] Kim Mulkey was in here saying, ‘If we weren’t all competitors trying to go for the same thing, we’d probably be all friends.’ She said ‘Some of us would probably even be married.’ I know you’re married, I know Geno is married, but do you think you two would have a normal relationship if you weren’t competing every year for the same thing?”
The reporter, probably aiming for cute and silly, used something Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey had said earlier in her press conference as a jumping off point, but the question was extremely awkward, and McGraw reacted accordingly. She said:
“Well there’s a question I didn’t expect. [Laughing] I think being from Philly, Geno and I have a lot on common, especially with Jim Foster as a very good friend of both of us. I could see us being friends, but I could not see us being married. So the answer is no, if he’s proposing.”
At the end of Auriemma’s press conference, which followed McGraw’s, ESPNW reporter Charlie Creme asked about what Mulkey said and McGraw’s response. Auriemma then got to use it as a chance to obnoxiously grandstand about the unfairness of it all and bolster his phony feminist credentials:
“You think Tom Izzo has to deal with this crap? [Laugher] I don’t think so. I don’t think Coach K has ever been asked a question like that at the Final Four. I don’t think Dean Smith or anybody else has ever been asked a question like that. I appreciate you asking it, Charlie, but I think that the issue around women’s basketball, to me, that I find a little bit disconcerting is the attention is always taken away from the game and the players and it’s turned on to the personalities involved, of the coaches. And especially, God forbid, if one coach is a man and the other coach is a woman, then there always has to be some kind friction, tension and all that other stuff. And I wouldn’t marry me either, so what’s the big deal? And I know me better than anybody else knows me.
“I think its crazy. It’s like when you watch a game on TV, a women’s basketball game, they talk more about the shoes that the coach is wearing. Who gives a damn. Come on. Lets get over that. We want to be taken seriously, let’s talk about sports, let’s talk about the game. Let’s not talk about the other nonsense thats on TMZ. We want to be taken seriously lets act seriously.”
UConn and Notre Dame tip off tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. ET.