Win or lose, you need to show up
There's one thing I'd forgotten to get in here in the aftermath of Thursday's USF-Rutgers game, something I was reminded of after reading Stewart Mandel on SI.com last night: quarterback Matt Grothe and linebacker Ben Moffitt did not show up for postgame interviews as requested for the media.
In Grothe and Moffitt, you arguably have the two most well-respected, well-liked leaders of each side of the ball for USF; Moffitt's leadership is unquestionable, and Grothe's limited only by his relative youth. He's the one guiding the offense, and is USF's most recognizable player, most quoted and certainly most often found on billboards.
Players certainly have the right to not speak with the media -- defensive back Jerome Murphy, for example, has declined numerous requests for interviews. What's telling, however, is when that right is only exercised after a loss. It's perhaps the best sign of the burden the Bulls carried with three weeks of being ranked sixth or higher. A lot of lesser players have been big enough to talk to the media after losses to USF, to explain why the Bulls were the better team, to publicly be accountable for what happened in the game, win or lose. Grothe and Moffitt chose not to do that with Rutgers.
I write this primarily because we wrote about it when UCF's talented running back, Kevin Smith, ducked reporters and went straight to the team bus after the Knights' loss in Tampa. Grothe and Moffitt will continue to lead this USF team, but their not showing up Thursday night was something noted by the national media. When people write that a young Bulls program might not be ready to handle all the things that come with being a high-ranked team, this is something they'll point to.
And to give credit where credit is due, kudos to cornerback Trae Williams, linebacker Brouce Mompremier and receiver Marcus Edwards, to my knowledge the only three players that addressed the media after the game. It isn't easy, but answering for a loss is part of being the No. 2 team in the country.