Behind the Broadcast: Appert’s unhappiness with Wyland comments justified

RPI hockey coach Seth Appert has reason to be upset with sportscaster Rodger Wyland's comments
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Sportscasters love to voice their opinions whenever they get the chance. And now, thanks to blogs, they can write down their thoughts, too.

Of course, sportscasters may think that there won’t be con­sequences for their opinions. Or that the people they are targeting with their commentaries aren’t listening.

Rodger Wyland, the sports dir­ector at WNYT (Ch. 13) and host of “Big Board Radio Sports” on WOFX-AM (980) hit a nerve recently with his comments about the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute men’s hockey team.

In one of his blogs, he called the program, which is suffering through a 20-loss season after being ranked in the top 20 earlier in the year, “a mess.” Saying the program is a mess, to me, means Wyland is telling fans that second-year RPI coach Seth Appert and his staff have no clue about what they are doing.

Wyland, of course, is entitled to that opinion. But here’s the problem I have, and I brought this up to him last Thursday. I asked him how many games and how may practices he had attended since Appert took over for Dan Fridgen.

Wyland said, “None.”

OK, so how can one have an informed opinion about a team you haven’t seen play? That would be like me getting all over, for example, the University at Albany men’s basketball team for not being able to hold leads in some games this season. But I haven’t seen them play, so my opinion would be uninformed.

Appert was given a chance to respond to Wyland’s comments last Sunday night on WNYT’s “Big Board Sports.” In an interview with host Andrew Catalon, you could tell Appert was angry, but he was in control of his emotions and thoughts.

“I respect Rodger, and what he means to this community,” Appert said on the show. “But I wasn’t happy with those comments. I think it’s very important in journalism that you be responsible with your journalism. The fact is he has not been to the Houston Field House in the two years I have been head coach. I have not met Rodger yet. I have been on his radio show, but I have seen a number of the [area] sportscasters over at the field house covering our team.

“I don’t think he has the insight or the knowledge of our hockey program, or college hockey in general, to make comments on it.”

I would bet the RPI faithful watching jumped up from their seats and gave Appert a standing ovation after that.

This goes back to a note in last week’s column about area coaches noticing what media members show up at their games. Albany River Rats coach Tom Rowe saw the number of cameras that were there to interview him (one), versus what the Siena men’s basketball team had earlier in the day two weeks ago.

As for Wyland, it’s all right to have an opinion about the Eng­ineers, but let it be a knowledgeable one. Go to a practice and a game. The WNYT studio isn’t that far from Houston Field House.

espn moves

It was a busy week for personnel moves at ESPN.

On Tuesday, the network lost a quarterback but gained a future Hall of Fame wide receiver. Former NFL quarterback Sean Salisbury left the network after 12 years there to pursue other interests. To me, that translates to a disagreement over a new contract.

“I want to thank ESPN for 12 great years of talking football on TV and the radio,” Salisbury said in a statement. “I have grown as much as I can at ESPN, and decided to expand my horizons. I have created a brand, and it’s time to expand into other opportunities in TV, radio, Internet, publishing, movies and public speaking, among others. My resume speaks for itself as a football analyst, and I believe I can talk all sports with the best of them.”

Replacing Salisbury is former Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota

Vikings and Miami Dolphins wide receiver Cris Carter, who was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in January. He finished his career as the NFL’s second all-time leading receiver with 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards. His 130 touchdowns ranked second in NFL history.

Carter had been an analyst on HBO’s “Inside the NFL, which ended its 31-year run last month.

“I am very excited to be joining ESPN and their talented group of NFL analysts,” Carter said in a statement. “I have always felt connected to ESPN since they gave me an opportunity to do some tel­evision work during my playing career, and even while working at HBO, I have always admired and respected how they do things. I look forward to getting started in April.”

Then on Thursday, ESPN got itself “The General.”

Bob Knight, who resigned as Texas Tech basketball coach in early February, signed on to be a studio analyst during ESPN’s conference tournament coverage, as well as the NCAA tournament.

“I think ESPN has been real good for college basketball, and I look forward to working with some of their people who I have known a long time,” Knight said in a statement.

It will be interesting to see how Knight interacts with Dick Vitale. Knight is abrasive, while Vitale has nothing but positive things to say. Disagreements between them could make for great TV.

Also, Knight has to watch his language. You can curse in press conferences, but not on TV. The technician operating the seven-second delay switch better be ready.

parting shots

Because WRGB (Ch. 6) will be televising the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital Telethon from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, the three men’s college basketball games to be televised by CBS (Kentucky at Tennessee, Indiana at Michigan State and Villanova at Louisville), will be seen on WCWN (Ch. 45) starting at noon. .  .  .

WCWN will have today’s Mets’ spring training game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at 1 p.m. .   . .

YES will have the Yankees’ spring training contest against Philadelphia at 1 p.m. Sunday. .  .  .

Time Warner Cable channel 3 will televise the UAlbany-Boston U. men’s basketball game at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Categories: Sports

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