The last thing I’m going to say about this Will Muschamp Election Day nonsense

When I ran the South Carolina blog Garnet & Black Attack, one of my guiding principles was this: Though I was covering the team from the perspective of a fan and an alumnus, that was a gift, not a hindrance. No dispassionate big-J journalist who took up the USC beat for a paycheck could possibly be more invested in holding the powerful to account than me, a person with a Carolina degree on the wall and skin in the game.

Declining to criticize your school when it deserves criticism does it a disservice. Getting mad at the reporters who report its mistakes doesn’t make you a diehard fan, it makes you an adult baby who would rather bitch about those who’ve pointed out your school’s mistakes than ensuring that it corrects them.

That leads me here: If the football coach at my school can’t answer a softball question at a press conference in a way that doesn’t incite a week-long controversy, that’s a problem with the football coach, not the reporter who asked the question.

It is not controversial to ask Will Muschamp if he talked to his team about voting. Voting is a normal thing that millions of people do all the time. No one asked him who he was voting for or whether he encouraged the team to vote for any particular person or party; that would have been pretty controversial! Josh Kendall only asked whether he talked to them about performing the act.

At every job I’ve had, I’ve had a conversation with my boss about taking the necessary time off to vote. In my experience, it has been a logistical conversation, not a political one. As I’m sure you know, there is a sizable overlap between working hours and voting hours.

And I’m an adult! These are 18- to 22-year-olds, many of whom are eligible to vote for the very first time. They have a job that basically requires them to pull double shifts every day. Not only is it normal for Muschamp, the highest-paid employee at a public university, to talk to his players about voting, but it would be concerning if he hadn’t.

That’s why you got the reaction you got when Will Muschamp said he didn’t know it was Election Day. If he didn’t know it was Election Day, then it stands to reason he didn’t make allowances for his players to go vote. And that would be a problem.

“But Muschamp was joking. The people in the room laughed.”

We know now — because of quotes given by one of Muschamp’s players, not Muschamp himself— that he did indeed talk to the team about voting. So Mushcamp was saying something that was the opposite of what was actually true. That’s not what the definition of a joke is though; lying for no reason is not the same thing as joking. And just because something you say produces laughter, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you didn’t mean what you said.

After all, Muschamp has gone to great lengths to brand himself as someone who could say he didn’t know it was election day and have you believe it.

Also, this isn’t really a good thing to joke about! Civil rights and voter suppression were a pretty big issue this year, and nowhere was that more the case than in Muschamp’s home state of Georgia — which is also the state where many of his players are from.

“Muschamp isn’t great with the media. He shouldn’t have been expected to handle this with grace.”

He is the second-highest paid public employee in the state of South Carolina. He has multiple media availabilities scheduled every week. This is a public-facing job. Talking to media is part of the gig. Muschamp being too focused on football to understand how to communicate clearly is not a valid excuse.

Public communication is a critical part of being a college football coach in 2018. You can get mad when the media reports that you said something dumb, or you can get better at saying things and harness this reality for your advantage.

There. If I say another word about this mess, you have permission to hurt me.