Sept. 20, 2010
By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobo.com
It's a curious thing that a tape showing two men talking at a table escalated into the media play toy of the week and possibly the most sought after movie seat since "Avatar."
I'll pop the popcorn.
If you want a double feature, I think UNM has a really cool tape of the grass growing at University Stadium, just in case any reporters want to know why we are mowing so often.
Unfortunately, the tape of Lobo coach Mike Locksley's 22-minute talk with Daily Lobo reporter Ryan Tomari no longer exists.
Locksley obtained the tape on a personal trip to the establishment. Locks showed it to the only reporter at the time, Greg Archuleta of The Albuquerque Journal, who had approached Locksley about the incident. After Archuleta was satisfied the tape showed nothing newsworthy, Locks threw the tape away.
It's too bad Archuleta's opinion and judgment has been questioned by his own.
Unfortunately, I had to watch the tape, too. UNM thought it would be a good idea to have a former newspaper reporter of 30-plus years check it out and see what the local media might pinpoint.
Oh, the tape is a winner. Oscar material. You have Locksley sitting at one side of a table talking to Tomari, who is sitting at the other side of the table. They sit there for about 22 minutes.
There was a highlight or two. I think Locksley actually leaned back once and Tomari's friend got up once, walked away, and then came back. He looked pretty bored.
And that was about it.
On one level, it's difficult to understand why so much fuss has been made over a tape discounted by a veteran reporter from The Journal. Is this a witch hunt? Is this a couple of bored reporters with nothing to do?
But it's also a story about a Lobo coach who coaches one of the marquee sports at UNM and that kind of intense attention -- fair or not -- comes with the territory and the big bucks.
I remember once talking to a young reporter at the Albuquerque Tribune who was covering one of the Lobo marquee sports for the first time and he asked what constituted a story about the Lobos. He didn't want to provide too much -- or too little -- on his new beat.
I replied: "If you can work the word 'Lobos' into the story, we want it.''" He got the point. That's the way it is. This is a lesson Locksley needs to learn, too.
Was there anything wrong with Locksley approaching a reporter to discuss a story he was not happy with? Well, that depends on the approach.
Locksley is a proud man who is coaching a lot of good kids who are working hard to win football games, but not having much luck. It hurts him to have those kids insulted. It hurts to have his coaching ability questioned.
But that's going to happen in this fishbowl market.
Locksley also has a lot of good kids counting on him and he has had some good administrators step up to guard his back. He owes them better judgment.
I understand why Tomari wrote the critical story that Locksley was not happy with. The story had the main basic ingredient you want in copy about UNM -- the word "Lobos."
Back to the missing tape. Should Locksley, or UNM, have kept the tape after it was viewed by The Journal? In hindsight, yes. For two reasons: 1- availability to the media; 2- the tape showed nothing that indicated Locksley or Tomari were in a heated argument.
They sat. They talked. Nobody in the joint paid them any notice, like you might if there was some heat being tossed about.
About the only thing that was exchanged was a "bro hug" between the two men at the end. It was a boring film. Film critic Roger Ebert surely would have given it a thumbs down.
The Albuquerque media has suggested that maybe there is a deep and dark cover-up concerning this tape. That's simply not true. It would greatly benefit Locksley if this tape could be viewed by any and all members of the media.
UNM has requested another copy from the establishment that provided the original tape. If UNM finds it, we might even spring for IMAX.
There have been suggestions that UNM violated the open-record laws. The tape was loaned to Locksley, not to UNM. And UNM has learned the hard way not to discard any public documents.
So, does the tape prove that Locksley wasn't heated in his conversation with Tomari? No, it doesn't. Somebody needs to provide audio to better gauge the temperature of this conversation. The video portion is something you might watch if you wanted to fall asleep.
Supposedly, Tomari's friend recorded part of the discussion on his cell phone and hoped to sell it. Nothing wrong with that. A college student usually can use an extra buck or two. I'm in favor of capitalism.
If the tape was marketable, it would be on You Tube or some other internet site. If you want to know why the tape wouldn't sell, ask me -- or ask Archuleta, a reporter The Journal trusts and pays to monitor one of UNM marquee sports.
There simply is more excitement to be found in our video of the grass growing.
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org