A Conversation with Vic Ketchman: Part One
I was fortunate enough to talk to Jaguars.com Editor-in-Chief and leader of the Ask Vic Community Vic Ketchman in a long conversation. Vic and I discuss everything from the end of the Byron Leftwich era to the expectations for the 2008 Jacksonville Jaguars. Vic, if you're not familiar, can be read every day at Jaguars.com. This is part one of three of our chat.
Chris: What are your thoughts on the hyper-intense coverage of OTA's and Minicamp? Do you think it the scrutiny over what are in essence underwear practices become harmful?
Vic: It's a matter of keeping it in perspective. Achieving perspective makes it all worth while. Achieving perspective is the important thing. I don't think that the coverage is nearly as important as the reading of the coverage because there's just not a lot to write. The spring practice season is, other than if a news event occurs (someone gets hurt, a particular news issue that can be featured such as a change in offensive philosophy, a change in the quarterback position), other than for real news items such as that, it's a benign reporting time. The onus is on the reader to make sure that he, in my opinion, reads the information for what it's worth instead of trying to read into the information. You're just not going to get depth chart decisions, you're just not going to get long term impact from what happens in the spring practices.
We saw that a year ago. All of the 2007 spring OTA's were dedicated to the reestablishment of Byron Leftwich as the teams starting quarterback. All of the 2007 OTA's were dedicated to Dirk Koetter reclaiming Byron Leftwich's career. By the end of the preseason, he was gone. Whatever happened in the OTA's period, as it related to Byron Leftwich was meaningless. That's the critical thing, keep it in perspective. The reader has to keep spring in perspective.
Chris: The Byron Leftwich situation: Was that one of the more surprising events you've covered with a team?
Vic: You know, I don't want this to sound self-serving in any way, but the answer is no, and here's why. We, and when I say we I mean the sports writers that cover the team, were given several little hints and indications along the way, going all the way back to the end of OTA's in 07. We were given several little nudges that should have let us know that this wasn't written in stone.
Hint number one was Jack Del Rio's voluntary admission of interest in Daunte Culpepper. The moment he voluntary expressed his interest in Daunte Culpepper, and the operative word is voluntary, you had to know. You had to be really thick not to know that this wasn't a done deal. At that point in OTA's, there was like a week left, it wasn't going well. When the coach comes out and expresses in a quarterback, another quarterback in the league, that's a very strong indicator that the coach is not satisfied
That was one indication. Then we came forward into training camp and at about the one week mark David Garrard started throwing the ball like Sammy Baugh. Coaches, People started saying little things. I would have a coach say this to me or say that to me, that's the way it's supposed to be. Sportswriters are supposed to be on the inside and they're supposed to have relationships with people in the know and in the decision making arena, and they tend to try and help the writers understand that something is happening, in case you missed it. I didn't miss it because you had to be blind to miss this one. It was so completely out in front that you had to be absolutely blind not to see. I don't want to say that, I don't want to offend people who are sight challenged. You had to turn your head not to see what was happening. The guy was throwing the ball, as I said, like Sammy Baugh and when he carried that into the preseason and did it over and over and over, there was no question in my mind that there was an issue involved and nothing was written in stone.
I can say that will all confidence because if you go back and find a tape of the pregame radio show that brian, jeff and I did for the game in Green Bay, what you'll hear me say is that in my opinion, Byron Leftwich was facing a crossroads game, was facing a critical game as far as his future with the team. I don't think I came out and said it, that his career was on the line, but I was sending every possible hint I could in this pregame radio show that he was under the microscope that night. When it went as bad as it did for him that night, there was no doubt in my mind what was going to happen. Guys making his salary, guys in his position don't go to the bench, they get cut.
What happened there, it shouldn't have been as dramatic as it seemed. It should have been something that we saw coming.
Chris: I remember being a fan and a writer during the end of the Leftwich era and treating all the obvious signs as something other than the end of Byron. The Cullpepper announcement was Jack sending a message, nothing more. I fell into a delusion that Byron was the guy and no matter what I saw, myself and a lot of other people wouldn't process what our eyes saw with our brains. Hindsight, of course, is 20-20, but for every obvious sign, I'll admit to a big sense of denial.
Vic: Chris, I was harshly criticized for telling people there was a quarterback competition, for suggesting that Byron's status with the team wasn't written in stone. I wanted people to know the truth.
Chris: I can only imagine the deep-seated nastiness you received in the Ask Vic mailbox for implying that Byron was on the outs and David was coming in.
Vic: Oh yeah, the Byron versus David thing was a hot potato, there was a firestorm of opinion, both ways. Immediately I was perceived as coming over to the David Garrard camp. I was only in one camp, the camp of the truth. Of respecting my readers enough to provide them with the truth. It was more obvious than anything I've ever covered. It was written on the practice field on training camp, it was written on the faces of the coaches, it was etched on their lips, it was muttered in the hallways. There was no question that there was an issue at quarterback, and the issue was very clearly David Garrard's blockbuster performance in preseason games and on the practice field versus Byron Leftwiche's less than satisfactory performance. There's really no other way to put it. I just wanted people to know what was going on because I was sure of my information.
Chris: Not to jump topics too quickly, but I've got a tongue-in-cheek question from Collin: He, and all our readers would like to know more about your relationship with Mr. Snoop Dogg.
Vic: Ha ha, You're really not going to ask me that question.
Part Two: Expectations for the Jaguars! To be Continued!