Being the head coach of a huge football program is akin to being the CEO of a multimillion-dollar corporation.
Every move is scrutinized, every comment is questioned. While the coaches are well-compensated for their expertise, they're also human, and aren't always excited to face the line of questioning.
In this installment of our questionnaire, we let them turn the tables, and hear what kind of queries set them off.
What's the worst question you can remember being asked (besides this one), or the one that annoys you the most that you routinely get?
Derek Dooley: I was about to say, the one you just asked me is the worst question ever. This is the worst part of the ESPN visit. Every question. [Note: Dooley was a good sport last year, enjoys the banter, and is being facetious. We think.]
I got asked at SEC media day what was the last Halloween costume was that I wore. And I wasn't quite sure what the relevance was. So chalk that up as one of the worst. [Dooley looks at his assistant, Adam Dicus, who is laughing.] "By far the most popular question is the Barbara Dooley question," Dicus said of the coach's, uh, very proud mother. [Dooley, in turn, offers no comment.]
Will Muschamp: I was asked this past year about the "Star Wars" movie, what a Padawack was. When they ask you, and you don't know what it is, then that's not very good. [It's actually a Padawan, so Muschamp still isn't quite up to speed.] My "Star Wars" memory didn't serve me very well. But I didn't see the movie, so ...
James Franklin: I wouldn't necessarily say it's the question. I think people sometimes are rude the way they ask questions to Vanderbilt, and ask questions to me and my players. They don't mean to be rude, but they come off sometimes in a condescending way, and I don't like that. I don't know if it's one specific question, but it's more about just how people talk to us in general.
Nick Saban: Sometimes I really think that people don't know what to ask, so that's when they sort of -- I hate to use the term -- ask dumb questions. Sometimes that puts you on the defensive because you just wonder "Why are you asking me that?" And sometimes you're not really well-prepared to answer those questions. I can't think of a specific question right now. [Pauses, smiles.] But when you asked me that question ... I got the feeling like I get when somebody asks me a dumb question.
Kevin Sumlin: Well we seem to get the same question all the time now. I told our fan base that after leaving Birmingham [at SEC media day], the thought seems to be that they don't think that we can fix our defense, [they think] our offense won't work, and we don't have a quarterback. [Laughs.] Other than that, I'm in good shape.
Gene Chizik: Questions don't annoy me. Everybody's trying to do their job, like you, when you got me in trouble last year with the Pappadeaux thing. [Chizik said his favorite restaurant was Pappadeaux, which raised some eyebrows in SEC country when he admitted he'd visit the chain for Cajun food, even in Louisiana.] Everybody's just trying to do their job, so I don't really get annoyed by any of them.
Dan Mullen: I guess the thing that annoys me most is every day you come in from practice, a reporter asks, "Who got injured today in practice?" There has to be something better to cover than who was injured in practice today. Maybe they do it just to irritate me because we have a policy that we don't talk about injuries. So they know I'm not going to answer it. So they do that, maybe, to annoy me every day, or something.
Gary Pinkel: I think the worst one that I'm getting this year the most is "Do you even have a chance to compete in the SEC?" That's just great respect for the SEC. But I've heard that quite a bit over the past six months. And it's kind of a motivator, too.
Mark Richt: Well this year, in particular, I'm getting tired of people asking about our schedule.
Hugh Freeze: The worst question that I've ever gotten from a reporter is, "How do you expect to handle losing?" [Laughs.]
Les Miles: The question that is repeated and repeated and repeated, whether it's at a media day, or say, in the last year, is: "[Who is] your quarterback?" And "How were you after the last game?" You feel like after you've answered it ... hmmm ... 10 times ... it should be good.
Steve Spurrier: I don't know if I've ever had a worst question. No questions really upset me because I've always gone under the assumption that you don't have to answer every question they throw out there. So some of them I don't answer.
Joker Phillips: I got one at the SEC media day about being on the hot seat. I just told them that I wasn't sitting down, so my seat's not real hot right now.
John L. Smith: I can't count this one? I can't think of a worst. They're all bad. [Laughs] So how do you distinguish which one is the worst?