On Saturday night, the Michigan Wolverines were cutting down the nets at the end of the West Regional after beating the Florida State Seminoles, 58-54, in a game not as drama-filled as the post-game coverage.
A few minutes after the teams left the floor, a dejected and obviously emotional Seminoles’ Coach Leonard Hamilton was interviewed by CBS Sports’ Dana Jacobson, who asked him about the final :11 seconds of the game in which his team neglected to foul when they were down by four and in position to stop the clock.
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton on the decision not to foul with 11 seconds remaining. #MarchMadness https://t.co/IxlWNnuPRa
Hamilton obviously didn’t handle the question in the best possible way, leading to backlash from Twitter and the media against the coach. In response, both Jacobson and Hamilton issued their own responses.
Coach Hamilton spoke to me minutes after an emotional @FSUHoops loss. It was the right question to ask. He showed emotion & I appreciate him talking through it w/me instead of walking off. He was nothing but professional w/me throughout this weekend as I believe I was with them.
Coach Hamilton stepped up, shouldered the blame and rightfully apologized, like the classy man we know him to be, and Jacobson accepted it.
From Coach Hamilton
When conducting live post-game interviews, no one knows what to expect, especially when interviewing someone from the losing side. Jacobson was right in asking about those final few seconds, as almost everyone was wondering the same thing as she asked, so that shouldn’t even be debated. Then again, they didn’t lose the game in these final few seconds, rather they lost a small chance at possibly winning the game, so let’s not act like they completely blew it at that point in time.
What needs to be recognized and acknowledged is what Coach Hamilton was going through at that moment. He was unhappy with his team’s performance and even more upset with the outcome. To fight that hard and come up short in the final few seconds, especially after not being expected to advance that far in the tournament, was devastating. Emotions are running wild, irritation levels were surging and reactions have the chance at following suit, which is exactly what happened here.
Most fans took to ripping Hamilton for his response. Could he have handled it better? Absolutely. But instead of blasting the emotionally torn coach, why not celebrate what he and his team accomplished. In the preseason, Sports Illustrated said “This should be a bit of a rebuilding year for the Seminoles,” ranked them as the no. 66 team and picked them to finish 10th in the ACC with a conference record of 8-10. The Seminoles ended up finishing the regular season at 23-12, made the tournament as the no. 9 team in the West and went on to beat Missouri, number one seed Xavier and number four seed Gonzaga before succumbing to third-ranked Michigan over the weekend.
So don’t let one interview-gone-wrong moment negatively overshadow a good coach’s reputation or an unexpectedly successful season. As opposed to criticizing Coach Hamilton for what he didn’t do right in a 2:14 post-game interview, how about applauding him for what he did do right over an entire season and through three rounds in another exciting season of March Madness. It’s easier to attack the negative but that narrative needs to be changed, especially when it comes to situations like these. It’s the route that Florida State took and hopefully more will follow their lead in the future.
Jamaica Nashville Los Angeles. We started Unknown and finished Unforgettable.