MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- You know what? I've had it about up to here with leadership. And the whole Geno Smith/Dana Holgorsen/Rex Ryan flap is only one example.
It's a great one, to be sure. But it's still only one.
Yes, this is a rant. Sorry, but every once in a while we need to rant. I've needed to let loose with this one for a while. Years, in fact.
I was just saying to a colleague the other day during the daily interviews that take place during West Virginia's football camp that if I hear one more question asked of a player or a coach about leadership I might just melt down and throw something.
"How is the leadership on this year's team.''
"Who are the leaders on the team?''
"Are you trying to be more of a leader this year?''
I swear, I'm not making this up: I've heard first-year junior college transfers asked that.
It's an easy question that provokes, almost universally, the same answers. They're stock answers, too; so much so that they come right out of the PR 101 talks that players are coached to give before they first meet with the media. And yes, they are coached on how to answer questions before they first meet with the media.
And here's why it's an easy answer and a stock answer: It's non-specific. For the most part, no one gets hurt.
"I'm trying to be more of a leader this year.''
"I think the upperclassmen are doing a great job of being leaders.''
"Yeah, I think the leadership this year is better.''
It's a positive spin on something that can't possibly be gauged. It says nothing and reveals even less. It's a concept more than anything else, at least in terms of relating it to outsiders.
Yes, occasionally it might deal in specifics. Every team has a handful of guys you just know are leader types. Sometimes they're the loud and gregarious ones who are the same inside the locker room as they are out of it. They're easy to spot. You know the type.
And there are the quiet ones. How many times have you heard someone talk about leading by example? First to arrive, last to leave, nose to the grindstone. Setting an example.
The trouble is, we've grown so enamored of these leadership questions that after a while people start reading things into those stock answers. Maybe they're reading it right. But it's just as likely they aren't.
Is leadership important? Of course it is. But if a player talks about a lack of leadership last year, he's usually just trying to reinforce the strength of leadership this year in order to satisfy the onslaught of questions about the subject. Yes, if Dustin Garrison talks about a lack of leadership last year or Quinton Spain refers to more of a team concept as opposed to high-profile individual stars - as both have - maybe they're talking specifically about now-departed players. But it's just as likely they are merely framing their answers. You can't, after all, talk about improved leadership without on some level implying that last year's wasn't as good.
And that's an easy answer at West Virginia given last year's meltdown.