These days, the unhappy are not afraid to say it.
Up in Cincinnati, Joe Mixon isn’t happy. The rookie running back wants the world to know it, too, complaining to the media after the Bengals’ 29-14 loss at Pittsburgh in which he failed to get a second-half rushing attempt.
“Me personally,” Mixon told ESPN’s Katherine Terrell, “I feel like I can do way more than (Le’Veon Bell) did. Like I said, I only had seven carries. I can’t showcase nothing if I don’t get the ball.”
Responded Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis: Mixon needs “to show a little maturity.”
Over at UK, Blake Bone isn’t happy. The senior wide receiver isn’t afraid to say it, either, taking to Snapchat after the Cats were blown out 45-7 at Mississippi State to say the main problem with Kentucky’s offense is that it does not put the ball in the air enough.
“We had a discussion (Sunday),” said UK Coach Mark Stoops on Monday when asked about several of his players taking to social media to air gripes. “We’ll talk about it as a team (Monday) and it’ll be gone.”
How does that discussion go?
“About like you’d think,” Stoops said.
Welcome to communication in the modern age. Every player now has a voice for public broadcast. Instead of venting to friends and family about playing time or lack of touches, now an athlete can vent via Twitter or Snapchat or Facebook to the entire world. Or, in the case of Mixon, you just tell the media directly. Coaches can’t stop it. They can only hope to contain it.
After Kentucky football’s opener, a 24-17 win at Southern Mississippi, freshman receiver Lynn Bowden took to Twitter to complain about not getting the football. “Played me,” tweeted Bowden, leaving the impression the high-profile signee thought he was misled about playing time.
“We can manage things like that every easily,” said Stoops at the time.
Sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t. When the NBA’s Phoenix Suns got off to an 0-3 start, star guard and former Kentucky Wildcat Eric Bledsoe took to Twitter on Sunday to say, “I don’t wanna be here.”
Next thing you know, Bledsoe was called into a meeting with General Manager Ryan McDonough and told to go home. Bledsoe “won’t be with us going forward,” McDonough told ESPN.
It’s not just the players, of course. Fans have Twitter accounts, too, and are all happy to use them, especially when their favorite team is getting their doors blown off, as was Kentucky at Starkville on Saturday.
“UK football, rebuilding since 1951,” said one.
“It is 2014 again. Nothing got ‘fixed’ during the bye week. Zero. Zilch. Nimic. Rien. Res. No matter what language, NOTHING changed,” said another.
“Fire Stoops,” said plenty of others, though on closer inspection some of those were Oklahoma football fans tweeting for the ouster of Mark’s brother, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
“I have friends all over this conference, so it goes with the territory,” said Mark Stoops when asked about the criticism Tennessee Coach Butch Jones has received heading into Saturday’s UK-UT game. “We’re all big boys, we can handle it, but it doesn’t mean you like it.”
Then again, it’s how you handle it, as Josh Harrellson found out in 2010-11. The UK center hit the send button on a tweet complaining he did not get enough love from his coach, John Calipari, for a 26-rebound effort in the Blue-White Game.
“Just amazing to me I can’t get a good job or a way to go,” tweeted Harrellson, who had been signed by previous coach Billy Gillispie.
Calipari admitted later he thought seriously about kicking Harrellson off the team, but decided instead to make him run to get in better shape. Harrellson did more than get in shape. He became an important part of a team that ended up making it to the Final Four.
“It was,” said Harrellson during that Final Four run, “the dumbest smartest thing I’ve ever done.”
Tennessee at Kentucky
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Kroger Field in Lexington
Records: Kentucky is 5-2 overall, 2-2 in the SEC; Tennessee is 3-4 overall, 0-4 in the SEC
TV: SEC Network with Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic
Radio: UK Network with Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel