To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil

From: McLane, Jeff

Subject: We talkin' about practice

So the boss (Jim Cohen) reads my story the other day about the differences between Penn State and Southern Cal's practices and gets his boxers in a bunch because the Trojans boot the Nittany Lions beat reporters after the first 15 minutes.

Pete Carroll famously opens his practices to everybody - except, apparently, the beat reporters from opposing teams. I guess I was a little annoyed. But, at the same time, I understand that there's a good deal of homerism in college football coverage. Not that I'm a homer ("WE ARE . . .") or an apologist (Class of 1995!) for Penn State.

It was odd, though. I'm standing outside the gate and this vagabond walks right into practice unchecked. I don't care if it was Nick Nolte. (Rimshot!)

The Lions, meanwhile, completely close their practices 99 percent of the time. They hate everybody. Which should be fine with The Inquirer, being as that we're three hours away from State College.

Personally, I think the whole practice thing is overrated. At this point in the season I'd rather watch the media pickup hoops game at the Palestra.

To: McLane Jeff; Sheridan, Phil
From: Ford, Bob
Subject: We talkin' about practice

A non-story. Happens all the time. I'd do the same thing. Wouldn't trust a college hack not to be on the home team's side. Think the Nebraska coach lets the Oklahoma beat writers watch practice? Pros do it, too. I honestly don't know about the Eagles, but I remember going to do features on upcoming opponents and being denied access to practice. Not that surprising.

To: McLane, Jeff; Ford, Bob
From: Sheridan Phil
Subject: We talkin' about practice

It probably wasn't a good idea to wear the "Penn State is God's Favorite Team (Why Do You Think the Sky is Blue and White?)" hoodie out to the practice field, Jeff.

It's funny. Groups like the Pro Football Writers of America are always fighting for more access to practices and such. While I get that on general principle, I have to admit the countless hours I've spent watching 9-on-7 drills are not among my most cherished memories. Life is too short to watch special-teams practice.

Are the coaches too hung up about this stuff? Of course they are. If Joe Paterno can learn something about Southern Cal from a newspaper story that his staff didn't see on videotape, then something is very, very wrong. Practice coverage is useful because you can spot lineup changes and injuries that haven't been announced by the team. We shouldn't be reporting strategy or gimmick plays we see. This is football we're talking about, not the Confederate troop movements leading up to Gettysburg.

To: Ford, Bob; Sheridan, Phil
From: McLane, Jeff
Subject: We talkin' about practice

Wow. We all agree. Maybe you guys aren't so excited to see this version of Talkin' end. Maybe Gonzo is getting demoted to "college hack" and Jeffo is running Page Deuce from hence forward.