Mark Few is generally considered a great interview by most college basketball reporters around the nation. He is candid, he is cordial, he is funny, he is insightful, and all of that means he also opens up the opportunity to insert his foot into his mouth.
As much as he talks about California’s Fair Pay to Play Act, the landmark legislation that is forcing the conversation of paying the players to a new level, Few is chomping on that foot, up to his knee, and working on the lower quad.
"He should probably stay in his lane - like I tell my players - and figure out homelessness. I think he's got a state that borders Mexico, and get that mess figured out."@ZagMBB head coach Mark Few didn't hold back when discussing @GavinNewsom with our @GoodmanHoops. pic.twitter.com/afbWTJ6nsg— Stadium (@Stadium) October 8, 2019
The issue here is that it is all in the delivery, and Few needs to know that quick sound-bites are what is going to give a story traction in the day and age of social media. So based off Stadium’s tweet above, you would be pretty well off to assume that the Gonzaga Bulldogs head coach does not agree in paying NCAA players anything.
However, if you are one of the probably 0.00001 percent of individuals who watched the entire three minute long interview, what Mark Few actually believes about the substance of the situation is completely buried.
“If there was a way we could monetize likeness and regulate it in a way that keeps a fair playing field for everybody, I’m all for it. If you are selling Adam Morrison jersey, of the two guys who probably could’ve made money last year, I would’ve been all for it, I am all for it. I’m not all for grandstanding politicians coming in and media members pulling low hanging fruit off.”
That quote is hardly as destructive and it also cuts to the heart of what is actually important here: paying the players. Where Mark Few differs is the method we go about achieving that. In his opinion, the California legislators should spend their time fixing issues in California. That sounds exactly like an Oregonian would sound like.
However, of course, it is not that simple. The NCAA has been INCREDIBLY slow to react after the O’Bannon case in the least surprising plot twist around. As much as Few thinks that California should do California things, something, anything, needs to be done to force the conversation with the NCAA. California, one of the largest economies in the world, is exactly the large body mass needed to help out in this fight.
Few isn’t wrong. The politicians are grandstanding here. They have spent time on legislation that affects less people than those who lost their homes in the 2018 wildfires. However, they are grandstanding on the right side of the issue. By default, if you are like Few, and you don’t mince your words, you end up on the wrong end of the conversation.
And it matters. It is detrimental to what he actually believes. Now, the narrative has shifted in a way that he can’t control. He even finished his interview with Jeff Goodman with the line “media members pulling low hanging fruit off.” Look at the tweet that accompanies the interview. Words matter in the age of social media. Hopefully, it will die off, but right now, for a lot of people, Mark Few is the face of the anti-California Fair Pay to Play Act.
The Spokesman Review interviewed Corey Kispert and he gave the most sage advice anyone has ever said for any topic in today’s environment:
“I think it is progressive, and I think they are making steps in the right direction. I think a lot of people are jumping the gun a little bit and are talking when they don’t really know what’s going, on and that’s why I am keeping my mouth shut about it.”
Hopefully, this is something Mark Few will consider in the near future, because any and every media member who talks to him now is going to ask for his opinion on the matter.