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Berry Tramel: Reporters should think about what they wear

Arkansas radio reporter Renee Gork deserved to be fired for stupidity after wearing a Florida hat to an Arkansas news conference. But the radio station's catering to Bobby Petrino's distaste for her hat is evidence of a partisan media.
by Berry Tramel Modified: August 17, 2010 at 10:05 pm •  Published: August 17, 2010

A short-sleeved orange polo shirt hangs in my closet, not far from two long-sleeved red polos.

When I pull any of them off the hanger, I stop and think. Where I am going today? Who am I going to see? Am I going to be on camera?

Makes me feel like Posh Spice, but it goes with the job. People are watching. People take notice.

People like Bobby Petrino. The Arkansas football coach fielded a question from a Fayetteville radio personality wearing a Florida Gators cap, and now Renee Gork is out of a job.

Petrino answered Gork's question, then said, "And that will be the last question I answer with that hat on."

Radio station KAKS fired Gork on Monday, with general manager Dan Storrs saying, "This radio station is Hog Sports Radio. We are very biased. We support the Razorbacks 100 percent."

This is only the latest in a line of college football media/coach clashes. Mike Gundy's rant at our own Jenni Carlson. Urban Meyer's threat of the Orlando Sentinel's Jeremy Fowler. A dozen other quieter but no less contentious altercations.

In the Ozarks, you can pin the blame on everyone.

Arkansas officials say they didn't request Gork's dismissal but did say they asked that she not attend Monday's practice, which is incredibly presumptuous.

Hog Sports Radio showed itself to be nothing but FAO, for amusement only. The station has no backbone at all. Radio listeners of northwest Arkansas now know they can listen to a filtered KAKS that will step on no Razorback toes.

And of course, Gork herself, who deserved to be fired for stupidity. Florida-Arkansas isn't one of the nation's most-heated rivalries, but this is the Southeastern Conference, where they all hate each other and most everyone is crazy, starting with the football coaches.

Gork said she grabbed the Florida cap without thinking. Well, she's paid to think. You don't wear a Florida hat to an Arkansas news conference. You don't wear a Texas cap to a Bob Stoops news conference. You don't wear Sooner gear to a Gundy news conference.

To do so brands you as either brazen or stupid or both.

You see, college football fans keep track of this stuff. Coaches, too.

When Stoops met our newly-hired sports editor, Mike Sherman, in 2003, Stoops' only question was, "Where did you go to school?"

Stoops wasn't making conversation.

People draw lines; it's part of the culture, and even though some of us fight against it, we're swimming upstream.

In case you want to keep score at home, among The Oklahoman's 10 writers or editors whose responsibility include the Bedlam rivals, two went to OU, one to OSU and seven went elsewhere.

Sherman and OSU beat writers Brandon Chatmon and John Helsley are Central Oklahoma grads. OU beat writer Jake Trotter is a Washington & Lee man. OU beat writer Mike Baldwin is an Oklahoma Christian University alum. John Rohde graduated from Arizona, Carlson from Kansas.

Only assistant sports editors Hayley Riggs (OU), Ryan Sharp (OSU) and me (OU) have Bedlam ties. After eight years of working full-time in the newspaper business, I entered OU at the age of 26 and graduated 10 years later, in 1997. Don't accuse me of painting my face red or camping out for Texas tickets. That wasn't my college experience.

You can accuse me of being an OU fan. I want the Sooners to do well. I don't cheer, but I was hoping for an OU victory over Florida State and LSU, USC and Florida. I wanted Blake Griffin to take down North Carolina and Sonny Golloway's squad to win in Omaha.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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