MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Quinton Spain saw first-hand how a few innocuous comments muttered in Morgantown can mean something entirely different upon reaching New York.
“They just twisted the whole thing up,” Spain said Tuesday, referencing misdirected media assertions that he, Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie criticized Geno Smith for a lack of leadership in 2012.
None of those current WVU players cited Smith personally or insinuated the quarterback was at fault for the Mountaineers losing six of their final eight games last season.
But New York Jets coach Rex Ryan took the bait nonetheless, firing back at a West Virginia program that hadn’t fired in the first place.
“It tells me I’m glad my kid never went there. Tell you that much. I don’t get that,” Ryan said. “Geno was a tremendous player for West Virginia.”
Ryan’s son Seth walked on at Clemson where, hopefully, he’s learning reading comprehension skills his father clearly lacks. Here were the players’ direct quotes that spawned this silliness:
— “Last year we didn’t have a lot of leadership,” Garrison said.
— “I feel like last year, we fell apart,” Buie said. “At certain moments where we needed to be a team, we weren’t a team.”
— “There wasn’t no team,” Spain said. “I could say there was a team early, but once we started losing we saw the I’s come up, so it just hurt the team worse.”
If you can detect a Geno Smith reference in there, you’re not just reading between the lines, you’re scripting the lines between the lines. Yet from those comments come inaccurate headlines such as:
“Rex Ryan responds to WVU’s veiled shots at Geno Smith” (Sporting News)
“Rex doesn’t get why Geno is taking hits from West Virginia (ProFootballTalk.com)
“Rex Ryan has some words for Geno Smith detractors (FoxSports.com)
In this age of content aggregation, the error snowballs into a faux controversy when media members who have never interviewed any of the source participants fan the fervor.
On Tuesday, Spain could only laugh.
“Geno was a good leader,” he said.
WHITE IN GREEN
Receiver Kevin White, adorned in a green non-contact jersey during Monday’s practice, said Tuesday he doesn’t anticipate being sidelined much longer.
“I kind of nicked my shoulder up a little bit — nothing major,” he said. “I’m excited. I’m ready.”
The junior transfer from Lackawanna (Pa.) College has noticed a definite spike in intensity from coaches as preseason camp enters its final week.
“A lot more yelling and screaming,” White said. “The coaches want it to be crisp and not anything looking crappy.”