Mississippi State sophomore Renardo Sidney, who had not been made available to the media since his nationally televised fight in the stands with a teammate in Hawaii, again became the subject of controversy as he broke his media silence in a brief postgame interview with the SEC Network after a big game on Saturday in a win against Ole Miss.
The issue wasn't what was said, but that the team refused to make Sidney available to the rest of the media, because according to a spokesman quoted by the NEMS Daily Journal, "You're all going to try to get it back to Hawaii. We have to protect him."
MSU head coach Rick Stansbury stood firm on the access issue during his time with reporters, and appeared to concede that allowing the interview with Dean was a mistake.
"He doesn't want to talk with you," Stansbury told reporters, but later said "at some point, in this season, we'll let you talk to him."
Stansbury elaborated on the topic, and the perception of Sidney in his news conference with reporters on Monday.
Honestly, we want him to be able to talk. There ain't no problem from that standpoint. It's just, because of his situation, what he's been through and what's happened to him this year, there's so many things that you guys can trip him with and he doesn’t understand how to respond. Most people wouldn't. The more experience he can get doing some things, before putting him in front of you guys. Again, it’s not hiding anything. It's just how to respond.
See, he gets a black eye from everybody because he got a year and nine months (NCAA) suspension. Well, he had nothing to do with that. You guys never wrote about that. Not one soul has ever wrote about that. He had zero to do with that -- something over his ninth grade year in high school. But he comes in with a black eye with that year and nine months. Is it right or wrong? I don’t know. It's what it is. Now, basically for me, he got suspended one time before that fight (an outburst at practice on Dec. 21). Did I have to suspend him for that? I didn’t have to but I did. If I hadn't, he would have had but one suspension.
Rick Cleveland of The Clarion-Ledger broke down the SEC Network interview with Sidney and believes that shielding him from reporters is a mistake by a team that has given him preferential treatment.
He mentioned conditioning at least three times in a 30-second interview. He did say that teammate Dee Bost did a good job of getting the ball to him. He handled the interview OK, but there were no really probing questions asked.
The SEC Network wasn't going to ask about the fight with the former team captain in Hawaii or the re-tweeting of teammate Ravern Johnson's critical tweets more recently.
Those are questions Mississippi reporters have wanted to ask for weeks. Obviously, State doesn't trust Sidney to answer in a way that won't embarrass either him or the school. Too bad. The reason Sidney has the problems he has now is because he has always been treated as someone special. He has been coddled and not held accountable.