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Was Greg McElroy too harsh on Matt Elam?

SEC Network analyst Greg McElroy made headlines in Kentucky last week after criticizing the play of Kentucky’s defensive line and singling out Matt Elam.

Some people thought his comments were uncalled for and some people thought Elam needed the criticism to use a motivation.

“This was an embarrassing effort last year, particularly the former 5-star, Matt Elam, who’s lazy and as underachieving a player as I’ve seen in this league in a long time,” McElroy said.

WKYT’s Steve Moss spoke with McElroy just after his initial comment, and the former Alabama quarterback still continued his harsh criticism of Elam.

It was very clear that Mark Stoops was not a fan of McElroy’s comments and thought it was wrong to single out a certain player.

Stoops was not the only person who thought McElroy’s were uncalled for. Many people thought McElroy’s comments went too far including Lexington Herald-Leader columnist Mark Story.

In the current wild west media culture, it may be quaint to even mention standards for discourse. Still, as someone who has spent almost my entire journalism career covering sports in a college market, I’ve thought a lot about what level of media criticism is appropriate when directed toward people who are still, in theory, students in school to learn.

This is where I come down. I think it is fair to evaluate how college athletes perform in games.

If the quarterback continually fumbles the ball, it’s just being honest to say his turnovers are hurting the team. If the punter keeps shanking kicks, it’s fair game to say his team needs him to perform better.

And if the lavishly praised prospect does not produce at a level commensurate with his recruiting hype, I think it’s fair to point that out.

Where I think you’ve gone too far, however, is when critique of performance on the field spills over into criticism of the personal characteristics or the personality of a college kid.

To me, that’s where McElroy – who I think is good on TV, by the way – crossed the line with his remarks on Elam.

They were too personal.

To read of all Story’s comments, click here.

So Big Blue Nation, what do you think? Do you think it McElroy’s criticism was fair? Or do you agree with Story and think his comments went too far? Let us know in the comment section.


Article written by Kindsey Bernhard

Lover of dogs, sports and beer. @kindseybernhard

18 Comments for Was Greg McElroy too harsh on Matt Elam?

  1. T-wah
    2:09 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    The sad truth is that McElroy is not wrong. Elam has underachieved during his 3 years. Hopefully, the harsh, public comments will serve their intended purpose (“It’s time to step up!”) and get Elam’s attention. I think McElroy made it pretty clear that he was calling the UK defense, including Elam, out because they need to play better. If you can’t handle the criticism and answer the call, you probably don’t need to be playing D-1 football anyway. We’ve got a chance to make big things happen, this year, but it has to start with the defensive line getting pressure on the opposing QB and shutting down the run game.

    • chris43
      3:23 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

      Bingo! I’m a huge UK fan and have been for decades. But he is spot on with his assessment of Elam. Have we turned into such a powderpuff society that you can’t even say that someone has underachieved and is lazy? As Cris Carter would say…….COME ON MAN!

  2. timbo
    2:25 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    The criticism is deserved, the verbiage to convey it was misguided. “Lazy” is not appropriate. Coach Stoops might use that term, in private; but an on-air analyst should refrain and think through his word choices.

    • TBW3011
      7:07 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

      Lazy is actually very appropriate. If the kid just wasn’t any good saying he’s sucked would be out of line. When the precise reason he has sucked is because he’s lazy and doesn’t work hard I have zero problem with his accurate description.

  3. luke_emberton
    2:33 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    his criticism is spot on Matt Elam is lazy what do you call a guy who doesn’t improve when he gets on campus? don’t tell me he’s a hard worker we would see the results if he was

  4. tWildcat
    2:48 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    Media is full of softies(outside of McElroy apparently). His comments were spot on and needed to be said. Hopefully Elam listens to the comments and uses them as motivation.

  5. Cats4lyfe
    3:11 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink


  6. Brad
    3:29 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    Ever think it’s possible he was just rated wrong? I’ve heard people that watched him play say he was a 3* at best. I think he has gotten a little better each year unfortunately it’s not to an SEC level. Regardless this is still a young man that doesn’t deserve the criticism he takes from fans and this guy. I want him to be the best version of his self so we can get to 8 or 9 wins. But criticising him isn’t going to all the sudden make him that 5* defensive tackle we want him to be

  7. blueballs80
    3:52 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    I think he is playing the wrong position. His height makes it really difficult to be a defensive lineman. Doesn’t help he is 350 pounds too. Hard to get low pad level. The physics of it makes it consistently hard. He should have switched to tackle in high school or college. How many 6″7 defensive lineman do you see in he NFL? Most of the nose guards are 6″3 and about 315 on average. Stoops should have switched him out to tackle and he should have dropped like 30 pounds to be a force.

  8. How do Mac’s words differ from what Stoops said last year when he mentioned Elam’s weight and eating habits and then said “It’s up to him”? I know the word “lazy” is what is causing conniptions, but tell me the difference except in the exact words chosen.

    I like Elam and I wish him the best BTW. This isn’t personal.

  9. Rick_S
    4:15 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    No need for Elam to be upset..Everyone knows he’s a fat, lazy underachiever .Don’t you like it ?Get off your ass, push back the cheeseburgers and get to work..

  10. Drogon
    4:53 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    The truth hurts. There is a way to make someone eat their words though. You shut your mouth, bust your butt, and help your team win games. In the end let your actions speak more than any words will.

  11. Luether
    7:07 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    Was Greg McElroy too harsh on Matt Elam? NO!

  12. kyle heavy
    7:16 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    “It was very clear that Mark Stoops was not a fan of McElroy’s comments and thought it was wrong to single out a certain player.”

    I disagree. It was not very clear. His response was just typical coschspeak. He knows Elam is lazy. He’s implied it in the past without actually saying the actual word “lazy.”

  13. HackRichards
    9:38 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    I’m just wonder if NICK SABAN could have gotten more out of him???

  14. devotedsoles528
    11:08 pm July 16, 2017 Permalink

    McElroy is spot on. I hate to say it but everything he said is true. Elam needs to hear the criticism, and hopefully it is the fuel that lights his fire.

    3:50 am July 17, 2017 Permalink

    His height as a nose guard may be an issue, but what is more of an issue to me is that when the ball is snapped he stands straight up and looks like a grizzly bear in there wrestling around…and that is not a compliment. I think it’s obvious that he hasn’t worked hard enough to get better, but at the same time it doesn’t look like anyone has forced him to get better. That goes back to coaching, and if the entire defensive line unit seems to be underachieving, then maybe the defensive line coach is underachieving as well. Hopefully, this criticism will light a spark in the young man before it’s too late to make a living from his God-given attributes. I hope he has a great year to shut us all up!