TUSCALOOSA, ALA. – You can tell a lot about a college football game from a head coach's post-game press conference. After a win, most head coaches are fairly jovial, relatively speaking. They'll speak longer on parts of the game they were excited about, they'll rave out the performances of standout players and they'll keep things fairly focused on the game at hand. There are exceptions – for example, the winning coach in Utah State's most recent outing – but in large part, college football coaches react to wins the same way their fans do. They're excited about the results and excited to talk about them.
After a loss, coaches can take about a dozen paths in their post-game reactions. Some use post-loss media responsibilities as an opportunity to send a message to their team or fellow coaches, focusing on the parts that went wrong in hopes of motivating future improvement. Others are dejected and can't muster more than a few sentences at a time, if that.
It's a smaller group, but plenty of coaches leave a loss feeling more angry than anything else, and will struggle their way through a post-game chat because they would much rather be putting their hand through a whiteboard in the locker room.
The tact a coach takes after a loss can help you hammer down further on the kind of loss they've just suffered. The motivational post-loss press conference is usually a response to a loss the coach didn't feel his team should have taken – maybe an upset defeat or a disappointing showing against a rival. The dejected coach has just come up short in an upset bid of his own, while the angry coach is usually in the middle of a season filled with too many losses.
Utah State head coach Blake Anderson detailed perfectly how Utah State's trip to take on top-ranked Alabama unfolded in speaking to media after the game – without needing to say a single thing. Voice raspy and quickly fading from an evening of barking out calls and directions, Anderson was... himself.