Sideline reporters and coaches often engage in a halftime tap dance

Most college coaches seem to disdain them, but know they're now a part of the job.

It happens every Saturday across the country.

Football coaches begin running off the field and head toward their locker rooms, only to be interrupted by a sideline reporter — or two — who have been assigned to gain some kind of insight into what just happened in the first half.

Generally, the coaches wish they could side-step the microphones the way they'd like their wide receivers to avoid a cornerback after making a catch. And if there's something that really needs to be asked, the coaches become more evasive than ever.

Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, for instance, completely tip-toed around ESPN sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards' question about the absence of wide receiver Allen Robinson at halftime of Saturday's Nittany Lions-Syracuse game.

A couple of nights earlier, USC's Lane Kiffin did the same when CBS Sports Network sideliner Lauren Gardner asked about his quarterback situation at halftime of the Trojans' game against Hawaii.

And in many regards it has become an art form for coaches to try to answer a question as succinctly as possible without revealing anything of importance, while still trying to be somewhat gracious.

Many coaches don't even go the gracious route, and it's not just self-absorbed football guys either.

If there was a Hall of Fame for being as useless as possible during a sideline interview, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich would be the first inductee.

However, college football coaches know that the huge TV contracts their schools and conferences sign require them to stop and at least acknowledge the presence of the sideline reporter, if only for 30 seconds or so.

Ultimately, most of the encounters are a waste of time and are only memorable in those instances when a coach goes off on a rant, usually at the reporter.

Yet, football fans can't resist this cat-and-mouse game before heading off to the kitchen for their halftime snack.

Even on the local high school and college level, the challenge of getting something from these close encounters of the awkward kind can be a challenge.

"It works out better if you get to know the coaches and they have a better feel for you," said Al DiCarlo, who has worked the sidelines at Lehigh home games since 1998 for Service Electric. "If they know you, whether they're in a bad mood or a good mood, they'll give you what you need to know, but in the way they want to tell you."

DiCarlo also used to work high school games and said he had situations where the coaches didn't want to talk at all.

"I tried try to get them as they're coming out of the locker room and tried to walk-and-talk with them to save time," DiCarlo said. "And sometimes they'll give you the hand and just walk away. Later, those coaches will call you and apologize and say they just had too much on their minds.

"As the years went by and some of those coaches got to know me more, they were more willing to stop."

DiCarlo said that you don't want to go for the jugular right away when there's a pressing issue.

"You kind of ask them a generic just to ease in," DiCarlo said.

Lehigh coach Andy Coen, the media covering the team agrees, is a class act.

But no matter who you are, a poor decision or a poor half of football can get people riled up.

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