Spotting a fiery, vehement Paul Petrino galloping up and down the SprinTurf sidelines isn't difficult. That's how the Idaho football coach is, both towards players and assistants, almost all the time, whether he's dishing out punishment or offering praise.

And in today's college football culture, berating players and coaches is commonplace. To most - including myself - it shows passion, mostly. And frankly, it's expected at a program that has two wins in as many years under Petrino.

But when a coach needs to be restrained from angrily approaching a member of the media, because he can't control his temper? Well, that's another story.

That's this story.

At the end of Wednesday's practice, Petrino turned to the sideline and asked me and a reporter from the Lewiston Tribune, "Did you guys see enough deep balls today?" He was referring to my story in Wednesday's paper discussing the team's work-in-progress vertical passing attack.

I thought he was being sarcastic, so I responded accordingly.

"A couple," I replied.

"Yeah, there were a bunch," the other reporter answered.

Petrino wasn't just sarcastic; he was very much upset. He went on to immediately ban the media from today's practice, yelling, "If all you're going to write is negative (expletive) then none of you need to be here!"

I dismissed it as a lack of awareness, perhaps not realizing that while we were in fact on the football field, neither I nor the Tribune writer were his players, and we don't respond to being spoken to that way.

But moments later, Petrino walked up to me and the Tribune reporter just outside the practice field and began to scream in my face, loudly informing us how many deep balls the team completed Wednesday. He then went on to chide us for our inaccurate criticisms of quarterback Matt Linehan and our lack of football knowledge, walking away saying, "You don't even know what the (expletive) you're talking about! Do your (expletive) job!"

Then he turned back and started to move toward me, still angrily shouting expletives about my writing and my professionalism while being physically restrained by one of his assistants, approaching me as if he had plans to do something other than verbally express his concerns.

I stood quietly, choosing not to engage with him, instead waiting for him to lower his voice and talk to me like a man. I never had the chance. He just walked away.

What if he had not been restrained? Would he have physically tried to harm me or the other reporter? Would he have tried to make me do up-downs? Hopefully we never find out. Regardless, Petrino's outburst raises several red flags about his professionalism and maturity.

Let's be clear, Petrino never sat in my living room and begged me to play for him. My name isn't listed on the roster. He has no right to behave that way towards me. I am not a Vandal. And the fact someone had to hold him back from approaching me is unacceptable.

I'm an adult, a professional journalist and, so far, the only media member who has attended all 14 of his team's fall practices, providing more in-depth coverage than this program has seen in years.

If Petrino disagrees with what I write - it wouldn't be the first time, he's addressed that with me before - that's fine. I disagree with the players he makes available to the media. We have never talked to star senior receiver Dezmon Epps -- despite several requests -- and after the final two home losses of the 2014 season, we weren't allowed to speak with any players at all.

And yet, no one has had to restrain me from Petrino. Not once. That's the issue here. This veteran football coach appears to be struggling with the spotlight associated with his first head coaching job, a lot more than I'm struggling with the spotlight on my first sports editor job.

Is Petrino a bad guy? I don't think so. Is he in a high-stress position? Sure. Does that give him the right to stand in my face and berate me like I'm a true freshman who just threw an interception? Absolutely not.

Petrino complained that the media coverage of his team is too negative. A visit to Dnews.com is all that's needed to refute that claim. I pride myself on objectivity and accuracy, whether it's reporting on small-town wrestling or Division I football.

I also pride myself on maturity and professionalism. I can't say the same for Petrino.


Michael-Shawn Dugar is the Daily News sports editor. He can be reached at (208) 883-4629, by email to mdugar@dnews.com or on Twitter to @MikeDugar.

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