September 19, 2012 in Sports

Pac-12 football coaches buzz about injury reports

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Years from now, perhaps Arizona Wildcats head coach Rich Rodriguez will be lauded as an innovator.

As calls for an NFL-style standardized injury report in the Pac-12 become louder and more persistent, Rodriguez doesn’t seem to care much.

Partially, he said, because he doesn’t really care about opponent injuries in the first place.

Also: Arizona already releases an NFL-style injury report each week that lists injured players as probable, questionable, doubtful or out.

“We kind of started doing that a few years ago when we were at Michigan,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday’s Pac-12 coaches call. “It just made it a lot easier. We didn’t have to have questions all week about it, so we kind of adopted that policy.”

Some Pac-12 coaches aren’t quite as forthcoming with such information.

Mike Leach of Washington State, Lane Kiffin of USC, Chip Kelly of Oregon and, recently, Steve Sarkisian of Washington have all made clear the fact they will not disclose injuries to the media or public.

Others, such as Stanford coach David Shaw, release information only if it affects whether a player will miss a game.

Shaw, citing the privacy clause of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, said it’s nobody’s business if amateur athletes have injuries. For that reason, he’s not in support of a uniform injury report, something commissioner Larry Scott told reporters last week he is examining.

“I get annoyed very often when I’m asked repeatedly about injuries,” Shaw said. “I have an agreement and I’ve been very straightforward with the local guys here. If a guy’s going to miss a game, I tell them. If I think a guy’s going to miss a game, I tell them. Other than that … nobody needs to know if somebody’s questionable if they have bumps or bruises.”

Leach said that beyond that, injury reports are only of concern to lazy journalists who can’t find anything else to write about.

“I think it’s journalism at its most pitiful level,” Leach said. “There’s two types of journalists – there’s a guy that wants to write the great American novel, then there’s the type that wants to do a good, solid job, have some creativity, then the types that are just slackers.”

Guess into which group the injury-writers fall?

“They’re not creative enough to keep their stories interesting and not ambitious enough” to write about on-field happenings, Leach said.

Oregon State coach Mike Riley, whose program remains as open as possible, said he’s in favor of a standardized injury report. So is Colorado coach Jon Embree. So, too, is Sarkisian, who said UW’s recent no-comment policy on injuries was born of a desire to eliminate any competitive disadvantage.

That phrase is also a buzzword for Kiffin.

It is not for Rodriguez.

“I don’t know where you get a big advantage one way or the other just putting (questionable or probable) on the report,” he said. “I think it’s just better for us anyway so we don’t have questions all week, and so the family knows whether their son’s going to play or not.”

Whittingham puzzled

It didn’t end up costing his team the game, but Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said he never received an explanation from officials as to why the Utes were assessed a 15-yard, live-ball penalty when their fans stormed the field after a blocked field goal on Saturday.

Brigham Young trailed Utah by three points and had a last-second, 51-yard field goal blocked to apparently give the Utes the win.

But fans ran onto the field as the ball was still live, Utah was flagged and BYU was given another chance to make the kick from a more manageable distance of 36 yards.

The kick missed off the upright, and crisis was averted.

“It’s almost always a no-call,” Whittingham said. “In fact, I’ve never seen it called outside of this isolated incident. … It was bizarre and I’ve never experienced anything like it. I’ve never seen that in any other game, as well.”

Elsewhere

Embree said his players are doing a good job of “not reading the papers” after their 0-3 start. … Fast-paced, productive offenses will be on display when Oregon and Arizona play each other on Saturday. The difference between those offenses, as summarized by Kelly: “We run ours in Eugene. They run theirs in Tucson.” … After Stanford’s bruising power running game led it to a 21-14 upset win over USC last week, Shaw was asked if the Cardinal pursue a certain kind of offensive lineman to fit its bullish system. “We like big guys, but we don’t like fat guys,” Shaw said. “We don’t recruit fat offensive linemen.”

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