Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013

Once again, it seems that when there is no real story, a story needs to be made. I have made many of my feelings clear based on my belief that, despite his radical views about many topics, Noam Chomsky pretty much nailed the problem with modern journalism in Manufacturing Consent.

I won't spend the time rehashing the concepts behind the book, other than to remind that business is in place to make money; and sometimes that monetary goal supercedes common sense.

Of course I am referring to the little story that broke through today about Colt Lyerla through Jason Quick.

My very first thought was that it was highly irresponsible for any member of the press to make a tweet in response toa very nebulous answer at a press conference that assumes the meaning. We have all heard the old saying of what happens when you assume, and, once again, that has proven to be true.

Why do I say this?

Well, a couple of weeks ago, when Erik Dungy did not play, and we were told that “circumstances” prevented him from playing, no one jumped to wild conclusions about grades, discipline or attitude; they simply went about their day.

But when that same word was used in relation to Lyerla, suddenly Quick's intuition is that it must be disciplinary? Clearly part of the reason nothing was said in relation to Dungy is that he is not a star and Lyerla is a star. Nonetheless, making such a statement was irresponsible; at best.

To his credit, Quick later admitted that making such a tweet was not the best idea. But, he crossed another line afterwards. Sunday is pretty much off limits to the football team by the media. That's a team day and Media Services is not likely to have granted any interview requests.

Yet, there was Quick interviewing Lyerla about what Helfrich had said in the press conference.

To a limited point, I understand why Lyerla was upset. He knew he was sick and probably did not have a problem with the coach telling the media that he was sick all week. But that is not company policy. Oregon does not talk about injuries OR illnesses; at all. It doesn't matter whether the player is okay with it, Oregon coaches do not discuss it; period. If the player chooses to discuss it, that becomes his prerogative.

Lyerla's biggest mistake in this situation was talking to media before talking to the coach. He wasn't being abused and the coach wasn't trying to throw him under the bus. But that is exactly how Lyerla saw the situation. And, rather than call the coach and ask why, he answered a reporters questions without talking to Helfrich this creating a bigger piece of drama than otherwise needed to exist.

In the end, the mea culpa's within the team will be handled and no one will know the difference outside the team.

This really falls as much on Lyerla's shoulders as anyone... He spoke to an outsider out of petulence... Had he called the coach before talking to Quick, there would be no story... But he was angry and responded without thinking.

More importantly, regardless of how Quick contacted Colt, he did not go through Media Services which is a big no-no.

Many question why Oregon is so secretive. When the players arrive for their first day as a football player, part of the big stack of papers that they have to review and initial includes releases that would allow this type of information to be discussed. Nonetheless, Oregon takes a hard stance on the topic.

I can tell you from experience that if you request specific information (not at a news conference, but through email or written form), the athletic department absolutely references FERPA laws in their response which says that they cannot release that information. And, whgen it relates to a student athlete's health, the school further uses HIPPA laws as reasoning for not releasing information.

Either way, it has been made clear to most people in the past that these types of things were not going to be discussed publicly. In some respects, the repeated questioning was stupid. Ask the question once, that is your job; keep repeating the question thinking you will “trip up” the coach; stupidity.

The reality is that when a player misses a game, we are probably not going to know why. To speculate as to what that reason may be based on the word "circumstances" versus no comment is simply not the way to approach the situation. Maybe Quick is so used to the NBA where they HAVE to release that stuff and believes he has some magical "right to know" the situation, but he will quickly learn (pun not intended) that the Duck athletic department does not have the same policy and to speculate based on a word and then tweet out that speculation is highly irresponsible.

And, to think it was academic... any summer courses would have likely cleared before camp began... and, maybe someone needs to inform the rest of the writers that school has not yet begun at Oregon... i.e., there is virtually no chance that this was an academics thing... the only other logical conclusion would have been:

1) Injury or illness
2) Team discipline

Neither of those are something that an Oregon coach will ever discuss. Nor are they something that people outside the program have a right to know.


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