If you follow pro football, you almost take it for granted that the NFL releases an injury report each Wednesday, with updates throughout the week. These reports have made the terms “probable,” “questionable” and “doubtful” part of our vernacular.
It’s a different world in college football, where every school follows its own rules in releasing injury news. Whether it’s because of gamesmanship or paranoia, few college coaches give injury news — or even details about injuries — to fans and media.
However, there’s a move afoot in the Pac-12 Conference, where at least one coach wants an NFL-style injury report released each week. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that Rich Rodriguez, who is in his first season as coach at Arizona, has told the league that a standardized report would be good for all schools.
“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.”
The Los Angeles Times reported that despite the progressive nature of the Pac-12, many of the league’s other coaches have regressed in terms of reporting injuries. That includes USC’s Lane Kiffin, who suspended a beat writer from practice for reporting that a Trojans kicker underwent surgery.
From Seattle to Westwood, coaches have stopped talking about players who get hurt and threatened to ban reporters who disclose injuries suffered in practice.
“That would be completely from a competitive advantage-disadvantage perspective,” Kiffin said. “I don’t think any coach would want their opponents to know, as they game-plan throughout the week, who is going to play and who is not.”
New Washington State coach Mike Leach is adamantly against such reports, saying it would violate the HIPPA law.
“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.”
The Times took the debate to college football beat writers within the Tribune company, which owns the newspaper. Even these journalists couldn’t agree what is good for the sport.
However, the argument might be short-lived. The Orange County Register reported that Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott, who started this discussion, could be close to mandating a weekly injury report.