Opinion: NCAA Should Follow NFL on Injury Reporting

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Copyright 2017 The Deseret News Publishing Co.

Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City)


"It seems that our local college coaches want to keep the world from knowing about injuries. I am not an opposing coach, but I am a BYU ticket holder and would like to know that if I go out this Friday night after my bedtime to watch a crummy team it would be nice to know what quarterback is playing. I think this is fair and should be disclosed to the consumer."

— email from longtime BYU fan

In recent years, college football coaches have decided to stop disclosing information about injured players because they believe it will help their opponent's game preparation (even though most coaches claim they don't read the sports page). Meanwhile, there's someone they're forgetting.

The fan.

Also known as the consumer or customer.

Would you go to a U2 concert if Bono wasn't going to perform?

This week, both BYU and Utah have refused to say who will be starting at quarterback for them this weekend. Maybe they really are uncertain who will be healthy enough by game time, but at some point during the week, they had to make a decision. They just didn't tell anyone about it.

The only thing the Cougars made clear this week is that they're not playing coy — or, in this case, Koy (probably). The starter heading into tonight's Boise State game is a mystery - Beau Hoge, Tanner Mangum or the mystery guest from the redshirt squad.

(On the other hand, does it really matter? The Cougars are more than a quarterback away from righting the ship. At this point, it's like hiring a new captain for the Titanic while she's taking on water.)

Ute coaches also were tight-lipped this week. They refused to say whether Tyler Huntley or Troy Williams would start at quarterback against Stanford on Saturday. Huntley was injured two weeks ago, but no one is saying if he will, or even can, play this weekend. The Utes play injuries close to the vest - like everyone else.

Coaches even prohibit beat writers from reporting injuries until they receive the official A-OK. They aren't allowed to observe practice as they once were to see for themselves who is practicing and who is not.

Well, all of this is what you might expect from guys who cover their mouths when they call plays from the sideline because they think lip-readers are watching them and tipping off the other side.

Paranoid ... much?

Ask a coach about injuries these days, and he'll look at you as if he just found a hair in his sandwich.

Suddenly, everyone has turned into Bill Belichick. Couldn't they be more like, say, Hillary Clinton - a little looser-lipped with state secrets?

In August, University of Kansas coach David Beaty seemed to speak for a lot of coaches when he told reporters, "I was going to give an injury report today, but it doesn't give us an advantage. There's no advantage for me to give an injury report. There's nothing that's going to help us win the game right now with giving that report. So I'm not going to talk about injuries when it comes to our football team."

The advantage is that it will provide information for customers who follow their team, and it will make almost zero difference to the opposing coach. Here's what should happen: Conferences should require their teams — a la the NFL — to produce injury reports every Monday. Voila, no advantage or disadvantage. The Atlantic Coast Conference already provides such a report.

Recently, the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman claimed that the NFL was catering to gamblers by producing injury reports. On this point, he couldn't be more wrong. The injury reports prevent what would essentially be insider trading - passing along information that isn't generally known. A water boy or a lowly assistant could tip off a gambler that Player X is injured, and the information is used as the basis of a bet. If you provide the information to everyone, there is no threat of insider trading.

Meanwhile, there are the fans, who invest in the price of tickets and time for the game. There probably aren't many of them who would stay home from a game simply because a certain player was not playing, but if you're one of them, you're out of luck.

Email: drob@deseretnews.com

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October 6, 2017


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