The Fifth Down

First Vice-President's column: What you see ...

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Chris Dufresne
We all know coaches are control freaks, but some belong in a control-freak circus side show.

USC and UCLA coaches Lane Kiffin and Jim Mora have extended a cross-town rivalry to new lows in the battle for information suppression supremacy.

The irony is that UCLA and USC are two of the few schools remaining that open practices to the media. The problem is that neither coach wants beat writers to report what they see.

This is sort of counter to everything we were taught in Journalism\Twitter\Facebook 101.

Mora, in his first year at UCLA, recently kicked the media (and his own sports information department!) out of a practice because a cameraman set his equipment up in the wrong place.

Mora called the SID staff "incompetent" but said everyone would be welcomed back the next day so as long as they didn't bring their eyes, ears, pencils or dignity.

USC made national news in September (besides losing to Stanford) when it issued a two-week practice ban for Daily News beat reporter Scott Wolf and also pulled his credential for the Sept. 15 game against Cal.

Wolf was accused of violating policy by reporting that kicker Andre Heidari had undergone knee surgery. Um, no he didn't. Wolf obtained the information independently and not at practice.

Wolf was reinstated only after editors from the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Register and Daily News had a summit with USC AD Pat Haden.

The Times then issued its own policy. It would not allow beat writers Gary Klein (USC) or Chris Foster (UCLA) to attend practice if they could not report what they see inside the gates.

In this issue of The Fifth Down:
Dufresne: What you see ...
Bohls: Reflecting on father's service
Blaudschun, Wieberg take beat writer awards
Awards calendar
Complete Best Writing Contest winners

There has to be a better way – and maybe there will be. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said he will meet with his athletic directors in October to discuss an NFL-type injury policy for his conference. The Atlantic Coast Conference already has such a policy.

There is no over-arching governing body in college football, so action must be taken at the local level.

It is ridiculous, for example, that Oregon Coach Chip Kelly should refuse to acknowledge injuries even exist.

"But Coach, your left tackle seems to be missing his left leg!"

Here's hoping the myopic, paranoid actions by a few Pac 12 coaches can lead to some sort of common-sense resolution.

There is no convincing evidence that enacting by-laws that would make North Korea proud can make-or-break a team's bowl chance.

There is evidence to the contrary.

Oregon State Coach Mike Riley's practices are open to the media AND the public. What you see is what you get.

On Sept. 22, Oregon State came to UCLA and defeated Mora's Secret Society in the Rose Bowl. Riley then took the entire team out for hamburgers.

Even Alabama's Nick Saban, not exactly the most media-friendly coach, issues a weekly injury report.

This has prevented the need to walk out of post-practice interviews after 28 seconds (Lane Kiffin: Sept. 19) should some heathen ask for an injury update.

Bottom line: reporters covering teams should not be banned for reporting what any USC student could tweet in Matt Barkley's history class.

"Just saw R star QB in walking boot. I WUD list VERRRRY doubtful 4 Utah."

Should that kid have his campus privileges revoked?

Nope, and neither should we.

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