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When a Rule Isn't Really a Rule

Written by Paul Zeise on .

The Big East coaches voted this year to put out an official injury report two times per week once on Monday, listing every person who is out for the year or due to have surgery, and once on Thursday (or two days before the game), listing, NFL-report style every player who is probable, questionable, doubtful and out for the upcoming game. All of this would be reported to the Big East office and the Big East would publish it on its web-site.

It was a policy which was agreed to and voted on by the coaches in the league. It wasn't the league office, it wasn't athletic directors, it wasn't even sports information people - it was the coaches who voted this policy in.

The thinking was very simple - if there was an official report released twice per week it would relieve some of the more tense and awkward interactions between reporters and coaches (who are all uptight during game week and don't like discussing injuries) because coaches could simply defer all questions about injuries to the official report and leave it at that. It also added some uniformity to the way injuries were reported.

It makes perfect sense and seeing as coaches wanted it and voted it in, figured to at least to be taken somewhat seriously even though there was expectation that there'd be at least a little gamesmanship involved in them.

Of course, the one catch to it all is this - the Big East has no ability to enforce the policy meaning nobody really has to comply with it if they don't want to which means it was a waste of time in the first place.

And then today this fact was underscored when I was informed by the Pitt sports information department that they would no longer be complying with this policy because, hey, "there is nothing the Big East can do about it so it really isn't a rule." 

So Pitt has officially become the first of the eight conference schools to refuse to comply with an apparently only semi-official conference policy and I suppose that means those of us who cover the team are back to asking about injuries every day. 

Which begs the question - (a) why would coaches vote for a policy they don't want to comply with and (b) why would a conference announce a policy it can't enforce?

Let's review -- the coaches voted this policy in and the reason they did is to make it easier during the season to report injuries. 

Look I get it - if a guy gets hurt in practice the week of a game, it is not something you want your opponent to know. But when guys are missing games or get hurt on national television or even with 30,000 people watching from the stands, it is our job to ask for an update and that is where the tension between coaches and media come.

This policy, again, as voted on by coaches, was meant to ease some of that stuff.

When this whole thing first was announced those of us in the media who have been around a long time all were very skeptical about it and most of us figured it wouldn't last the season but even the most cynical among us couldn't imagine it would be thrown out the window before the season is even two weeks old - and certainly nobody thought the first team to break ranks would be the athletic department which prides itself on being a bastion of honesty and accountability.  

Interestingly enough when I called the Big East office about the matter, they were surprised that Pitt would be the first school who would refuse to comply with the policy because "they are always usually pretty good about things like this."

Oh, and just you wondered, the last official injury report issued by Pitt reads something like this -- Greg Romeus (back), Dom DeCicco (hamstring) and Andrew Taglianetti (groin) are questionable and Ray Graham (knee) is "going to get some carries."

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