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BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU football coach Brian Kelly deserves some kind of major award.
Perhaps the Anti-BS Trophy … for All-Time.
For decades, most high school and college football coaches have painstakingly guarded their team’s injury information as if they were J. Robert Oppenheimer working on the atom bomb in 1942.
There are no NCAA rules regarding injury information as in the NFL, which has strict rules for coaches to release injury information throughout game weeks.
Almost every week somewhere in college football, on the other hand, players suddenly do not dress out on Saturdays for games because of an injury the coach kept secret all week, as if it was the Arc of the Covenant.
Former LSU coach Les Miles used to annually lead the SEC in secret injuries. He also once refused to admit that quarterback JaMarcus Russell had an injured hand, even after reporters saw him wearing a brace on it at a LSU basketball game. Miles delved into injury espionage as well by listing a single injury to offensive lineman Will Arnold three different ways in three days. All three were wrong.
Present LSU coach Brian Kelly has unveiled a new way to give injury information to reporters this season that is similar to the NFL. He didn’t get clearance. He didn’t need to. He’s just doing it because he feels it makes sense, particularly with all the legal gambling and gaming now available in sports.
Brian Kelly To Be Open With Injury Report
“Brian Kelly will address injuries each week during the season at his media opportunities on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays,” an LSU release stated this week. “Injured players will be reported by Kelly as either probable, questionable, doubtful or out, along with injury location (upper body or lower body) or illness on Mondays and Thursdays. On Saturdays, those players reported as injured during the week will be noted as either available or unavailable for the game.”
Brian Kelly explained the new strategy at a press conference on Thursday.
“We’ll be transparent with injuries,” he said in his opening statement after practice. “We thought it was important, given the nature of what’s going on today, relative to reporting and gaming. We wanted to make sure that we were transparent with injuries, not putting any pressure on anybody here to guess who’s in, who’s out.”
A current gambling scandal involving Iowa and Iowa State athletics and a recent one at Alabama that got the baseball coach getting fired motivated Kelly to do something different. He doesn’t want his players or staff being questioned by family, friends, hangers-on or anyone about injuries.
“I wanted to be proactive and not reactive,” he said. “I’m not saying that that happened. I’m not saying that would happen. But I think it’s better to be proactive in those situations and take away even the temptation to even have that in this building, and not be that next school that goes down that path.”
It is too easy for student-athletes and/or staff to get involved in gambling because gambling now is so much more accessible than even just a few years ago.
LSU Coach Bans Gambling Apps On Phones
“We talked about clearly that nobody should have a gaming app on their phone,” Kelly said. “There are geolocators on your phone for every one of those apps. And so getting those apps off your phone and making sure that there’s no geolocators is important, because they know where you are. There should not be any of those on any of our players’ phones or anybody’s phone that’s in this building.”
Kelly wants no clouds of mystery around his injury report to try to keep the gambling crowd away from his program.
“It just makes it easier,” he said. “I think it’s cleaner. I think it becomes more consistent, and I think then you (reporters) have the expectation of knowing what you’ve got in front of you each and every week as you look at what player could be probable, questionable, doubtful or out moving throughout the entire week. And then everybody else has that, too.”
Honesty Is The Best Policy
Here is where Kelly dispelled the old school beliefs of many coaches about injury information. A reporter asked about the negative impact of Kelly giving out more detailed injury information more consistently while other coaches may continue to use the injury information approach of lie and hide.
“You know, I’ve been doing it for so long, 33 years. And I don’t know that I’ve ever went into a game and go, ‘Wow, we’ve got an upper hand today because I didn’t know he was playing, or I did know he was playing,'” Kelly said. “I just think it’s overrated. I think you’re preparing during the week for what you expect. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times we didn’t know that particular quarterback was playing. You’ve got to adjust on the fly.”
Kelly downplayed the value of injury information overall.
“I think it’s much ado about nothing,” he said. “And I think we angst over the littlest things that don’t really impact the game. And we make too much of it.”
Guarding against a gambling scandal by being open about injuries is more important than the details of any injury information.
“I don’t want it to be in a situation where it causes something to the point where somebody loses their job, or somebody loses eligibility,” Kelly said. “To me, that’s a bigger issue than we’ve got a tactical advantage today because we found out he wasn’t playing.”
Kelly just wishes he would have used such an open policy in the past.
“I mean I’m not going to say it (the secretive injury philosophy) is silly, but let’s have a protocol,” he said. “Here’s the procedure. Here’s what I’m going to follow. Here’s what we’re going to do. It probably took me too long to come to this realization as well.”
Thank you, Brian Kelly.
End the injury report BS.
Now, if we could just limit the transfer portal to players only after at least putting in three full-length semesters, erase most of NIL and eliminate spring football.