So much for lofty intentions.
The Big East announced at last month's media day event that it would institute a new policy for disclosing injuries. Teams would announce which players were out for the season or undergoing surgery on Mondays, followed by a full injury report listing those who were out, probable, questionable, etc., two days before a game.
I applauded it at the time as a way of making teams report injuries in a uniform and fair manner. But I also questioned whether it would work or if coaches would find ways to skirt around it. After all, the league is doing nothing to enforce the rule.
Well, it's only Week 2 of the season, and it's already clear that the policy is being made a mockery.
Pittsburgh has decided to not report any injuries at all. It's very surprising that the Panthers would be the first ones to ignore this rule, as they are known around the league as one of the most open programs, especially in how they deal with the media. Pitt also has maybe the most important injury issue right now as well, as defensive end and reigning co-defensive player of the year Greg Romeus is once again missing practice with a back problem.
Another high-profile injury at UConn shows where the policy is failing. Huskies star linebacker Scott Lutrus had to be sidelined for the Michigan game, but head coach Randy Edsall would not discuss anything concerning Lutrus' status, citing the injury report system. UConn then released its report on Thursday night, and Lutrus is listed as out with an "upper extremity" issue.
That's an extreme example of vagueness. We know Lutrus had a stinger problem last year; we don't know if it's the same issue this time around. If so, it could be a serious matter that threatens Lutrus' career. Edsall has always been cagey about injuries -- remember the uproar he caused with his own media when quarterback Tyler Lorenzen magically started the Syracuse game two years ago? But last year he at least acknowledged that Lutrus had the stinger during game weeks and gave occasional updates.
What's ludicrous about the new system is that fans are actually getting less information about injuries from UConn now.
UConn's injury reports became more vague after Week 1, perhaps after seeing what Rutgers did. The Scarlet Knights list all their injuries as "upper body" or "lower body." I'm not sure what they would do with a player who hurt his midsection. Middle body?
Look, coaches aren't required to give out injury information. I understand that they want to protect their players, and every coach approaches this situation differently. Some, like former Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, will give minute details on every boo-boo or ankle tweak in practice. Others won't say a peep.
I'd argue that fans lose when they don't have information, especially in regards to star players. When they show up for a game and they don't see a Romeus or a Lutrus playing and they don't know why, that's not a good thing. It's also unfair to schools like West Virginia and Louisville, who seem to be honestly reporting their injuries with more specificity while their league rivals are not.
Regardless, this is a rule that the Big East coaches themselves voted on and approved. They said they wanted it so they didn't have to deal with questions about injuries all the time.
Well, now they're still getting the questions. It's just that everybody is getting fewer answers. The Big East should either make this an actual policy, with fines attached for violating it, or ditch it altogether.