It is Cougar Football Saturday and that is a very good thing. The Oregon Ducks visit a packed house at Martin Stadium tonight at 6:30 as the Cougars start probably their most important three game stretch of the season with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA. Hopefully the focus can return to football now after the team got the good news that star safety Shalom Luani will not be charged with assault. I have some thoughts on that below.
As the details of the Luani case have come to light in the past few days, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Mike Leach was right when he addressed the media regarding the spate of recent athlete arrests. He stated that there is a double standard when it came to students and athletes and it looks the Luani case has proven him right in this instance.
As we now know the police had some evidence that Luani may have been jumped before allegedly punching a fellow student and breaking his nose. If the police thought that there was evidence of this being self-defense I don’t understand how Mr. Medina (the student) was not arrested along with Luani. Or you could choose to make no arrests at all and just chalk it up to a typical college fight (of which I saw plenty when I was in Pullman as a student and never saw a single arrest). Either way it seems that the police department is apparently not extending the same courtesy and common sense to athletes that they do to the general student population. Everybody should be treated the same. We are still waiting for resolutions on the other incidents, but this is certainly troubling in my view.
This has brought a great deal of negative publicity to the athletic department and it will be a challenge to rebuild their reputation due to the way the information was irresponsibly given to the media without explaining all sides of the situation. The debunking of a scandal never gets as much attention as the scandal itself. I doubt we will see a Deadspin article on the new information that has come to light.
I certainly have no ax to grind against the Pullman police department. During my 5 years there they were more than fair to me. Twice an officer caught walking down the street to an after-hours party drinking a "road soda" and let me off with a warning ( The same officer!). I was a stupid kid then, but I had confidence I wouldn’t have to worry about the police coming after me for typical college hijinks. I just want our athletes to be able to feel the same way when they are in Pullman. I hope that this will bring a culture change in the future.
Getting back to the fun stuff, I expect this to be a weight off the team’s back and for Luani and the boys to come out fired up for the Ducks. My prediction: WSU 42 Oregon 31
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Tyson Alger, who covers Oregon football for The Oregonian, gives us an inside look at what to expect from the Ducks when they take the field against Washington State on Saturday.
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