Coach Frost Not Interested in Lyerla Talk
The invented Colt Lyerla vs. Mark Helfrich saga is about as insipidly stupid as anything we’ve seen come out of the Oregon athletic department in some time.
There is absolutely zero story to be had here.
An ill player missed Saturday's 59-14 win over Tennessee at Autzen Stadium. The head coach stuck to his policies regarding not revealing sensitive player information by stating the player missed due to "circumstances." Some suspected the worst given the ill player’s background. The player, solely responsible for said background, then lashed out at his coach through the very media, which doubted him the most.
Cue circus music and alert the producers of Days of our Lives.
Before diving into the ridiculousness of this situation let’s address one fact that has been lost in this mess:
Oregon has routinely announced when players have been suspended for off-field transgressions since at least back through the Mike Bellotti era.
Cliff Harris. Isaac Remington. Jeremiah Masoli. Kiko Alonso. LaMichael James. LeGarrette Blount
Each was suspended and those suspensions were made public.
Granted, each suspended player had been involved in either an illegal or public incident that could not be concealed.
But that only brings me to my next point: If Lyerla had done something criminal, it would have been a matter of public record and not concealable. Had the transgression been internal, such as missing team functions or fighting, the team has the right to keep such information secret.
But it appears that Helfrich would be open about such things.
Helfrich stated at Monday’s Oregon club meeting that as a general rule he would make public any player suspension.
Part of Lyerla’s background that led many to wonder what “circumstances” meant includes him missing the first week of fall camp last season. The Ducks, however, did not announce why then, either. Lyerla also never announced why not even upon his return. Clearly, he didn't mind having those set of "circumstances" remain hidden.
Kelly telling the world what Lyerla had done to miss that first week of camp would have been far more tantamount to throwing someone under the proverbial bus than Helfrich merely stating that Lyerla missed Saturday’s game due to “circumstances.”
Lyerla can’t have it both ways. He can’t want his transgressions to be kept a secret while also wanting the team to break policy in order to protect him from his past.
Throwing someone under the bus constitutes airing someone's dirty laundry or making them the fall guy, not being cryptic about information one doesn’t wish to release.
Yes, Helfrich could have been more specific with his answer but he at least remained consistent. He has used the word “circumstances” in response to questions about other absent players. Oregon has not discussed injuries or illnesses since the start of the 2011 season. Not doing so with Lyerla falls in line with that policy.
While the answer certainly raised questions (this writer did a little snooping and found nothing) that doesn’t make it right to assume anything.
While offensive coordinator Scott Frost fell in line with Helfrich and denied to comment on Lyerla’s absence during the post-game press conference, at least two Oregon players stated that their teammate had been ill.
Freshman tight end John Mundt and sophomore wide receiver Bralon Addison clearly didn’t get the memo regarding the team’s policies and gave up Lyerl's illness.
This brings me to Lyerla. His being upset over Helfrich not stating he was sick could or could not be viewed as being warranted.
On one hand, maybe Helfrich's answer did unfairly raise questions about Lyerla. On the other hand, maybe Lyerla’s past led to Helfrich’s answer raising questions about Lyerla.
Nobody questioned what was going on with other players who have missed time because of “circumstances.” But with Lyerla, it became a story.
The only thing really clear here is that Lyerla’s reaction to the situation violated the team’s code.
Lyerla knows the team’s policies regarding giving out player information. It’s Lyerla’s own past wrong doings that led people to speculate about what “circumstances” truly meant.
Lyerla could have simply tweeted that he was ill and left it at that. Instead, he publicly blasted his coach for sticking to team policy simply because it created doubt in those who in essence were questioning Lyerla’s character.
In other words, Lyerla essentially wanted Helfrich to change his policy simply because his background would lead people to speculate.
That’s asking a lot.
In some ways, changing policy for Lyerla would be an open admission that he would be a strong candidate to have been suspended for committing serious transgressions. That, it seems, would be far worse than merely sticking to policy.
I’ve long railed against Oregon’s increasingly growing rate of secrecy. But all we can really demand is that they remain consistent, either way.
There’s little doubt here that in this case, everything that transpired post Helfrich’s press conference transformed a simple situation involving a player missing a game into a manufactured drama worthy of bad daytime television.