Time for another round. …
Q: Has there been a study done on shoulder injuries? I know they track concussions and there was a recent report on the correlation between turf and ACL injuries. It seems to me that with the new lighter, smaller shoulder pads there have been a lot more shoulder injuries than there used to be.
A: I looked around a little and couldn’t really find anything definitive like that on shoulder injuries. My feeling is there have probably always been a lot of shoulder injuries — given the nature of football, shoulder injuries will be impossible to ever eliminate.
But like almost everything involving everything these days, there’s so much more information available — and by-the-minute coverage of everything — that news of things such as injuries may simply resonate more than it did before. I haven’t really hard from coaches or others in the sport that there are more now, or that they need to go back to the old pads or anything.
Also, if you are referring simply to some of the shoulder injuries UW has had of late, it’s worth remembering that two of the more high-profile ones — those of Colin Porter and James Sample — dated to old high school injuries. And I point that out in part because it’s things like that that make it hard to make sweeping judgments on this stuff, sometimes. That unless you know every aspect of a player’s medical history (and we rarely get access to that) it’s really hard to assess a cause or a reason.
Q: I’m curious if you know why ESPN has a dedicated Stanford blog? If you scroll to the top of the Pac 12 blog, you’ll see Stanford next to Notre Dame. Yes, USC has a blog associated with an affiliated fan website, but that is different from Stanford’s blog. Stanford has the smallest fan base in the P12….strange…are they paying ESPN?
A: Obviously, since I don’t work for ESPN, I’m not real privvy to their decision-making process. But I would point out that they have dedicated sites for lots of teams around the country — Texas, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Oklahoma, just to name a few — and are adding new sites all the time. They may have just wanted to jump on the Stanford bandwagon last year due to Andrew Luck and knowing the Cardinal would be a legit BCS contender.
Also, they may have thought Stanford was a pretty underserved team in terms of media coverage with an alumni base that is all over the place, and maybe that would allow it to attract more of an audience. Stanford may have a small fan base, but I also think it’s a pretty influential and attractive one to try to capture. And again, I’m sure Luck and a national-title team had a lot to do with it. If the current team sites are a success, it would be no surprise to see ESPN continue to expand.
Q: Any idea when we might hear about Oregon and its possible sanctions?
A: Not really. The NCAA doesn’t give out specific timelines so it could be next week and it could be much later — just depends on how long it takes. Also worth remembering is that the school is usually given notice the day before an announcement, so sometimes something leaks the day/night before an actual announcement. When the NCAA does have an official announcement it sends out an e-mail notice that morning of a press release/news conference later in the day.
Q: If you just look at the first 6 games of next season, do you think the Huskies have the toughest schedule in the country? What about the last 6 games? Any teams there that could end up being ranked?
A: No question UW has as tough a schedule in the first six weeks as any team in the country. We’re beginning to now see some of the more traditional/respected national rankings unveiled, and in some of those, UW is playing four teams ranked among the top 12 in the country in the first six weeks (LSU, Oregon. USC, Stanford) with two on the road (LSU, Oregon).
It’s a gauntlet, to be sure, and the Pac-12 part of it is simply the way the schedule fell this year and being in a six-team North Division that looms as stronger than its South counterpart this year.
As for how tough the second half is, a lot may depend on how UW navigates the first half. If UW is 2-4 and beat up physically and mentally, some of those games (such as at Arizona and home to Utah) might be that much more difficult. If UW is 3-3 or better and relatively unscathed physically, then the Huskies could make a good second-half run. What makes the schedule a little tougher this year than last year is having five Pac-12 road games instead of four — essentially, having the Apple Cup on the road instead of in Seattle.
So while the second half of the schedule could include six unranked teams, it also includes four games on the road (Arizona, Cal, Colorado and WSU). UW could be favored to win them all, but also could be underdogs in at least two (Cal and WSU the most likely). And a game at Colorado on Nov. 17, when who knows what the weather might deliver, could be dicey depending on the health of the two teams, the direction of their respective seasons, etc.
I say this not to be all doom-and-gloom. But by any realistic measure, the schedule isn’t easy even if in many ways it’s not all that different than last year’s — the same sort of A-B-C non-conference with the A team on the road and B and C at home, and the same nine conference opponent. It’s simply where and when UW plays some of these teams that makes it look a little more difficult right now than last year’s did.