Duck Football brings more great publicity and legal bills to UO

1/13/2019 update:  

UO football player Sam Poutasi suing UO, Taggart 1 day after Doug Brenner files similar lawsuit

Jack Butler and Shawn Medow had the scoop on the second lawsuit in the Daily Emerald on Friday. There are many national news stories on this now, including Austin Meek in the RG here:

… Brenner, who is seeking $11.5 million in damages, said he decided to move forward with a lawsuit after recent tests revealed long-term kidney damage that could shorten his life by 10 years or more.

“Because of those results, and because my life will be shorter because of those results, I decided that I needed to take action, partially for me but mainly to make sure this doesn’t happen to any other kids along the line,” Brenner said Thursday, speaking from the office of his Portland-based attorney.

Lawsuits from Brenner and Poutasi have brought renewed scrutiny to the workout incident and the university’s response. The players say they were forced to perform hundreds of push-ups and another rigorous strength training exercise without rest and with no water readily available on the first day of winter workouts, causing some players to vomit and at least one to pass out.

Kicker Aidan Schneider was in the same workout group with Brenner and Poutasi and confirmed Brenner’s account of the incident.

“Doug’s description is very accurate as far as I remember,” said Schneider, who graduated after the 2017 season. “I think what a lot of people were thinking is, ‘This is ridiculous.’”

According to the players’ accounts, the group was forced to perform a series of exercises in unison. If any player faltered or had imperfect form, the entire group was forced to repeat the exercise. …

The players need a union, but lawsuits seem like a reasonable second best.

1/9/2019: Mr. Brenner seems like a stand-up guy:

And he’s represented by Jason Kafoury, who has run circles around UO’s General Counsel Kevin Reed and his deputy Doug Park before.

The Oregonian’s James Crepea has the latest fallout from Rob Mullen’s decision to fire what’s his name and hire Willie Taggart:

Former Oregon Ducks football player Doug Brenner is suing the University of Oregon, former football coach Willie Taggart, former strength coach Irele Oderinde and the NCAA for negligence stemming from his January 2017 hospitalization following strenuous offseason workouts that resulted in rhabdomyolysis and subsequent injuries.

Brenner is seeking $11.5 million in damages.

In an 18-page suit filed in Multnomah County circuit court on Wednesday, Brenner’s attorneys allege the University of Oregon was negligent for failing to prohibit, regulate or supervise the workouts, which they describe as “physical punishment regimens.” The lawsuit also alleges that Taggart and Oderinde, both now at Florida State, were negligent in imposing and carrying out the workouts, and that the NCAA has failed to regulate such practices.

According to the lawsuit, shortly after Taggart was hired in December 2016, he told the team that he and his coaching staff “were going to focus on discipline in strength and conditioning and that they were ‘going to find the snakes in the grass and cut their heads off.’”

Brenner was one of three Oregon players, along with fellow offensive lineman Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick, hospitalized following the workouts in early January 2017. They each were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which muscles break down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA sports medicine handbook. Neither Poutasi nor McCormick, who are still members of Oregon’s football team, are parties in the lawsuit. …

“Faculty” Athletics Representative Tim Gleason’s report on the Rhabdo Incident is here. Kevin Reed’s Public Records Office tried to hide Oderinde’s resume from CBS by claiming he was faculty. And the Duck’s Director of Athletic Medicine, Greg Skaggs, was not board certified in Sports Medicine. Discovery should be interesting.

Willie Taggart’s Professor of Strength leaves UO to return to FSU

1/1/2018:

Andrew Greif has the news here. Oderinde put 3 UO students in the hospital and kept his job for a year anyway. I’m not sure if Duck FAR Tim Gleason ever gave up the public records on his “investigation” of Oderinde. Say, I wonder if Dr. Skaggs ever got his Sports Medicine Board Certification?

3/10/2017:

More national publicity for UO, from CBS Sports: UO claims the Duck coach who put 3 students in hospital is “faculty”

The unregulated world of strength coaches and college football’s killing season

When three Oregon football players were hospitalized in January following a strenuous workout, they were being led by a strength coach certified from a track and field coaches association.

For a $245 fee, the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) offers a 21-hour strength training course to become a certified NCAA strength coach in any sport. By comparison, the widely-used Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCA) requires 30 times as much training — a 640-hour certification process.

According to CAHI, that track certification was all that was needed by Oregon football strength coach Irele Oderinde, who was suspended for one month due to the January workout.

… Oregon declined to provide a copy of Oderinde’s resume to CBS Sports since it is part of his faculty record. Oregon said faculty records cannot be released without an employee’s written permission, and Oderinde did not grant permission.

You can’t make this shit up.

Rob Mullens played short-term Taggart hiring into a fat long raise for himself

Update: In the Oregonian, here:

… The narrative will be that Taggart went 7-5 in his first season and he and his agent, Jimmy Sexton, baited Oregon into a bidding war with Florida State that resulted in a six-year, $30 million windfall. But the reality is, the Ducks didn’t do enough in structuring the original contract to protect themselves. That inept contract, and not a wonderful game of poker by Camp Taggart, is what allowed the Ducks to get leveraged. …

Of course the other interpretation of events is that Rob Mullens’s incentives are imperfectly correlated with Duck football success, and that his main concern was to impress his bosses with a plausible quick hire and then lock in his own lucrative contract before the next scandal became public. Which he did very skillfully.

12/5/2017: Another Rob Mullens hiring call goes south

No, I’m not talking about the decision to hire Dana Altman, or give Altman a raise and contract extension, or his various scandals. And I’m not talking about hiring Mike(?) Helfrich, or his raise and contract extension, or the decision to then turn around and fire Helfrich under the new contract terms costing UO $13.7M or so for buyouts which we’re still paying out.

I’m talking about the decision to hire Willie Taggart, who is now on his way to Florida State, and taking his recruits with him. No word yet on whether or not Taggart will leave his strength and conditioning coach for UO to deal with:

Desperate Willie Taggart calls on UO Senate & Math Prof for coaching help

Duck Football Coach Willie Taggart

UO Math Prof & Senate Pres Chris Sinclair

Things have not gone well for Coach Taggart since arriving at UO. He’s 5-5, and one of those wins was a body-bag game against Southern Utah that cost UO $500,000. He needs to win one of the next two games to get a $25K bonus, and both to get $100K, to top off his $8,000 per calendar day base salary:

Full contract here. Fortunately, UO Senate President and Associate Math Professor Chris Sinclair is an expert on solving problems involving charging the defensive lines. Rumor down at the faculty club is that Taggart has offered Sinclair 50% of any bonus to “guest coach” for the Ducks this weekend. Apparently game-day will start with Sinclair giving the Ducks a locker room seminar on “A Solvable Mixed Charge Ensemble”.

How much can Willie Taggart roll Rob Mullens for with a few Florida rumors?

The Emerald has the story here about how Taggart is “committed” to Oregon despite the Florida job. I’m no economist, but what’s “committed” mean in dollars?

Duck AD Rob Mullens is famously easy to roll – just ask Mark Helfrich, Dana Altman, or Eric Roedl. I’ll give my last University of Nike coffee cup to whoever provides the best estimate of how much a desperate Mullens will throw on the table this time.

Duck AD Rob Mullens paid Taggart’s assistant $60K to leave after DUI

That’s about 0.15 Gottfredsons, 0.005 Helfriches, or enough to pay a NTTF for a year and a half. Ryan Thorburn has the scoop in the RG here:

Oregon paid former football assistant coach David Reaves a total of $63,750 in compensation for his brief employment as Willie Taggart’s co-offensive coordinator and tight ends coach.

Reaves, who resigned Feb. 3 after being arrested on DUII and other charges, received $3,750 for 26 hours of work, plus a payment of $60,000, according to UO documents obtained by The Register-Guard through a public records request. …

Duck’s Willie Taggart brings UO more of that national publicity money can’t buy

2/24/2017: The Washington Post takes a break from their coverage of President Donald Trump’s decision to ban NYT reporters from his press briefings to pick up the story on Duck coach Willie Taggart’s decision to ban Oregonian reporter Andrew Greif, from UO student-journalist Kenny Jacoby:

The WaPo report is a bit sloppy though, labeling Tim Gleason as a UO journalism professor, rather than as the Duck’s well paid “Faculty” Athletics Representative.

2/23/2017: Coach Taggart’s feelings are hurt, so he won’t talk to reporter

I’d never realized that football coaches were such sensitive types. Trumpesque, even? Kenny Jacoby has the story in the Emerald:

Oregon’s new football coach is still upset over a Jan. 16 news report about an early season workout that sent three of his players to the hospital. The report resulted in the suspension of strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde for one month without pay.

Head coach Willie Taggart, whom Oregon hired to replace Mark Helfrich in December, said he is no longer speaking to The Oregonian reporter who broke the story, claiming that the reporter’s characterization of the workouts as “grueling” and “akin to military basic training” were inaccurate, unfair and directly contradicted what Taggart told the reporter before the story was written.

Andrew Greif, whose story broke the news about the players’ hospitalization, defended the piece, noting that multiple sources characterized the workouts as grueling and militaristic. He said UO spokespeople did not question those characterizations when he asked them to confirm the nature of the workouts.“When you’re not fair and honest, then to me that’s personal,” Taggart said. “When you do something that’s negative and it’s going to be personal, then I won’t have shit to do with you.” …

Uh, wait a minute, coach. The strength coach you hired put three of our students in the hospital for a week – and you’re mad at the *reporter* because he hurt your *feelings*?

Say what you will about cousin Jim, at least he’s not a crybaby. On the matter of actual harm, I wonder how much the Ducks are paying to settle with the student-athletes?

And speaking of trying to intimidate reporters, I wonder how the investigation of the Athletic Department’s threat to pull Mr. Jacoby’s press credentials is going.

Pres Schill has “great confidence” in Willie Taggart & Rob Mullens

Update: Coaches let coaches get blotto and drive drunk, and our athletic director is cool with that. Austin Meek has the news in the RG.

From Andrew Theen in the Oregonian:

The school president, who has said previously that he hadn’t set foot on a football field until arriving in Eugene, said he has great confidence in Athletic Director Rob Mullens as well.

They do seem to be sucking up a lot of his time though. Ryan Thorburn in the RG has one of the more positive assessments:

“Even if you sugarcoat it, it’s still a disaster,” Paul Finebaum, who hosts a college football-centric national radio show, said on ESPN. “I have a hard time imaging a program getting off to a worse start.”

Other sports reporters are trickling out more details on the troubled histories of Taggart’s new assistant coaches. Paying female students to escort potential football recruits? Did no one do due diligence?

Coach Taggart: 0 tolerance policy for players, 11/12 tolerance for coaches

Kenny Jacoby has the story on Taggart’s rules for players in the Daily Emerald here:

Three Oregon football players who had off-the-field issues are “no longer with the team,” UO athletics spokesman Craig Pintens confirmed Monday afternoon. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Eddie Heard, freshman wide receiver Tristen Wallace and freshman linebacker Darrian Franklin are done playing for the Ducks. …

But if you’re one of Taggart’s assistant coaches, the rules are a little more relaxed:

UNIVERSITY OF OREGON ATHLETIC COMMUNICATIONS

Andy McNamara — Assistant Athletic Director, Communications                         

Football Contact: David Williford (O: 541-346-2251; C: 541-729-6801; email: diw@uoregon.edu)                                                                                                                                

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                Jan. 17, 2016 

UPDATED DEVELOPMENTS IN REGARDS TO OREGON CONDITIONING SCENARIO

EUGENE – University of Oregon head football coach Willie Taggart today issued an apology on behalf of the coaching staff and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics following incidents reported over the weekend related to off-season conditioning training that began last week.

“I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies,” Taggart said. “As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first. I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university. I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans.”  

“The university holds the health, safety and well-being of all of our students in high regard,” said Rob Mullens, UO director of athletics. “We are confident that these athletes will soon return to full health, and we will continue to support them and their families in their recoveries.”

After a review of events surrounding the training last week, the following has been determined:

Last Tuesday, football student-athletes began their off-season conditioning program after being away from football-related activities for six weeks. The workouts were supervised by the training staff and led by football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde.

On Thursday, after three days of workouts, one student-athlete complained of muscle soreness and displayed other symptoms of potential exercise-related injury. The medical staff examined the student-athlete, and took appropriate action pursuant to team’s medical protocols.

The medical staff informed coaches and staff of the diagnosis. Two additional student-athletes were then identified with similar symptoms and staff responded to them, as well. 

No other student-athletes have demonstrated negative effects at this time or have been admitted to the hospital. 

As a result, Oderinde has been suspended without pay for one month, with Jim Radcliffe assuming the position on an interim basis. In addition, the head football strength and conditioning coach will no longer report to the head football coach but rather to Andrew Murray, the director of performance and sports science. All workouts moving forward have been modified.

www.GoDucks.com