Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Un-Civil War: Oregon vs. Oregon State police blotter
By ESPN.com staff
Ah, the beautiful Northwest. Wine country. Seafood. Snow-capped mountains. Badly behaving athletes.
It's fair to assume that Oregon State fans are no longer tee-heeing about all of Oregon's off-field troubles. While the Beavers haven't approached the headline-grabbing, are-you-kidding-me? shock of a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronics from a fraternity, their run of incidents has certainly ramped up of late.
The latest two items may threaten the status of one starter, defensive lineman Brennan Olander, and a potential backup quarterback, Peter Lalich. Olander was part of a golf cart joyride gone wrong, which is more of an issue for him than fellow alleged offenders, Lyle Moevao and Keaton Kristick, because: 1. he's still on the team; and, 2. he was involved in a previous incident. Lalich, meanwhile, was charged with a boating DUI over the weekend. He was kicked out of Virginia for two alcohol-related offenses.
If you've forgotten the Ducks' rap sheet, you can review it here: thefts, brawls, DUIs, a domestic incident, Facebook tirades, suspensions and expulsions. Lots of page turners.
As for the Beavers, Paul Buker sets it all up nicely here, while this is another effort from the Statesman-Journal.
Lalich's arrest is the Beavers' seventh police incident this offseason. The Ducks had eight.
Now, here's our issue: There have been rumbles of media criticism over how the incidents have been covered, with a few Ducks feeling like the Beavers got a free pass compared to the national coverage of Oregon's woes.
We, of course, would never minimize incidents that require police involvement, but come on folks. Let's get real here.
Three Beavers take a joyride in a golf cart and flip it, doing significant damage. Dumb, but just imagine the scene in your head. Are you honestly possessed with a "let's get tough on crime!" outrage. No, you are not.
As for Olander's previous offense, which obviously slipped under the media radar, Buker of The Oregonian writes, "Olander may face additional team sanctions because he has been in court before, having pleaded guilty to second-degree theft by receiving stemming from a May 2009 incident. That incident involved a bike that had been reported stolen and was later found in Olander’s possession. Olander told authorities he had purchased the bike from a transient for $50."
The other three incidents? Two were freshmen cited for minor in possession of alcohol charges. The third was a freshman walk-on who is no longer with the team getting arrested on May 2 for resisting arrest, interfering with a police officer and being a minor in possession.
The names here? John Braun, Tyler Thomas and Kaua Olds.
Compare that to: Jeremiah Masoli, LaMichael James, Jamere Holland, Garrett Embry, Josh Kaddu, Kiko Alonso and Rob Beard.
In other words, the Ducks in trouble for various reasons were stars and contributors from a team that played in the Rose Bowl. In Holland's case, he was an oft-troubled but big-name USC transfer who went nuts on his Facebook page, which is an underhanded pitch for reporters.
Further, the Masoli theft case was a mystery that challenged mainstream reporters for whom Internet rumors are not sufficient grounds to go forward with a story. While the fraternity theft happened on Jan. 23, Masoli was never arrested or officially named a suspect until just before he pleaded guilty on March 12. Those days in between, while a variety of other incidents occurred, therefore created an atmosphere of intrigue: Did he really do it?
Further, James' domestic incident also inspired a significant undercurrent of speculation: she's railroading him versus he beat her up. Turned out, it was a complicated, nuanced situation that was handled well by authorities. But, again, there was a long stretch between arrest and resolution. If that had been a single incident, the spotlight wouldn't have burned so bright during the interregnum. It wasn't.
From a media perspective, there was way -- WAY -- more going on with Oregon vs. Oregon State, in large part because it became a perfect storm of unresolved matters involving star players augmented by a scattering of new incidents along a timeline that provide new reasons to revisit the unresolved matters involving star players.
As in, no resolution today? Well, let's debate whether Oregon is out of control under coach Chip Kelly.
What's the bottom line here?
It is this: Oregon and Oregon State fans should know -- and I read a lot of newspapers because it's a major part of my job as a blogger -- that both teams are covered well by responsible, skilled beat reporters who work very hard to get the story correct.
There's no media bias or conspiracy. Promise.