ACC model for sharing injury updates works_ mostly
The Atlantic Coast Conference is setting the standard this season when it comes to sharing player injury information.
Still, some say the conference guideline would work even better if all ACC coaches participated fully in the process that they themselves developed.
Two days before conference games, ACC schools are obligated to release lists of their injured players.
Of the six power conferences, only the ACC has a league-wide guideline this year for reporting injuries. But there are concerns about how it works, mainly that nothing can be done if a coach chooses not to comply.
"Coaches sandbag," Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. "There ain't no wondering. That's just part of being a coach."
And North Carolina coach Larry Fedora compares discussing injured players to giving the opponent a peek at his playbook.
But ACC Associate Commissioner for Football Operations Michael Kelly believes the process works, and most coaches agree. He says the coaches have enough respect for each other to follow those guidelines.
"Ultimately, if it's found not useful or if they're not being used the way the coaches feel is good for them, then we likely would adjust it or change it," Kelly said. "But I think it's really been out of the respect they have for each other and the respect they have in terms of how they share the information with the media is why they elect to renew it each year. It's something we'll keep talking about."
The league classifies its injury guidelines as a "framework" for exchanging information — not a policy subject to enforcement, Kelly said.
"If you put something as a full-blown policy, then you might have people change their mind in time, and it becomes a bigger issue to change," Kelly said. "So we just made it more of an operating procedure from year to year."
Knowing who is and isn't healthy enough to play is valuable information for just about everyone with an interest in a game, from opposing coaches drawing up game plans to gamblers looking for an edge.
But what primarily led the ACC in 2008 to adopt its plan were coaches who grew weary of answering the same type of questions every week, Kelly said.
"I get tired of being asked about injuries, so for me it's easier just to put it out there the way we do," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said.
Now when those questions come, they can simply steer everyone to the injury report. It is submitted by the school's medical staff to the sports information department, which then sends it to media members and the conference office.
Injury reporting has led to some conflicts across the country this year — especially in the Pac-12, where Commissioner Larry Scott has entertained the possibility of his league moving toward a standard report like the ACC's. Southern California coach Lane Kiffin ended a press conference after less than 30 seconds when someone asked about an injured player.
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