Not to add fuel to the ridiculous media frenzy/controversy regarding Coach Helfrich’s comments about Colt Lyerla’s absence from yesterday’s game, but having been in Media Room yesterday, I just can’t help but respond. In case you missed the story, Coach Helfrich was asked after the game about Colt Lyerla’s absence from yesterday’s game against Tennessee. He simply responded, “circumstances”. When pressed to be more specific, he responded, “Circumstances is very specific, it’s one word,” That simple response prompted Oregonian Sport’s Writer, Jason Quick to talk to Colt Lyerla who reported being upset about the comments and feeling hurt by his coach. What resulted was, in my opinion, an appalling article entitled, Oregon Insider: ‘Circumstances’ of Colt Lyerla absence results in a loss for Mark Helfrich. Obviously, Jason Quick and Oregonian have the right to publish articles they see fit, but I was disappointed in their unfair stab at Mark Helfrich.
First and foremost, only Colt Lyerla and the University know the full scope of the situation. Perhaps Lyerla was simply sick, perhaps there’s more to the story. Perhaps it’s not our business. Second of all, I speak from experience when saying that anyone in the media, who’s spent a good amount of time around Coach Helfrich, knows the goofy, yet consistent tone he takes when asked a question he doesn’t feel he’s permitted to answer. We can analyze his responses all we want, but after listening to his comments directly yesterday, there is no doubt in my mind, he was in no way trying to “throw Lyerla under the bus”, as Lyerla indicated.
As mentioned, when Coach Helfrich was asked why Lyerla hadn’t played, he simply responded “circumstances”. When pressed more for details, he stuck to his original comment and made it clear he didn’t plan to elaborate. The accompanying smirk, in my opinion, was simply Helfrich’s attempt to “kindly” let the interviewer know he didn’t intend to give another answer. I’m obviously new to the media world, but it’s not hard to figure out Oregon doesn’t talk about injury or illness. All this assuming it was simply illness.
Should Oregon be so hush hush about a player being simply ill? Does it lead to speculation at times? Sure, but oh well. That’s the protocol that’s in place and Coach Helfrich was simply following it. It’s disappointing the Oregonian chose to both, pick a side and drag Coach Helfrich through the media ringer without having complete information.
My final opinion, for what it’s worth, is this: I have had many opportunities to interact with Coach Helfrich and to watch his interactions with others at length. I can honestly say he’s been nothing but gracious to media, fans, and yes, his players. Perhaps some stuff should just be left in the locker room.