On Jan. 16, the Oregonian’s Andrew Greif reported that at least three Oregon football players had been hospitalized after undergoing “grueling” offseason workouts that multiple sources described “as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs.” As a result of Greif’s story, the school suspended Irele Oderinde, the football team’s strength and conditioning coach, for one month and Coach Willie Taggart issued a public apology to the three players.
End of story? Of course not. It’s major college football.
Taggart, in his first year as the Ducks’ coach after leaving South Florida, told the Daily Emerald in a story published Thursday that he has frozen out Greif because of what he considers an unfair characterization of the workouts, even though a school investigation of the incident by an Oregon journalism professor found that the story was fair and the coaches made mistakes. However, the probe did consider Greif’s use of terms such as “military-style” as “unfortunate,” because the public could misconstrue the intent of the workouts as punishment for something.
Taggart’s gripe, as explained in all its sausage-making glory by Daily Emerald reporter Kenny Jacoby, seems to be that Greif didn’t take him at his exact word when the two talked ahead of the workout story:
Taggart and Greif spoke on the phone about the workout before Greif’s story ran in The Oregonian. Taggart told the Emerald he “felt good” after explaining to Greif what had happened at the workout — the players were allowed to tap out, but some overworked themselves and finished the workout to show they’re not “quitters” — and was surprised by what he read in the published piece.
“‘You’ve got to be s——-g me,’ was kind of my reaction,” Taggart said. “I explained exactly what happened and he didn’t report it.”
Taggart said he told Greif on the phone that the workouts were not “grueling” or “military-style,” words he felt made the program seem “malicious.” But Greif said Taggart did not say that to him on the phone.
“If the coach had said that, I would have reported it,” Greif said.
In other words, Greif was doing his job. If he simply had run with what Taggart told him, he’d be nothing more than a stenographer. Instead, he got other sources to corroborate just how strenuous the workouts actually were. Nevertheless, Taggart told the Daily Emerald that he no longer would be taking questions from Greif and is asking the Oregonian for an apology or correction, something Greif says is not forthcoming.
“We reported the story fairly and accurately without any agenda of any kind,” he said.