The Washington Huskies have struggled in their first two games to open the season, and one major reason why could be the amount of injuries they’ve suffered already. The poor play and mounting injuries has placed added pressure on head coach Steve Sarkisian who has responded by placing a gag order on any and all talk about injuries from the team, the coaches, or reporters covering the team.
When Sark was first hired, he opened up the Husky practices to reporters, granting them more access than they had ever had under former coach Tyrone Willingham. At that time, he didn’t mind talking about injuries, either. But all that has changed over the last few seasons as the team has tightened up access to practices little by little.
Now, he has taken the most restrictive measure in regards to media access. According to the school policy handed out to members of the media today:
“As a condition of entry to UW football practices, all visitors and members of the media are herforth prohibited from reporting on strategy or injury-related news observed during practices. No players or coaches will have any comments on injuries and any such information.”
The heavy handed policy was backed up by Sarkisian as he explained to reporters “We’re not going to comment on injuries anymore. I’m not. No one in our organization is. It’s just a competitive disadvantage for us when other teams don’t and we do, so that’s going to be the road we take.”
Washington is far from the first team to implement this kind of strategy. The Stanford Cardinal, USC Trojans, Oregon Ducks, and Washington State Cougars have all instituted similar policies. USC recently followed through on it, suspending the credentials of Los Angeles Daily News reporter Scott Wolf for the Stanford game this weekend for reporting that kicker Andre Heidari had knee surgery last week.
So why has Sarkisian decided to close up practice now? The Huskies have been less than impressive to start this season, which was supposed to be UW’s coming out party as a member of the Pac 12 elite. But after struggling to put away the San Diego State Aztecs and getting decimated by the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge, the Huskies are looking like the same old also-rans of the conference they’ve been for years.
And with the surprisingly strong starts from the UCLA Bruins, Arizona Wildcats, and Arizona State Sun Devils, Washington could fall back into the lower tier of the conference. Sarkisian needed to regain some control and do something to shake his team out of their early season funk. Whether or not this tactic works as he hopes or further alienates the coach from the media and fans in Seattle waits to be seen.
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