When Arizona sophomore quarterback Willie Tuitama was knocked senseless after the very first series of the LSU game last Saturday he should have been pulled from the game. All of the warning signs were there after that first series and apparently nobody picked up on them or somebody didn't consider them.
"Man, he almost looked drunk," said one person on the sideline that had contact with Tuitama. "He was all glassy-eyed and just out of it. He wasn't Willie at all."
When phrases like ‘glassy-eyed' and ‘looked drunk' come into play when speaking of a quarterback right after he took three vicious hits in the matter of four plays, concern should absolutely set in.
Watching the game from your couch you could even discern that maybe something was wrong. Once Willie took the field after that first series he was way off. His throws were high and really not even close to their intended receivers. He seemed slow with his feet and his decision making, which ultimately led to even more hits during the course of the game.
Many questions come to mind after the knowledge of Tuitama's concussion was confirmed by head coach Mike Stoops this week. Why was he allowed to play after that first series since that is when the concussion likely occurred? Who ultimately made the decision to allow him to re-enter the game? Was the LSU game so important to the rebuilding of Arizona Football that you must risk Tuitama's entire future on just the one game?
Ultimately it is the coach's decision to make as to whether he would go back in the game. But a coach's decision can only be made based on the report he gets from the medical staff that evaluated Tuitama after that first series. It is that initial evaluation of the medical staff that would lead to the answers of the questions that every fan has.
But even the initial evaluation involves many questions that need to be answered as well.
Was that initial evaluation thorough enough? Did they initially make a concussion diagnosis? Did they even give a full evaluation? Exactly what information, if any, did Mike Stoops have on Tuitama's health to make the decision to put him back in the game?
When talking to people on the sidelines after that first series it appears that many of the signs of a concussion were already present. From the physical demeanor of the young quarterback to his mental awareness it was obvious to many that there was something wrong with Tuitama after that first series. And once he went back in the game for the second series it became painfully clear that there was something wrong.
In the end there are questions that need to be answered that have not been answered yet. It is pretty clear that either a terribly bad decision was made or somebody on the medical staff missed something or gave a misdiagnosis, if an initial evaluation even took place. There is a certain amount of secrecy that has to remain because you are dealing with the personal health of an individual and you have to consider the privacy of the young quarterback. But the answers to many of these questions do not fall under any privacy laws and they need to be answered. Whether it was a coach that put winning ahead of the health of one of his players or it is an inept medical staff, something went wrong in Baton Rouge on Saturday.
These are serious questions about a very serious issue and there need to be answers. It is clear that somebody screwed the pooch on Saturday and for the good of the program, people need to know some answers.