MEDIA ROUNDUP: Safety charged, hoops dustup

THE OFFSEASON IS a time when players prepare for the upcoming season. There may be no games on Saturdays but workouts are still long and arduous. Class loads are often frontloaded in the winter and spring so as to lighten academic loads during the football season. Unfortunately, the offseason is also a time when news of players getting into trouble with the law surfaces.

Most have already heard the news on the football team that came out this week, that starting safety Al Afalava was charged with DUI , criminal mischief and hit-and-run by Corvallis Police earlier this month. According to media reports, Afalava, back on Feb. 9, missed a turn and crashed his vehicle into a bus shelter at around 4:30 a.m. and then left the scene on foot.

The Beaver senior-to-be and third leading tackler on the team in '07 has a March 6 court date. What his status is within the football program has yet to be revealed.

Back in 2005 after a string of embarrassing incidents, Mike Riley instituted a zero tolerance policy with regard to alcohol and drug related offenses.

"It's basically a one strike and you are out situation," Riley said at the time.

But that stringent policy was in effect for the 2005 year. Nearly three seasons have passed since Riley implemented that policy, there have since been no known dismissals from the team since for drugs or alcohol, and the policy looks to have been further defined over time according to a newspaper report.

The Corvallis Gazette Times reported this week that because it was Afalava's first offense driving under the influence, he will be suspended for 10 percent of next year's season.

Taken literally, that would mean one game and one quarter. Others have opined Afalava would be suspended for 2-3 games. It would seem certain there will be an alcohol awareness class and his participation in spring ball is also up in the air.

Oregon State does not, in detail, generally comment about players' legal issues, other than to announce a suspension, and Riley is out of town on vacation. So much of what will be proffered in the coming days as to Afalava's status will be guesswork, albeit in some cases, educated guesswork.

But the bottom line is that until Riley or OSU speak on the matter, nothing about Afalava's status will be known. In that respect, the sooner official word is released, the better. Because when it comes to bad news, turning a 1-day story into a 10-day story (or more) is rarely the right choice.

THE HOOPS INCIDENT BETWEEN the Oregon State and Washington programs last week has taken on a life of it's own, and there's probably a reason behind it.

Last Friday, a heated discussion ensued between the two teams as the UW was winding up their day before practice in Corvallis. Sean Carter and others took exception to the Huskies' Venoy Overton, whom the Seattle Times reported was providing a "playful commentary". Soon after, Overton then made some sort of "gesture" at the OSU players and things heated up further.

The backstory is that last month, after the first meeting between the schools, Overton took some public shots at Carter, telling reporters post-game that Carter's own teammates had said "he's all talk."

The verbal scrum on Friday was broken up but Marcel Jones allegedly later left a voicemail for Huskies guard Joel Smith, telling the Huskies to come to the parking lot of the hotel. Tempers and testosterone, but seemingly much ado about little, although it should be pointed out that exactly what was said, and by all parties, has not been detailed.

But because the Beavers were crushed by the Huskies on the court the next day, (the final score was 97-59 and it wasn't that close,) many of the media reports since Saturday have focused almost exclusively on the Oregon State players' roles in the incident while either discounting, or failing to mention entirely, anything on the Huskies' side. Indeed, it was really only after OSU got rocked on the court that OSU was cast as the villain in some of the media reports.

What a Seattle PI reporter wrote this week, that "...dumb and dumber best describes Oregon State's recent actions," serves as one example. Absent in the same article is any mention that Overton publicly ripped Carter to reporters, or that he instigated the trash talking this past Friday with the "playful commentary" ot that he made some type of gesture that escalated the matter.

Not that Carter's or any other OSU player's actions should be discounted -- interim coach Kevin Mouton said this week some kind of disciplinary action will be levied on Carter.

But it does make one wonder how the media story lines might be playing themselves out today if Oregon State had beaten Washington on Saturday. It's not that far fetched despite the trouncing on Saturday -- OSU nearly upset the heavily favored Huskies in their house back on Jan. 19. The Beavs led that game with about three minutes to go.

The Beavers, in danger of becoming the first Pac-10 team to go 0-18 since the league went to 10 teams in 1978, have five games remaining in the regular season to get a W, and all of them look tough -- UCLA, USC, Oregon, Arizona, ASU. It's not inconceivable OSU could meet Washington again in the Pac-10 tourney. Last year's seedings saw No. 7 Washington open with No. 10 Arizona State. UW currently sits at ninth in the conference but one game separates Nos. 7-9.

OSU plays UCLA Thursday night. The Bruins sit atop the Pac-10 standings and are ranked No. 6 in the nation.

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