USATodaySports/Snook

Commentary: Spokesman-Review opts for superficial rather than substantive in its broadsides at WSU today

READING THE Spokesman-Review today left me with two over-arching thoughts. The first: If you’re going to blast WSU’s new president on your editorial page, at least spell his name right. It’s Schulz, not Shulz. Second, and more substantively, the S-R is using a misleading statistic as the foundation for its condemnation of the school.

A website called ArrestNation.com, as most Cougar fans probably now know after incessant media references to it, rated WSU No. 1 in the nation for the number of football players — 29 or 31 depending on which S-R article you were reading  Wednesday — arrested over the last five years.

The Spokesman-Review, in both an editorial and a column today, rely on the arrest number like a crutch on which to launch their indignation at the way Kirk Schulz, Bill Moos and Mike Leach have handled the legal run ins in recent months of four Cougar players.

What the S-R fails to do is provide context. Unlike the situation at Oregon right now, none of the incidents have anything to do with something as truly alarming as sexual assault.

What the S-R fails to do is ask why a head coach with a long record of running a tight disciplinary ship at both Washington State and Texas Tech is suddenly outraged with the way recent incidents have been handled by Pullman Police.

What the S-R fails to acknowledge is that there are extenuating circumstances in at least two of the recent four incidents that make them less than cut-and-dried cases.

Instead, the voice of the Inland Empire takes these recent cases, and the others from ArrestNation.com, and lumps them all together into one simple criminal conclusion.

As CF.C reported last week, here’s why such superficial treatment is misleading. Of the infamous 31 arrests ... 

  • Nearly 50 percent (14 of 31) were for throwing snow balls, spinning donuts in a parking lot, broken tail lights, and the like.
  • None of the 31 resulted in a felony conviction.

None of that important context is acknowledged by the S-R editorial page or by columnist Shawn Vestal.

Instead, they resort to tired old tropes about winning at any cost and athletics overshadowing academics. If Leach was hellbent on winning at any cost would he have booted Sekope Kaufusi, Anthony Laurenzi and C.J. Mizell -- all bona fide starters -- off his first Cougar team before the season began?

Like I said a week ago, given the tenor and tone of the police statements made publicly in most, if not all, of the 31 arrests, and how many times the word “felony” was uttered, it’s downright head-turning that not a single one of the 31 arrests resulted in a felony conviction. Not one.

Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting the Pullman Police is full of Barney Fifes looking to make a mark. Nor am I discounting the seriousness of some of these charges, particularly those in which hospital trips are involved. Nor am I suggesting Schulz, Moos and Leach are infallible.

I am suggesting that the Pullman Police Department, and Commander Chris Tennant in particular, love the media spotlight when it comes to WSU football and that — for years and years — have gone well out of the way to secure verbal convictions, instead of sticking to the basics until the legal course has been run.

The same knee-jerk reaction applies to the Spokesman-Review as well after today's editorial and column.

Context is everything, and neither the PPD or S-R appear to have ever heard the word.

NOTABLE NOTE:
The Spokesman-Review later corrected the spelling of Schulz in its editorial. The link above is the Google cache.


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