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Don’t Bet On It: Big 12 Football Coaches Discussing Making Injury Lists Public

Alabama football

(Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Let’s assume for a moment sports fans occasionally wager on games. We’ve heard there is likely a good possibility that is the case.

And if you happen to fall within that group, if you believe there is as much excitement off the field as on it, you’d admit one of the keys to being a smart gambler is having as much inside information as possible about people, places and things that might impact a result.

For the lack of a better expression, let’s say that solid data can increase the odds of winning.

Well, we have some interesting news for you to ruminate about. Football coaches in the Big 12 are in Scottsdale, Ariz., this week discussing the possibility of implementing what’s being called a “standardized” conference-wide injury report.

You know what this means, right? Just like they are required to do each week in the NFL, the coaches will be asked to submit a list of their injured players and classify them as likely to play, doubtful or out.

So, if you want to know if Jalen Hurts is hurt before Oklahoma plays Texas next season, the Big 12 may be willing to give you want you need and leave the rest of it up to your imagination and courage.

“Whatever weaknesses or vulnerabilities that we have as a team, I can’t possibly fathom why I would have any interest in revealing that to my opponent,” Washington State coach Mike Leach told USA Today.

And that’s the problem with this concept. What’s clear is the Big 12 doesn’t want to be out on their own island. If it is going to consider this, it will need some assurance that all the other major conferences will come along for the ride. That seems only fair.

Texas football

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

Listen, those who run college sports have a lot of problems on their hands dealing with the disreputable in their midst. They understand people bet on their games and every day it seems another state is making it easier by legalizing sports betting.

The idea of releasing injury reports would be an effort to provide transparency to the entire process. The last thing anyone wants is for some school to be accused of aiding and abetting  gamblers by withholding or selectively disseminating information. As of now, sharing injury information pretty much is left up to the schools and their coaches.

Texas coach Tom Herman says the conference just wants to be ready to move if the momentum builds nationally to release injury reports.

“I just want it to be unified,” Herman said. “I think everybody would have to be on the same page.”

“I want to give the media and the fans the best information, but I want to make sure I’m doing it the right way,” Baylor coach Matt Rhule added. “I think it’s a grander college football, conference commissioners issue. I think as coaches we’re always wired to not give away stuff. But I think it has to be a bigger conversation.”

There seems to be a growing consensus that something should be done to formalize a system by which coaches can make this information public. As it is, NFL coaches will say a player has a leg, hand, wrist or head injury without getting more specific. In the NHL, injury reports are often vaguer, limited to “upper” or “lower” body terminology.

To be clear, this conversation is in its infancy. There is little to no chance anything will be decided on that could be implemented for the 2019 season. There are bigger issues to consider, like how not to violate federal student privacy laws. But Big 12 officials are asking the question and want to know what their coaches think about it.

“As coaches we’re probably always wired to not give away game plan stuff,” Rhule said. “We try to do the right thing for our kids. It has to be a bigger conversation.”