Nevada football coach Brian Polian on social media at Mountain West media days
It is a subject that comes up too often on college campuses, and one put firmly in the spotlight in relation to athletic teams. Though not always easy to talk about, Nevada coach Brian Polian said it is broached “every day” in his program.
Sexual assault and violence against women have been in the headlines from Baylor to Mississippi State to Boise State, and it is becoming a larger part of athlete orientations every summer.
“It’s really big,” San Jose State tight end Billy Freeman said. “We’ve had a couple people come in and speak to us. It’s very serious. The respect aspect is definitely preached.
“We’re representing a university, so we’re held to a higher standard, which we need to accept.”
At Boise State, the issue has been put into focus in the last year.
The university settled a Title IX lawsuit in December in which two former track and field athletes sued in a rape and harassment case. Tight end David Lucero was kicked off the football team in January after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault for initially being charged with felony attempted strangulation against a woman. In May, three football players were expelled from the university or suspended from the team for their role in a sexual assault investigation. They are no longer on the team.
“I think we’ve done a good job of this and will continue with the education that we give our players when it comes to Title IX and treating people with respect and when it comes to respecting women,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.
“Not only what we talk about, but we have what we call ‘Rookie 101’ when every player shows up. These are topics that we cover with these guys. We have outside people come in and talk to these guys about it. These are topics that are brought up.”
Harsin said he is pleased with the process Boise State as a university has in place.
“You want to do everything you can and you think you are doing that, and then it still doesn’t work,’’ he said. “Like you do with anything else, you try to go back and say, ‘What could we have done a better job of?’ But at the same time, you also know that these guys need to pay attention to what’s going on.”
NEW DUTIES FOR HARSIN THIS YEAR
Harsin is taking over play-calling duties. He said he will receive feedback from co-offensive coordinators Zak Hill and Scott Huff, adding there will be times when those two will make a call.
Harsin said Hill has prompted different ways of thinking, calling him a “what-if guy.”
“You have to work at it,” Harsin said. “The way Mike (Sanford) did it, the way Eli (Drinkwitz) did it, it’s still different than the way I do it. You have to kind of let guys do that. My game plan’s a little different, maybe the way it’s structured and organized, just how I call plays. There are things you’re comfortable with and you know have worked successfully for you in certain situations.”
Harsin said he will practice calls during fall camp and make sure he knows how quarterback Brett Rypien feels about each play. At Arkansas State, Harsin tried to call plays. He said it was his “freshman year as a coach.”
“The stuff outside of the football part, I didn’t have a great handle on it, I tried to do too much, I think, trying to manage everything,” Harsin said. “Now you’re able to delegate, you have people, you trust them to do those jobs.”
ROLOVICH: ALOHA TWITTER
Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich spoke about his affinity for Twitter, and especially, the @Fake CoachHarsin account.
Their back and forth began this year when offensive coordinator Zak Hill left Hawaii after less than two months for a position at Boise State. It continued into Wednesday, when Rolovich tweeted at the account with a photo of himself in a storage room saying, “New guy prank. ‘Hey Rolo, they’re waiting to do an interview with you in that room.’ Smells like @FakeCoachHarsin 2 me.”
“Fake Coach Harsin, and how passionate he is, is a byproduct of the community coming together around a football program,” Rolovich said. “It’s a good benchmark, at least for our program, to strive for.”
He also has taken to Twitter to organize a Pokemon Go hunt at Aloha Stadium and said players would provide security for kids wanting to find them using the mobile phone game on campus.
Rolovich tweeted photos of Pokemon at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas near Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and a reporter. It’s quite a departure from Norm Chow, the 70-year-old previous coach, to Rolovich, who is 37.
“It’s kind of what we need right now,” Hawaii QB Ikaika Woolsey said.
PUTTING THE BLOCK BUTTON TO USE
Nevada coach Brian Polian spoke last year at media days about dealing with tweeting fans, including many from Boise State. He talked about it again Wednesday, saying he initially didn’t know how to block people.
“I blocked all three of those guys,” he said. “A lot of it was fun, but some of it was stupid and made me angry. Once I discovered that, the four morons that were driving me nuts have now gone away.”
The great irony? One of those people he blocked ... @FakeCoachHarsin.
QB QUANDARY FOR FRESNO STATE
What’s the old adage: If you have four quarterbacks, you have none?
It was something like that last season for Fresno State, where four quarterbacks made a start. They combined for 20 TDs, 16 interceptions and 178.3 yards per game. Two suffered season-ending injuries and one was arrested, then suspended.
Chason Virgil, who played in three games as a true freshman before breaking his collarbone, earned a medical redshirt and is the presumptive starter this fall. Coach Tim DeRuyter said the Bulldogs will add Cal transfer Zach Kline for fall camp.
“I should’ve done a better job of managing that. ... Going through that, I think our kids are much stronger-willed now,” DeRuyter said.