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Riley Shakes Up Training Staff

Oregon St. football head coach Mike Riley has shaken up the situation with the training staff. Former head athletic trainer Barney Graff, who came to Oregon St. when Riley arrived for his first stint, who was also the head trainer for football, had the adjective "former" added to both positions, after being demoted and reassigned within the department.

Increasing questions and concerns about both the diagnosis and treatment of injuries, particularly it seems joint and soft tissue injuries, have mounted in recent years. Tight end Joe Halahuni's left shoulder surgery on May 4, for an injury that occurred during the 2010 season, which only happened after Riley and Halahuni sought outside medical advice from the San Diego Chargers' team doctor, may have been the last straw.

Paul Buker has a story in today's Oregonian that details the situation, one that is certain to have additional chapters going forward.

Other recent concerns include the length of time involved between the initial injury, and ultimate definitive treatment of several football injuries, including QB Ryan Katz's wrist (injured in the Civil War game), WR Jordan Bishop's January ankle injury that is still hampering him, DT Castro Masaniai's shoulder injury in last October's UCLA game that is still an issue, and the slow pace of rehab by WR/KR James Rodgers for his knee injuries.

There have been several cases of players' careers ending early due to persistent injury issues, ones they seemingly can't recover from, as well.

And there were the curious cases of players, Rodgers included, who were cleared to play, yet were still deemed unavailable.

Other programs, notably the gymnastics team, also have had issues with the OSU training staff.

None of this minimizes the severity of the injuries, or the need for caution in treatment. However, both the re-occurring need for outside consultation, which has often led to a different treatment plan, and the delays in getting the involvement of adequate medical attention, is a considerable concern.

It would appear that Oregon St. may have inadvertently allowed itself to slip too far from the state of the industry in athletic training and injury treatment, an odd development at a place where one would expect to see leadership.

And another situation where Riley is taking steps to turn things around. While the details are very different than the issues involving recent coaching staff changes and recruiting, the circumstances really aren't. Success in recent years has made it easy to assume everything was going well. But eventually, those little details begin to catch up, and results have declined. Time will tell if a turnaround is coming.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com