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Riley Still Waiting To Decide On Rodgers

James Rodgers practiced well again, and wants to play, but Oregon St. Coach Mike Riley remains uncomfortable. <em>(Photo by Andy Wooldridge)</em>
James Rodgers practiced well again, and wants to play, but Oregon St. Coach Mike Riley remains uncomfortable. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

James Rodgers went through another practice at full speed, diving after balls and everything, on Thursday, and looks ready for action right now, nevermind in another week, when UCLA will actually arrive for the Beavers' next game.

But Oregon St. head coach Mike Riley continued to put off a decision on Rodgers' return, and even floated a new possibility that could extend the soap opera into another season.

"Everything looks good to me and you, but I want to hear that from the doctor," Riley said after practice. "I don't feel comfortable with this thing. This has been such a long-term process we've gone through with two surgeries. I'll tell you Monday or Tuesday if he can play."

Riley said he plans to talk with Rodgers' doctor this weekend, and then find out what Rodgers and his family want before making the decision to play him, or apply to the NCAA for a hardship, and a sixth year, in which to complete his eligibility.

"If it is indeed he can not play, or shouldn't play, this year, then we should pursue that," Riley said. "It's an interesting case. It's different from what I've been in before."

Riley mentioned the possibility that with another year's rehab, Rodgers could play without the brace on his knee.

The question, of course, is why the bye week has come and largely gone without that conversation with the doctor having already happened.

It's hard to disagree with the assessment Jon Warren articulated on today's Joe Beaver show, that Riley simply can't bring himself to "pull the lever on Rodgers", and possibly wont. It does appear that it could be another of Riley's decisions made with his heart, not his eyes or his mind.

There only limited precedence for the idea of a 6th. year as a result of injury. Oregon St. was successful in pursuing such an extension for Sammy Stroughter, but a similar appeal was denied for Lyle Moevao. In any event, most of if not all of the season would pass before the NCAA would rule on the matter.

The Oregonian's John Canzano, never hesitant to jump to conclusions, has already written the season off, and endorsed the idea of applying for a sixth season, which would allow Rodgers to play when Canzano believes the Beavers actually have a chance to win.

Warren also reminded listeners of another factor, that similar to his brother Jacquizz, pro talent evaluators could well advise James that another year would likely not enhance his draft round potential, given his size.

Canzano did go on to suggest another intriguing idea, in light of this and the quarterback decisions, that Oregon St. season ticket holders be given a discount.

"If Riley is asking fans to wait to win, there should be a loyalty discount involved."

It's an idea that has merit, and could appeal to frustrated fans, if not the seniors in the student body that have already seen dubious decisions cost them one bowl game experience, and could be well on the way to back to back non-bowl years for the first time since Riley's first two years back in the late 90s, when said seniors were in grade school.

Unfortunately, there is a better chance that the Beavers will go 12-0 the rest of the season, winning the Pac-12 North, the Pac-12 Championship, and the Rose Bowl, than there is of the Oregon St. athletic department giving a discount or a refund for a squandered season.

At least the money will go to upgrades; word from the Valley Football Center was that Reser Stadium will get new turf before next season, and the Prothro practice field, which is currently grass, will also have turf installed, and lights as well, as a part of the project.

Three Day Weekend In Store For Players

Oregon St. will take Friday and the weekend off from further work, as the coaching staff hits the recruiting trail, and resume practice Monday morning.

Riley does expect to finally get final word on academics and eligibility for Dominic Glover on Monday (or Tuesday...; there's a pattern of endless delay in getting decisions forming here.)

Jordan Bishop, who practiced Tuesday, but took Wednesday off to rest the ankle he sprained against Wisconsin, the same foot he had surgery in January on, returned to practice Thursday, but still took it easy. A weekend's rest should be a good thing.

TE Joe Halahuni remains on track to play next weekend against UCLA as well.

"He's dropping too many balls," Riley said, "but he's working well otherwise."

RB Malcolm Agnew, who missed the Wisconsin game with the hamstring pull he suffered in practice last week, and RB Jovan Stevenson, who also sprained an ankle against the Badgers, both missed participating in the entire week of practice. Agnew told trainers he thought he was probably about 75% at this point.

It does mean that there will be questions to sort out about the running back position next week in practice, along with all the other issues the bye week was to help with.

Lance MItchell remained optimistic though, closing the week by noting "We had a good bye week. We all came in and worked hard this week. Guys who needed to get healthy, did. The next couple days off will help with treatment."

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com