Mark Helfrich made more than a few eyebrows crinkle at Pac-12 Media Days, claiming that Oregon was the only team drug-tested before the College Football Playoff.
According to the Ducks’ head football coach, Oregon was randomly tested, but Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State were not.
Where is Helfrich getting his seemingly wrong information?
“There were a handful of us kind of listening to him, talking to him, and the subject was brought up about Darren Carrington,” Oregonian Ducks beat writer Andrew Greif said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “And he said that he was told that not all the teams were drug-tested before the College Football Playoff, the four teams. And then I came back later and kind of clarified, and he mentioned that he had been told Oregon was the only team. I saw that Bruce Feldman at FOX Sports, who is usually dead on with his reports, quoted a source saying that all four teams were indeed tested, which would suggest that possibly Helfrich got some bad information. We don’t really know, but it was definitely eye-opening when he said it. I think all of us around the table thought, ‘That seems very strange that they would (do) random drug testing (for only one team).’”
Carrington, as you may recall, failed a drug test and was suspended for the national championship game, which Oregon lost to Ohio State, 42-20. The other three playoff teams, to be sure, administer drug testing. In fact, four Buckeyes, including Joey Bosa, were suspended for their 2015 opener against Virginia Tech, with marijuana the likely culprit.
So, given the reports that all four teams were tested before the playoff, how could Helfrich be so misinformed?
“Well, the difference between (Oregon and) Ohio State is that was a school-run drug test,” Greif said. “The school makes up its own consequences for guys who fail those tests. Sometimes they get leniency. Maybe (they get punished) only after the second or third (offense). Not necessarily that that’s the case with Ohio State, but sometimes schools let a player get one, two, three chances before they really punish him. What Carrington fell under was an NCAA drug test and so that one falls under an NCAA suspension penalty structure, so that’s going to keep him out potentially half the season.
“I think that was the larger context,” Greif continued. “Regardless of (whether) Helfrich was misinformed or not, I think his larger point was he wanted to start a discussion about drug testing. He was saying why are school-run drug tests so much more lenient or potentially more lenient than the NCAA? Why aren’t they the same? I think people can definitely follow that one. When it comes to what kind of information he got, I don’t know either. But he’s a very smart guy. He’s exceptionally smart. He was going to be a surgeon if he didn’t go into coaching. He picks his words carefully. I trusted that he wouldn’t have said that unless he had some kind of knowledge behind it. Maybe he didn’t, but I think the larger point was he just kind of wants to start some sort of discussion about drug-testing equities.”