Pot column Q&A

We’ll start with some questions posed directly to me in the Story Chat discussion of this morning’s column. I thought these were legitimate questions that deserve as full an answer as I can provide.

Now we are making progress here Eric. You are stating that Petrino ignored positive drug tests. You even go so far as to call him “Cheech”. Write an indepth article on exactly what UofL’s drug testing consists of and what were the results of the testing under Petrino and Kragthorpe. Again, no names, but numbers. If what you are saying is true then Kragthorpe has suffered a lot of criticism when he shouldn’t have. If you can’t substantiate the “Cheech” label then you have dissed Petrino publicly without proof. Then it looks like more of Jurich’s spin whispered in a gullible reporter’s compliant ear. Get to work proving your statements or I’ll suspect the Jurich theory. Why don’t you even call Petrino and ask him. Ask Jeff Brohm. Ask Greg Nord. Call Mike Summers. Lots of guys are accessible for you. You don’t have to attribute the quotes to the sources, but we do need the truth.

1. “You are stating that Petrino ignored positive drug tests.” Really? Here is the line from the column: There’s been an implication that former coach Bobby “Cheech” Petrino, while a disciplinary dynamo in many areas, might have been lax in this one.

Let’s break down the sentence:

“There’s been an implication . . . “ An implication is something that has been suggested or indicated without being directly stated. These drug irregularities under Petrino clearly have been implied. But by whom? By me? No. Not in this column. The implication has come from U of L, from Kragthorpe saying he encountered problems he did not expect, problems of a legal nature that he would not discuss. There’s also been the release of drug penalties (which I outline below) and other information that has served to imply that Petrino was less than strict on this particular offense.

“that former coach Bobby “Cheech” Petrino,” All right, this is just me having a bit of fun with satire and the picture of the coach that has been painted. Clearly, this is hyperbole (exaggeration). I’m in good company, here. It didn’t really find the mark with that New Yorker cover, either.

“while a disciplinary dynamo in many areas, might have been lax in this one.” Again, this outlines the situation as I see it being implied. The words “might have been” also still serve to give Petrino the benefit of the doubt on this, otherwise I would have used the definitive verb “was.”

Clearly, as the writer of this column, I did not state that Petrino was ignoring positive drug tests. I did state that there’s an implication (from U of L) that he might have been lax in drug enforcement (ignoring drug tests certainly would fall under that, but it’s their implication).

2. Write an in depth article on exactly what UofL’s drug testing consists of and what were the results of the testing under Petrino and Kragthorpe. Again, no names, but numbers. If what you are saying is true then Kragthorpe has suffered a lot of criticism when he shouldn’t have.

A distinction must be made. I’m a columnist, and my job is to give my opinion. For me then to turn around and participate in an investigation would damage the credibility of the results of that investigation. Columnists can’t be investigative reporters. We can investigate for our columns, and form our opinions as a result. And we can help where we can, but once we’ve weighed in on a particular topic, and I’ve been weighing in on U of L football and coach Steve Kragthorpe since he got here, any results I came up with would be subject to claims of bias, whether or not there is any. All columnists report. And I have worked to base my opinions on facts and information from people on all sides of this. As for an investigative series on this topic, I’m not the right guy for it. I’ve done plenty of them. But my job has changed.

I will say that this newspaper and its reporters are constantly investigating all aspects of this program. This is a particularly tricky one, because these test results are shielded by Federal privacy laws. This newspaper has made formal requests for this information, but schools are under no obligation to provide it under open records law. This newspaper has made informal requests for the information. And I have personally made a request for the information, not only privately, but in print.

Today was a further instance of that, where I called not just on U of L but on all schools to make aggregate drug testing data available.

This public call for the information, in fact, serves as yet another attempt to do what you have asked — to get to the bottom of these implied allegations.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what you’re suggesting — breaking into buildings and rifling through medical files? That’s a far worse legal offense than smoking pot!

It’s an awfully touchy situation, because everyone is bound by confidentiality, or fear that if they speak out it would jeopardize their jobs. I have heard from someone connected to the facility that treats U of L athletes with problems (and the school provides great support for athletes who need help) that the last football coach to show this much concern for whether his players “played clean” was Ron Cooper. Don’t know how well that bodes for Kragthorpe. The person also praised U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino for rigorous testing and making sure his players were clean.

I do think, based on information I have gathered in forming my opinions, that fans would be more sympathetic to Kragthorpe in this one area, drug enforcement, if they had a better view of what was going on, and I think there is a shared failure here, but one that rests mainly on U of L for not figuring out a way to disseminate this information.

I also think knowing more about how he has handled the drug situation would not help Kragthorpe a bit on questions of why they kept throwing wide receiver screens to Mario Urrutia, who was the top big-play receiver in football his first two seasons here, or other matters of coaching.

3. If you can’t substantiate the “Cheech” label then you have dissed Petrino publicly without proof. Then it looks like more of Jurich’s spin whispered in a gullible reporter’s compliant ear. Get to work proving your statements or I’ll suspect the Jurich theory.

Well, I went through the “Cheech” explanation above. Clearly, this was not an attempt to cast Petrino as a drug user. It was a play on the portrayal we are seeing of him. Is it a diss of Petrino? Well, I suppose so. But I’ve been dissing Petrino since way before it was popular.

4. Why don’t you even call Petrino and ask him. Ask Jeff Brohm. Ask Greg Nord. Call Mike Summers. Lots of guys are accessible for you. You don’t have to attribute the quotes to the sources, but we do need the truth.

Bobby didn’t return my calls when he was here. If there was anybody in Louisville he liked less than me, I’d like to meet them. He has not responded to C-J requests on these matters.

But The Courier-Journal, in fact, on Friday questioned Petrino at SEC media days about the implication of a lack of discipline on his watch. He responded the way I would have. The
re were three arrests of roster players in four years while Petrino was here. Whatever guys were doing, they weren’t doing it out in public or causing problems by doing it. And his teams on the field were the picture of discipline, for the most part.

In general, I’ve been pretty lenient to Petrino on all this legacy-rewriting. I had problems with the way he was doing things while he was here, but folks at U of L — certainly not the fans — had no interest in hearing about it at the time. Go back at look at the quotes from U of L during Petrino’s final months, and you see phrases like, “done everything that’s been asked of him, instilled great discipline, graduating his players, great recruiter.”

And he was a great coach. There’s no question about it. I can’t ask people to stop believing what they saw with their own eyes — that U of L became one of the most exciting programs in the nation under his watch. U of L can’t have it both ways.

However, in this one area, that of drug enforcement, I think we need to know more. Guys didn’t start smoking pot the day Kragthorpe arrived. And there are some indications that a few players balked at the tougher stance.

By the way, I said I would break this down

Kragthrope:
1st positive test = 1 game suspension, counseling, mandatory testing for one year
2nd positive test = 4 game suspension, treatment
3rd positive test = dismissal

Petrino:
1st positive test = drug counseling
2nd positive test = 1 game suspension
3rd positive test = 4 game suspension

The problem with all of the names you’ve mentioned, some of whom are people I’ve spoken to, is that nobody really can go on the record about this. And the problem with using unnamed sources is that it’s not allowed, unless the story rises to a very high level of importance, like political corruption, national security, etc. A few ballplayers getting stoned won’t get it. We need attribution.

But you’re right. I agree with you on this. You do need the truth.

A personal note

I must admit, when I was in charge of a large group of college men, my own policies looked more like what Petrino is said to have employed than what Kragthorpe now has instituted.

As a resident assistant, I had 60 guys living on a dormitory floor. I knew some of them were drinking underage. But I looked at it this way — as long as they weren’t disturbing the peace, I’d rather have them drinking in their rooms in a controlled setting than out somewhere in Old Louisville where they’d be staggering back up 3rd Street to the dorm or, worse yet, in a car drunk.

Was this the best policy in the long-term for these young guys? Probably not. They might’ve been better served by getting into trouble, being forced into the campus alcohol program, and getting on a right course for the future. But faced with a universal truth — college kids drink — I did what I thought was the safest, most reasonable thing.

When the university went to zero-tolerance in the dorms, I do think more of these kids got in trouble with the law, because they were out drinking and getting into trouble, instead of doing it in their rooms. Maybe this is what we’re seeing with U of L football. I’d have to see more hard evidence before we can say that.

I understand that there are many approaches to this, and if I print the implication that Petrino was lax, it doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t have good reasons, if in fact he was.

Regardless, this is a subject that people have been talking around for too long. It needs to be talked about, directly. My hope is that this column would push it in that direction.

Addendum

The preceding is a case of someone having legitimate questions, or even differences, with something I wrote and bringing it forward in a compelling manner. The following is the kind of thing that leaves me scratching my head.

So with plenty of evidence to suggest that Krags is unable to successfully coach the same players whom behaved and performed under Petrino, Crawford instead focuses on unsubstantiated speculation about Petrino’s drug policy to label him “Cheech.” So when there is flimsy evidence to criticize Petrino, Crawford does so without hesitation. But when there are plenty of nits to pick with Krags (including the comments from A. Allen’s dad criticizing the “off-field issues” smokescreen from TJ/Krags, comments that Crawford incredibly did not offer an opinion on) he chooses to regurgitate the TJ/Krags spin. Hmmmm . . . could this be because Petrino is gone, while TJ and Krags are still here and Crawford knows he must face them? So much for courage.

Here’s a poster so courageous we’re not even given his real name. He’s giving me grief over not expounding over Amos Allen’s comments, when he never would have read Amos Allen’s comments had I not printed them. I simply don’t have time to go through every comment I’ve made critical of Kragthorpe’s coaching or handling of things.

I’ve criticized Kragthorpe on play-calling, personnel, lack of discipline from players on the field, lack of candor with media and fans. In fact, I’m not sure anyone in town has raised such pointed criticisms. (A partial list is here, see excerpts at end of entry.) I’d encourage this courageous poster to ask Jurich or Kragthorpe whether they think I’ve weighed in as they’ve wanted. This is, in fact, a strange fan base. It seems that the main beef I get from Card fans these days is that I’m not criticizing their coach enough. Nice.

I also was critical of Petrino when he was here, gave him props when he left, which I felt he deserved, and have defended his legacy at times here against the re-writing that seems to be going on. But in this area, it’s not re-writing that is going on, but legitimate discovery.

Regardless, it has not been my policy to respond to story chat, and it won’t be very often in the future. The way I see it, I have the column to have my say. The chat is the chance of readers to have their say. Whether they remember anything I’ve written or not.

Above all, thanks to all for reading, and for posting!

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6 thoughts on “Pot column Q&A

  1. “He’s giving me grief over not expounding over Amos Allen’s comments, when he never would have read Amos Allen’s comments had I not printed them.”huh? you want credit for printing his comments with no context or opinion or other reporting from you? correct me if i am wrong, but aren’t you paid to provide compelling commentary? it doesn’t get more compelling than the father of probably the best player to leave the program laying waste to the TJ/Krags “off-field issues” spin, which happens to be topic No. 1 among the U of L fanbase at the moment. and yet you offer no comment on this but go out of your way to label Petrino “Cheech” because he didn’t suspend players for one failed pot test (and how illuminating is it that apparently there weren’t many second failed tests, while Kraps can’t seem to get his charges to follow his rules).please mr. crawford, tell us, once and for all, do you agree or do you not with amos allen’s contention that lack of leadership in the program, not so-called “bad kids,” are at the root of the many problems with U of L? another commenter asked you this same question some time ago and you ignored it. stop beating your chest about your tepid criticism of Kraghtorpe in areas that any of us with eyes can see and tell us, in your informed opinion, if Amos Allen is right about the kind of things that you have insight into as a reporter following the team. if you really want to be at the forefront of criticism on Krags, as you claim, then you must give us your informed opinion on what is the No. 1 question among the U of L fanbase.and please tell us what *YOU* think, don’t pass the sentiments off with the “some fans are wondering” hedge like you did the other day in the “Jurich supports Krags (duh!)” column. you mock the U of L fanbase while at the same time using it to raise questions that you won’t. well, i take that back, you raised the question with amos allen, you just didn’t answer it.here is your chance!

  2. I thought Amos Allen made a good point. If I hadn’t, would I have asked the question, or put it in my column? I’m glad you thought it was compelling.The thing is this. In a program as closed off as this one was last season, that statement meant more from someone who had some first-hand access. I know some of the kids who were let go a little bit. But not to the extent that some of these parents knew them. What Allen said had been expressed by others, but not for the record.I felt that some — by no means all — of the guys no longer with the program were being done a disservice by this “house-cleaning” language that was being thrown around.So I included that statement.Now, to your question of Allen’s claim on “leadership.”Is it leadership to set a rule and enforce it strictly? I think it is. Is it leadership to take a strict stance on substance abuse? I think it is.So while I agree with Allen that not all of these guys to go to the wayside were “bad kids,” (and just to be clear, Anthony Allen was never accused of using any kind of drug), I can’t agree that there was a lack of leadership. Lack of patience? Maybe. Certainly a different kind of leadership. But not a lack of it.There’s no question in my mind that Kragthorpe is providing leadership for this program. There is a question as to where he’s leading it. But isn’t that something we’ll know soon enough?There are a couple more things.First, I have no desire to be at the “forefront” of a reactionary throng. If you want mindless pontification, tune in to “Around the Horn” or something. It was not my intent to “beat my chest.” I was simply responding to someone who claimed I was not critical, and in fact was spouting some kind of company line. “Some fans are wondering . . . ” Is this not accurate? They are. That column was about Tom Jurich’s statement to the fans. It was about the athletic director, his coach, and his fans. It was an appropriate phrasing. And it was an appropriate column. The news wasn’t Jurich supporting Kragthorpe (duh, indeed). The news was his pointed statement to the fan base that they would have to “make up their own minds,” and the forceful indication that, no matter what the results this season, Kragthorpe will remain the coach.At any rate, to weigh in with a straight up or down on this coach, right now, would be like calling the election at the halfway point.Having said that, I agree that the early returns aren’t good.Here’s where I saw the U of L program last season: In rebellion. Whether that was because of a new style that players butted heads with or because of a new staff that didn’t get the control it should have had, we should know pretty soon.To say that there were elements of both is probably the most accurate, but I’m sure you’d agree, doesn’t make for the most “compelling” newspaper copy. Accuracy is kind of inconvenient like that.And while on many issues I’m happy to take an educated guess, I don’t want guesswork to enter into it with something as important as this program on the line. If this year’s U of L team appears more organized and disciplined than last season’s, then we can probably chalk up some last season’s problems to a clash of styles. If it is more of the same this year, I think the time will have come to consider the leadership of the team.But to make a rash pronouncement now would serve only one group of people — the angry fans who have already made up their minds. That’s their right, but I’m not a part of that group.Finally, while these “off-the-field” issues are all the rage of discussion — largely because Kragthorpe put them there — I still can’t help but see them as a distraction from the main point. We have to take them up. But I’ve tried to say that, in the end, it’s on-the-field issues that will settle the discussion.That’s why my criticism has focused, perhaps, more on those. I don’t think pot had anything to do with blowing that coverage at UK, or the losses to Syracuse or Utah.

  3. I do have a question about Kragthorpe’s drug policy. If one positive test gets you a one game suspension, how many players were suspended for one game last year? I do not remember any announced one game suspensions.

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