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Veracity lacking in explanation by coaches

by Hiroshi Ikezawa

It’s an ongoing saga of conflicting narratives.

In Wednesday night’s news conference, Masato Uchida, the former Nihon University head coach, and his assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue made it apparent that their opinions of the football scandal they are embroiled in are far different than Taisuke Miyagawa’s.

On Tuesday, Miyagawa, the Nihon University defensive end who made the controversial tackle against a Kwansei Gakuin University quarterback, gave a confession that clashes with what the coaches said a day later.

However, Miyagawa has received greater belief from people than his coaches partly because his attitude was sincere and his explanations clear on the details.

On the other hand, Uchida and Inoue firmly denied that they ordered Miyagawa to crush the opposing players, but failed to convince many that they were telling the truth.

Also, many questions remain unanswered by the coaches, questions that could prove their viewpoint is right.

First of all, why did the Phoenix allow Miyagawa stay on the field after his initial cheap shot injured the quarterback on the very first play from scrimmage in the May 6 game?

Miyagawa received a 15-yard penalty for the play. In football, a 15-yard penalty is the biggest sanction assessed to a team without a player being ejected. If a player commits this type of penalty, a coach would usually bring him back to the sideline for at least one play to cool down.

“I did not watch the play because I chased the ball,” Uchida explained. “It was after the game and (when) I watched the video I noticed that was a significant foul.”

It might be true that he failed to watch the play. But with the penalty handing his team a 15-yard retreat, he should have asked his coaches what was happening on the field.

“I wanted to let Miyagawa stay and play in the game,” Inoue said. “I made the wrong decision.”

Yes he did, because Miyagawa’s play was against Nihon University’s policy, which insists on playing hard within the rules.

Inoue admitted he told Miyagawa to “crush” the QB, but denied ordering the player to hurt the opponent.

OK, if it’s true, why didn’t Inoue call Miyagawa back to the sideline and point out his misunderstanding?

Uchida and Inoue kept saying that they treated him very strictly before the game. They did not allow Miyagawa to participate in practice on at least two occasions before the game. They explained that they did this on purpose in order to test his fortitude.

“We wanted him to step up to be one of the leaders in the team. We wanted to bring his fighting spirit out,” Inoue said, implying this led to miscommunication between the coaches and Miyagawa. The coaches insisted that they used harsh words to encourage him and Miyagawa translated it as an order to hurt the QB.

They have approximately 100 players on the team. Why did they treat only Miyagawa that strictly? Or if they treat all the players fairly, why was only Miyagawa violent during the game? The Phoenix drew five penalties during the contest and three of them were committed by Miyagawa.

Uchida said he did not watch the video of the game until May 9, three days after it was played. In football, coaches usually watch game video immediately after the contest or the next day to analyze it. It’s unusual for a head coach to wait three days to watch game video.

Well, it is possible that Uchida leaves that role to his assistant coaches. That’s fine. But during the news conference, he said his assistant coaches informed him that Miyagawa’s play was on many SNS sites and he had drawn a lot of criticism.

Why didn’t Uchida look at the play right away?

Uchida also said he did not apologize to Kwansei Gakuin for the play immediately after the game because he was waiting for a phone call from Kwansei Gakuin. But isn’t it common sense that Nihon University should make the first contact because the Phoenix were responsible for their player injuring the Kwansei Gakuin QB?

Kwansei Gakuin is scheduled to hold a news conference on Saturday in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, after receiving a second response from Nihon University about the incident, which is supposed to include how the dirty play was made and how Nihon University will prevent that kind of play from happening again.

Is is unlikely, however, that Kwansei Gakuin University will be satisfied with the latest statement, because it is expected their second answer will not be much different from the first one, which denied the coaches ordered the injuring of the quarterback. Moreover, Kwansei Gakuin will also want their questions to be answered.

Yasutoshi Okuno, father of the quarterback, is reportedly planning a lawsuit against Miyagawa and the two aforementioned coaches. And on his Facebook account, Okuno said he will retire from his Osaka City Assembly position after his term and concentrate on resolving this issue.

The dirty tackle incident may be moving on to the next stage.