“Explainer: How ‘Insider’ Access Made San Francisco Chronicle and Berkeley J-School Miss Real Story Behind Death of Cal Football’s Ted Agu,” https://concussioninc.net/?p=10931
Complete headline links to our Ted Agu series: https://concussioninc.net/?p=10877
Installments to date in THE TED AGU PAPERS:
by Irvin Muchnick
There is early fallout from our initial find from “The Ted Agu Papers.” The first deposition we quoted was from a Cal football player who gave details on the clinically sick “educational” ways of strength and conditioning coach Damon Harrington — and, specifically, on Harrington’s role, three months before Agu’s death in a “punishment drill,” in inciting player J.D. Hinnant to sucker-punch and send to the hospital teammate Fabiano Hale.
A faculty critic of Berkeley’s out-of-control football program has given us more information on the aftermath of the Hinnant-Hale incident. Potentially, the information implicates not just Harrington but also head coach Sonny Dykes.
The source of the new information is Brian Barsky, a professor of computer science and vision science, who is perhaps best known for his curdling analysis of Cal’s white elephant centimillion-dollar facelift of Memorial Stadium (which, by the way, just so happens to straddle the Hayward earthquake fault).
In passing, Concussion Inc. has referred to the irresponsibility of this project and its catastrophic calculus in the current and historically large campus budget deficit. Barsky makes a compelling case that this scandal is a good bit worse than that — something more like the biggest public works boondoggle in the history of college athletics. It is crippling the flagship of the world’s most renowned public university to the tune of a billion dollars or more when you factor in revenue shortfalls flowing from earlier blue-sky projections, plus decades upon decades of debt service. More below on Barsky’s stadium critique.
Here’s what Barsky told me about Hinnant:
“The attacker (J. D. Hinnant) and victim (Fabiano Hale) were freshmen back in the Fall of 2013 when the attack too k place. Both were ‘redshirted’ meaning that they cannot play in games, but are permitted to dress for play. This workout session was held early Friday morning Nov. 1, 2013 and it was exclusively for the members of the team who would not be playing in the game on the following day (Saturday Nov. 2, 2013) against the University of Arizona Wildcats. Hale spent the game in his Alta Bates hospital room, still hospitalized from the injuries that he suffered at the hand of Hinnant. However, one of the members of the Cal Bears football team at the time told me that he recalls that Hinnant, who was normally not suited up for the games, was this time dressed for play at the Saturday game even though he would definitely not be playing in it, probably as a reward for having performed what Coach Harrington had suggested.”
It should be noted that we don’t yet know whether head coach Dykes made the call to dress redshirt Hinnant for the November 2 Arizona game. Presumably, the decision could have been made by the position coach. And whoever made it, strength coach Harrington’s input may or may not have been part of it. There are lots of superfluous wannabes in shoulder pads on the sidelines at college games.
By the same token, suiting up is an honor that is carefully parceled out to marginal or undeveloped talent, and the timing here is more than a little suspicious. So the question as to whether Dykes and his staff actually rewarded Hinnant for his beatdown of Hale is legit and urgent.
After the Arizona game, the revolting Dykes, who is as oily as most coaches, was asked about Hinnant and made a generic comment about how young people make mistakes. [As this article was being published, technology problems kept us from pulling up Dykes’ exact media quote at the time. It will be inserted later.]
Two months later, after the Alameda County district attorney’s office announced “deferral” of criminal charges against Hinnant, I spoke in depth with assistant district attorney Paul Hora about what he would call my speculation of a scenario out of the movie A Few Good Men, in which adult authority figures incite violence between peers in their charge. Hora told me, “I had no evidence of a ‘code red’ here. That would be a very difficult thing to prove.”
In the wake of Concussion Inc.’s publication of deposition excerpts in which a former Cal player testified that he was moved, a month after Agu’s death, to give a statement to the Alameda County sheriff about strength coach Harrington’s incitement of assailant Hinnant, I suggested to Hora, in an email exchange today, that proving a “code red” has just become a little less difficult.
Hora wrote back that he had no knowledge of a “victim” complaint of this nature, and asked me for the sheriff’s office report number. I told Hora that a public information request had been submitted for a copy of the report, and noted that the ex-player’s statement was third-party information, not a direct victim’s complaint. I added that Concussion Inc. would consider California Public Records Act litigation if the document were withheld, because of my belief that the public narrative of the incident is much too crabbed — failing to give a complete picture of the actions of the presumed “adults in the room.”
Of course, ours is the only news outlet that has reported meaningfully on this episode, or even named Hinnant. The San Francisco Chronicle, in a hyped front-page investigation of Cal’s liability in Agu’s death, airbrushed out the leaked deposition testimony on the precursor incident, which exposes how the maniacal Dykes and Harrington are the tail wagging the dog of higher education in the nation’s most populous state. Clearly, this is a dynamic enabled by the self-censoring major media.
As I said, I hope to get more later into Professor Barsky’s number-crunching on the football stadium fiscal insanity. For now, readers are directed to the Wall Street Journal’s April 18, 2012, article headlined “Cal’s Football-Stadium Gamble.“
A gamble, I’d add, that is now in such acute distress that not even a criminally negligent death in King Football seems capable of bringing the University of California back to its senses and core values.