As quickly as the controversy began regarding Oregon TE Colt Lyerla over the weekend, it ended in equal fashion on Tuesday.
Lyerla addressed the media after Tuesday’s workout and told reporters he spoke with Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich over the weekend and that everything is fine.
The controversy began after Saturday’s 59-14 win over Tennessee when members of the media asked Helfrich why Lyerla didn’t play against the Volunteers.
Helfrich responded simply by saying ‘circumstances’.
When asked to elaborate, Helfrich remained firm in his answer and wouldn’t discuss it further.
After hearing the explanation by his head coach, Lyerla felt the short response was unfair to him and would lead reporters to speculate about his absence,…which they did.
On Tuesday, Lyerla had the opportunity to explain hoping to put the controversy behind him, and his second ranked Ducks.
“I was kind of misinterpreted on what I wanted to say” explained Lyerla.
“I was upset with the fact that people took the word circumstances and kinda blew it up into something negative that it really wasn’t. The main part that I wanted to say was that I was sick,..there was no gray area. I wasn’t frustrated with my coach and the last thing I wanted was to be a distraction from our success that we’re having right now. I just want everyone to know I’m here 100% committed and I’m going to be here for the whole season and do whatever I can to help this team win.”
Lyerla said because of the word that was used and the ‘drama’ that occurred afterwards, he simply wanted to clear up the situation by discussing it with a reporter from the Oregonian – an interview Lyerla said he didn’t solicit.
In that Saturday evening interview, Lyerla stated he felt his coach ‘threw him under the bus’ by not elaborating more on his personal situation which ultimately sparked a national conversation.
Reporters later learned Lyerla was indeed sick and wasn’t in uniform because he missed practice sessions last week due to his illness.
Lyerla said he wanted to speak on Tuesday to put the controversy to rest.
“It was a personal code,…I shouldn’t have spoke out” said Lyerla.
“I apologize for that,… it’s a bye week,..we have a lot to learn and work for,…and we have Cal coming up.”
“We did have a chance to talk” said Helfrich in his post practice meeting with reporters.
“Just an inappropriate forum for the entire situation. In hindsight, he obviously regrets what went on and what was said and how it was said,…that’s part of the reason why we don’t talk directly to media members and media members don’t directly contact our guys….and after that it’s a non-issue.”
When asked about the specifics of his conversation with Lyerla, Helfrich would only say those specifics would remain private and a ‘team only’ discussion.
“We definitely talked about the right way to handle things,…and going forward hopefully absolutely he’ll learn from that” said Helfrich.
“There’s a lot of lessons from a lot of things and those will remain in the confines of our conversation,..handling things internally of that nature is certainly a big one…he’s part of the team….and there’s a way you handle things on a team and a way not to,… and we try to do things that contribute to being a positive member of a team.”
The first three minutes of Tuesday’s post practice press briefing revolved around the Lyerla controversy, but quickly moved to the Ducks actual practice.
Helfrich jokingly discussed allowing his team to call their own offensive and defensive plays,…and laughed about his officiating skills during situation drills.
“Got some good work in” said Helfrich.
“Just trying to stay in condition…and still get better,…get better for the quote un-quote top tier guys and develop our depth a lot.”
Oregon returns to practice Tuesday and Wednesday and will then take the weekend off.
Helfrich and his team will then return to practice next Monday to begin game preparations for the Cal Bears who the Ducks will face Saturday September 28th in Autzen Stadium at 7:30 pm.