Things have changed since the day Chang visited la la land
There was a time when June Jones didn't believe in the seriousness of a concussion -- just ask Timmy Chang.
It's hard to forget the helmet-to-helmet collision Chang had with San Jose State linebacker Josh Parry that not only knocked off Chang's helmet, but lacerated his ear. The picture the Star-Bulletin ran of Chang being helped off the field seven years ago by the UH training staff is eerily similar to the one that ran Sunday involving Colt Brennan.
But unlike Brennan, Chang faced the media after the game, dazed and confused yes, but aware enough to say the hit was clean. He changed his mind, however, on Monday after watching the tape, claiming Parry didn't have to drive him to the turf.
"I originally thought it was a clean hit, but after looking at it, I thought it wasn't real cool," Chang said.
"It's one thing to just hit somebody, but he didn't pull up. He came through and hit me so hard, my helmet flew off. Then he drove me to the turf. Look at my face. That ain't pretty. He could have held up, ease down, it's over. But he continued to drive me into the ground."
Fresno State linebacker Marcus Riley's shot to Brennan last Saturday night was equally devastating to Brennan. But while it might have appeared to be an illegal hit on the first viewing, watching television replays clearly show the shoulder pad arrived an instant before the helmet on a bang-bang play.
Brutal yes. Illegal no.
Of course, that doesn't really matter to Brennan as he tries to shake off the cobwebs of Riley's shot to the kisser in time for this Friday's key WAC game at Nevada. Star-Bulletin reporter Brian McInnis waited around nearly 45 minutes after the game Saturday night before Riley finally emerged from the closed Fresno State locker room.
Riley wasn't quite as strong in his remarks about his play with Brennan as Parry was with Chang. Parry said later after flattening Chang, "That was a good play. I hope he's all right. But that's football." Riley was initially excited about his hit on Brennan, but was still concerned for the Hawaii quarterback's well-being.
"It's tough, because I started to celebrate, and when he was still down it kind of changed my whole attitude about the situation," Riley said. "I was kind of nervous. I kind of relaxed after I knew he was all right, when he got up, started moving around."
But where does that leave Brennan as Friday's nationally televised game with the Wolf Pack draws near? Jones fully expected Chang to get off the deck to play Fresno State the following Saturday, saying concussions were a part of the game and Chang should be able to play. He didn't. And when he did return two weeks later, Jones' comment was telling, "It took longer than we expected."
Seven years later, Jones took a much more wait-and-see approach to Brennan's status, conceding that what they did in the old days wasn't necessarily a good thing. As hard a shot as Chang took, he didn't lose consciousness as Brennan briefly did.
According to a concussion study on the neurosurgerytoday.org Web site, there is no such thing as a "minor concussion. In most cases a single concussion should not cause permanent damage. A second concussion soon after the first one, however, does not have to be very strong for its effects to be deadly or permanently disabling." It also states, "Many people assume that concussions involve a loss of consciousness, but that is not true. In most cases, a person with a concussion never loses consciousness."
That's enough right there to give you pause about putting Brennan back in the line of fire so soon. Granted, a possible BCS bid and outright WAC championship are on the line with all kinds of possibilities for the Warriors should they go 12-0. But Brennan's long-range health is the real issue. And sitting this one out might be best for all concerned.
Sports Editor Paul Arnett
has been covering sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1990. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org