The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

107° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Should Willie Tuitama play this week?

    PRO: An easy decision: Play Tuitama

    The simple fact is that Willie Tuitama is “”medically cleared”” to play Saturday at Washington State – that’s straight from the mouth of UA head coach Mike Stoops, by way of trained medical professionals known as doctors.

    It’s not up to the general public to decide when a quarterback is medically cleared to play. That decision falls on the minds of those doctors.

    Specialists were brought in to examine him. Until we know the specifics of Tuitama’s situation, we are in no position to make a decision on whether or not he should play.

    Stoops will confer with Tuitama’s parents on whether or not to let the signal caller on the field, but as Tuitama said last week, “”They just told me if I feel ready, if I’m 100 percent, to go for it.””

    Sure, Tuitama is more at risk to have another concussion than a person who’s never experienced head trauma, but according to a study released by the NCAA in 2003, 92 percent of repeat concussions occur within 10 days of the prior one and 75 percent occur within a week.

    Returning seven to 10 days after a concussion is too early. A month (assuming symptoms clear up, which, in Tuitama’s case, they have) isn’t.

    The fact remains that No. 7 has been cleared by trained medical professionals who know more about his specific situation than anyone else. If it ends up – for whatever reason – that they cleared the sophomore too early, that’s on them, but I’m inclined to take their word just because of the fact it’s their job to be right. They have professional experience to back up their professional opinions.

    And (obviously, I’m not wishing any ill will on “”Ill Will,”” but) if he did take another vicious hit, at least he’d be well-protected with his new helmet, which is specifically designed to protect against concussions.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with “”he should play because he gives the team the best chance to win”” – because if teams went by that notion, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Trent Green would have come back in Week 2.

    Look, Tuitama is cleared to play, so let him play. Period. Why are we talking about this again?

    Ryan Casey
    assistant sports editor

    CON: There’s no good reason for Tuitama to play in 2006

    A plentitude of reasons exist for why quarterback Willie Tuitama should not play against Washington State on Saturday – or, I would argue, the rest of the season:

    – The two concussions Tuitama amassed between Sept. 9 and Oct. 7. That number pales to the 10 or so Steve Young and Troy Aikman each suffered during a decade of Hall-of-Fame work in the NFL.

    But, then again, those guys were financially set for life the minute they signed their first professional contracts.

    Tuitama is only 19 years old. He’s more than a season away from being draft-eligible, but, more importantly, he has his whole life ahead of him.

    It’s just not worth sending him out to play again only two weeks since his last head-rattling, especially behind an offensive line that has proven too inexperienced to consistently protect him.

    – Arizona’s season, for all intents and purposes, is over. Yes, the Wildcats can win three of their last four games, starting this weekend against the 6-3 Cougars, and become eligible for a bowl game.

    Sure, Tuitama could lead an upset on Saturday and propel the team to its first postseason berth since 1998.

    But more likely to happen against three top-25 teams and in-state rival ASU is that Arizona’s offense, with or without Tuitama, will fail to score enough points to keep the team in games.

    Tuitama, remember, hasn’t been very good (136.3 passing yards per game, three touchdowns, five interceptions), even when in the lineup.

    – Tuitama has nothing (important) to play for the rest of the way. One could argue that if Tuitama has been cleared for contact, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t get back onto the field and try to win some games. Least of all for the seniors, right?

    Wide receiver Syndric Steptoe and defensive end Marcus Smith, to name but two veterans, have given the program so much time and effort yet have been rewarded with so many losses under three head coaches (including Mike Hankwitz, who succeeded fired John Mackovic for seven games in 2003).

    Even so, Tuitama has to consider himself first and foremost. Arizona will not have great quarterback depth next year, even if he’s completely healthy.

    Without him, the long-term prospects would certainly look bleak for both the Wildcats and their can’t-be No. 1 signal-caller.

    Tom Knauer
    senior sports writer

    More to Discover
    Activate Search