The San Francisco Chronicle story about strength coach Damon Harrington has sparked a lot of controversy. Dozens of Cal football players have leapt to the defense of Harrington, and there have been multiple questions about whether the reporting was presented in a fair and balanced manner.
We’ll try and clear up some of the issues we saw with the reporting, but we do want to clear up one thing about head coach Sonny Dykes that was addressed in the story regarding the Noose Group. The term Noose paints Dykes as at best, an insensitive person. Dykes did not offer response on the story without context and response from the opposite side.
However that term has long been ingrained in football. Barking Carnival wrote about the Noose drill being an integral part of the game for quite some time.
This episode was a disappointing inclusion by the Chronicle, irresponsible and lazy at best, an example of journalistic sophistry, at worst. The writers withheld important context to paint the Cal coaches as insensitive, if not abusively racist.
The Noose is the well-established name of an offensive drill that might also be used to describe the position grouping necessary to run it. So the “Noose Group” would be a center, QB and pass catchers. It has been a part of spread football parlance for years and "noose" describes how the receivers holds their hands when they catch the football. None of this is explained in the Chronicle piece.
Additionally, Dykes did appear to get rid of the name when Cal athlete Gabe King complained about the term. However, the Chronicle did not follow up and actually try and investigate the term’s origins in football drills.