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Thursday, January 15, 2015

One Word Explains Ducks National Championship Loss

By: Tommy Eden

It takes two words to explain why the Oregon Ducks lost the national championship game to Auburn in the 2010 Sugar bowl – Cam Newton. Things are simpler now. The one word which easily explains the loss by the Oregon Ducks to Ohio State is marijuana. 

Recall the sports headlines the week before the big College Football Playoff National Championship Game. “BREAKING: Oregon wide receiver Darren Carrington suspended for national title game.” Carrington, a redshirt freshman, had the best performance of his Oregon career during Oregon's 59-20 win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl playoff game when he caught seven passes for a season-high 165 yards and two touchdowns. The week before Carrington had seven catches for 126 yards during the Ducks 51-13 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 title game. Oregon was a two-touchdown favorite the day before Carrington was banned for a positive marijuana test. Later it was announced that Running back Ayele Forde became the second Oregon player to be left home following a failed drug test.

NCAA drug test were administered at the Rose Bowl where the Men of Oregon embarrassed Florida State. Oregon was trounced by Ohio State 42–20 and it was obvious to all who watched the game that Heisman winning quarterback Marcus Mariota was missing one of his key lethal weapons that helped the team average 49 points a game. 

Under NCAA rules a marijuana test is positive if there is more than 5 ng of THC in a blood test. For the NFL it is 15 ng and in MLB it is 50 ng. You think maybe the fact that the State of Oregon voted to go recreational marijuana in the November 2014 election emboldened certain players to get a head start on the July 1, 2015 opening sales day? Oregon’s legalization would have no effect on NCAA drug testing rules. 

Some say marijuana use doesn't hurt anyone. If you ask Marcus Mariota, and the rest of the Men of Oregon in the locker room after their humiliating defeat, they might have a different opinion.

Common Sense Counsel: so whether you are a college head football coach, or an employer who coaches a team at work, what is your survival plan as more states go to Pot? Try these 7 practical steps:

·      Understand the laws on Marijuana that are specific to states where employees report for duty;

·      Adopt a legally vetted pre-duty prescription medication and impairing effects substances safety policy that makes it all about safety;

·      Update employee job descriptions to cover critical safety sensitive issues;

·      Adopt an ADA complaint handbook policy on reasonable accommodations in those more difficult states that grant some level of employee status protections;

·      Let employees know your stance on Medical and Recreational Marijuana use;

·      Update your drug-free workplace policy and forms to stay in compliance and reduce the risk of claims and lawsuits; and

·      Stay tuned as this issue continues to create new employer challenges almost monthly.

Tommy Eden is a partner working out of the Constangy, Brooks & Smith, LLP offices in Opelika, AL and West Point, GA and a member of the ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law and serves on the Board of Directors for the East Alabama SHRM Chapter. He can be contacted at or 334-246-2901. Blog at and follow on twitter tommyeden3