Philip Nelson

Victim in alleged Phillip Nelson assault had part of brain removed


A story that had already hurtled past heartbreaking has taken an abrupt turn toward the horrific.

Last weekend, now-former Rutgers quarterback Philip Nelson was arrested in connection to what was reportedly a vicious assault outside of a Mankato, Minn., bar.  Nelson was ultimately charged with first- and third-degree assault in an incident that left the victim, former Div. II football player Isaac Kolstad, hospitalized and fighting for his life.

Saturday, Kolstad’s family released a statement updating his status and it sounds, quite frankly, dire.

Kolstad is currently on life support after undergoing surgery Tuesday to relieve pressure on his brain, three days after allegedly being repeatedly kicked in the head by Nelson and another man who has been charged as well. “A significant amount of his brain tissue that was no longer viable [was] removed,” the family’s statement read, while also confirming Kolstad is not able to breathe on his own.  He underwent a tracheotomy Friday because of the damage to his lungs.

Kolstad is in a medically-induced coma and listed in critical condition.

Isaac KolatadFrom the family’s statement:

“The swelling in Isaac’s brain remains significant. Isaac’s lungs also sustained severe injury, resulting in the inability to breathe on his own. He also sustained a lack of oxygen to his brain.

“Isaac’s care team of neurosurgeons, physicians, nurses, therapists and others are doing everything they possibly can each day to keep Isaac alive and fighting. We are blessed to have Mayo Clinic care so close to home for Isaac. There is no doubt in our minds he is receiving the very best care available.”

The 24-year-old Kolstad is married and has a young daughter.

While Kolstad lays in a hospital fighting for his life, Nelson is free on a $20,000 bond.

Was Washington loss the beginning of the end of the Steve Sarkisian era at USC?

Steve Sarkisian
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Steve Sarkisian’s win totals in his six previous seasons are both a positive and a negative.

On one hand, he resurrected a moribund Washington program that went 0-12 under Ty Willingham in 2008 and took them to four consecutive bowl games from 2010-2013. He won nine games his last year in Seattle, then led a talented-yet-thin USC team to a nine-win season and AP No. 20 finish in 2014.

Those are good accomplishments. But the flip side of the argument is Sarkisian has never won double-digit games in a season, something that’s a necessity to keep one’s job at USC. The Trojans’ 17-12 loss to Washington last night — at home, no less — means the road to 10 wins and a Pac-12 title will be awfully difficult.

And worse yet, there are plenty of arguments to be made Sarkisian doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt and a little more time in Los Angeles to turn things around (#SarkAfterDark, his drunken rant at a booster event, certainly doesn’t help). The reaction from national media to last night’s loss looked like this:

Mandel, in his column, argued USC is right where it was two years ago with Lane Kiffin as its coach. And there’s this embarrassing thought, that looks more and more like a truth, for Pat Haden:

This one, however, was the most damning by far for many reasons, most notably that it came at the hands of Sarkisian’s old team. The sense among many Washington fans nearly two years ago was that the Huskies managed to upgrade coaches when the school lured Chris Petersen from Boise State upon Sarkisian’s departure to USC.

They were right.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken similarly wrote that USC needs to drop Sarkisian and bring in Chip Kelly from the Philadelphia Eagles.

This is the state of USC, and it may not get better. The Trojans start a brutal three-game stretch next Saturday at Notre Dame in primetime, then welcome Utah to Los Angeles the next week. A Halloween trip to Berkeley to face Jared Goff and Cal finishes it up. There’s a very real chance USC, for all its talent and all its hype, limps into November with a 4-4 or 3-5 record.

Sarkisian will have to engineer and sustain a major turnaround in these coming weeks, otherwise he’ll give Haden all the ammo he needs to unceremoniously jettison him after two years.

Starting Navy S Kwazel Bertrand undergoes surgery, likely out for season

Kwazel Bertrand, Jacobi Owens
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Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.

Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.

And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.

“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”

Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.