Before I get into my usual links, here’s the latest piece from Jim Carty, who has emerged from law school to, well, draw tenuous conclusions based on flimsy evidence: Square pegs, round holes, and Rich Rod. Carty begins the article with a long anecdote about Brian Ellerbe bringing in recruit Josh Moore, who bounced from high school to high school and had no business being at Michigan from an academic standpoint, coming to the conclusion that “You gotta know your school.” He then proceeds to rip into Rodriguez for not knowing about Justin Feagin’s checkered past when he recruited him. Then he says he thinks, based on his interactions with Rodriguez, that RichRod “would have been very, very tempted” to recruit Josh Moore if he was a basketball coach at Michigan. He goes on to criticize Rodriguez for not adjusting to his new school, citing the #1 jersey thing (completely overblown) and Justin Boren’s transfer (do we need to go over this ‘family values’ bullshit again?).
Jim, there’s a huge hole in your argument here. Ellerbe willfully recruited Moore while having full knowledge of his academic issues. Rodriguez, while not doing a complete background search on Feagin (which would have been tough, considering Feagin was a last-minute addition to a recruiting class in desperate need of a quarterback), did get around to checking on his criminal record, which was completely clean. Rodriguez talked to his coach, who didn’t know of any off-field issues, and Feagin was academically qualified to play for Michigan. Feagin admitted to his transgressions in Florida last month, and his statement that “I have admitted to people I know that I used to sell drugs in Florida,” is so incredibly vague that no reasonable human being should expect that Rodriguez should have known this information.
When confronted by the above information by a commenter, Carty only says, “it’s mostly a feel thing.” That’s your reason? I have a feeling about your column: I think it sucks. When bringing down this kind of harsh criticism on a coach, you need to back it up with more than your feelings.
People act like this is the first time Michigan has dealt with players with academic and off-the-field issues. Anybody remember Kelly Baraka? Larry Harrison? Johnny Sears? Carson Butler? All players recruited by Lloyd Carr. When these guys had off-field issues, Carr was lauded for his ability to discipline his players when he came down with a punishment. Rich Rodriguez booted Justin Feagin off the team the minute he learned of Feagin’s interview with police. What more do we expect out of him in this situation?
Drug dealing, especially when cocaine is involved, is one of those issues that immediately draws a ton of attention. So is indecent exposure, which Harrison was arrested for in 2004. These are major off-field problems, to be sure, but also issues that are usually isolated to one player on a team. I’ll put it this way: if Michigan has a big-time cocaine cartel among its players, I’ll never write about sports again. Until then, this is an issue of a troubled college student making a poor life decision.
If Rich Rodriguez went 10-2 last season, this isn’t even an issue of coaching integrity. If Rich Rodriguez was Bo’s former assistant, this isn’t an issue of coaching integrity. If Rich Rodriguez was Lloyd Carr, still coaching at Michigan, this isn’t an issue of coaching integrity. He’s from West Virginia. He runs the spread offense. He recruits players from Florida. Get over it. Despite a huge number of transfers, mostly related to the new system and a lack of playing time, Michigan is still going to fine when it comes to the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report.
I’m getting real sick of reading crap like Carty’s latest diatribe. Admittedly, I’ve never been much of a Carty fan, as to me he represents all the unbearable Michigan fans who attach themselves to anything remotely negative and turn it into a completely overblown story, but that seems to be a greater proportion of Michigan “fans” these days. If Rich Rodriguez is gone from Ann Arbor after 2010, it will not be because of any shortcomings as a coach; it’ll be because he never had a chance in the first place. I just hope it doesn’t come to that.