Wolverines on the Web Talks About Practice

By now, the press conference held yesterday detailing Michigan’s NCAA violations has been broken down from every conceivable angle. Personally, I’m getting tired of it already, but this is a Michigan blog, and this is the biggest story of the year, so I feel obligated to share my thoughts.

First, as a staunch backer of Rich Rodriguez, I have to admit this: regardless of how you feel about the Free Press, their investigation, and the gravity of the charges, it is tough to completely defend or exonerate Rodriguez. Even if no other program in the country comes under the same type of scrutiny — from their own local media, no less — as Michigan has since Rodriguez took over, he left the door open for this type of investigation by simply not having proper control over his own program. That, quite frankly, is inexcusable: everybody knows the rules, and at a program that has never had any type of NCAA violations, it is your responsibility as the head coach to ensure that everybody in the program is abiding by them and is knowledgeable about them. Does Rodriguez’s lack of control merit his dismissal as coach? I don’t think so, and neither does Dave Brandon, who has more knowledge of the situation than you or I do. If, as he claims (and I believe him), Rodriguez has taken the necessary measures to take control of his program and keep them within the NCAA rules, I think the public embarrassment and (potential) NCAA penalties are more than enough punishment for his transgressions.

The brunt of my anger, however, in the wake of this press conference, is directed towards Michael Rosenberg and the Free Press. The WLA hits the nail on the head with their post “They Lied: A Retrospective“:

For reference, here is the Freep article (lead-in and details) that started the whole mess.

Initially I started fisking the article bit by bit, but there is no need to be that tl;dr. Here is the crux of the article, right in the intro:

“The University of Michigan football team consistently has violated NCAA rules governing off-season workouts, in-season demands on players and mandatory summer activities under coach Rich Rodriguez, numerous players told the Free Press.”

This assertion is repeated in various forms and in various detail throughout the article. ‘Michigan consistently broke the rules by practicing too much.’ This is false. The press conference today just made that official. The practice schedule as told by Rosenberg massively overstated the hours, and after all is said and done we’re talking about how to count time allocated for stretching (seriously). Further, there was nothing consistent or willful about the schedule or staff activities.

The whole article is worth a read, and it goes on to say that no player, not a single one, said anything about violating NCAA rules, which, if you read the above lede to their article one more time, is exactly what the Free Press claimed. I’m sure Michael Rosenberg and the Freep feel exonerated after yesterday’s press conference. They shouldn’t. The investigation still stands as a lesson in shoddy, agenda-driven journalism, and their charges of egregious practice-time violations look hilariously overblown after seeing the details of the NCAA investigation.

Finally, I’ve seen a lot of criticism directed towards Rich Rodriguez in the last day. That’s fine — not everybody is going to agree about a coach, especially one as divisive as Rodriguez, and everybody is entitled to their own opinion. Emails like the one I received this morning, however, will draw my ire:

Subject: Rich Rod

Message Body:
I have been a wolverine fan all my life and for the past two years I have been reluctant to call myself a fan.  Rich Rodriquez has driven the football program into the ground, breaking all the records no Wolverine wants to see broken.  Losing to State and the chestnuts two years in a row is a disgrace, nevermind two losing seasons in a row.  Rich Rod is a disease, it’s time to look for a cure.  Always a Wolverine bleeding Maize and Blue, GO BLUE!!

I’m sorry, but this type of argument doesn’t make any sense to me — if you’re a fan, you’re a fan, and there’s no taking a sabbatical just because you don’t like the head coach. This is called hedging your bets, or being a bandwagon fan, and I have a fundamental disagreement with this argument. I have a quote from Bo Schembechler that I keep on the right sidebar, and I’ve seen it used in just this situation recently in message board arguments and the like, but it bears repeating:

“When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing.” – Bo Schembechler
Even if you truly believe that everything that has happened in the last two years falls squarely on Rodriguez’s shoulders (I have seen, and made, numerous arguments to the contrary, but that is another long article for another long day), you are still a Michigan fan, and Michigan fans support the team and are proud to do so. Period.
For now, that’s all I have to say on the matter. Many other bloggers, however, have many more things to say. So, here’s today’s links, which are very heavy on the NCAA stuff:
1 comment
  1. Blake said:

    I totally agree with you…if your a true michigan fan then whoever coach they hire you will support through anything…and thats what I have done with RR…ppl like the guy above really have no clue about football…RR and michgan’s old system of doing things is TOTALLY different and patience is needed for the results we all want…However, i agree with you ACE RR is at fault for letting some of these transgressions take place and I believe now that he has the problem under control…It really gets me fans like the guy who emailed…They call them self fans and then when losing happens they wanna disclaim the team and ride some other wagon to the promise land so they get there self-esteem up…I wish he wouldnt be a fan we dont need supporters of michigan football like him…thanks ACE good article!!

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