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“:
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
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
- Presser Instant Recap — MGoBlog — In short, where’s the beef?
- DOCUMENT: NCAA Notice Of Allegations — MGoBlog — The official lawyerspeak.
- An Interview With Compliance Guy — MGoBlog — Brian has a Q&A with a guy who runs an unofficial NCAA compliance blog. Seriously. That exists. The internet never fails to amaze.
- Michigan, Rich Rodriguez, and AD David Brandon Address the NCAA Investigation Into Alleged Extra Practice Violations — Maize n Brew — Maize n Brew Dave’s take on the proceedings. He came away very impressed with the way Mary Sue Coleman, Brandon, and Rodriguez handled themselves.
- Quality Control — MVictors — Greg delves deeper into what I think is the most damning of the allegations, the involvement of the quality control staff in practices. This includes an especially pertinent quote from former hockey assistant Dave Shand about the distinction between “quality control” and “coach” (hint: there’s not much).
- Our Take on the “Violations” — UMGoBlog — The guys over at UMGoBlog give their opinions on the allegations. Again, Dave Brandon impresses: the guy passed his first major test as AD with flying colors.
- NCAA allegations: What’s going to happen? — Burgeoning Wolverine Star — BWS looks at the allegations, and also what happened in a very similar case involving Florida International a few years ago. Those fearing loss of scholarships or a postseason ban will have those fears eased by this article.
- Morgan Trent should shut his mouth — Genuinely Sarcastic — The Other Brian takes Trent to task for comments he made yesterday to the Detroit News.
- In the other major sport that’s actually playing right now, UMHoops has scouting and video on 2011 prospects Cody Zeller (scouting, video) and Carlton Brundidge.