“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
There's a section on John Pollack. It has swearing because by God people like John Pollack are why swearing was invented.
I am not a journalist! That's the point of this enterprise. But of late I have been pondering doing some kind of journalism-esque things. So when news came down of the Paralyzed Veterans of America suing the University over the renovations proposed I gave one of the law-talking guys a call. Because of IANAJTTP, this will not be an impartial news article; there would be no point with Official Journalists covering it much better and much quicker than I could. Witness this AP article heavily quoting Richard Bernstein, who happens to be the law-talking guy I spoke to. My conversation with the guy ran along the same lines. Bernstein to Official Journalist:
"It's extremely disappointing that it had to come to this," said Richard Bernstein, the attorney representing the plaintiffs.
Bernstein to me (note that all quotes were hastily transcribed and may not be exact. I've tried to hew as closely to his words as I could):
"When you file a federal lawsuit it's always a last resort."
"Notre Dame has 17 wheelchair-accessible seating locations throughout the stadium," Bernstein said, who also is an adjunct political science professor at Michigan. "We have two."
"Notre Dame Stadium is a carbon copy of the Michigan stadium and is ADA compliant. They have 17 locations that are wheelchair compliant."
(He also mentioned he was a professor twice.)
Bernstein, who is blind and has taken the case pro bono, said the lawsuit is more far-reaching than simply providing better wheelchair access during Michigan football games and commencement exercises. He said a federal court ruling in favor of the university could have a "devastating impact on the ADA" because it would open the door for other developers looking to sidestep ADA provisions.
He said the court must draw a distinct line between "repair" and "alteration" projects, since the latter compels developers and property owners to comply with ADA guidelines. Left undefined, he said, disabled individuals will find it more difficult to use public venues, such as movie theaters, shopping malls and public transportation.
"Wheelchair users will lose access across the board, and will find it more difficult to be part of the community," Bernstein said.
"The reason we had to file was because what this entire case comes down to is the concept of alteration versus repair."
"This isn't a critical issue because it's Michigan football. If Michigan establishes this precedent about doing renovation over a series of years, you'll see shopping centers, airports, any public venue, will follow what Michigan is doing, scattering their renovations over a long period of time."
He said Michigan's ongoing construction project, dubbed a "renovation" on its Web site, is "offensive." ... "We're not asking for really good seats. We're asking for equal access. It's about inclusion. It's about civil rights."
"This is a major civil rights issue; this is infuriating to me."
I am fairly heartened that it seems the Official Journalist could do no better when it came to getting something that didn't seem relentlessly practiced out of Bernstein than I did; at first I thought I was a hopeless n00b. Turns out we're all n00bs in the face of a lawyer.
The Daily has some of the same quotes but did a better job getting hard numbers than either myself or the AP:
Stadium-wide compliance would include making 1 percent of all seating handicap accessible and offering a variety of seating locations and ticket prices for disabled visitors. For the officially 107,501-seat stadium, that means there must be at least 1,000 handicap accessible seats.
The MPVA wants the renovations to follow the example of those at the University of Notre Dame. After recent renovations, Notre Dame Stadium provides more than 400 wheelchair-accessible seats in 17 different locations.
"If you look at Notre Dame and the University of Michigan, their stadiums were built by the same architect in the same era. All we're asking is U of M do what Notre Dame did," Bernstein said.
Isn't this the most important thing? What compliance is, what the current situation is, what the hard numbers are on the comparable Bernstein uses? How can every other article ignore it? Good job, Daily! Do you still have people who think "This
Postmodern World" is a good title for a column? And can we deport them?
There are some things I managed to get in edgewise that didn't get reported in the papers:
- Our good and dear friend John Pollack's involvement was discussed. Bernstein managed to convince me that Pollack was not the motive force behind the lawsuit; it would be going on without his misguided attempts to "save" Michigan Stadium. However:
"When he read in the papers that we were moving forward on this, he called me. He's been helpful. He gave us some details on Notre Dame Stadium's accessibility."
Pollack jumped on board, seeing any avenue to shut down the renovations no matter how irrelevant to his cause.
This is where the opinion starts to come in, so full disclosure: I am in favor of these renovations and think John Pollack is a delusional idiot who believes he knows what's best for all Michigan fans. I'm striving to be fair to Bernstein and his paralyzed veterans and not misrepresent anything they've said or claimed, but I make no attempt to be "objective" in the traditional journalism sense. (IANAJTTP.) That sort of objectivity gets you articles that make no attempt to evaluate the claims laid out by the various sides, which is deeply annoying to me. Here we evaluate.
Anyway. This was my first experience talking to a lawyer trying to do PR and it was... interesting. Idiotically, I hadn't gotten the very relevant and very basic info on the university's renovation site about the ADA:
Q: Will the renovations address ADA accessibility?
Yes, the University will significantly increase the number and location of accessible seating for fans with impaired mobility. The new design adds an additional 72 accessible seats plus companion seats on the west side of the stadium. These seats will be covered and accessible through a new elevator. The east side of the stadium, the new design adds an additional 24 accessible outdoor club seats plus companion seats and 14 accessible inside club seats. In addition, there will be one accessible seat in every one of the suites. The total number of accessible seats will increase and the choice for location of accessible seating will now include both end zones and sideline seating.
Leaving out the accessible seats in the suites, the renovation calls for a total addition of 110 accessible seats to the already existing 100 in the endzones (though I'm not sure that all 100 of those seats can functionally be used by handicapped people; I think there's just a handicap-accessible area that holds a total o
f 100 people, including companions.) Note that each of the proposed 110 additional seats comes with a companion seat and that the distribution of the seats would be throughout the stadium. Also note that the total seating, even including the luxury box seats, is around 280, way below the mendoza line.
The veterans took an alternate proposal to the regents late last year; Bernstein made a big deal about regents Cathy White and Larry Deitch concurring with the vets and making a motion and a second to reject the renovations based upon it.
"There was a motion and a second, and they voted it down 6-2."
The implication was that because someone had heeded them and another regent agreed that the others were callous for not following a long. I don't get that, especially because what he failed to mention is that White and Deitch were two of the three regents who consistently voted against the renovations for any and all available reasons. How much of their concern was real and how much was pretext?
So how am I supposed to reconcile that information with this quote from Bernstein?
"The university has been totally unresponsive."
I dunno. I kind of think this is an exaggeration, but how am I to know? I don't think Bernstein was being entirely honest with me. Not that he was being dishonest. He was being lawyery. It was kind of creepy.
This was the most bothersome thing, the grand microcosm:
"What is it they're fighting for?"
That was Bernstein's big finish. I really dislike the implications there: plaintiffs Fight For Justice against "totally unresponsive" faceless athletic department. By the time we were done, I had gotten a couple questions in edgewise, heard a lot of things over and over again, and felt vaguely like I had just been witness to a particularly fast-pitched political speech. The University is fighting for... me. They want to do right by the handicapped guys but they also have constraints here. Assuming that they're screwing over handicapped guys just because there aren't any Indonesians around they can force to make licensed apparel is kind of dishonest. This is a really hard process and at the very least Michigan is vastly improving the situation.
The whole thing seems shoddy to me. I don't know if Robert Bernstein is related to Sam Bernstein, but I do know that he works for Sam Bernstein's firm... you know, 1-800-CALL-SAM. The guy who can get results for you after your car accident. And it shows. Not contend with rounding up some wheelchair-bound disability rights advocates, these guys go right for the paralyzed veterans. They're veterans, dammit! Why don't you let them in to your stadium? Do you hate America?
But... they kind of have a point. IA(obviously)NAL, but if Michigan is trying to claim that they don't need to be fully ADA compliant because what they plan to do to the stadium doesn't constitute an alteration, well, that's pretty weaselly. I'm not totally insensitive to this issue. I have a friend who teeters in and out of the stadium on crutches every week. My grandfather (who was an usher at Ferry Field(!) and is the primary reason that I am often suffered to sit at the 40 yard line, since our tickets have been in the family since the 50s) spent his final Michigan games watching from the crappy seats in the endzone. I don't know what's enough seating and don't have anywhere near enough information to pick a winner, but I can say that this is a real lawsuit and a real concern as opposed to that hippie crap going on at Cal and that some of the intemperate comments in the aftermath of the lawsuit's filing were out of line (even if I shared that opinion for a moment or an hour).
One final note: This is the point on Bullshit where Penn drops the jokes and very seriously addresses the camera: John Pollack is a cynical, manipulative asshole who will stop at nothing for his luxury box hissyfit to conclude successfully. I'm dead serious about this. This isn't "Stewart Mandel is retarded" or "CFN is retarded" or "Matt Hayes is a synonym for penis." Though I get angry when media professionals run around saying very stupid things, it's a shallow anger that I mostly mine for humor. If I ran into any of these people I wouldn't regard them with anything other than condescension. I'm not actually angry at them. This is different. John Pollack has no use for what the truth is. In his mind, the ends always justify the means:
"This is being driven by an obsession with luxury boxes," he said. "The University is effectively arguing that it is more important to provide seating for 1,500 people in luxury boxes than it is to provide seating for people with disabilities as required by law."
Ridiculous. Insulting. And a paranoid fantasy caused by his unsupported belief that "the University is trying to subsidize the loss in revenue that would be caused by luxury boxes by increasing regular bleacher seating and overlooking the interests of disabled people." Yes, of course. Bill Martin's putting in luxury boxes just like all those other pro and college teams that just love losing money. Paralyzed veterans are a way for Pollack to get what he wants, and the truth is only something for him to spin into something unrecognizable to stoke outrage. The only outrage in this complicated issue is Pollack and his behavior.
And you know the kicker? Motherfucker went to Stanford. Go screw up your alma mater, asshole. (Motherfucker also spent 30 years building a boat out of wine corks and he has the gall to criticize someone else for ill-advised construction?)
No, wait. This is the kicker. The kicker of kickers. This is what John Pollack thinks of himself and his quest to prevent luxury boxes at Michigan Stadium.
In 1989, the image of one man standing in front. Can one man, willing to take a stand, make a difference? Can one person stop the powers that be dead in their tracks?
Remember Tiananmen Square?
Profiles of that kind of courage seem hard to find these days but, if you are willing to look then you will indeed find, examples of that kind of heroism.
I swear to God I'm not making this up. There is an enormous profile/interview of this prick up at "DanaRoc.com" -- Dana Roc apparently "creates, develops and produces programs that empower people to be productive, powerful, successful and happy" -- about this "Save The Big House" campaign and it starts off by directly comparing John Pollack to the kid in front of the tank in Tianamen Square. Seriously:
An extraordinarily courageous young man captured the attention of the entire world in June of 1989, when he single handedly stopped the advance of a tank column by standing in its way...
JP reminds us all again of the power of one man willing to take a stand.
One person cheering doesn't make a whole lot of noise but, you get 100,000 people cheering and suddenly you've got a roar! -- John Pollack
This is the face of luxury box opposition. Even if he didn't write this enormously offensive blurb, by God, he's read it and didn't immediately demand its removal. I'm speechless. I mean, what can you say?
Could Alex Legion become the world's first commit/decommit/recommit/ decommit/re-recommit? If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said no way. Today, though? Maybe. I imagine that Mark Synder was increasingly giddy as his interview with Alex Legion's mom progressed. In place of bland, noncommittal quotes Synder was delivered a heaping helping of Adam West Batman-worthy exlamations. POW!
"I want to make it clear, Tim Green is not part of this process," Williams said Tuesday. "I'm tired of him trying to persuade my son against the University of Michigan and his family."
"I've been quiet for four years, but Tim Green does not speak for my son, and I'm tired of him trying to make decisions for my son," Williams said.
"Mr. Green wants my son to go to Connecticut or UCLA, but my son will go to neither institution."
Mrs. Williams forthrightness is amazing confirmation of all the dark rumblings going on about Legion's "handlers" that have been kicking around message boards for weeks, nay, months. I had written Legion off as soon as he asked out of his LOI, but since Williams has to sign any LOI her son wants to submit Michigan has a fighting chance.
"I really like what I'm hearing about Beilein," she said. "I really want to thank coach Keener, who has talked very positively about my son to coach Beilein. We just needed to get rid of Tim Green."
(ZAP!) Legion will visit Michigan and a few other places, including (yuck) Kentucky. The lists floating around yesterday -- UConn, Kansas, UCLA, UK -- appear to be sourced by Green and should not be given credence. This is beginning to rival the whole Houston Nutt thing.
Update 4/15: Added a legend. Some small changes: all of our little projection icons have names. Mr. Blue, previously reserved for Michigan commitments, is now deployed for players like Marcus Witherspoon (please note latest Rivals article from the PSU site: "Witherspoon has heart set on Big Ten school"; it's not PSU) and Fred Smith who are highly likely to end up Michigan commits and -- this has key -- have said as much publicly. Hopefully no Rojo types end up in this categorization, but no guarantees are provided. There's a new icon, Sad Josh, used for guys who have expressed an interest that Michigan does not seem to reciprocate. With the clarifications and such several players have been moved into new categories. Smith and Witherspoon get Mr. Blue. Deboskie gets a green now that there's a separate category for players who are expected to end up at Michigan. A bunch of players got shoved into Sad Josh. Er.
Added MI DT Mike Martin. Linked to stories on OH TE Kevin Koger, CA QB Dayne Crist (header for second is not good), IN OL Kurt Wermers, IL DE Darius Fleming, some video of OH OL Elliot Mealer. Removed FL LB Nigel Bradham (FSU), CA CB Robert Golden (we don't seem that interested, and neither does he).
Editorial Opinion: For the record, the new legend.
The genre of player with unrequited interest in Michigan. Unlikely to receive offers; most will eventually fade off the list and go to Duke or Michigan State or something.
Player is a longshot. Either they've declared someone else a leader publicly or popular opinion holds that they're likely to go to another school.
Either no opinion or Michigan is one of a fairly even group of chasing schools. Players in this category maintain no leader or change their leader frequently. The default category for players that we don't know much about yet.
Players who have Michigan in a small leading group or have Michigan as a tenuous favorite. Should be regarded as a good shot, not a slam dunk.
Player is either a verbal or is expected to be one sooner or later. Players with this designation are 65%+ to be Michigan commits.
The two uncommitted blues on the board are MI WR Fred Smith, who had that USAToday article (a reprint from Rivals) and NJ LB Marcus Witherspoon, who's been telling everyone who runs across him that he's gone Johansson over Michigan no matter their affiliation.
CA QB Dayne Crist lists us but hasn't visited and wants to make a decision in the next couple weeks. Not coming here. Probably USC.
MI DT Mike Martin is drawing comparisons to Terrance Taylor. As a squat, powerful defensive tackle who also happens to be a state champion wrestler, this is not unexpected. May have to wait for camp to get an offer.
Rivals is reporting that Alex Legion has asked out of his LOI...
"We have had several discussions with Alex and his family and they have expressed an interest in opening his recruitment," said Beilein. "We understand his situation and encouraged him to do so, giving Alex his unconditional release. We will continue to have dialogue with Alex and his family throughout this process.
... and that Reed Baker, Rainmaker, has left the team. Interesting note from the Rivals article:
"With the fact that Reed's financial aid package had expired, he has decided to look into other options for his playing career," said Beilein. "We have encouraged Reed to do so and will do whatever we can to help him with that process. We wish him nothing but the best in the future."
Apparently his ride was a one-year only deal? All scholarships are technically year-to-year, but the way Beilein phrased it made it sound like this was a prearranged one-year deal. Anyone who wants a Reed Baker, Rainmaker shirt for old-time's sake can get one in the MGoStore for another week or so. Just my luck that I fix those just in time for him to leave the team.
No word yet on whether or not Michigan will seek immediate help. There's not much out there if they choose to. WVU signee John Flowers reaffirmed his commitment a few days ago and almost everyone else is already locked up.
I might be excommunicated from the church of college football for this startling revelation, but I am sick and tired of EA's NCAA football franchise. Every year they add inane or useless features aimed at 14 year olds: ridiculous suspensions in franchise mode, impact players, momentum and their career mode. Each of these "features" save the inane but thankfully irrelevant career/Heisman/whatever mode acts as an active detriment to the game's realism. This would be irritating but acceptable if EA had given you the option of turning off the feature that turns any trip to Iowa a 60-7 loss (don't ask... the horror... the horror), but they don't even do this. While they're busy inserting these inane features into the game they release games in which receivers drop 20% of the balls that hit themselves in the hands, the inside running game is useless, or the passing game is completely broken.
This year is no different. The features they're pitching only promise to heighten the silliness:
Impact players, aka ballers with high ratings, will be able to trigger "lead by example" events that impact each player's morale. Score a touchdown with an impact player, a chain-reaction of good feelings spread to the rest of the team, which in turn, boosts each player's performance.
Awesome! Now the randomly selected impact players and the totally unrealistic momentum system are one and the same!
EA is now a company run by its marketing arm. No longer actually concerned with making quality games as long as they know that their franchises will sell, they go years without implementing even the simplest features.
Even so, I might get it. I hate myself. But one of those simple features I've been waiting on for years has been implemented:
Campus Legend makes great use of the new Super Sim feature that allows you to skip single plays or to the next change of possession. You can still watch every play from the sideline through the eyes of your legend, but you can also skip ahead to the next time he takes the field. Super Sim is available in every game, which will come in handy during Dynasty mode when you want to get your second stringers on the field to mop up.
Thank God. And how long did that take? Like... ten minutes? No longer will I score 77 on Northwestern in a perpetual state of glassy-eyed boredom. I will score 42, sim the rest of the game, and bump the difficulty to Heisman just in time for a disastrous trip to Kinnick.
(Initial link via EDSBS.)
Shocking revelations about our head coach's past! It would all be so very Arkansas if it wasn't so very Lloyd:
"Lloyd went from West Virginia to Michigan," the retired Nehlen said from his Florida winter home. "He wasn't with us long, about six weeks at the most, I'd say."
Controversy? Uh, not so much:
"Bo called, and he wants you back there." Carr protested that he had joined Nehlen because "I wanted to stick with you." Nehlen told Carr, "This is Bo. When Bo wants you, you go."
Beisball es caliente. Michigan's impressive 12-game winstreak was a bit hollow, since they've been playing the likes of Oakland and Eastern Michigan of late and had their four games against conference co-favorite Minnesota cancelled on account of Hoth-worthy weather, but is no longer after a four-game weekend sweep of fellow co-favorite Ohio State. Michigan outscored the Buckeyes 41-14 over the four games, to which we at MGoBlog say "ha ha!" before scurrying into our Bunker of Denial so that no one can proffer the obvious and terribly effective response. Michigan is now an impressive 22-6, 8-0 in conference, and has a good shot at an at-large bid to the NCAAs if they finish out the season. Coach Rich Maloney has previously set the at-large threshold at 40 wins, though that was before Michigan lost the Minnesota series. To hit 40 before the Big Ten tourney they'd have to win 2/3rds of their remaining games; since the Big Ten is essentially a mid-major in baseball that's probably doable.
Michigan's home for the next six games, with a Wednesday doubleheader against EMU and a weekend series versus Purdue all at the Fish. Wednesday might be sort of crappy and rainy, but the weekend should be decent weather.
(Side note: in this era of year-round athletic and academic competition, doesn't it seem silly that the college season starts in February and ends in May? Shifting it summer-ward a month would really help out northern sides.)
I actually like Jay Bilas quite a bit. He's one of the rare color guys/studio analysts who will explain the finer details of basketball to the layman. He usually strikes a nice balance between the Vitale and Packer ends of the basketball announcer spectrum. But he's totally nuts about longtime friend Tommy Amaker's firing at Michigan. The latest salvo, and there have been a few previous, is an interview in the Free Press in which Bilas says many ridiculous things. Here's one:
Michigan athletic director Bill Martin said he tells his coaches that their job is to be always knocking on the door of a Big Ten championship every year and knocking on the door of a national championship every few years. Is Beilein capable of those standards? They haven't been doing a lot of knocking the last 40 years. Before Amaker got there, all they were known for was cheating.
A completely false and unprofessional assertion. Michigan has been to the Final Four during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, winning a national championship in '89. Even if you would like to pretend that the Fab Five never happened, that's a record of achievement most schools look up to, asshat. In a four-question interview, Bilas brings up Michigan "cheating" twice. (This is where I point out that none of the violations were recruiting inducements, that if Ed Martin didn't exist the Fab Five still would have attended Michigan, and the same frickin' one-year self-imposed postseason ban and meaningless scholarship reduction penalties were assessed to an Ohio State program that obviously turned itself around quite quickly.)
Bilas has been beating this drum ever since people started question Amaker's job at Michigan, constantly questioning the dedication of the program while simultaneously decrying the one extremely obvious thing they did -- firing Amaker and hiring a guy at twice his salary -- that shows they're paying attention. Why does anyone bother to ask Bilas about this situation? Not only is he a fellow Dukie bound by their arcane preppy rituals, he was a frickin' teammate of Amaker and is evidently his bestest friend in the entire world. As a result, he says things like "Tommy put (the program) in really solid footing, and I think Michigan owes him a debt of gratitude for doing that," when any minimally competent coach could have ceased recruiting Dom Ingerson and Maurice Searight and Avery Queen, who were not only thugs but sucky thugs.
We can stipulate that Amaker was a better coach than Brian Ellerbe -- I mean, God, if we're going to get meatheads into the program let's at least make sure they can play -- but that's all. Michigan owes Tommy Amaker nothing more than the 900k stipulated in his contract. He was a terrible floor coach, a recruiter who couldn't put together a coherent roster, and he looked ridiculous. He is not a martyr. He was not done wrong. Michigan showed him more patience than virtually any other school in the country would: six years is an eternity in college basketball. No school above the Northwestern-Penn State level would tolerate Amaker's result and no one except Bilas would confuse the Michigan basketball program with either of those schools.
I want to be very clear on this: Tommy Amaker was not good for the Michigan program. He "cleaned up the program" only because the worst athletic director in the history of Michigan athletics decided to hire the worst coach in the history of Michigan athletics. Since Amaker is not three standard deviations below the mean it looks like he did a good job, but any basketball coach remotely qualified to coach in the Big Ten would have done a better one. Every reasonable candidate kicked around six years ago would have had more success. Everyone in the world except Dick Vitale, who refuses to criticize any coach ("Dave Bliss is awesome, baby!"), realizes this. Except Bilas.
Jay Bilas is quite literally the least objective person on the planet to talk to about this. So why bother asking?
Elsewhere: Joey demolishes Bilas as well:
What actual insight did a purported expert, Jay Bilas, offer during this interview? None. I feel stupider having read it. It was a bunch of tired talking points and worthless generalities. Not a single person who knows even a little bit about college basketball could have learned anything from this piece