Published reaction to the Day of Slight Reckoning has mostly fallen into two camps. One focuses on how the prideful block M has been brought low; addressing that is left for another post. The second shrugs at the end result, adds it to the ever-growing pile to strikes against Rodriguez, and quickly segues into a discussion of Rodriguez's presence on the proverbial hot seat, which is deemed hot indeed. Unlike last year, when a smattering of dips said Rodriguez was in danger of losing his job, there's no denying the reality of it: there are 2010 football seasons that end with Rodriguez getting run out of town on a rail.
How many are there? It will come as no surprise to anyone who's read this blog for a long time that I believe there are (and should be) considerably fewer than the popular conception does. Heck, I (and Dave from Maize 'n' Brew) just managed to convince Doug Gillett of this. For the last year and a half this space has been advocating radical patience.
For an example what seems to be the conventional wisdom, Bruce Feldman has a piece($) in which he repeatedly asks for much more than I think is reasonable for RR to deliver next year:
This is still Michigan, growing pains or not. This isn't a normal rebuilding job. Going 8-4 may not even be a strong enough sign that Michigan is rocketing back to the top and all of this tumult in the previous two years were worth it. …
Again, 8-4 might not be enough. Michigan needs to go back to winning like Michigan used to. Now.
Similarly, Dan Wetzel declares that setting the bar at a return to a bowl game is "incredibly low."
I had a twitter conversation with Feldman about this assertion a couple days ago. During that one of the tweets hit my main account—forgot the "d"—and thus the Facebooks, where it drew a chorus of raspberries because I asserted that going from 5-7 to 7-5 whilst replacing Baby Seal U with UConn would be "significant" progress. (It's since been pointed out that Michigan is playing a I-AA team next year so they're replacing with Eastern Michigan with UConn, but it's not like there's much difference between EMU and a horrible HBCU except when it comes to the entertainment provided by the marching band.) Patience is running low.
I know it's my role as the crazy fan blogger to demand the head of the coach when he fails to live up to my crazy expectations, but if we're seriously talking about an 8-4 regular season "not being enough" for Rodriguez to get a year four Michigan should have just fired him already. If this ends up being an 8-4 team the Mathlete's luck chart will have Michigan considerably on the happy side of the ledger.
- Aforementioned schedule upgrade.
- In games against non-baby-seals last year, Michigan was outgained 410-353 on average. They did not outgain any BCS opponent other than Purdue.
- The two-deep at safety, which covers three spots, has two walk-ons and zero upperclassmen. The corner depth is horrifying, as well.
- The quarterback depth chart also features zero upperclassmen.
- The scholarship breakdown looks like so: 11 seniors, 13 juniors, 20 sophomores, and 39 freshmen. The defense as a whole remains extremely young relative to competition:
The 2009 and 2010 classes make up about half of each unit for our rivals; for us it's about 75 percent..
- Only four seniors project as starters.
"This is still Michigan" is demonstrably false. Even in year three this remains a desperately young team with major holes in the secondary and no upperclass quarterbacks. Rodriguez's responsibility for the state of the state of the roster is limited to the absence of Terrelle Pryor, or any marginally acceptable option at quarterback from his first two months on the job, and a couple of would-be-sophomores Rodriguez did not add to the end of his first full recruiting class. You can wave your hands and say "Michigan! Rabble rabble rabble!" all you want but if you dressed these guys up like Generic State University people would expect them to go .500.
Progress is mandatory, but firing a guy because he's not healing lepers is unwise. This is a team that deserved to go 3-9 in 2008 and had four non-freshman defensive backs on the roster last year. Rebuilding from that is not a short-term operation. We've been through why this happened many times before; suffice it to say Rodriguez's margin of error to prevent a wholesale cratering was infinitesimal.
Later in Feldman's piece he says Rodriguez is an "excellent coach" and "proven winner" who "knows how to develop talent and motivate players." If this is the case—and everything in his coaching tenure before Michigan suggests so—why shouldn't Michigan give him the benefit of the doubt? They are not going to hire a coach with two BCS wins to his name next offseason. Patience is warranted. One year now (to be clear: 2011) has the potential to pay off with a 20-year stretch of success. While recruiting has suffered Michigan's classes are well within the range where Michigan can expect to compete for Big Ten championships when it is not operating with literally half the upperclassmen of its primary rivals.
My personal measuring stick for Rodriguez: yardage parity and a winning record. I would be displeased with 7-6 but willing to grit my teeth and give Rodriguez a shot in 2011, when he will return both specialists, every starter on offense save Steve Schilling and all but three starters on defense. That will seem exceptionally kind to many, I know, but literally no coach in the country could take the leftovers after Mallett's transfer and do anything other than flail as Rodriguez has.
2008 was a complete waste. To me, this is year two for Rodriguez, and 2011 is when I expect rubber to meet road.
Softball go. Reminder: tonight and tomorrow Michigan takes on Tennessee at Alumni Field for the right to advance to the Women's College World Series. Tomorrow's game is at 7:30 and is on ESPN (just plain ESPN); the Friday games are at 4:30 on ESPNU and (if necessary) 7:30 on ESPN2. Tickets are 5-10 bucks. Actual athletic competition between people! No documents at all!
For the billionth time. I linked this on the sidebar but I think it's worth posting up. Dave Brandon on Rodriguez and whatnot:
Insert the usual hosannas about Brandon and his ability to act as the face of the athletic department in tough times.
Be attractive in private, thanks. Remember Mike Cox doing a bit of modeling for Bivouac? Yeah, that was a secondary violation:
Nov. 11, 2009
The violation: A football player engaged in impermissible modeling for two local stores.
The punishment: The stores were issued cease-and-desist letters to remove all images of the player from their websites, and the athlete was declared temporarily ineligible. His eligibility was later restated.
That was one of nine Michigan football secondary violations since 2005 revealed in the document dump. The rest are pedestrian stuff involving a phone call here, 60 bucks there, etc. Birkett does point out that Michigan's had a relative paucity of secondary violations in comparison to Lane Kiffin, or Ohio State, which has averaged almost 42 per year for its athletic department over the last decade.
Oversigning ramps up.
The single dumbest thing written about the Day Of Slight Reckoning, non Hat Guy Edition. Yes, Hat Guy wrote something, and it exists in its own Hat Guy category, impervious to logic, reason, and the American Way. Outside of Hat Guy territory, the crown goes to Lynn Henning:
Once upon a time it was Michigan State that got into all the trouble. It was East Lansing where there were stability problems. …
Michigan State is now the regional example for how a Big Ten athletic program should be run. There was a bad mess with November's dormitory fracas. But between Mark Dantonio's reconstructed football program and Tom Izzo's spotless work in making MSU basketball an elite and ongoing force, MSU has become the Michigan of 20 and 30 years ago, while Michigan has taken MSU's unenviable place as the campus where too much bad sports news originates.
"Fracas"? The number of kids kicked off the team reached double digits! It was the second consecutive year a large group of Michigan State football players descended upon a group of innocent bystanders and heard the lamentation of the women! Just the most recent incident has outstripped the entire Rodriguez era when it comes to player arrests… by a factor of five! Dantonio was directly responsible for the second incident because he let Glenn Winston walk out of jail and directly on to a practice field! This is brushed off in a single sentence!
You think you could let six months pass without 20% of the Spartan team beating down some engineers before declaring it a paragon of righteousness and virtue. Apparently not. People on the board have mentioned that when you contact Henning he seems like a nice guy—one willing to listen—so there's that, but good Lord that's dumb.
Also, Mark Dantonio's "reconstructed" football program won one (one) more game than Michigan last year, losing to a MAC team along the way. If not for the fact that MSU was the second-luckiest team in the nation in 2008, Dantonio's first three years at Michigan State would look exactly like his three years at Cincinnati and the last 30 years of Spartan football.
Just when you think you're a hardened observer of sportswriters, incapable of being stunned into a series of italics-laced exclamations at the sheer stupidity of an argument, they go and prove you wrong. Hat Guy, by the way, made fun of Michigan for firing Herron for lying to the NCAA.
Maybe we can have something resembling competition? The American Needle decision handed down by the Supreme Court seems like the prelude to something instead of actually something—all they said is the lawsuit can go ahead—but the most relevant outcome may be a weakening of EA's iron grasp on sports games ever since 2K got uppity and EA started shoveling money at the leagues for exclusive licenses. This can only be good, as some of the 2K games were pushing, or far better than, EA's editions of the same.
In other video game news. Hot on the heels of the announcement that CHL teams will appear in NHL 2011, Paul Kelly of College Hockey, Inc. announces that colleges will appear as well:
"We've actually been in discussions with EA for a couple of weeks," Kelly began, "and while we don't have a formal announcement to make at this moment, we are certainly in discussions with EA Sports and they are very interested in having a college component to their game. We, the colleges, are very interested in having that happen and we are just currently in the process of figuring out what dimensions that ought to take."
Hockey players will be under the same restrictions as football and basketball players, but you'll be able to figure out who C #12 is. This might be short lived if the Ed O'Bannon case ends up going in favor of the plaintiffs: while EA will probably have to figure out a way to license likenesses for football and basketball, hockey will just get dropped.
Hockey destinations. Chris Dilks of Western College Hockey has a brief correction on Boo Nieves's plans:
Nieves was drafted by Indiana, but he's actually going to be attending Kent School in Connecticut next year, where he'll be coached by former Michigan captain Matt Herr, and then probably playing in the USHL for his senior year.
FWIW. The OHL is not a threat here.
As far as 2011 question mark Lucas Lessio goes, Waterloo's GM thinks they've got an excellent shot. They're also bringing in Alex Guptill (now Michigan's only other 2011 commit with Derek Deblois arriving this fall) and hope that will suffice as enticement:
We're taking a calculated risk," O'Handley said of Lessio. "We know he has options. Nick Ebert (current Black Hawk) has options, so it is no different. If you get him, to some degree you win the lottery.
"We wouldn't have done it if there was absolutely no way. We wouldn't have done it if it was 50-50. And, we're going to have to work hard to get him."
Note that the USHL has two drafts, the Futures Draft Nieves went in earlier, where players are not eligible this year but you can maintain their rights, and the Entry Draft, in which you get the guy's rights for a year and if you don't sign him you get nothing. Lessio was picked in the Entry Draft, so Waterloo's put a lot on the line to acquire him.
Speaking of that 2011 class, Michigan might need to get cracking on it. They lose Rust, Hagelin, Caporusso, Vaughn, Winnett, Llewellyn, Langlais, and Hogan after the season. They've got two forwards committed, leaving them to find another three forwards, two defenders, and a goalie if they're going to keep the same levels of roster depth. (Joel Vienneau, the Canadian goalie they were looking at for this year, committed to Minnesota for 2011.) They likely aren't—this fall's Michigan team will be the deepest I can ever remember—but they need at least another forward, defenseman, and goalie to feel comfortable going into '11, especially since there will be a number of flight risks next offseason.
Hockey lack of destinations. The buzz around the hockey program is that they would not lose anyone early to the NHL this year, and here's further confirmation of that from Mike Spath:
There is no rumored candidate expected to bolt for the NHL. In fact, the Wolverines seem to be taking a cue from forwards Louie Caporusso, Matt Rust and Carl Hagelin, who all declared their intentions to return for their senior seasons.
Also I must have missed this, but in April Michigan named captains: Hagelin gets the C (obvs), Glendening is the ultra-rare second captain as an ultra-rare junior (was the last one Ortmeyer? I think I'm missing one), and Rust and Caporusso get As.
Etc.: New Michigan blog Holdin' The Rope takes a page out of the OSU playbook and analyzes the development of Terrelle Pryor in the Rose Bowl. If you're wondering, no, Michigan's baseball team can't swing an at-large bid to the tournament.
Wetzel & Co at Yahoo break a major story about parts of the Kansas athletic department being complicit in Final Four ticket scalping, providing both a major story to blow Michigan's off the front page nationally and an example of how an investigative piece can be scrupulously fair. One complaint: late in the piece Yahoo cites "published reports" about complaints primo seats at Allen Fieldhouse are going to scalpers without even bothering to mention where the report was published.
Thursday 3:35pm ET
Notes: Michigan is 101-45 all time.
Iowa is 1-0 in the tourney (not
Michigan will open up their portion of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament Thursday against Iowa. The winner advances to the semi-finals of the championship round, the loser falls into a pit of despair also known as the loser's bracket.
Iowa owns a 2-1 record against the Wolverines, but they've already thrown their ace Jarred Hippen in order to get to this game. Michigan comes in fully rested and with all its pitchers at Rich Maloney's disposal.
A brief review of the regular season meeting and some thoughts on the tournament after the jump.
Michigan's epic document dump provides a harrowing window into the world of TPS reports, staplers, and increasingly alarmed emails that is the University compliance environment. I started reading these things and I could not stop, delving deeply to 73-page Exhibits that are little more than compliance folk making heroic efforts not to bludgeon the football administration and hardly getting responses.
A couple things are clear.
Brad Labadie should be fired. Now. I'll leave the decision as to whether he should be put in stocks on the Diag up to Brandon, but I vote yes. The vastly ineffectual management of Scott Draper should also see him go out the door. If either of these individuals had competently executed his job, there is a strong possibility this whole thing never happens.
Brandon said yesterday that none of the seven people who got naughty notes put in their permanent record would see further repercussions. I strongly disagree with this decision.
You Can Take This Job Description And Shove It, Except You Can't Because It Doesn't Exist
The CSO made several attempts to obtain written job descriptions for the quality control staff from Scott Draper and Brad Labadie during 2008 and 2009. A copy of the written correspondence related to these efforts is attached as Exhibit 15. Draper provided the first version of the job descriptions on August 28, 2009 after the University began its investigation following media inquiries. See Exhibits 3 and 4.
Exhibit 15… good lord.
Judy Van Horn asks Ann Vollano to get job descriptions for all sport-specific administrative staff. Her only sin here is saying "Let's strategize on how to implement."
Van Horn emails Draper about a meeting that Draper may or may not have to attend about "compliance monitoring systems that are under Brad's purview":
There have been some glitches with systems that Brad thought would work better under Rich but haven't as well as times where Brad has felt hounded by CSO staff and CSO staff have felt him to be nonresponsive. I think we need to touch base to make sure we can close out 2007-08 and have a workable plan and strong relationship moving into 2008-09.
In this email Van Horn mentions the CSO is expanding monitoring of QC-type people, a "growing employment area" subject to "increasing NCAA scrutiny and controversy" and they are proactively attempting to get these agreements in place in order to avoid any troubles.
If there is an issue with Brad, I need to know about it. If he was disrespectful or anything along those lines that is something I need to address. If it is not, then as his supervisor I should be made aware of it and handle it with Rich. … Please help me understand what is going on I am in the dark. If there is an issue I need to be made aware of it. Brad reports to me.
Vollano sends a memo requesting job descriptions for all sport-specific staffers in an effort to ensure Michigan is "meeting NCAA coaching staff limit requirements," asking for a response no later than August 22nd.
Vollano emails Draper, reminding him to turn in the form requested in August. Draper says he did it, asks Vollano to look for it again. Vollano says it is not present and the CSO has been "on high alert looking for it." Draper says he will re-do it and bring it in in the morning. Rich Rodriguez is CCed on this email. He does not receive further correspondence.
Vollano emails Draper having received football's "limitations form" but still needs the job descriptions.
I have left a couple of messages but I thought that maybe email would be easier. I want to remind you that I need job descriptions for all of your non-coaching-specific staff members, As you may recall, the "Designation of Coaching Category" form for the 2OO8·09 academic year was changed and to include space for each member of your non-coaching sport specific staff to sign. In addition, a copy of each sport specific staff person's job description was to be attached. I have your form but I do not have any job descriptions for any of the non-coaching sport specific staff. The job descriptions should include the title of the position and a description of duties. Once we have the job descriptions, we will have the staff members sign an agreement related to their role with your sport. The role of non-coaching, sport-specific staff continues to receive increased scrutiny from both the NCAA and Big Ten Conference staff. These agreements will ensure that we are meeting NCAA coaching staff limit requirements. Thanks for your attention in this matter. An Email would be sufficient if it is easier for you, Take care! Ann
P.S. I have attached a copy of the form with all of the signatures and positions that you turned in. lf there are any people missing, please let me know. Thanks!
Labadie responds that he "just listened to the voicemail from earlier where you said you are not taking it personally" and asks for the people who need job descriptions… that Vollano has already told him twice already on the memo.
The 28th: Draper submits a job description for QC staffers. It is a hastily slapped-together piece of crap.
The 29th: Free Press report published.
The 30th: Draper submits another job description for QC staffers.
You Say CARA, I Say "Shut Up, I'm Playing Halo"
You know the CARA forms? Yeah… about them:
The CSO made repeated requests for the CARA forms during 2008 and 2009. Most of these requests were made to Brad Labadie by email. See Exhibit 18. Scott Draper received a copy of several of the e-mail requests to Labadie. The CSO also notified Joe Parker, Senior Associate Athletics Director, Development/Corporate Relations, about the football CARA forms issues in early 2009. After the requests to Labadie produced no CARA forms from football, on May 19, 2009, the CSO office again informed Parker about the absence of CARA forms for football. Parker contacted Labadie and Draper about the issue the same day. Van Horn also notified University auditors of the issue, and the auditors found no CARA forms for football when they reviewed CSO records in April and May 2009. …
CSO officials did not meet in-person with Rodriguez to notify him of football's failure to provide CARA forms until July 30, 2009. The University is satisfied Rodriguez was unaware of the problem until he received the auditor's memorandum dated July 24th, 2009.
… The CSO was persistent in its efforts to gather CARA forms from football, including eventually seeking the assistance of the direct of athletics. The University believes, however, t he CSO should have met with Rodriguez to alert him to the CARA forms issue and seek his assistance much sooner than it did. The University believes that had the CSO done so, the CARA forms issue likely would have been addressed at a much earlier date.
The next section details what Rodriguez's part was in this. The U did not believe Rodriguez knew about the specific CARA procedures; RR states that he was not briefed until the summer of '09, but the matter was on multiple rules education agendas. Van Horn stated she and RR "agreed that Labadie and Draper would continue to be the administrators responsible for football compliance issues."
As you'd expect, the compliance issues are sheltered from the coaches as much as possible since they have more important things to be doing. The U is "satisfied Rodriguez did not know that the football program had failed to submit its CARA forms for more than 18 months."
Let's go to Exhibit 18, then. It's 73 pages.
"Compliance assistant" Rachel Strassner sends a general email asking for telephone recruiting logs, off campus contacts, and CARA forms for December '07—before Rodriguez was hired. On the 31st, Strassner specifically emails Labadie asking for CARA forms from October, November, and December of '07, telephone logs for December, and a bunch of other stuff. Again: before Rodriguez is hired.
Monthly reminder from Strassner. On the sixth, Strassner emails Labadie again requesting missing docs: one week of CARA forms from November, recruiting logs from Mike Debord, December telephone logs from all coaches, and October contact logs from most of the coaches. On the 12th she emails again asking for the missing CARA week, a number of contact logs, and everyone's telephone logs. On the 20th she's still missing the single CARA week and believes one other week has an overage.
Reminder ping. Strassner now sending emails with the subject line "Compliance Documents – STILL MISSING". The November 18th week that has been outstanding for months is still outstanding, as are contact logs and telephone logs. Questions about possible overages have not been answered.
A week later, Strassner sends an email to Michael Parrish, cc-ing Labadie and asking for CARA forms for January and February, February telephone logs, and February contact logs. Vollano replies to this, noting the university's auditor will be in on Thursday and "Auditors like to find things missing so they can put them in their reports." A week later, both Vollano and Strassner request the missing logs again. A week later, the email mentions the auditor "is in the process of reviewing football's records"; it does appear that the rogue November CARA form has been submitted along with most of the missing Carr-era documentation and the contact/eval logs from the first couple months of the Rodriguez regime.
Ping. Strassner now trying "Compliance Forms Missing – DELINQUENT." We have our first Labadie sighting as he emails that Carr and Rodriguez didn't make calls in certain months and that the CARA forms are "being completed." Quiet month after this.
Ping. Apparently everything except the CARA forms has been submitted because Strassner's gone down to DEFCON 3: "CARA Forms – Delinquent" and all the telephone/contact log mentions have been dropped. Unfortunately, as time passes the CARA forms keep building up. Labadie has not submitted CARA forms since January 6th. At the end of the month Strassner asks again. Also, CSO still needs Fred Jackson's telephone log from December.
Draper is now getting CCed on "Football CARA forms MISSING"; Strassner has taken the desperate, futile step of using the little doohickey that makes your emails "high" importance. CARA forms and the rogue Jackson telephone log have not been submitted. Getting slightly snippy: "Please let me know when I can expect these."
This is the point where Brad feels "hounded by CSO staff" and CSO staff feels he could be a tetch "nonresponsive." The department stops asking about the 2008 CARA logs here so it seems like they were submitted at this point.
Michigan sends a memo to all coaches and admin staff reminding them about CARA forms for 2008-09.
Strassner has either moved on from a student job or an internship or thrown herself off U Towers, leaving one Roy Shavers Jr the thankless task of attempting to get CARA forms from Labadie. He takes up the monthly pings. The U reduces the submission frequency from weekly to monthly. It is the CSO's hope that this will simplify the process by "avoiding the need to ask you at the end of each year to account for past weeks of your team's countable athletically related activities."
Just a ping.
Ping, and then Shavers emails Labadie to remind him he needs to turn in CARA forms for August and October.
Ping, ping. The U has pinged Joseph Parker at this point and he now (Jan 8) asks Draper, Labadie, and Parrish to get the CARA forms completed, mentioning that "we need to put a process in place to ensure this information is delivered to the CSO staff in a timely manner." Bill Martin is CCed. Labadie responds that he will get CARA "cleaned up" at upcoming meetings/workouts.
Twelve days later, Parker emails Labadie again asking about CARA.
Ping, ping. Parker emails on the fifth noting that "as a follow-up to our conversation yesterday, compliance has not received any CARA Forms for football for 2008-09." Draper replies that Brad is acquiring the "last remaining signature[s]" from the seniors.
Ping. On April 3rd Vollano asks "any idea when we can get the CARA forms?" Incredibly, she then adds "I do not want to bug you about it but as an FYI, the university auditors are going to start their audit of CARA" instead of "if you do not give me the forms I will chop your head off."
On the eighth Shavers emails Vollano noting that they are missing all CARA logs and the telephone logs from November, December, January, and March. Vollano pings Parrish.
Ping. On May 7th Vollano emails Labadie with a last-ditch plea: "I just wanted to let you know that the auditors are here doing CARA. They have an empty folder for football. Any chance you bring them over?" Double incredibly, she ends the email "Thanks for your help" instead of "I hate you so much."
Labadie actually responds here: "Figured out what the voicemail was about. Sorry I've been out this morning and I just got the auto reply that you are out later today." Vollano replies the next day asking for the forms ASAP so the auditors can review them, nothing that their report goes to "Bill, the President and Regents."
Two weeks later, Parker emails that Vollano has been requesting the documents for "several months" and asks if they can submit the CARA forms by tomorrow. Labadie replies "Yep. Had them finished yesterday at workouts and they should have been delivered today."
Poor, sweet Ann G.Vollano the next day:
For this, she has been officially censured. Poor, poor Ann G. Vollano.
Van Horn and Draper set up a meeting. Unclear why, but "CARA forms" is on the agenda. A week later, Michigan sends out the annual CARA memo. A meeting agenda with Martin on August 18th summarizes the "formal communication" regarding the 2008-09 CARA Form fiasco, noting that "at the time of audit during may 2009, no football CARA forms from the 2008-09 academic year had been submitted to the CSO," that "all other varsity sports" had submitted the forms, and that an "inordinate amount of communication occurred between CSO, football administrative staff and sport administrators regarding football CARA forms."
A section later it notes that "having student-athletes provide written verification of the time they spend in CARA activities protects the head coach and institution from unfounded allegations."
August 28th: CSO finally receives CARA forms for winter and fall of 2008. They are signed by Rodriguez, but not student-athletes.
August 29th: Free Press report.
August 30th: Vollano emails Labadie a special individual ping stating they need the August 2009 CARA forms. Labadie replies in 21 minutes. Subsequent CARA reports are submitted monthly with student-athlete signatures.
You'll note a few things other than a torrent of email from poor, sweet athletic department compliance personnel virtually begging Labadie for CARA forms: the documentation problems started before Rodriguez even arrived, that Labadie had been "hopeful" the bookkeeping processes would be better under Rodriguez, and not even the freaking auditors being in the office looking at an empty folder could get a response other than "ohhhhh, that's what that voicemail meant." The main document also states that Labadie was the responsible party for the warm-up and stretching time that put Michigan over on Mondays during 2009, although Labadie said that this opinion was based on conversations with Barwis. Why the person in charge of football compliance administration thinks he should talk to Barwis instead of compliance is unknown.
Most importantly, either Labadie lied to Draper when he said he was just getting the "last signatures" from the seniors for the 2008-09 forms or Draper lied to CSO. The main document states the CARA forms, hastily submitted the day before the Free Press report, have no student signatures. Draper, for his part, made zero effort to check up on his employee despite his apparent desire to play Tropico at work all day. He had no idea there was anything going on for months, and complained to compliance that he needed to know what was going on with the person who reports directly to him.
The worst part of all of this is how comprehensive, intelligent, and concerned the compliance side of all this was. CSO constantly badgered Draper and Labadie for the missing documents and was in the process of putting together a system that would hopefully have clarified what the QC assistants could and could not do. They anticipated potential problems with the QC staffers! Judy Van Horn just won a prestigious award and it's not hard to see why: Michigan's compliance department was machine-like in its precision. Its primary flaw was being far too polite to the unresponsive Draper and Labadie—not once did Strassner threaten to mail Labadie's pets to Albania, or shave his head in his sleep, or put him in a bun and leave him on Justin Boren's doorstep. If they had been cut-throat about it and immediately raised holy hell with Martin, Rodriguez, and others this may not have occurred.
Maybe there are things yet unrevealed by 100 pages of emails. Maybe there were behind-the-scenes reasons Labadie could not put the documents together. However, if there were the proper thing to do was to express this. Labadie didn't even get them in when threatened by an audit; it took the freakin' Freep report to get the sloppy, unsigned CARA forms in—the ones that Labadie claimed he was just getting the last signatures on five months earlier. The main document specifically states that when Rodriguez took over it was decided to leave the CARA process exactly the way it was under Carr, and Labadie still completely failed to file reports for a whole year when the system had been in place for several years and was apparently not an insurmountable task for anyone else in the department. Rodriguez's response makes it explicitly clear that no one informed him the already-prepared job descriptions for QC people had not been submitted and that the lack of CARA form submissions was also unknown. Why was it unknown?
Labadie told the enforcement staff that he did not tell Rodriguez that he had failed to submit CARA forms because he did not want Rodriguez to look unfavorably upon him.
There is no possible excuse for the massive breach in protocol here and the missing CARA forms and QC assistant job descriptions are the primary reasons Michigan is reporting major violations instead of a selection of secondary ones. Everyone involved with Michigan football compliance administration has failed massively and should be fired. Now.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board holds the answers to life's mysteries.
The annual BBQ at the Big House event came and went with little in the way of commitments, though the Wolverines reportedly improved their position with a number of prospects.
MD DT Darian Cooper (pictured at right) said:
"Everything went really well, we got to see the new renovations and the field and everything. We also had a quick tour of the academic facilities, and the food was really good. I really liked the bbq chicken, so that was nice"
Although he's not ready to name a leader yet, Michigan definitely did themselves a favor with this event.
PA LB Branden Jackson also talked to Tom:
The campus was really nice. I knew it would be, but it was really nice. Once I got around some of the players, too, I knew I wouldn't be left out. Everyone was just real nice, and made you feel comfortable. They weren't hyping anything, they were just being real about what they go through.
MI OL Anthony Zettel may have been edged closer to making a decision for the Wolverines ($, info in header).
VA DE Corey Marshall had his "eyes opened" ($, info in header) at the event.
The visit help Michigan "move up" OH WR AJ Jordan's list, to their current "high" position ($, info in headers). Jordan is a former teammate of Roy Roundtree, Michael Shaw, and Brandon Moore, which should help the Wolverines.
In case you missed it, FL RB Demetrius Hart didn't manage to attend. He'll visit Alabama and Auburn again before coming to Michigan (likely for an official visit). He recently impressed at a Nike Camp in Alabama:
Demetrius Hart impressed as well and showed why he's among the most heavily recruited backs in the region. Hart seemed to tire toward the end of the camp (temperature was in the mid-90s) but no one was more impressive early on. Hart is short but not small and is very well put together. He's an explosive back who can stop and start on a dime and showed great hands out of the backfield.
The article goes on to mention that Michigan is still his favorite.
With the BBQ out of the way, the next big event from a recruiting perspective is Michigan's summer elite camp, where borderline prospects will have the chance to earn offers, and some offered players will check out Ann Arbor on unofficial visits.
NC LB Kris Frost couldn't make it to the BBQ, but he'll attend Michigan's summer camp in July ($, info in header).
VA LB Antoine Pozniak hopes to earn a Michigan offer this summer. From the wording of the article, he may come to summer camp in an attempt to earn that offer.
MI CB/RB Raymon Taylor will definitely be camping at Michigan this summer.
The Chaminade-Madonna trio is going to try to make it to Michigan this summer, according to FL WR Curt Evans:
"I plan on visiting a lot of schools in the summer," he said. "I know we're going to Ohio State for sure, and coach said we're going to try and make it to Michigan and Notre Dame. I know we're going to go back to Florida and also see Florida State. By myself, I want to see Stanford, Vanderbilt and South Florida."
That would be a positive development in the recruitments of QB Jerrard Randall and S Jonathan Aiken, as well.
Michigan has offered a pair of OH TEs in Austin Traylor and Nick Vannett. According to Linebacker-U, Penn State also zipped an offer to Vannett just a couple days earlier. He had narrowed his recruitment to 11 schools early last week, but the new offers might change that:
On Monday, Vannett cut his list from 25 down to 11 schools. But by the end of the day, Penn State and North Carolina State sent offers his way. With the Nittany Lions on board, things seemed to change for Vannett. He told Scout.com's Bill Greene:
"Without a doubt, Penn State makes my favorite list"
Hopefully, that willingness to add the Nittany Lions to that favorite list means he's also open to doing the same for the Wolverines.
Since the end of the football season, Kelly’s visited Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Alabama.
“He’s just extremely, extremely athletic,” West coach Larry Cox said. “He’s really good on his feet. That’s what impresses Alabama, Florida, Florida State and Tennessee. Their coaches are extremely impressed with how quick he is and how light on his feet he is.”
With the Buckeyes filling up on offensive linemen, it might be easier than usual for the Wolverines to pluck a top guy out of Ohio, but there will be other top competition as well, as Alabama recently offered.
Last week, PA DE Desimon Green was "close" to a Michigan offer, and it appears as though he's received it.
Happy Trails, Present Or Future
Happy trails, GA TE Jay Rome.
Removed NY LB Quentin Gause (Rutgers commit).
The next few guys aren't off the board just yet, but probably will be soon.
AR QB Kiehl Frazier will make a decision soon. Michigan has not approached the top of his list, so there's just about 0% chance he picks the Wolverines.
A couple tweets from Cincinnati Enquirer recruiting guru indicate that OH QB Braxton Miller is close to a decision:
Nothing's definite yet, but it sounds like his mind is made up anyway. Since we haven't heard differently, it's safe to assume that decision would be for Ohio State.
MI RB Justice Hayes has Northwestern on top, and one of his former leaders is sinking ($, info in header). Some Detroit newspaper of no repute indicates that it's probably Michigan.
Tom grabbed a bunch of video at a practice in Chandler, Arizona, including some footage of QB Brett Hundley, who received a Michigan offer last week.
FL QB Kevin Sousa, like Demetrius Hart, was at the recent Alabama Nike camp:
Kevin Sousa (Orlando, Fla./Lake Nona) has been a frequent visitor to the Nike camps and the camp at Alabama was his third of the year... Sousa has great size and a huge arm but is still very raw. He continues to get better with each event and his confidence is growing. Sousa can make every throw and just needs to continue to improve his mechanics, tightening his release and understanding coverages and where to go with the football.
Shurburtt elaborates a little bit on his blog:
His arm strength and size has never been in question, but he’s improved his footwork and accuracy a great deal in a few short months. He’s also a high-character prospect that takes coaching well and has worked hard to step his game up.
On Saturday, he was very accurate and had even more zip on the ball that he normally does.
Raw, but plenty of upside. The "high-character" thing is new, but definitely a positive.
NJ RB Savon Huggins, who holds a Michigan offer, plans to narrow his list in July:
“I’ll have the top 10 by July, and I’ll cut mine down to a top five in the middle of the season,” Huggins said. “I will keep cutting down schools and stuff and then I plan to pick on signing day."
He says Rutgers is the only school guaranteed to make that cut, which means they're the likely favorite.
I actually removed FL WR/TE Kelvin Benjamin from the recruiting board recently, because there hadn't been much chatter of Michigan interest, but it sounds like the Wolverines are still after him:
“Florida has been down, everybody from Texas Tech to Rutgers, Oregon came down, Michigan, you know it’s just been going crazy in recruiting,” explained Benjamin. “A lot of offers and stuff like that coming in, just everybody been coming through. There will be like five recruiters at a one time coming through.”
Michigan is still lagging far behind in the race for his services, but it's good to see they're still pursuing this top prospect.
On the field Yruretagoyena has a mean streak to him and he finishes blocks really well. He's also surprisingly quick for a man his size so like many of the successful Duck offensive linemen in the past, he could play on either side of the line before his time is through in college. He's got very long arms and has been described as a mauler in the run game.
Athletic, big, versatile... sounds like the prototypical Michigan guard, though the author seems to consider him a tackle.
PA DE Deion Barnes comes in for a round of fluff from the York Daily Record:
And some time in the next eight months Barnes must make the crucial decision of attending college. Penn State, Georgia, Michigan, Maryland, Pitt and South Carolina are some of his favorites.
He's had to overcome some definite adversity in his life, but has made the right decisions:
"I've seen good football players, good athletes, turn into drug dealers and get put in jail," he said. "But I have a father who pushes me. If I do something wrong in school (my parents) get on me.
Regardless of where he ends up, it's good to see he's staying on the straight-and-narrow.
A couple quick hits from Phil Kornblut's latest recruiting column:
DE Deon Lee (6-4, 210) of Defuniak Springs, Fla., continues to favor USC ahead of Louisville, Texas Tech and Michigan... He might visit Alabama, Michigan and South Florida this summer.
TE Jerrell Adams (6-5, 220) of Scotts Branch has seen his offer list grow to include Clemson, USC, Arkansas, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Alabama, LSU, Notre Dame and Wake Forest. Adams said his top four are USC, Clemson, Illinois and Alabama with the Gamecocks still out front.
Adams is a new name here, but we were aware of Lee, who sounds like the more realistic grab.
KY LB Lamar Dawson will take his time making a decision, so don't expect a final choice from him until after his senior season. He also talks about his Michigan offer:
The Michigan offer surprised him. “It is a huge name in college football. They are still one of the top programs nationally and it’s really nice to be recruited by them,” Dawson said.
Seems like Michigan is a trophy offer, and not one he's that interested in pursuing further.
OH S Eilar Hardy is the subject of Sam Webb's latest Detroit News article, but he doesn't so much as mention Michigan, so there's nothing to see here. IL OL Patrick Flavin is hoping for a Michigan offer. NJ Ath/WR Miles Shuler claims to be wide open, but Oklahoma could be a significant factor, according to JC Shurburtt. Recent offeree OH OL Ray Ball favors... Indiana? ($, info in header).
just one more chance to use these babies after today
Recap. Read this again: Tentative Results of Jihad The Second.
Michigan's violations were borne of incompetence, sloppiness, and misinterpretation.
That's not why the Free Press story was major news last year. No one picks up the story "Michigan could be slightly over their daily allotted maximum in countable hours." The lurid allegations that Michigan was not just exceeding but totally ignoring NCAA limits on football-related activities are the entire crux of the Free Press article. With one brief assertion that the players interpreted the technically voluntary activities as mandatory, the Free Press dismisses the idea that a non-countable hour exists. In this they were not only totally wrong but dishonest. Honesty requires framing the facts in a responsible way. No effort was made at this.
One more tree. I previously asserted that Michigan's self-imposed sanctions would be accepted as-is by the committee given the recent precedents, but Compliance Guy foresees the potential addition of a year of probation (which who cares) and possibly the coach reduction it seemed like Michigan was anticipating when they hired Braithwaite:
While Michigan is reducing the staff that caused the football program to exceed the limits on countable coaches, Michigan is not actually reducing the number of countable coaches. This will be an area where the Committee asks why the penalty was not targeted more narrowly at the violation, and they may add a reduction in the number of countable coaches for 2010-11 and/or 2011-12.
This is phrased as a hypothetical, albeit one Compliance Guy seems to think has a better than 50/50 chance of happening. We'll see. I tend to think that Michigan has gotten very specific advice about what will be a sufficient penalty to self-impose, but he's the subject matter expert.
Man up. It's pathetic that the Free Press takes multiple direct shots from the university in their response to the NCAA and can't see fit to mention any of them in a whopping-for-print 2167 word story about the document dump today, which I will link sometime after the Sun engulfs the planet. The thing runs seven pages online and not one word is "exaggerated." At no point has the paper seen fit to defend itself from charges their initial story was essentially bullshit, and now the university itself has said as much and the Free Press chooses to ignore it.
Again, the reader is invited to compare and contrast the ethics of the two organizations. One immediately launched a massive investigation and forthrightly disclosed every document they produced or received from the NCAA within 24 hours of sending or acquiring it. The other has not seen fit to even comment on the vast discrepancies between their article and reality.
Furthermore, no other outlet featuring Official Journalists has seen fit to make anything but the most oblique reference to the shoddy reporting in the original story. How is that not news? It's hypocritical to circle the wagons.
BONUS: Brandon did interviews with "select news outlets Monday night": the News and AnnArbor.com.
Click clack. Rittenberg also highlights Rodriguez's attempt to put on a Steve Spurrier mask and bolt the room:
"I wish we could have got it done earlier. Get all this stuff behind us so the only conversation with the old ball coach is, ‘OK, who is your quarterback going to be?’ ‘Why’d you run this coverage?’ ‘What kind of scheme are you going to run on defense?’"
Okay. Deep breath. Okay. RICH RODRIGUEZ: YOU DO NOT EVER ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS USEFULLY WHEN I TELL TIM TO ASK YOU THINGS LIKE THAT. Argh.
The QC items in detail. The practice overages were obviously petty as soon as they were announced, but the NCAA's Notice of Allegations had some accusations leveled at the use of QC staffers that were vague. At the nasty end of the spectrum, Michigan could have been running an end-around on coaching limits intentionally. It doesn't appear this was the case:
They sat in on film sessions they weren’t supposed to. They attended coaches meetings that were off limits. And they took part in summer skill-development workouts that were restricted to non-sport specific strength coaches, trainers who work with multiple athletic teams.
But Rodriguez disputed charges that his quality-control staff improperly took part in winter workouts, an allegation Michigan accepted as fact.
In his response, Rodriguez argued that his quality-control assistants doubled as part-time strength coaches, something his filing says the NCAA allows and “Michigan’s chief compliance officer” - associate athletic director Judy Van Horn - “told the enforcement staff” may be “permissible.”
Back in the day I did notice the strange distinction in the NCAA rules between department-wide S&C staff who can work with athletes basically whenever and sport-specific S&C staff, who can't. There were still some violations there that deserved the punishment Michigan has proposed but the actual illegal contact with the players was due to a misunderstanding.
That reads like a Cohen brothers script, doesn't it?
Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man. Feldman tweet:
ESPN poll: majority of football fans think over 50% of BCS teams would be in violation of "too many hours" rules if investigated by NCAA.
As per usual. Wojo's column is about the only local take worth reading…
Michigan did what it had to do, and took great pains to explain its historic actions. It admitted guilt, in meticulous and frank detail. It outlined changes. And within the pages and pages of documents, it also took the next important step, and carefully began defending itself.
With one hand, Michigan slapped firmly, humbly. It acknowledged its football program committed major violations and placed it on self-imposed probation for the first time ever, a crushing day for the school.
…even though "crushing" seems an order of magnitude excessive here. Ed Martin was crushing. The practice violations here are frustrating, borne of equal parts incompetence and sloppiness.
Similarly, Adam Rittenberg leads off his initial piece with this:
Michigan begins its official response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations with a sobering statement.
The University of Michigan ("the University"), which fielded its first football team in 1878, has won more football games than any institution, all without a major infractions case. After more than 130 years, the University's football program is before the Committee on Infractions for the first time. The University admits the violations in fact occurred. The University is disappointed that its history of no major infractions cases in its football program has ended.
It can't be easy for Michigan fans or anyone associated with the football program to read those words.
Well… am I the only guy who thinks the Michigan reputation for sanctimony is ridiculous? The last person who should have been allowed to say the words "Michigan" and "Man" consecutively was Bo.
I don't really care that Michigan has been deflowered by the NCAA per se. I care that the picture painted by the allegations is of a complacent and/or dysfunctional athletic department, and I'm a little put off by some instances of finger pointing in Rodriguez's individual response (which may be right but adopt an unpleasantly accusatory tone from time to time). If the violations were something that seemed like a willful and knowing flouting of NCAA rules, I'd be pissed. As it is I'm pretty much indifferent. As long as the U takes the opportunity to clear out 40 years of cobwebs, I'm fine with the ethical state of the department. The organizational state is another matter.
The University's public response has a necessary quotient of hang-dog apologizing. Gosh we're really sorry, please don't kick our face in, etc. That's the organizational equivalent of coachspeak, done more to placate the committee than to accurately reflect how much hairshirting is going on in private. The penalties speak for themselves: not much.
Rittenberg, by the way, does mention the University's pointed shot at the Free Press.
Etc.: DocSat take.