On the surface, the primary Freep article on this topic, A look inside Demar Dorsey’s recruitment to Michigan: What police records show; what U-M’s recruit says (link is to printer-ready version, no ads), is not problematic. It gives Demar a voice, and it lays out most of the facts. Fine.
On closer inspection, however, there are two not-so-hidden agendas in the article that deserve our attention. One is its attempt to defend Drew Sharp by continuing to argue that "Dorsey will be able to play college football … thanks to breaks he has gotten from the law" -- that he received "special consideration from law enforcement authorities" because he was "one of the country's highest-rated defensive backs." The other questionable aspect of the article is in its attempt to portray Rich Rodriguez as being disingenuous in his "wrong place, wrong time" comment. Neither of these gambits holds up under scrutiny.
Let's start with the first, which is a more subtle and pernicious version of Sharp's inflammatory "O.J." claim. One obvious point to be made is that in the summer of 2007, when Demar was still 15, he was not yet "one of the country's highest-rated defensive backs." He hadn't yet played as a sophomore in high-school. The consideration Demar received was the same the juvenile division gives any kid at that age in those circumstances. Maria Schneider, the assistant state attorney in charge, says as much in the article:
We are dealing with kids. The vast majority of kids stop offending. I hope this is one of them. … We try to take juveniles and judge them by the circumstances surrounding them. There are many, many things that can be taken into account.The facts are clear. Dorsey was twice sent to a diversion program, once as a first-time offender, and once because he confessed to participating in two burglaries on the same day. The police told the second victim about Dorsey's promise as an athlete and asked him what he wanted to happen:
I responded that I didn’t want the guy to get away scot-free because he freaked me out, to be honest about it. … But I didn’t want to screw the kid’s life up forever.So there you have it -- the victim/witness made the decision. Three older kids were convicted. Two younger kids where not. [I'm assuming that, because the Freep couldn't find a conviction for the other younger kid, there isn't one.] Okay, so there's some room for argument here. Demar's promising future was a factor. Just as it would be with any other kid with extenuating circumstances: high grades, class president, whatever.
However, where the Freep's thesis breaks down entirely is when it comes to the more serious felony armed-robbery charge brought against Demar later, when he was older. First, let me say that this is quite obviously what Rich Rodriguez was referring to when he said "You have to look into why he was in the wrong place at the wrong time." Dorsey was present in a car that was used in a mugging with a pellet gun. Here's what Demar had to say about it:
We was right down here going to my house. We dropped one of our players off, one of our teammates off. When we were dropping them off, they got out the car, tried to rob somebody. I was still in the car.So what do you think the Freep follows up this quote with? A rational reader would expect a comment on how, yes, indeed, Doresey does seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time in this case. But no... Here's what the Freep writers follow the above quote with: "Dorsey’s admissions to police in the … burglaries contrast with the portrait drawn of Dorsey’s actions by Rodriguez." No mention at all of how the armed-robbery incident fits Rod's statement perfectly.
Plus, let's not forget the other big-picture point here. If Dorsey was getting "special consideration" because of his status as a star athlete, how is it that he was arraigned and brought to trial before a jury? If he had done it, he would have been convicted. Indeed, we can surmise that someone else was convicted of the crime from the judge's statement:
The defendants all blamed one another as to who committed the armed robbery. My guess is what it came down to was identification.Was someone else convicted of this crime? Odd that the Freep would go to press without finding out this simple, verifiable fact. Let's also not forget that there is a jury verdict extant from the trial. It's right here. The verdict says very plainly that Demar has "been acquitted by a jury." I'm not a lawyer, but this document seems to call into question the judge's recollection of dismissing the charge against Dorsey at trial. Funny that the Freep does not mention it.
That's about it, then. The Freep says Demar got a huge break, but he was brought to trial before a jury. That doesn't sound like much of a break to me. Moreover, a judge and/or jury decided that he didn't do it and that he was indeed in "the wrong place at the wrong time." Only someone with an agenda could possibly argue that Rich meant the burglaries, which Demar confessed to, by "the wrong place at the wrong time." The Freep jihad lives on!
Some people are obsessed with Rich Rodriguez. I’m obsessed with why so many people seem to hate him. I wrote a half-tongue-in-cheek analysis of the RichRod haters (funny note: the stuff about vengeful West Virginia hillbillies was before finding out that WV leads the nation in RichRod Googlestalking). But with National Signing Day and the fallout from the Demar Dorsey questions during the press conference, I had to revisit the topic. I’m covering some old generation gap ground here, but dammit this is my diary so stop now if you like.
A quick note: Rodriguez should have been more prepared to answer tough questions about Dorsey and handle those questions with more cool. Yet he provided an answer, saying that he had checked the background of every player. So why wasn’t that answer good enough for Sharp, Birkett, etc.? Well, I believe that if Bo, Lloyd, or even Mark Dantonio had given that same answer, there would have been no follow-up. Because the press fears and respects those guys. Rodriguez? Not so much.
Why don’t people respect Rodriguez? The losing at Michigan is obviously a big issue, and winning will solve many problems. But not all of them. Beginning with Bo (and perhaps earlier; I’m no Bump Elliott expert), Michigan has been coached by a taskmaster field general. Demanding, strict, somewhat dictatorial. Moeller may have fit the same mold, but the incident at the Excalibur damaged him terribly – no longer was he the feared leader, he was the pathetic drunk. He was replaced by Lloyd Carr. More intellectual than Bo, he was still the tight-lipped fearless commander, the great lion, the general to lead men into battle.
Rich Rodriguez is not these things. He is a leader, and he has proven he can be an effective one. But he’s not the strict sovereign. He is the fun-loving, loosey-goosey, affable coach [EDIT: should probably just say "He has an affable and good-natured public demeanor, compared to his predecessors more known for withering stares sprinkled with the occasional dry wit."]. Players appear to respond well to that kind of leader. But the media, and many others, do not. Without saying so, they want the coach to be the fear of God disciplinarian. They want to be intimidated. Because when they feel intimidated, they are reassured. They secretly want old-school Dad, and they don’t know what to do with new school Dad.
Mark Dantonio, bless his soul, is the old school Dad that Rich Rodriguez (and John L. Smith) is not. When Drew Sharp cites the double standard, he’s basically saying “Me, Mike Rosenberg, and everyone else want a Dad I fear, not a Dad I play games with. We want Woody and Bo or Tressel or Saban. We want a Dad who listens to classical music or talk radio, not rock or R&B. Old school Dad reassures me that all is right with the world. New school Dad scares me, and reminds me of terrorists, recession, and the decline of all that is good in America.”
Don’t get me wrong – there are reasonable reasons to dislike things Rodriguez says or does (losing games being offense #1). But the generational gap amplifies every negative reaction. It’s not “Rodriguez didn’t answer the question”, it’s “Rodriguez didn’t answer the question and didn’t try to stand up to me or stare me down and where are all the real men in America and what is happening with this country and everything is so complicated now I can’t handle it and dammit RichRod I hate you.”
To sum up: Rodriguez, by being new school, invokes a series of complicated overreactions among people who aren’t quite sure where they stand anymore. Dantonio, by being old school, provides a refreshing, nostalgic respite from everpresent change. The media, and many of the general public, consciously or unconsciously gravitate to that reassurance, which is why we see such different portrayals of the two programs. And it helps explain why Michigan benefitted so much when its coach was old school and MSU was new school.
But second, let me ask: when was the last time you watched a Michigan athlete dance and swagger around like a trash-talking clown because he was soaring on the knowledge that he was athletically superior to everyone else in the game? Not dance and swagger on occasion, but as a state of being. A player that was constantly feeding off the rush of his own talent, employing his physical tools wildly, freely and playfully, like an excited kid just given the controls of a fighter jet.
We have had superior athletes. We have had superior athletes with plenty of charisma. But we have not really had what I described above since the Fab Five. We have not seen it since Webber, but especially Jalen. Watching them was one of the most exhilarating (if sometimes maddening) experiences of my life.
Now third, watch this film immediately:
If you judge only on these few plays, a few things seem clear:
1. Dorsey will not be instructing our team on tackling fundamentals
2. Dorsey was the fastest player on the field in the UA game
3. Dorsey thought he was the best athlete on that field
4. He could hardly stop dancing around like a fool because of points 2 and 3
Where do I stand on all this? I will make my feelings plain. I like it. After years of tight, "dear God don't go the wrong direction" play at safety I am ready for an insanely gifted trash-talking kid who plays a reckless but decisive centerfield and then flaps his arms like a bird. I want that guy at the back of my defense. I want to see his winged helmet come flying into the viewable screen in a blur after starting the play 15+ yards deep.
I do not want him at corner. I want a Fab Five free safety. In 2010. Too much to ask?
I know that others have been posted. But, I wanted to share my letter as well. Thank you for reading. I did not go to UofM, but I am Michigan fan. Meaning, I root for anything positive in OUR STATE! One of the things that we take most pride in is Michigan football and to watch a "newspaper" continue to attack one of the last things that we still cling to as a community, especially with all the economic turmoiL is rather disheartening. Anyhow, here it goes:
Drew,<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
First and foremost, I am 26 years old. So, for as long as I can remember I have been reading your articles. For the most part, I am usually indifferent about your viewpoints. However, as an Ex-Division I-A athlete I am exponentially disappointed in your most recent article titled, “Michigan takes chance with Dorsey, but why?” They real why is…Why on earth with some “news” reporter take it upon himself to take the time to deteriorate THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT DAY of this young man’s life? I for one, do not understand this. Thinking back to signing day 2002, when I signed my Letter of Intent to go play for Urban Meyer at Bowling Green State University, I could not imagine one thing that could have ruined that moment for me. Until, I read this article. I could only imagine this kid’s disgust and angst with the surrounding cities and state that should be providing him the most support over the next 3 to 5 years of his life. Instead, we take the first opportunity we can to pass judgment on an individual, that realistically, we don’t have the authority to do so.
Maybe instead of questioning the University of Michigan’s Head football coach, as all your readers know that you enjoy doing at every opportunity to do so, or their administration maybe you should consider taking the time to do your due diligence and find out the kid’s background. Obviously, there are some tremendous individuals that have done their research and believe that the kid is worth taking a shot on. Florida and Urban Meyer, Florida State and Jimbo Fisher, USC and Pete Carrol/Lane Kiffin, only to name a few. Not to mention, before any school extends a full athletic scholarship to any potential student-athlete it is usually pre-approved by the athletic director. Demar Dorsey had scholarship offers from essentially everyone in the Nation and he chose to the University of Michigan, because of the support system that he believes will be best suited for his success as a young man. Now, he can personally thank you for showing him the warm welcome that he will receive once he is here. He trusted that university and our community to extend his talents to our region for the next four years of his life. The least that we could do, is not pass judgment and give him a fair shot at being successful. In NO SENSE, was he ever convicted of any crime. The court of law has proved him to be innocent, the court of public opinion should not take it upon themselves to assume that this young man is going to be a lifelong criminal. Instead of attacking every move the Rich Rodriguez makes, you should take the time to get to the know the STUDENT-athletes that you continuously attack verbally through means of your newspaper. This is a high school kid that is in question, I could only imagine what his parents would say to you if they had the chance. I understand that controversy sells your newspaper, but this is an off-based article that has done nothing more than diminish a remarkable accomplishment that this young man will remember for the rest of his life. PLEASE DO NOT FORGET, where “we” come from that it’s a blessing and a privilege to even have the opportunity to go to college let alone an institution like the University of Michigan. We should be celebrating his accomplishments until the day he has let our community down. Look at the MSU incident for example, some of them are really good kids from incredible families. I know them personally, but they made a dumb mistake. WHY? Because, they are young men still growing and learning about life. As adults, it is completely irresponsible of us to assume that the thousands of diverse young men playing football across the country are going to be immune from adverse incidents as they journey not through school, but LIFE.
I am done with my rant, but I really hope that you take what I said into consideration. Maybe you do not care what people think about you, but please don’t take it upon yourself to determine this kids future. As a “news” reporter you are highly influential, the things that you write about people can carry with them for the rest of their lives. I for one, do not believe that this kid deserves that treatment at this time. If he does fail his peers, family, university, coaches, community, and MOST IMPORTANTLY himself by squandering away a million dollar opportunity due to any future troubles then take to the time to accurately report his failures. Let’s celebrate his accomplishment as I am sure that he has defied the odds to be where is today. Everything else we should not concern ourselves with and in this case it would be safe to assume that 40 plus top-tier universities that show interest in this young man and his abilities did their due diligence to ensure that he has the capabilities of being a model citizen.
Thank you for reading,
I wrote this open letter to Drew Sharp after listening to Sharp's podcast provided by BlockM. Should he reply, his reply will appear in the comments. Anyway, here it goes:
I am going to preface my email by telling you that I am a Michigan student and a lifelong Michigan fan, as I feel that it is only fair that you are aware of this before I address the subject of your comments about Demar Dorsey. Furthermore, I will also say that I have no problem with your asking questions about Dorsey’s history to Coach Rodriguez, as that is justifiably part of your job as a reporter. However, I do take issue some of your comments made on your 1130 radio show, having listened to the released podcast.* Also, it is only fair that I inform you that this is an open letter and I will make public your the entirety of your response, if you are so kind as to provide one.
First of all, I question your stance on accepting athletes who have been charged with a crime, but not convicted. As I understand it, Demar Dorsey was acquitted of an armed robbery charge and had charges of burglary against him dismissed. Based on your comments, I assume that you do not believe that athletes who are charged with a crime (or at least, charged with a crime and brought to court), should be allowed to play for the University of Michigan. I take issue with this because it means that any teenager incorrectly charged with a crime is automatically precluded from playing football at Michigan through no fault of his own. As Dorsey was acquitted, and Coach Rodriguez says that he has investigated the matter and believes that he did not commit any crime, I cannot see any moral justification for denying him the opportunity to play football at the University of Michigan. According to your view on how Michigan should conduct itself, Michigan should not accept any player accused of a crime, even if the university believes the player to be innocent, on the basis of upholding a high moral standard. Forgive me, but that seems to be rather disingenuous.
Second of all, I question the journalistic ethics that you have applied when commenting about Demar Dorsey. You compared Dorsey’s acquittal to OJ Simpson’s acquittal without giving any link between the two cases other than the fact that both of them involve football players. Furthermore, you heavily suggested the possibility, and seemed to insinuate that you believe it is likely, that Demar Dorsey was not found guilty because he is a high profile football player. I take issue with this because you did not justify this suspicion with any evidence. You did not discuss any specifics of the Dorsey case, including the evidence that the prosecutors presented in his jury trial. You did not provide any quotes about Dorsey by anyone who knew him. In fact, the only thing that you provided as reason to distrust the Dorsey verdict was a sweeping generalization of football players in the court system, claiming that football players often receive favorable treatment in the justice system. And the only evidence that you provided to back up this generalization was the OJ Simpson case, a heavily publicized trial involving one of the most famous NFL players of all time. Forgive me, but that does not seem to be a fair parallel to a trial involving a high school football player in Fort Lauderdale.
As you consider yourself to be a legitimate journalist, I feel that it is your obligation to provide specific details and a body of evidence to support your view that there is reason to doubt that Dorsey actually committed any crime. If you do not do so, as a journalist it would be unethical to do anything but recant your previous statements and offer an apology to Demar Dorsey.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
*Here is the link to the podcast I listened too, should you wish to hear the entirety of the comments that I am writing to you about:
There is always a debate about the significance of recruiting rankings when teams don't have the same number of recruits. Here's the question for this year.
Is it fair to rank UM's class higher than OSU's, as a number of the recruiting services have done, with rivals not even putting OSU in the top 25?
Some argue that OSU’s class is only ranked lower because they had a smaller class size. But how does class size affect the impact of the recruiting success of the entire class.
We can get a very crude idea of the impact by asking a purely hypothetical, simplified question. Suppose you have a class the size of UM’s and each recruit has an independent, 50-50 chance of succeeding. Then the likelihood that more than half of the recruits succeed is itself, coincidentally, 50% (see link). By contrast, the chance of success of the same number of recruits in the smaller class for OSU is only 2 %.
But what if we raise the chance of success for OSU's recruits (with an average rank about 6% higher in scout or rivals, as I recall)? Let's be generous and say that each of OSU’s recruits has a 10% greater chance of succeeding than UM’s. Then the chance that their class succeeds as a whole (more than half contribute) is still only 9%, less than a fifth of UM’s.
This oversimplified analysis admittedly ignores possible dependencies, heterogeneities, different degrees of contribution, and the fact that recruiting more players today may lead to more spaces next year, or vice versa. However, it’s uncertain how important the latter is.
UM’s large class this year may also be due to the smaller size of prior years (after attrition) as compared with OSU’s. So, prospectively, it is possible that we will be able to recruit as many as OSU in the coming few years—somebody might check this out. So, possibly, this year, we just made up a lot of ground and evened the playing field in numbers, while also making this year's class a lot more likely to succeed than OSU's.