This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
Mike Schofield (Sr.) emailed me after we spoke, and wanted to post this here. He's posted it at Rivals and Scout, as well. He's signing up for an account here, just hasn't gotten it up yet. So, I'm posting this for him.
As a parent of a Michigan Player/Student I find the story in the Freep nothing but nonsense, misinformation, bush league journalism and an attempt to tarnish the great name of Michigan Football, in short it think it is nothing more than Bullshit.
I have posted here long before this article came…and I give my permission to release any/all my post about Michigan football to the press.
As for the Freep, in a time of despair due to job loss, stock market struggling, gas prices high, job outlooks poor, we can rely on the Detroit Freep to attack America’s winningest College football program, East cost to West coast people love or hate Michigan Football, they are admired and or talked down about but always respected…..This being said, to publish information that is unsubstantiated is a poor/low down attempt to gain readers, viewers on a national level and raise the papers ratings at the expense of a great American football team, outstanding players, coaches and parents….
This news papers article is not only an attack on the program but the parenents and players, these kids are working hard….yes going to summer school, learning and getting acquainted to college life interacting with the community, fellow students in the dorms….
As a parent and as I have posted before, the Michigan Education was the most important thing to us, and during recruiting it was made extremely clear that Education before practice/football/games was the goal, the norm and no exceptions….
During the summer Michael spent more time studying going to class bonding with his freshman players and the other students in his dorm. Michael came home for visits, there were no signs of Barwis Police tracking him down…there were NO NCAA Violations, these kids played basketball, catch, and other sport activities with other college kids at the dorm, they went to visit sick children in the hospital and stopped by a summer camp for special needs kids…..where that in the Freep, that9s right that will not make national news…and is the truth…
I was joking with Michael in June when son Andrew came to a Michigan football camp,(JUNE 20) about Andrew being able to work with coach Frey in camp and learn new techniques and Michael who is going to be a player has not and will not get that chance until his camp starts in August…and this is True….
As I have stated in my posts this organization is all about competition, you compete for a position every day, some people cannot except this, they leave, or make comments, and even people outside the organization do not like this “the best player plays” concept and make up stories or comments. This is how rumors start….
Another thing, a poor reporter knows, when you go into a Media Day, and interview players you single out the freshman…they are 3 months out of High School have limited exposure to the media, so you ask them misleading questions . These kids are excited to be interviewed, and excited to put a positive look on Michigan and self serving reporters can get any kid to say what he wants by asking specific misleading information…
There is no practice prison where players are forced to workout hours a day, there are no coaches in disguises lurking the buildings watching players workout, there are no secrete passage where coaches meet players out of the public view….
In taking on this particular brouhaha, Dr. Saturday mentions perhaps the most relevant bit of context for the Freep article. As he says:
"A survey of Division I athletes last year revealed the reality: Time limits or not, big-time football everywhere is a full-time job that consumes vastly more hours than the NCAA officially sanctions -- and has to be, if the competition is putting in the same work. That players will "voluntarily" go above and beyond the proscribed limits is taken for granted."
Now quoting the linked survey:
"Football players in the NCAA's Division I Bowl Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-A) said they spent an average of 44.8 hours a week on their sport — playing games, practicing, training and in the training room — compared with a little less than 40 hours on academics."
So we should in fact be able to determine exactly how far above and beyond the average Michigan footballers train under Rodriguez. According to the Freep article, Michigan footballers played in excess of the NCAA maximum (20 hours) in the following manner:
"With three hours on Saturday and a full day on Sunday, players tallied about 12 hours on those two days. They were off Monday. Players said they would spend an additional three to four hours with the team on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, bringing the weekly total to 21- 24 hours."
Which brings the absolute total to 20 + 24 = 44 hours per week. And from the USA Today survey, we know the average is ~45 hours per week. While this doesn't exactly settle the question of whether this is right or why Michigan players are going to the press, it's clear the Freep didn't do its job. The proper frame for this is would absolutely be to cite prior investigations, like SEMO and SDSU and, if it existed, a massive survey of D-1A college football players. Clearly, the Freep would have no way of knowing if these things existed.
The major issue is settled. The real questions now are
A) Why are our players going to the media and anonymously at that?
B) Is there a legitimate concern here? Are these kids suffering as a result?
As to the latter question, Dr. Saturday helpfully reminds us of the incentives:
"Coaches follow the letter of the law at the peril of their records and their jobs."
True this. If the NCAA is going to allow the average to be what it is, new coaches with something to prove are obviously, in the very least, going to have to be at that average. Honestly, I'm very surprised that Rodriguez isn't well over the average. This potentially reflects far more on Carr than it does on Rodriguez assuming there really isn't a quality of life issue here. Mr. Hinton makes just that point:
"In that sense, assuming that Carr's staff really were the sticklers they're widely reputed to be (an assumption backed up by the Free Press' reports), the exuberance of their successors is just another case of Rodriguez and Barwis bringing the program into the 21st Century. The fact that they're being singled out may only be because they're doing it at one of the very few places that knows the difference."
As to the former question, the disconnect between what the players were doing and what they must now do to see the field may very well be the difference maker here. If Lloyd truly was running his program differently than anybody in the country toward the end, this kind of reporting would only come out here, about Michigan football. This is perhaps less the Freep's doing (outside of their inability to contextualize anything at all) than fall out from an iconoclast leaving the program.
I'm not too sure what to make of the "allegations". It seems that there were some former players (and I'm not too sure if the current players that were mentioned were just the freshmen that he cut and pasted their quotes) that didn't like the change in culture and want to throw stones.
My take: What it seems to me is that Rodriguez, Barwis walk in last year... see the dumbbells ala jack lalanne circa 19-ought-8... and after picking their jaws off the floor, they say "we have a ton of work to do". So they have their meeting with the players, say "this is how it's going to change", and in their minds they know they will suck, but let's whip these fluffballs into shape for next year. Workouts become hard, reallyyyy hard (comparatively, you know, like actual workouts now), and some don't like this change. Workouts beyond the 8 hours are "voluntary" as everyone winks, but just like every other sport, it's about who wants it bad enough. All they knew from the Carr days was full large pizzas and lifting some weight some times, right? Some shined in these situations, some didn't, got left behind, and now complained to a willing Freep who is more than happy to sensationalize it to end up on the ESPN.com ticker. The Brandon Minors excelled, the Borens didn't in this environment.
Mod Edited Formatting
In my mind, the Freep article left a host of important questions unanswered in its attempt to brand the Michigan football program NCAA rule-breakers.
1. Most obviously, who are these guys? The phrase "current or former" players is vague. How many are currently on the roster? How many left the program early? How many graduated? How many lost playing time under Rodriguez? How many were Carr recruits? All these questions could have been answered without compromising the anonymity of the sources. Why weren't they?
2. Speaking of anonymity, why were the former players allowed the opportunity to speak without attribution? The Freep offered this justification for granting anonymity: “The players and parents agreed to talk only if they were not identified because they said they feared repercussions from the coaching staff.” How does this apply to former players? Were they worried Mike Barwis would come to their houses and pull some MMA moves on them? I used to work for a media watch non-profit, and they liked to call these “spinonymous sources” – individuals granted anonymity on dubious grounds with an obvious interest in pushing one side of the story. A disgruntled transfer who has already cut all ties with Michigan would certainly fit in that category.
3. How many programs have off-season conditioning programs that, if required, would wildly violate the NCAA hour limits? How many of these programs strongly encourage their players to attend, so they can get bigger and stronger and compete for playing time? Would this quote apply to all of them? “‘It was mandatory,’ one player said. ‘They’d tell you it wasn’t, but it really was.’"
4. Why are the quotes from freshmen Je’Ron Stokes and Brandin Hawthorne in the story? Were they misled as to the nature of the story? Did their quotes add anything to the story’s contention that Michigan was requiring players, in violation of NCAA rules, to attend rigorous offseason workouts? With all the Freep’s concern for the anonymity of both current and former players, why would they put true freshmen in the uncomfortable situation of having their quotes used in a way they obviously never intended? The disclaimer that the players were “not complaining” does nothing to change the fact that these student-athletes are now forever publicly associated with a story eviscerating the program they just joined.
However, as NCAA sanctions and the like were mentioned, I began to see a glimmer of hope:
1. All programs do this. As everyone knows, in college (and high school sports, for that matter) off season workouts are not "voluntary", but mandatory if you ever want to see the field.
2. The coaches never strictly declared they were mandatory. Because of this, I'm not sure the NCAA truly can come back and slam the U-M football program. Besides, what are they going to do, take away our 3 wins from last year?
3. Finally, this seems to be another facet of the "wah wah family values" that we've seen develop over the last year and half. Hopefully the NCAA will take this into consideration when reviewing the situation.
After the big game in 2007, his personality changed. He had a seizure. He was soon diagnosed with a brain tumor. He fought it valiantly to include high risk, low reward surgery, but died just a few months later at the age of 43. He left a wife and four boys under the age of 13. He was a good man, a good father and a good friend. I should have been a better friend to him but life is busy and you never expect a timetable for such things.
The neighborhood did what it could to pitch in. I would mow his lawn frequently until the boys took over. Brian was always working on some project in the yard. Seeing these uncompleted jobs really hit home with me, truly representing a life cut short, incomplete. I digress. I guess that gradually life returned to some normality for his family. They seem to be doing pretty well, all things considered. His wife said that he will be honored in some way at the OSU/Navy game. Sam/Pogue, if you are there, lift a glass or doff your cap for my friend and neighbor. I will be fortunate enough to be at the Big House with my two sons.
I am more excited than I have been in a few years for the upcoming season. I hope to see Michigan return to winning ways. I'd love nothing more than to put it to those bastards from Ohio. But when I roll into the neighborhood with an "M" plate on the front of my truck, I am greeted by blond boys making goofy OH-IO hand gestures. I have to smile. It lends some perspective. Three and nine seasons, "being owned" by Tressel, even Rosenberg's "shocking" revelations don't seem to matter much. I just plan to enjoy the ride. Here's to a great, successful, safe and healthy football season to all--even in Ohio.