As the story broke and as reports, clarifications, comments, support, etc. has come rolling in, and as I have tried to digest all of it including your comments, I have tried to wrap my head around the motivations of the two "reporters" [and I use that term loosely] at the FP. I asked myself what is it that motivates two UM alums to do this type of "gotcha" journalism? In these types of instances, the best thing to do is to look for the "common cold," as opposed to bizarre theories. Here is my conclusion:
1. Given that both these men were opposed to Coach Rodriguez being hired and that, even giving them the benefit of the doubt about their desire to seek what is best for the program, that there article is a deliberate attempt here to take down Coach Rodriguez, to get him fired, make him resign, etc. That is the big motive.
2. Given the timing of this article, it also seems to be an attempt to put any achievements of the coach under a cloud. This is not meant as a benefit to the program, to clean it up, reform it, etc. It is not just an attack on Coach Rodriguez with the goal to get rid of him, it is also an attack on his record. Just has he is potentially on the verge of turning this program around, these two writers have planted the seed: Coach Rodriguez only wins because he is a cheat. His "work hard" mantra is well known back to WVU, and the implication here is that he has only been able to win by violating the amount of time he "requires" from his players.
It used to be standard thinking that once the program started winning, Coach Rodriguez would be embraced by all and would finally become a "Michigan Man." By trying to pin the label of "cheater" on him, these two, who shall not be named, are, in my opinion, trying to forever prevent "the Hick" from becoming "one of us." By casting these aspersions, they can dismiss, even if only in their own minds, his success as the ill-gotten gain of cheating that does nothing but taint this fine institution. Even if he wins, now, he loses.
Without this, they know that sooner or later he will win, and when he wins, he will be embraced. And if everyone else embraces him, they will be expected to as well, something they could never do. "The Hick" will never be one of "us." Thus the smear campaign. It does not matter whether or not there is any truth to the allegations. As in most Main Stream Media, all that matters is the "Seriousness of the Charge." All that will matter is that the allegations are out there and that they can keep coming back to this hinting that even if the NCAA finds nothing that there must be some violation there because, after all, no one would make a charge this serious unless there was substance to it. The cloud will remain, not because it has any basis in truth, but because of the seriousness of the charge.
If this were politics we would call it the "politics of personal destruction." It is reprehensible, even in politics, more so in something as superfluous as sports. As I watched Coach Rodriguez, obviously hurting, seemingly in complete disbelief that someone would charge that he would harm his athletes, I was furious watching a good man being systematically attacked, "destroyed," and knowing that he was completely helpless to stop this circus. Because in the end, it does not matter that the charges stick or not, all that matters is the cloud that the accusation creates. He has been tainted in their eyes and no matter what evidence is brought to counter this charge, they will hold the charge over his head in perpetuity. That cloud says: “Cheater.” It makes me sick to my stomach.
Must have an existing Amazon account, watch the profanity, they require you to have your real name!
Have fun! It's already dropped from 4.5 stars to 3 stars, faster than a high school senior's Lemming rating when he signs with Michigan!
Seriously, it's petty, it's juvenile, but hey; it's all in good fun. Dude knows that 2/3 of the Michigan population that are alumni, fans, etc. now hate him anyways, and this was just his one chance to be the rat that jumps ship from the SS. Free Press.
So come one, come all, and sh*t on Rosenberg's book and be remembered forever as electronic byte's on Amazon's massive servers!!!
In all seriousness, I haven't been this pissed about the media covering Michigan in quite some time. It would be fantastic if the 'journalists' at the Freep would have read the actual NCAA rule book to determine whether or not any of these allegations regarding summer practice in fact have coaching staff present. And it really effects the credibility of those budding 'Deep Throats' that the majority of the players are either transferees, those who lost their starting position, or otherwise disgruntled refugees from the Lloyd Carr years.
The results of the last several years have been clear; excluding the personal motivation of individual players, as a TEAM, we were slow, fat, and not anywhere close to some of the elite teams in the nation. To consistently get there, the team needed to step it up a notch. No more pizza runs, no more wing runs. Work work work!
Dear Mr. Rosenberg and Mr. Snyder,
I read with interest your report about allegations of NCAA football violations at the University of Michigan. However, I felt that there were a number of areas in which the investigation and/or report could have been improved with more detail and comprehensive information. Certainly, there are space limitations for articles and deadlines to complete a project, but given the gravity of the subject, the report could have been more accurate and representative in the following ways:
1. Methodology - What specific questions were asked of players and parents? Was a breakdown of how the hours were spent asked of the players? I felt that additional characteristics were needed about the sources used (e.g., Carr recruit vs. Rodriguez recruit, number of former players vs. number of current players). I could come to a very different conclusion about the allegations if the report indicated that the sources were nine former players/transfers and one current player than if it came from 9 current players and 1 former player/transfer. Note that this can be done while still protecting the anonymity of players and parents who requested it. The report would have also greatly benefited from gathering information from a larger sample of individuals. While not all of this information needs to be included, the report would’ve greatly benefited from more detail about the nature of the interviews, what was asked, and source characteristics.
2. Confirming and Disconfirming Evidence - In the search for accurate answers to issues, individuals absolutely must seek out disconfirming as well as confirming evidence. This is true for scientists as well as for journalists. Unfortunately, I only found confirming evidence in the article published by the Detroit Free Press. If more players and parents would have been interviewed, disconfirming evidence would likely exist on this issue.
3. Report Context - The report also did not include any information on the recent (2008) NCAA survey results the USA Today published about the amount of hours collegiate student-athletes spend on academics and athletics. The NCAA study contained a large sample of collegiate student-athletes (N=1,600+ football players, N=21,000+ athletes), and indicated that college football players spend an average of 44.8 hours per week on combined involuntary and voluntary practices and workouts (http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/2008-01-12-athletes-full-time-work-study_N.htm). Were you aware of this study? If so, I would have either requested data from the study to get more information or at least mentioned the survey in the report. This certainly does not absolve any program from violating hour limitations placed on daily/weekly practices and workout limits nor does it address all the issues present in the UM report, but I felt it certainly would have indicated to the reader that this is an issue that is more widespread (in fact, it’s probably commonplace) and not an isolated problem with one program or one sport. Furthermore, it would have placed the report in a better, more accurate context.
4. Selective Quotations - What did the other players indicate about practice and workout requirements? The articles included selective quotations from players who had negative things to say about practice and workouts as well as an indifferent comment from a freshman (Je’Ron Stokes) who was indifferent about the issue (as noted in the article). Were all players aware of what was being investigated during the interviews?
5. Resolution of Conflicting Information - The report indicates that that one player (sharing the sentiment of others) indicated that workouts in the past two off-seasons at Michigan “affected people’s grades. People were falling asleep in class.” Yet, UM reported that the 2008 cumulative Michigan football GPA is the highest it has been in nearly 20 years. These two conflicting pieces of information needed to be fleshed out more, or at very least mentioned together.
I sincerely hope you strongly consider creating a more comprehensive, balanced, and well-rounded report on such issues in the future.
The pattern is always the same. Local paper reports on alleged misdeeds by the local football team. Blogosphere immediately and reflexively explodes, crying "Witch-hunt!"; and boycotting the paper and accusing the reporters of bias, grudges, you name it; and protesting that the coaches wouldn't so much as jaywalk. Recognize this pattern? From KU to USC to, um, UM basketball. To that end, I challenge you to list examples in which this pattern didn't play out accordingly -- in which charges of systemic problems turned out to be totally bogus. Can't think of many, can you?
Thou doth protest too much, I think. Most of you can't really feel that confident that RR is the victim of a baseless witch-hunt. Seriously, in your heart of hearts, you're at least a little concerned that RR, while perhaps a fine coach, is a bit...murky. Problem is, you either won't or can't admit it. Because you only want to hear what you want to hear. Because you can't handle the the (possible) truth. Because you're seeing this through blue-colored glasses. Which is usually a fine quality, but not so much when we're talking about potentially serious violations that, if true, seriously impact our players. I'm shocked that nobody seems the least bit concerned about this. And a little ashamed.
Let's be clear: Even the News confirms that the team exceeded the practice limits. The freshmen confirmed same, and please stop trotting out the red-herring re the manner in which they were asked questions. They were clearly describing their practice schedules, on the record, on tape. That at least ten players, former or current, complained is a sign of some sort of trouble, if only in terms of team unity. Never would have happened in years past. Last but not least: that everyone else breaks the rules is no excuse. This isn't Alabama or Miami. This is Michigan. We play by the rules, or ought to. Student-athletes, not athlete-students.
Our collective response, so far, has been textbook: defensive, whiny, paranoid, biased, Palin-esque, a joke to every other fanbase. We sound like the KU basketball base, circa 1970s. Read this postings, replacing ND with M, and imagine what you'd be thinking. It's absurd. Posters protest bias by displaying monumental bias. Get some perspective. Let's let the investigation run its course before drawing conclusions. After all, have you been practicing with the team all year? Do you really know what happened? No, you don't. So maybe let's let the truth play out, rather than play the truth. Hysteria smacks of desperation. If RR messed-up, he and we must suffer consequences; if he didn't, we'll all be stronger in the end. We went to Michigan, most of us. We have hearts and brains. Let's start thinking more with the latter. Go Blue.
It's easy for the media and fans to take shots at Michigan and Rich Rod right now, but the true fans to support him will be laughing all the way to BCS bowls in the future. Rich Rod is taking a program who was so stuck in their old ways, that became so predictable and arrogant. RR is trying to turn it around, and transform big blue into a lean, lightning fast team full of athletes. I'm excited to see the progression over the next few years, that's the best part of being a sports fan, feeling the lows of the team and then rising/improving every year to get back on top.
I can only hope that the team rallies together this week and has big time practices. I envision this team filtering their rage from last season and using these allegations to come together this weekend and destroy WMU. I'm looking forward to seeing the speed and agility I've been reading about all summer, I want to be able to silence my friends who talk smack about the team I love so much. I was listening to David Bowie the other day and there's a line in the song Changes that struck me. "time may change me, but I can't change time." That's the truth, with patience and support we will be back on top.
Those who stay will be champions.
During one of my daily harassments to Brian I brought up the uphill battle "real" bloggers may face with informing the masses against the "lolz" bloggers. By this I mean that, for every blogger, professional or not, that takes their authenticity and reliability seriously, I feel like there's five who seek to put out the most half-assed material possible for the sole interest of proving how bad rival teams are. The recent profile of Tennessee blogs that still cannot get over the Heisman issue and come up with every conspiracy available is but the tip of the iceberg.
It's relevance has come out too clearly as of late. While message boards exploded with the latest "RR steals children from their parents, Barwis puts them in a hole and demands they put the lotion on their skin" accusations, all of that crap from the past comes up. RR shredded the only documents available. The Barwis Files MUST have included similar proof. Argh.
The only solution is to remain coherent and possibly stay out of opinion battles and between the lines of "linkable information only." I'm already kind of embarrassed at some of the stuff going up by UM fans/alum and had to even hold back from doing similar. It's incredibly frustrating and while Brian has done an incredible job of vindicating any faith some of us may have in the likelihood of this being shoddy journalism, it also makes it so much more appealing to go out there and knock some sense into people. Fight the urge to return fire with fire, though. Please.
In my opinion, writing the Press will do nothing. The odds the paper will look at it seriously and not file it under "fanatic knee-jerk hate" is minimal. Threatening to cancel your subscription? Either do it or shut up. It looks like sour grapes and, frankly, if there is stuff there that the press knows that has yet to be refuted, we should applaud the effort because integrity should be the goal - not that the Press should bury anything negative. The same should go for posting material incendiary to other fan bases or the Freep. Make them look like shit by finding holes in the article, not in how much of a nozzle the writers are.
The title is derived from my main point: within one of the waning episodes of Season One of Eastbound and Down, Kenny Powers falls into an argument that, as it progresses, makes him look worse as he looks for a way to escape it without acknowledging fault. To continue to just vent angrily while this issue goes for or against UM can only lead to both sides coming to this:
"I ACTUALLY FEEL REALLY BAD NOW; IT'S JUST THAT, *I'M KENNY POWERS!* AND I HAVE A REAL HARD TIME EXPRESSING MY EMOTIONS BUT I'M NOT GOING TO STOP YELLING BECAUSE THAT WOULD MEAN I LOST THE FIGHT!!"
I'll get off the soap box now but it would be nice to see the fanbase rally to simply use the internet, logic and research to shoot these accusations to shit instead of being the fanbase who yelled the loudest.