I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
Hello: Dave Brandon. Another media flurry with Dave Brandon's official ascension to the top job in the Michigan athletic department. Here's a jerko on Fox business acting all jerky:
I feel like that fat X-Wing pilot… "stay on messsage. Stay on message. Roghbaobahraraha"
Anyway, there were a ton of articles mostly rehashing what we already know about Brandon or reflecting on Bill Martin's tenure. There are a few relevant new quotes. The first is undoubtedly a response to a "what does Rodriguez have to do to not get fired?" question:
“Much like your boss, there’s a lot of different things you look at,” he told AnnArbor.com last month. “Certainly you need to see progress and some of that’s measured by wins and losses, but it’s also measured a lot of other ways. And when I’m in a position where I can evaluate as closely as I need to and I want to, all those metrics and all those measures will be clear between the coach and me.”
Brandon backed his coach then and on Monday reiterated his support for Rodriguez.
"He's our coach for this season," Brandon said. "There's nothing within the framework of the NCAA allegations that led me to believe that it should change his status as our coach."
Some people are making a deal out of Brandon explicitly stating "this season," interpreting it as an implicit threat. FWIW, I interpreted it as a way to avoid questions about Rodriguez getting fired in August or October or whatever. No one can scurry off to write an article about Rodriguez getting canned once Michigan goes in front of the committee.
Birkett asked some excellent questions that got stuck in a sidebar-type object. Advertising in Michigan Stadium? Very likely not:
"When I was a regent and this subject came up, we went out and did pretty qualified, professional, third-party research on the views of our fans, our season-ticket holders, the people who are the most important to us in terms of paying customers of the game-day experience at Michigan Stadium. And the research I saw at that time caused me to conclude that the thing that was the most objectionable, the thing that turned off the fan the most, was the idea that they would come to a football game and they would be blasted with advertising. ... I think it was Sam Walton who said if you don’t know what to do ask your customer. I asked my customers a lot before I make these kinds of decisions, and at least the last time I looked at the data our customers would tell us that they really didn’t want to go there and so I think we should be very, very careful and sensitive to that."
Unfortunately, Brandon is an anti-playoff luddite, but no one's perfect.
The city that time forgot. It's Toledo! I have no idea what the header is supposed to mean. Fearless Leader headed across the border into Toledo to speak at the National Football Foundation dinner, and he brought his zingers. Don't take my word for it, listen to the Blade's Ryan Autullo:
“It's good to be invited anywhere,” Rodriguez said, in the first of several zingers that drew laughter from the crowd.
Zingers. You see, Rudy? Part of that article is an interview with Rodriguez that hints at some maturity issues with Tate Forcier last year:
"I've told Tate as you get older I'm going to expect more out of you. I really think he's done a great job in the weight room the last six or seven weeks, but that's not an issue for him as far as commitment to football. It's everything that's encompasses being a UM athlete. Tate went through some freshmen trials with that and now it's time for him to grow up and go.”
"With that?" I could just be imagining things but that seems to be an indication that Forcier was somewhat less than dedicated at points last year. Supporting evidence: the Facebook explosion that led to the gut-churning week of transfer rumors. There's not a whole lot else that's new, but this is… odd to contemplate:
How would you describe your relationship with Ohio State coach Jim Tressel?
“We've got a great relationship. We got to know each other a few years back at various functions. Apparel companies will send you on a little week's vacation — the coaches and their spouses — so we got to know each other there."
Also, Orson responds to a Rodriguez quote on the media coverage of his program. First, Rodriguez being diplomatic:
The media coverage of your program has been tough. In your opinion, has it been fair?
"That's an interesting question. I've never really thought about it much. You understand it's part of the job. A lot of people say there's so much more media coverage [at UM] but really, at West Virginia, we had quite a bit of media coverage, and good media coverage.
Orson then brings down the thunder:
"Did RichRod just not grant us superiority over the West Virginia media?" Ann Arbor Media Scrutiny Force, assemble and strike for the Fourth Estate! <---most inflated sense of self-importance in any small media market ever and that includes Alabama football media oh yeah bitch you read that right. Rich Rodriguez has been appropriating office supplies at a breakneck, reckless pace AND WE HAVE FILM!
Final aerial. I really think these tempo-free aerials should be centered on the league average instead of 1.00, because this sort of looks like Michigan is totally average at everything:
They're not. Remarkably, Michigan's actually much better on defense than offense in the Kenpom numbers and I assume that a conference-only Kenpom would be even better since Michigan's early attempts to roll out the 1-3-1 were totally disastrous and the thing was scrapped entirely by the time conference play rolled around. The offense did not undergo any similar improvement, though Minnesota fans will be forgiven for thinking otherwise. I bet a dollar Michigan's two inexplicable outbursts against the Gophers are a major reason they're underwater defensively, and headed for the NIT despite checking in at a strong-for-the-bubble 35 in the Kenpom rankings. I'd feel bad for them except that "eeeeeh Gophers" cheer is irritating.
The next 2010, for now. Yost Built summarizes some recent recruiting news. The biggest item is news that spectacularly-named Ontario forward Matia Marcantuoni will definitely end up at Michigan if he heads to college. Marcantuoni is a potential #1 OHL draft pick and would team with Boo Nieves to make Michigan' early 2012 recruting class a spectacular one both on the ice and the back of the jersey. That goes double since Michigan is apparently hot after goalie Dalton Izyk in the same class. Izyk is a Nieves teammate and was the #1 goalie at the Select 15 camp this fall.
In re: Izyk and a couple other goalie names for down the road, Yost Built asks this question:
Izyk is an early-94 as well. Assuming he'd be scheduled to come in in 2012, that brings up an interesting issue: Would you go for a goalie for 2010, have him compete with Hogan as a freshman, start as a sophomore, and then compete with your youngster as a junior and senior, or would you roll with what we've got again next year and hope to get the kid to accelerate and come in as the starter in 2011?
That answer seems totally obvious to me: get a goalie this year and leave Hypothetical 2012 Goalie in the class of 2012. Goalies are erratic, tough to predict, and develop slowly. The last guy Michigan brought in early was Billy Sauer, who was flat bad his first two years (.898 and .896) before dropping a damn good junior year (.924) that ended with Nickelback and Creed in the Frozen Four. Hogan won the job as a sophomore, but even so Sauer's save percentage in 13 games as a senior was 0.921. Hogan had a .914.
Instead of going the Sauer route again, I'd much rather bring in a guy right now and have two viable goalies on the roster next year in case Hogan does not rebound from his poor play, have a sophomore in 2011, and then real competition past that. There are two good to excellent prospects out there in Jeff Teglia, the save percentage leader in the USHL, and probable mid-round NHL draft pick Joel Vienneau of the OPJHL. Neither is Jack Campbell but both have better pedigrees than Hogan, who had a save percentage of .889 on a good USHL team (they were 27-13-3 with Hogan in net and only gave up 25 shots per game; Teglia's team gives up 29) and did not get drafted. If Michigan can get either one of them, they definitely should.
Oy. Really? We divert you from your regularly-scheduled Free Press bashing for this from the News's Terry Foster:
Wolverine fans were thrilled that Beilein finally got Michigan into the tournament and acted like that was some major accomplishment. It isn't. If you are in the Big Ten you should have at least a 50 percent chance of making the tournament.
Meanwhile Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Oakland University and of course Michigan State have all played in NCAA tournament games since Michigan last did.
That's true for one of those schools, actually, and is something you mentioned in the previous paragraph. But thanks for playing. BONUS:
Sims will probably leave after this season and it will be interested to see what a frustrated Harris does.
What say you, page 25 of a Google image search for "fail"?
There's tossed off nonsense and there's a total ignorance of many things, including Michigan basketball and time.
(HT: Maize n Brew.)
Iowa. Asian pop bands. A love that is forever. Via the message board, another inexplicable Asian pop song in which the Hawkeyes feature prominently. This one is less pedobear and more 120 Minutes.
One correction to the MGoBoard poster: Girls' Generation is totally not obscure. "Gee" was the longest-running #1 song on KBS's Music Bank, I will have you know.
Enter the Schnell. Michigan will play Howard Schnellenberger University, also known as Florida Atlantic, in 2012:
It appears the Owls will play at Michigan in 2012 barring any snags in the final negotiations.
"It looks like both sides are amenable to it," said FAU AD Craig Angelos.
I don't really care who Michigan brings in as a random tomato can, but do have a preference for local schools. I guess the FAU game is a vague attempt to increase Michigan's profile in the state, or something. Rod Payne is a coach there and Grant Debenedictis an athletic department employee, FWIW.
"Hey, in my kit back there where I've got all my dope." I hit up NCAA.org today in search of APR information to update last summer's post about what will certainly be a dip in Michigan's numbers this year—more on that later—and the top headline is the fourth item in a series about Division II reform. This would normally rank low on my list of things to bring you, but here's the topic:
Hourly limits to be evaluated in Phase II review
Among the areas of review in Phase II of the Life in the Balance initiative is the nebulous “20/8-hour rule,” which regulates athletically related activities in and out of season.
Given that it’s difficult to understand and even harder to track (the rule trips up Division I institutions, too), it’s probably going to be tough for the Division II Legislation Committee to develop recommendations for modifying it.
The NCAA's official website just called the in- and out-of-season hourly limits "nebulous," "difficult to understand," and "even harder to track." So there you go.
Well… yeah. Add this to the pile of former Michigan players asked about Rich Rodriguez who all basically say the same thing in different ways. It's Brandon Graham's turn:
“After the season, we said that, ‘you can’t be up for so long, eventually you have to pay taxes,’ ” Graham said on Saturday. “That’s how we look at it until we get it back up. That’s what we’re going to do. I hope them boys get right next year. Because coach (Rich Rodriguez has) only got one more year — if they don’t do (anything). Because of the allegations, and then, if you have a bad year, then you’ve got to get someone new.”
Again, this is just a different version of the same opinion heard in all of these quotes. They don't say anything about Rodriguez, really. They say something about the guy offering the quote. Brandon Graham, as per usual, is win.
Target date for reacquisition of mojo. … If you mean "enough for Rich Rodriguez to keep his job," there is no patience for those questions to work themselves out; it's 2010 or never. The Wolverines need seven regular season wins to ward off the inevitable mob clamoring for Rodriguez's head, which probably means breaking even in Big Ten play, which means winning more conference games this season (four) than the 2008-09 teams won in the last two combined (three).
That's a dramatically lowered bar relative to anything Michigan has considered a reasonable standard in 40 years. At this point, though, beggars can't be choosers: Every energy this fall has to go to getting back above .500, finding something to hang a helmet on and setting higher goals from there.
A theory put to the test. My swanky blogging program has an auto-link capacity that I've used to link to my Bleacher Report hating (hey, there it goes) since I published it. In that post is this assertion:
The mere fact that people can't immediately tell the difference between the dreck on the Bleacher Report and your average MSM columnist is perhaps the most damning criticism you can offer of MSM columnists.
Now we'll get an opportunity to test that out in practice. A few newspapers desperate for free content have signed one of them content-sharing agreements. Congratulations to newspaper subscribers in Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Seattle: you are the vanguard. Someone who works for a newspaper said this:
“Bleacher Report’s publishing platform provides a powerful way to serve our readers quality, original content that complements our own coverage,” Stephen Weis, executive vice president of the Houston Chronicle and general manager of Chron.com, said in a statement. “Working with Bleacher Report, we’re able to reach out to local fans and add a variety of viewpoints on each of the day’s sports stories that matters most to our readers in their home markets.”
Sporting News colleague Dan Levy says "there's something missing" in his BR critique on the Sporting Blog. This is because Dan Levy is a very nice man. I have many theories as to what the missing thing is that are not very nice. I do eagerly anticipate the day when either the Free Press or the LA Times hops on board and people can't tell the difference between Plaschke, Sharp, and a 14-year-old whose main interests are Tony Hawk and imagining what it would be like to touch a boob. Dress them up in Official Journalist trappings and give them once-over from a copy editor and it'll be hard to distinguish.
Etc.: Tom Harmon goes to work.
don't call it a comeback, jihad's been here for years
After Tuesday's press conference we have all been apprised of what Michigan stands accused of and can go back to the original article and this site's response to that article and evaluate those claims for accuracy. One thing leaps out at me about my response: having little experience with "major violations" that didn't involve hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash changing hands, I didn't comprehend where the line between "secondary" and "major" lies. It turns out that everything down to a few TRENCH WARRIOR hats is major, so this paragraph that wraps up my deconstruction of the journalism-type substance turns out to be wrong:
The Free Press systematically overstated their case by omitting contextual information and misrepresenting quotes about voluntary workout programs. They have repeatedly raised the specter of major, program-crippling sanctions. They took a side, and if that side turns out to be wrong the people responsible for the story should be held responsible for their errors in judgment.
They won't, of course. If and when Michigan releases the results of its internal probe and announces they've come up with either nothing or a pu-pu platter of secondary violations, people will laugh at NCAA enforcement, cite the Jerry Tarkanian quote, and laud the journalistic effort that went into proving football players play a lot of football.
…but only the word "secondary." Michigan will get hit with a major violation after all. They will take some largely symbolic punishment. This is not victory for the University. But it's closer to a win for them (and it's not very close) than it is for the Free Press.
A series of quotes. The Free Press:
Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4-hour limit. The Wolverines also exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, the athletes said.
"The allegations are true," Clemons said. "Nothing is fabricated or exaggerated in that story. I was there on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. depending on if guys needed treatment. You were there daylight to nighttime."
I am willing to wager many amounts of money that the Sunday lifting was of the variety that fits the NCAA's definition of voluntary, as was the film. The rehab/examinations/dinner and any downtime in between practice and film and other activities definitely don't count. At no point has anyone in the media even broached this possibility. It has not occurred to them. Some of them specifically omit it because it conflicts with their aims; some are just professional parrots.
When Michigan releases its compliance information, Michigan will check in at four hours of countable activity on Sunday. If they're over at all it will be by a small amount. I bet a dollar.
Between August 31 and October 26, 2008, football student-athletes were required to participate in as many as five hours of countable athletically related activities per day, which exceeded the maximum of four hours a day, on several occasions, including, but not limited to, August 31; September 7, 14 and 28; and October 5, 12, 19 and 26. Additionally, during the week beginning October 19, 2008, the student-athletes were required to participate in approximately 20 hours and 20 minutes of countable athletically related activities, which exceeded the maximum of 20 hours per week. [NCAA Bylaw 184.108.40.206]
Someone owes me a dollar.
There is another allegation accusing the program of even slighter overages (a half-hour at most) during the early parts of the 2009 season, after the article came out. We will see why Michigan went over when the details come out, but it's safe to say given David Brandon's statements that Michigan will argue they were erroneously lumping stretching in with various explicitly non-countable activities. 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.
They omitted useful context like this statement from NCAA president Myles Brand:
"Once you get past 40 hours, you're really pushing it, I think."
It took two seconds to Google that. It came from an article in an obscure paper called "USA Today" that featured a survey that found D-I football players spent 45 hours a week on football-related activities.
They kept every player who spoke anonymous, even those who had left the program, except for the freshmen whose words they twisted badly. They ignored a raft of articles with quotes that provide context relative to other Division I programs:
To combat any complacency, Meyer has ordered strength coach Mickey Marotti to design the most difficult offseason that Florida's ever had.
"If there's any resistance," Meyer said, "that guy's not going to play."
And they didn't put the word "countable" in their story once. This was not ignorance: when I asked Mike Rosenberg if he knew what a "countable hour" was, he said yes. Mark Snyder, ironically, refused to answer.
They did all this in service of making Michigan's marginal rules violations—violations that college football coaches attest to SportsCenter anchors would befall 90% of Division I—seem utterly lawless. A newspaper that cared about journalism would fire everyone involved with the story now that the NCAA's worst-case scenario has definitively proven that the truth was a secondary objective in the Free Press story, if it was considered at all.
As for the program: we don't know the details of what went on yet so I can't say whether or not this has a major impact on my opinion of Rodriguez. The NCAA allegations fall in a gray area where it's not immediately clear how bad the violations actually are or are not.
The in-season overages are laughable, consisting of some days that were slightly too long and exactly twenty minutes of actual extra time beyond the 20-hour weekly limit. If the out-of-season overages are entirely encompassed by extra conditioning for kids who missed class, they're stupid on the part of someone in the department but basically honorable. I think there will be other things, though, as there are overages for both "voluntary" conditioning and summer countable hours. What those things are will matter.
The situation with the quality control staffers—obvious here from day one as the most damaging section of the allegations—is potentially worse. I've heard plenty of potential mitigating factors and some of the charges, like "QC staffer helps players stretch," are self-evidently TRENCH WARRIOR-type violations. Others seem like organized efforts to avoid NCAA rules. If they are that's at the very least stupid. If Michigan has a reasonable explanation for this that the NCAA accepts, fine. I've heard they will, but that remains the quintessential rumor you want to believe.
I'll withhold judgment on the program until then. My guess is that it will be sloppy on Rodriguez's part and worse for certain members of the compliance staff. After some heads roll and Michigan gives back some practice time, it will be over. Dave Brandon has quite a job to do reorganizing the department into something competent.
This is a softball strike against Rodriguez. Another NCAA investigation that turns up anything major and he's gone. Does it affect how much he needs to win next year? Not for me personally, and I don't think for anyone important.
What would change that? Sanctions, self-imposed or not, that seem to seriously impinge on the program's ability to compete the next two years. Scholarship reductions that last past 2010. (IE: are anything other than symbolic.)
A final note: I can't emphasize enough how much of a hit job this was. Until such time as Drew Sharp, Michael Rosenberg, and Mark Snyder are no longer at the paper, if you are a Michigan fan with a Free Press subscription you should terminate it immediately. If you link to a Free Press article it should be the print page and it should be nofollowed. If you visit the Free Press website, you should have adblock on. If you write for Michigan's Rivals site you should not write for the Free Press. It's not because they took a swing at Michigan's program. It's because they were blatantly dishonest in doing so.
A little background on Michigan and Demar Dorsey from a reliable source: Dorsey started seriously looking around after Urban Meyer had his momentary retirement and both Charlie Strong, his future defensive coordinator, and Vance Bedford, his primary recruiter and future position coach, left for Louisville. Bedford, of course, had two stints as Michigan's defensive backs coach under Lloyd Carr.
Michigan got involved with Dorsey when Bedford called up Rich Rodriguez and told him to look at the kid; Bedford personally vouched for his character.
In my years writing this thing, the red mist has descended and I've lit up an unsuspecting dullard quite a lot. Here's a tempo-free aerial of various college football blogs measuring crankiness versus verbosity:
As you can see in this highly scientific study, the combination of crankiness and verbosity here is virtually unmatched. If you write something dumb about Michigan sports, chances are I've called you horseface or fitted you for a Darth Vader mask or stated my surprise no one has tazed you, bro. This is either an asset or a detriment to the site, depending on who you are and the topic at hand. I'm not sure which myself.
But one guy I've mostly ignored has been Drew Sharp. Other than one incident where Sharp suggested that the Big Ten had totally caved in their Comcast negotiations because Comcast could switch the channel to a digital sports tier when his own paper was reporting that this was complete bunk, he's only drawn mention in UVs when his book reviews are hilariously negative or he doesn't understand the First Amendment. This is because criticizing Sharp for being an incompetent bomb-thrower is like criticizing Kim Jong-Il for creating a backwards nation of racist dwarves: yeah, you're right, but that's the goal. Drew Sharp is North Korea on paper. What's new?
But a man must draw a line somewhere. Here's my line: when Drew Sharp uses Demar Dorsey as a piece of meat for his own personal gain.
A selection of things Sharp said yesterday while pushing his contention that Michigan shouldn't have signed Dorsey:
MATT SHEPARD: "He was timed with a 4.4—"
SHARP: "Avoiding police."
SHEPARD: "That happened when he was 16 and he was acquitted.
SHARP: "I wonder if that was because he was a high profile recruit. Hmm. I wonder. … OJ got acquitted. Being acquitted doesn't mean you're innocent."
"If this was any other 16 year old facing charges on buglary [ed: of an unoccupied building; dropped], armed robbery, and assault [ed: fictional charge], that kid might be serving probation. He probably thought 'I have to go to trial so I can get this off my record.'"
"I'm done with second chances. I have a hard time believing this kid Dorsey's learned one damn thing through his close calls with the criminal justice system."
SHEPARD: "It's been a couple years… has he gotten into any trouble since?"
SHARP: "Not that we know of! … It's naive for for people to automatically assume that you have to give these guys another chance."
SHEPARD: "Why take a chance?"
SHARP: "It's desperation."
He's also got a column but since it starts "It's not National Signing Day. It's National Sighing Day," I refuse to expose anyone else to its toxic brain-killing funk. It's basically the same premise, except on paper and written by a third grader.
Drew Sharp doesn't know anything about Demar Dorsey except that when you search for his name in a Broward County database it comes up with a traffic violation and two felony charges, one of which was dropped and the other he was acquitted on. He only knows that because someone on the internet did it for him. The amount of research he has done to make these statements is exactly zero.
This is not enough information to make sweeping assertions that Dorsey probably wasn't innocent, doesn't deserve a "second chance"—in this case a first chance, but whateva—, that it's desperation to take a kid Florida*, USC, and Florida State were after, and that you have to be naive to think Dorsey hasn't gotten in trouble since. He defamed the character of a high school kid he's never met, and the point is that it's a "risk" for Rodriguez and Michigan.
A risk of what? A risk Dorsey does something dumb in college and doesn't make it? That's a risk for Dorsey wherever he goes, and since one of the reasons Dorsey cited for leaving Florida is that being farther from home will help him "concentrate on football" coming to Michigan makes it less likely that happens. And dumb stuff is a risk for Michigan no matter who they sign.
The risk appears to be that Sharp and his fellow hard-hitting journalists will follow up with articles when and if Dorsey messes up. Articles like this:
There's more drama down the road at the other school, but Michigan State doesn't mind the boredom.
Rich Rodriguez dismisses a wannabe drug dealer from Michigan and immediately there are suspicions regarding the tautness of his program -- procedural questions that were once mostly asked of Michigan State head coaches.
Yet on the same day, Mark Dantonio welcomed back a running back freshly released from a four-month jail term for hospitalizing a hockey player during a campus fight last fall. Dantonio placed unspecified restrictions on the player's return, reminiscent of Lloyd Carr's private penal policy at Michigan, and the actions barely raised a public ripple.
Roles are reversing. Perceptions are changing.
How did that work out again?
As I wrote at the time:
I'm not even mad. I'm impressed. Here Sharp acknowledges the double standard—at his own newspaper, in his own column—and uses it to criticize Rodriguez and praise Dantonio. He sits at A, takes a good hard look at B, and then leaps to Q. I hope he donates his brain to science.
So because twits like Sharp will misrepresent hypothetical Dorsey misbehavior it represents a risk that Rodriguez shouldn't take no matter how long Vance Bedford has known the kid—over a year—and how flimsy the sketchy past angle is.
For this he spends two days dragging an innocent—literally—kid's name through the mud. So he can have attention.
Here's the thing: Rich Rodriguez cares about his players. When he left West Virginia, they were the only people in the state to defend him. When the NCAA stuff came down and Rich Rodriguez had his press conference about it, he hit his shakiest, teariest point when he was talking about the effects this had on his players. When you listen to Mike Barwis talk about Pacman Jones, the pain is evident—they just couldn't straighten him out enough. He has a good track record. He was right about Pat Lazear, and his disciplinary record over the past five years is considerably above average. Every time he picks up a guy with a rough past and puts him in college he's trying to make the kid's life better.
And yet he gets painted as a bad guy by people who don't care about anything but themselves. Drew Sharp is a selfish, cynical bastard. He's made a career out of making people angry with his half-assed, research-free opinions. He's a disgrace to journalism. If the Free Press had any scruples whatsoever, rampantly bashing a kid with no evidence, or even an effort to collect any, would be so far beyond the journalistic pale that no combination of weasel words could save him.
As part of the segment, Sharp read an email from a current Michigan student than finished "You are a classless, insignificant human being. I am glad that regional newspapers like the one you work for have become obsolete." In response, Sharp said if the kid read the regional newspapers he'd have a better idea of what's being reported—something Sharp could work on himself—and about how blinkered fans were.
I'll let Sharp condemn himself:
Until you get your heads out of your back pockets and look at everything, don't stand up and pass judgment. Because you make yourself look like an ass.
Indeed. In four years, Demar Dorsey is likely to be in the NFL or graduating from Michigan. Drew Sharp is likely to be unemployed.
*(The story that Florida dropped the kid because of his quote-unquote "checkered legal past" is obviously crap. Dorsey had been a Florida commit for over a year. If Florida dropped him it's because he was wishy-washy about his commit and they didn't want to get ditched by him at the last second when they could go out and get an nearly equal recruit who wouldn't jet.)
A final note on Dave Birkett. The AnnArbor.com reporter was also part of the stir by repeatedly pounding Rodriguez on the Dorsey "point." He didn't make any criminally insane and cynical assertions afterwards, so there's that. It is a valid question to ask.
Note the plurality, or lack thereof, of "question." Rodriguez provided the nothing answer he was going to, and when the followup met a nothing answer it's clear that's all you're going to get. Not like that's a surprise, anyway. Birkett would not let it go, though, and dragged it out until Rodriguez got slightly steamed and Dave Ablauf had to step in. This did nothing except waste time. You're not Woodward and Bernstein, you're a freaking entertainment reporter. It's disrespectful to the rest of the room and everyone trying to find out information that Rodriguez would actually communicate if asked about to harp on one topic.
Not even convicted? Next question, coach--we don't even want to finish this one, since clearly Demar Dorsey has no problems whatsoever and will be a fine addition to the football team. That, Michigan fans, is what it would be like if you were anywhere else in the nation and had a recruit with a couple of nasty juvenile arrests, but the Freep is on the scene for this extremely overblown story like the WITI TV 6 news crew. DURR HURR WHY DOES RICH ROD RECRUIT THUGZ OUTRAGE HURR. Because some of them are fast, can play football, and can be kept out of trouble for four years while they win football games? The Michigan press is the polar opposite of SEC press corps, and we mean that in the good and bad way: not fawning, but also convinced there's a potential Watergate beneath that Gatorade bucket over there.
In which I defend Notre Dame. Seriously!
Gregg Easterbrook first came in for a lashing around these parts when he claimed Rich Rodriguez had been in contact with Michigan before West Virginia's game against Pitt without a shred of evidence and used this in a tiresome broadside at the idea that a college coach would take a better job. When this was totally disproven by actual court records, Easterbrook—who loves to complain about New York Times errors being on page one and corrections on page 37—did not deign to notice, instead launching tiresome broadside after tiresome broadside at "weasel" coaches.
It's December again and a major program has just hired a coach, so it's time for yet another tiresome broadside:
Charlie Weis and Bobby Bowden had to go -- Notre Dame and Florida State weren't winning every game! Get rid of the bums! All we heard from sports commentators, and from alums and boosters, was get rid of the bums, we gotta win, win, win. Sorry to interject, but why? Why does Notre Dame or Florida State or any university need to win every game? Is it now official that big colleges care more about sports than education?
You'd think a guy like Easterbrook, who is paid to be a political pundit, would have at least a tenuous grasp on economics: Florida State and Notre Dame would like to win because if they do not win they get less money for their athletic departments. If they continue to stick with coaches who are not performing, fan enthusiasm will crater and they'll be faced with the dissolution of a tradition treasured by thousands. Why am I explaining this to you? You understand this because it is obvious. Nevermind. I'll stop treating you like you are a simpleton.
Easterbrook, on the other hand, seems determined to display his ignorance at every opportunity. In previous columns he's claimed Michigan Stadium's renovations are being paid for by "public funds," which if true is only true in an extremely technical sense since the athletic department is and remains self-sufficient*, and that Michigan "surprised" Notre Dame by running the no-huddle style of offense Rich Rodriguez has been deploying for almost a decade at big important newsworthy schools.
In this column his impression of Notre Dame's recruiting under Weis is totally wrong:
Notre Dame was among the few prominent holdouts, insisting its football players be students too. This generated a recruiting disadvantage -- and a recruiting disadvantage caused by high standards, not Weis suddenly forgetting how to coach, is the reason for the recent records of Notre Dame football. Notre Dame alums and boosters should have been proud that high standards keep the school from going 12-0!
According to Rivals, ND's recruiting classes under Weis: 8, 8, 2, 21. (The 2005 class was technically signed by Weis but was almost entirely the (lame) creation of Tyrone Willingham.) Every class at Notre Dame except redshirt seniors and freshmen was part of a top ten recruiting class.
Easterbrook also suggests that the past two decades have seen a "race to the bottom," providing no evidence other than Florida State's recent cheating scandal. He places Nebraska in a list of "academics-first colleges where football players are more likely to attend class"…
…which is a hilarious juxtaposition of concepts. He dubs Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick's desire to not go 6-6 a "bizarre notion." In his attempt to make a case that big time division I-A football can be won by nerds he cites playoffs at lower levels all the way down to Division III and Director's Cup standings heavily biased towards nonrevenue sports. When he returns to the "weasel" coaching meme—which appears to be any coach who takes a job anywhere else and thus includes some 80% of I-A coaches—he cites Brian Kelly "misleading" his players when Kelly, more than any other coach in recent history, was publicly open to a move. He freakin' tweeted about it.
Reality is just something that gets in the way of Easterbrook's arguments.
The worst thing is that buried in yet another Easterbrook-patented tiresome broadside is a concern I share for the players who play college football and end up coming out the other end with little except some memories and a concussion or two. He's not wrong that the way the NCAA is constructed is increasingly silly. Money gets poured in and ends up going to coaches because it can't go to players and has to go somewhere. The result is yet more ridiculous salaries at top schools. The first million-dollar coordinator isn't far off.
But Easterbrook eschews anything resembling a useful suggestion in favor of calling people weasels when they're just acting rationally given the situation. Here's my suggestion to help divert some of the torrent of cash to the players that has more than a snowball's chance in hell of being approved: allow programs to offer players in revenue sports two free additional years of scholarship after their eligibility expires as long as they enroll within five years. At that point it should be clear if you have a serious professional future and those who want to buckle down and make it in the real world will have an opportunity to get a degree that will help them do that.
*(You might note that part of that link is a complaint about the tax-deductibility of athletic department contributions, but that's not the only part that decries "public" funding; the issue is explicitly framed as "and on top of the public funding of the stadium renovations, here's this problem with donations."
As long as I'm in a footnote, let me mention how breathtakingly stupid that argument is: Easterbrook and his emailer are whining about Michigan spending money that will convince extremely rich people to give them more money.)
So your favorite former collegiate head coach, the guy in charge of your favorite team, one of college football's top coaches, and a guy with a meathead haircut all found themselves on the receiving end of various kinds of unfair, incorrect, or nasty-but-deserved media attention. A confusing allegorical play in four mostly unrelated acts:
It's Just A Flesh Wound
Last week on The Sporting Blog I called Bob-Stoops-to-Notre-Dame an "unkillable zombie rumor" after Stoops had to make four progressively more emphatic announcements that he wasn't going to make an unprecedented leap from a program he built into a national power to one that's been no more successful than Purdue over the last 15 years.
It has now graduated to Black Knight status, though:
Saturday's edition of the Chicago Sun Times reported that multiple sources told the newspaper on Friday that "Stoops hasn't said 'no' to Notre Dame."
This was an interesting take on the words "I will be at Oklahoma. Any reporting to the contrary is completely unfounded." Technically, the words "wild elephants could not drag me to South Bend" are not in that statement. That, however, doesn't make it any less definitive. "I will be at Oklahoma." End of story. Unless you're the Sun-Times and you're bound and determined to keep after the dumb rumor you're almost singlehandedly responsible for perpetrating in the mainstream media.
Bob Stoops on saying no to Notre Dame:
"For the third, and hopefully final time, let me again state that I will continue to be the coach at Oklahoma. I appreciate the history and tradition of Notre Dame. I also appreciate the history and tradition of Oklahoma, and I have been part of building that tradition here.
"I work for a wonderful president (David Boren) and athletic director (Joe Castiglione), who have created an incredible work environment at OU. There haven't been any plans for a meeting or negotiations with Notre Dame and there will not be. Any reporting to that fact is completely erroneous. I will not be the next coach at Notre Dame."
This is how plains Indians must have felt after the United States broke yet another treaty with them, right?
Checking Is For Commies
Fake email that started minor Bielema-to-ND meme that would probably still be going on if ND sites hadn't posted the reveal.
All right, lolmsm and all that. But Stoops isn't the only guy batting away meritless rumors about his involvement with Notre Dame:
UW athletic director Barry Alvarez, who's with the team in Hawaii, said Friday morning that he has no knowledge of any interest on Notre Dame's part in speaking with Bielema.
"I haven't heard anything," Alvarez said when reached on his cell phone. "He hasn't said anything to me, and nobody's called me for permission."
Bret Bielema? No offense to a guy coming off a bounce-back year any Michigan fan would kill to have, but NDNation would have a meetup just to kill and eat each other if Bielema became head coach there. And, lo, the faintly plausible rumor was created whole cloth by one guy emailing a disreputable web site that just posts whatever crap someone sends in:
2. Friend composes a very short, but specific email: I used to work in the athletic department at Notre Dame (a lie), and I have heard that Jack Swarbrick is interested in Bret Bielema, the head coach at the University of Wisconsin. This was at 6:56pm last evening. The email is sent from a free gmail account. There is no other email sent from friend, no attempt to "sell" the rumor beyond the initial communication, and nothing else to back up his credibility.
3. Meanwhile, friend has another buddy randomly tweet a few times about the Bielema rumors, and goes to bed.
4. FootballCoachScoop does not reply to the email. FootballCoachScoop does not ask any followup questions. FootballCoachScoop, to friend's knowledge, makes no attempt to verify emailer's bona fides in any way.
5. The next morning, FootballCoachScoop runs the rumor almost verbatim. Friend chuckles and shares the development with a few friends.
This expands, getting picked up by "the Examiner," which is like a Bleacher Report that people haven't figured out is almost always garbage yet, then hit rumor first, accuracy later College Football Talk—an offshoot of Mike Florio's Pro Football Talk—and poor Rittenberg's Big Ten blog before the hoax was widely known. (BGS had actually already posted it.)
Your blogger has a couple emails in his inbox that might be innocent but look pretty hoax-y declaring that Rich Rodriguez will be fired the Monday after the Ohio State game, by the way.
This Direct Quote Is Out Of Context
Meanwhile, Charlie Weis ceased speaking to the media in the final days of his regime. I get this. If I was a head coach who knew his head would be on a platter in a matter of weeks, I wouldn't waste my time with a bunch of tedious questions about what went wrong. I might even call a special press event type substance with five hand-picked media members, and I might even go all FootballCoachScoop on tales of Pete Carroll's mysterious grad student affair:
Q: Is it frustrating to Pete Carroll, for example, portrayed in one way...
CW: Let me ask you this question: You guys know about things that go on in different places. Was I living with a grad student in Malibu, or was I living with my wife in my house? You could bet that if I were living with a grad student here in South Bend, it would be national news. He's doing it in Malibu and it's not national news. What's the difference? I don't understand. Why is it okay for one guy to do things like that, but for for me, I'm scrutinized when I swear. I'm sorry for swearing; absolve my sins.
At this point I would diverge, though, since attempting to take something off the internet is pointless and once you say stuff it's impossible, and a little dishonest, to try to take it back. Weis said it and he meant it and if it was supposed to be off the record that's only 5% less of a nasty move. He's then put this thing in the heads of five people off the record and set Pete Carroll's Grad Student on the same path as Rich Rodriguez's Impregnated Cheerleader, a zombie meme that lives in dark corners and emerges every time School X has a problem with Coach Y.
This One Really Is Out Of Context
I didn't mention the "Rich Rodriguez doesn't care about black people" moment from the bust in anticipation that a fuller picture of the comments would come out. WTKA's Ira Weintraub mentioned via email that Rodriguez's faux pas was a reference to an earlier speech by a regent. And lo, Dave Birkett provides:
Regent White talked earlier about, uh, it’s really kind of ironic that the New Orleans Saints overcome the hurricane a few years back. And I used to live in New Orleans, coached there for a couple years (at Tulane), and I know how devastated that city (was) and how they overcome and rebuilt their stadium, rebuilt their program from the ground up. And we’ve had a few hurricanes of our own. And we had a big hurricane in August and it kind of hit us like a ton of bricks. But you had 120 young men and a bunch of people on staff say this is not going to tear our program apart. In fact, it’ll do just the opposite, bring us together.
So, yeah, I wish Michigan had a coach that didn't misuse the world "ironic" and am pretty sure at some point in his life Rich Rodriguez has used the word "literal" to emphasize a literally untrue assertion. But Rodriguez is making a nod at one of the regents' Michael Scott impersonation and then riffing on it extemporaneously in a fashion that probably seemed unwise to him as the words were coming out of his mouth. (This has happened to me, plenty.) No one bothered to mention it except one of the two freakin' guys who wrote the piece Rodriguez is referring to, and that guy removed important context that would have taken one sentence to provide. Too good to clarify, I guess.
As for how much this matters, TSB colleague Andy Hutchins provides the right comparison:
These comments may actually match Nick Saban's penchant for grabbing Pearl Harbor and September 11th as metaphors for tragedy, what with Rodriguez talking about the human cost of Katrina purely in the prism of football, but it's less outrageous than it is ineloquent.
What difference does it make? It makes none.
I don't really have one. I just had all this media stuff in my open tabs.
I do think there's some common theme here about partial information being evil: Stoops rumors are utterly baseless but go out of control so much that Stoops has to issue five separate denials of varying strengths, Bielema is momentarily implicated in the ND coaching search and only the hoax reveal keeps him from being hounded further, Weis throws a nasty rumor into the pool that will stick with Carroll forever, and Rodriguez's comments are removed from their context by a guy with a stake in public opinion of Rodriguez. In the one instance where the comments are a full transcript of the words spoken, the speaker's problem is that his comments were not elided from the record and leaked as a whisper campaign.
I guess the thrust is this: I don't believe Weis's retraction for a second because his response to it was to have the offending passage excised from the Rivals transcript instead of demanding that the context be irrefutably provided by one of the guys who was taping the conversation. The evidence is there. Release it. Similarly, Rodriguez's inelegant statement was made to look worse by the omission of information. The Sun-Times failed to clarify just why they thought Bob Stoops was going to be Notre Dame's next head coach at any point; by now they owe the public a detailed explanation of why they kept beating the drum long after any sane organization would have stopped. And Coach Scoop Unsubstantiated Football Site just posts unconfirmed stuff without any attempt to confirm or clarify the origins of the rumors, and doesn't even respond when hoaxed.
Because they're just "rumors," right? You can term whatever you want a rumor and be free from judgment when that rumor fails to come true.
My advice to internet publishers is be as honest and transparent as possible, and people will give you the benefit of the doubt as long as you show good judgment over the long haul. This philosophy has been in place at MGoBlog for as long as it's been around. The first bit of news the site ever originated was a report that Morgan Trent had broken his hand and would miss the Minnesota game in 2006, which Rivals snarkily dismissed in premium content, causing me to post a retraction. When several people reiterated that no, seriously, Morgan Trent's hand was broken, I posted the chain of events and provided enough information for readers to judge for themselves with some guidance—I believe me. Morgan Trent's hand was indeed broken, and I've tried to follow that template ever since. That managed to get this site through the coaching search and Sam McGuffie's Cuban Transfer Crisis stronger. I don't think you can say that about the Sun-Times above.
My advice to consumers of information on the internet is to look for this sort of transparency in the things you trust, and look dimly on anyone who would misrepresent information, intentionally or not, and refuse to apologize or clarify when called on it.