The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
needs updating: "MILK: never heard of it"
I couldn't find the rocket fuel. Add it to the pile:
"This one time I was a kid, we didn't have any milk for cereal," says Jay Harbaugh, 25. "He put Gatorade in the cereal instead of milk. It was the weirdest thing I ever saw.
"I didn't try it. For good reason. That's not where Gatorade goes."
Later that day he poured a Red Bull on his pizza, with powdered sugar donuts for dessert. IF YOU GET MY DRIFT
DO YOU GET IT? I have to explain everything.
ANYWAY. It's not the worst idea in the world.
409? 45. When you absolutely need something burned to the ground, you could do a lot worse than calling on Keith Olbermann:
It'll never happen, but if Michigan hockey all wore "45" stickers on their helmets the next time they played Penn State I'd be real happy. 45? The number of counts Sandusky was convicted on.
Snipe. Michael Hurley is some dude in Boston who's confused why Michigan fans are high-fiving him online today. You do the Lord's Work, Mr. Hurley:
“There are well-founded whispers in the NFL that the underlings who supply towels in the visiting locker room sometimes run back to the home locker room to share what they heard.”
This is stupid. This is lazy. This is irresponsible “journalism” from Sports Illustrated. This should not be published, period.
“The Patriots supposedly stopped videotaping opponents’ defensive signals when they got caught in 2007, but opponents wonder if they are still stealing them.”
I wonder every single day if I’m going to get hit by a comet and wiped off the face of the earth. It does not mean it’s going to come true. “Reporting” on what opponents wonder is pathetic.
That is an on-point fisk of a pile of not-even-Googled Michael Rosenberg assertions about the Patriots in the wake of slightly-less-inflated-ball-gate. Someone send him an "I Oblierated Michael Rosenberg On The Internet And All I Got Was This Stupid T-Shirt" shirt.
“Maybe some of this is overstated.”
A pattern arises.
JOBS (one of which some of you might be qualified for). A number of jobs have been posted on Michigan's site with which they do that federally-mandated thing, and they're interesting in terms of program direction even if you're not trying to fit in one of the gaps—a number of these are probably already decided upon anyway.
One might not be. There's a "recruiting coordinator" spot that is heavy on the twitter/vine/swipe-right-to-commit end of things:
- Create Highlight Tapes that are used on Unofficial and Official Visits
- Create Highlights of Michigan Football that are used for social media
- Create Highlights from Prospects game tape for the coaches to evaluate.
- Handle the logistics for Video Presentation at the Stadium with prospects.
- Create and Coordinate Michigan Vine Video Account
Good to see that they're going to be more out there on the social medias than Hoke was—not that Hoke was particularly hampered by not doing this until his offense died in a hole.
(Note that Chris Singletary's title is "director of player personnel" and that a bunch of these responsibilities are not currently taken care of. Singletary's staying and this spot likely reports to him.)
There's also an "offensive football analyst" spot that sounds a lot like the video coordinator stuff I know they're already doing with extra snitchin':
7) Monitor team curfew during preseason training camp.
8) Lifestyle monitoring of student-athletes. Monitor off-campus student-athlete housing.
And a "player development" spot which also seems like it will report to Singletary and help him do more.
And even though they didn't get Shannon Turley there's no question that's what Harbaugh wants his S&C program to look like. Michigan's posted a "performance manager" post that sounds like it's at the full Turley/Chip Kelly level of sophistication…
1. Clinical application and administration of comprehensive performance analytics and lifetime wellness services for student-athletes as assigned.
2. Collaborate with Student-Athlete Health and Welfare personnel and coaching personnel to assess training loads, neuromuscular fatigue, athlete readiness, and other performance factors.
3. Collaborate with Student-Athlete Health and Welfare personnel and coaching personnel to develop protocols to monitor and enhance rest, recovery, and regeneration, and athlete readiness.
Say goodbye, kids:
- Ability to work long hours, including early mornings, late nights, weekends, holidays, overtime, non-traditional work hours, extended periods of time without days off, travel, and be on-call as a regular part of the position;
They also posted a "performance nutrition" spot two weeks ago. It sounds like they're fleshing out the support staff—IIRC Harbaugh often makes requests for extra resources in these departments.
Midterm CSBs out. The NHL's Central Scouting Bureau provides an official-ish draft ranking around this time of year, and this one features a particularly prominent set of Michigan-affiliated players. (A reminder: the CSB separates Euro and North American skaters, so multiply a player's ranking by about 1.3 to get an approximate draft position.) They are:
- #6 Zach Werenski, D, already enrolled
- #14 Kyle Connor, F, Youngstown (USHL)
- #34 Brendan Warren, F, USA U18 (USHL)
- #70 Joe Cecconi, D, Muskegon (USHL)
- #176 Nick Boka, D, USA U18 (USHL)
That's two likely first round picks, a second-rounder, a mid-round guy, and a guy who might go late. Goalie Hayden Lavigne and forward Connor Murphy are the only incoming players not ranked. Murphy was ranked last year whilst tearing up Ontario Junior B, but after a move to the USHL's Chicago Steel sees him with a 10-10-20 line in 33 games he's dropped off the radar—as 5'9" kids who aren't murdering the competition tend to do.
FWIW, if Michigan doesn't add anyone before the summer that might be an indication they expect to return just about everyone they are able to next year. The three incoming F and two outgoing D match Michigan's departures (At F: Hyman, Lynch, Sinelli; on D: Serville, Chiasson) precisely.
Michigan is carrying a longer roster than they usually do, but right now I don't think anyone is going to be in a spot where their NHL team would be encouraging a quick signing. Maybe Larkin, if Larkin wasn't a draftee of the very patient Red Wings. Maybe Werenski if he gets picked by an exceptionally jumpy team.
But it's Michigan hockey so don't believe they're there until three weeks into the season.
UPDATE: I didn't look at recruits scheduled to come in for 2016, so I missed #63 Cooper Marody and #192 Sam Miletic, both USHL forwards.
Jedd Fisch background. He's completely out of nowhere:
While most of the members of Harbaugh's staff have an immediate connection to the head coach, Fisch doesn't.
He met Harbaugh for the first time when he got off the plane in Ann Arbor. However, he does have a long-standing coaching relationship with Vic Fangio, Harbaugh's defensive coordinator for four years with the San Francisco 49ers and one year with Stanford.
Fisch does have a knack for getting good jobs, and Harbaugh's hiring history is impeccable. Hopefully that's a bright young mind in a bad situation kind of thing instead of Kiffin 2.0; I'm guessing it's the former until evidence says otherwise.
While we're on the topic, here's MGoVideo has some Jedd Fisch miked up stuff, including a moment where he yells at Denard. Not, like, Rodriguez-yells. He's much more laid back. So are coked-up hyenas. Why am I talking about this?
Etc.: Soccer alum Justin Meram got a start for Iraq at the Asian Championships. Nine caps and counting. You'll never guess where Pat Forde slots Michigan on his list of winners and losers in the coaching carousel. (If you are deliberately obtuse.)
For people complaining about spoilers, I have bad news: they fire the guy. But we won World War II, so we've got that going for us. Unless this is an alternate history and we're all Nazis, but only Michigan State fans believe that because Michigan State fans will believe anyone is a racist if it helps exonerate Will Gholston. Denard: totally racist.
Anyway, I show up briefly. A few reporters show up more extensively, and then there are the players—addressed as a group—and the new athletic director.
This guy's opinion: boy, does that hippie with the blog need a haircut. But his logic… so dashing.
Person Who Identifies Himself As Brian
(And you guys.)
So… right. There are some scattered MGoBlog references, mostly as a reading of the fan zeitgeist. "Never Forget" is referenced because "Never Forget" is always referenced all the time; The Horror is identified as The Horror, and so forth and so on. The blog's permanence relative to most message boards (and even newspapers, which put their stories behind a paywall after a while) seems to have made it the database of record when it comes to how the average fan felt at X point in time, even if the average fan here is not the average fan elsewhere. It's around. Since that's more than anything else can say, its opinion wins by default.
A couple people have asked for more detail about the point in the book where I show up in the flesh. This is after the WMU 2009 press conference, which was the first one post-Free Press story. I've had a couple days to consider the story and have come to the conclusion that it's a misleading, unethical hack job. I am steaming. I go to the press conference to liveblog it.
Afterwards—and in retrospect I can't believe this actually transpired—I go to the front of the room, where Snyder is, and repeatedly ask him if he knows what a countable hour is in an unfriendly fashion. He refuses to answer. The pattern is: I ask, he says he won't respond because I am a "competitor," I ask, he says the same thing, I incredulously ask if he will not defend his article, etc. etc. etc. This is actually broadcast (off-camera but audible) on the MGoBlue stream, which was not turned off after the presser.
I give up on Snyder and am in the process of storming out when I happen on Rosenberg in the little vestibule between the Junge proper and outside. I ask the same thing; Rosenberg responds that he does know what a countable hour is, so I start in on why that wasn't in the article and how realistic it is that a head coach at a major program had been more than doubling the NCAA's allotted maximums for years. He starts asking me my name over and over again, which I ignore in favor of further badgering. Craig Ross, watching this with a combination of bemusement and horror, eventually tells Rosenberg my name. I think this was because he wanted Rosenberg to start saying other things, but you'd have to ask him and he doesn't remember interjecting. So that's lost to history.
I had no idea this was going to be in the book until just before the thing went to print when Bacon emailed me with Rosenberg's version of the event and asked me if I had any corrections, which I did since he remembered me as some wild-eyed nut instead of a wild-eyed nut with very specific questions.
And <poof> like that, he's gone.
As for my bête noir… well now. Revelations about Rosenberg from the book:
- Countable hours was "in the story at some point" but "there were a lot of edits."
- He did not attend a single practice before writing the infamous story in which he declares it "sad" that Michigan is employing a guy to belittle its students. (I found this so implausible when I read it that I double-checked with Bacon about this; he dug up the email he had gotten from Rosenberg as proof.)
- He told multiple Michigan employees that he "hated Bill Martin" and "was going to get him run out of his job."
- He got teary when Michigan fans left nasty reviews of his book on Amazon.
Rosenberg has taken to twitter to call Bacon a "fan" and claim the book is "littered with errors," complaining that Bacon made "almost no attempt to talk to anybody who would contradict his subject's point of view."
How Rosenberg knows this is unknown. Bacon states in the book that he repeatedly tried to talk to Martin, Coleman, Carr, and Brandon but never got anywhere. Certainly Brandon's response to the book—a disingenuous "what book?" issued at the same time he's pressuring the M-Den not to carry it and Bacon has been exiled to Drew Sharp Row—indicates the sort of cooperation the AD is providing the guy.
Meanwhile, the height of irony:
When I asked Rosenberg if they had made any attempt to talk to players with different views, he replied, "Did we keep calling until we got guys to say, 'Hey, it's fine?' No, we didn't."
The difference between Bacon's book—which contains a half-dozen quotes from Rosenberg as it attempts to show both sides of the story—and the Free Press piece is stark. The [REDACTED] has the balls to complain about Bacon's approach to journalism? After the NCAA called the original article exaggerated and misleading? After they took countable hours out of the story? /head explodes
That this guy still has a job is a black mark on the Free Press. That he's still allowed to show up at press conferences is inexplicable. That he has the chutzpah to criticize someone else's journalism is totally expected, because he's just that kind of guy.
Players of all varieties
The only enjoyable parts of the book are the moments when Michigan's players come into focus. I suspect that Bacon soft-pedaled some of the Tate stuff. He comes off as a fairly likeable, if pretty weird, kid. Denard and Devin and Mark Moundros and Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin all come off well.
At least we've got that after the last few years. Michigan's players are easy to root for. They don't put MIKE VICK on their eyeblack or fracture skulls or not pay for tattoos or give quotes about how "everybody murders" to the media. They leave all that stuff to the adults.
That feeling you got at the end of the Hoke press conference when Brandon was talking and you thought "Rodriguez was a dead man even before the bowl" is a feeling most of the players had. Bacon, too, which he made more explicit than he did in the book in an appearance on the Huge show yesterday.
Brandon's drawn-out firing process does seem like an unnecessary delay of an already-made decision. The impression Bacon got was the players thought Rodriguez was done, people around the program felt Brandon was hoping for a loss in the bowl game. So cut the cord already.
We don't get much else on the current AD.
BONUS Dead Horse Beatin' during Dead Horse Beatin' Week on MGoBlog! A promise: this is the very last thing written about the Free Press in this space.
On the Day of Slight Reckoning I mentioned that the epic seven-page Free Press article addressing it failed to even mention the U's assertion that the initial reports were "greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect." I should point out that Rosenberg's follow up article which, like all of these articles, quotes some guy named Michael Buckner—the News, Free Press, and AA.com have all quoted this guy in the last couple days in multiple articles for each—touches briefly on the University's pointed shot:
"When the media reports painted a picture of serious student-athlete abuse, the university immediately investigated these claims, as its primary concern has always been the welfare of its student athletes. ... The university is satisfied that the initial media reports were greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect."
Numerous former players, current players and parents of players told the Free Press that the football team violated NCAA rules that govern practice and workout sessions during the season and off-season. The players also described quality-control staff members handling voluntary seven-on-seven scrimmages.
In any event, the infractions committee is unlikely to spend much, if any, time on media reports.
Obviously, this is a response that completely fails to address the criticism leveled by the university: the picture painted by the initial article made it seem like Rodriguez was an uncaring task-master violating NCAA regs willy-nilly in a demonstration of his will to power. It then dismisses the importance of "media reports" to the committee. As defenses go it's… well, it meets the exacting standards of the Free Press. Jon Chait demolished the original piece (again) a couple days ago and I'll just quote him:
The paper reported that "the Wolverines were expected to spend two to three times more than the eight hours allowed for required workouts each week." It further alleged, "Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4-hour limit." And it further portrayed this alleged epidemic of rule-flouting as the product of Rich Rodriguez's obsession with conditioning, and the near-mania of his prized assistant Mike Barwis - a natural conclusion from the article's anonymous sourcing from players and parents of players disgruntled with the new coaching regime. The Free Press article breaking the allegations is entitled, "A look inside Rodriguez's rigorous program."
Chait has also addressed the infuriating Free Press editorial, for which I thank him because now I can just close it and not write and delete several paragraphs with a curse density immense enough to make a Scotsman blush.
If you want a truly comprehensive breakdown of all the ways in which the article was sensationalized, this site will wear out even the most dedicated torch-bearer. The best high-level view from me is probably the Words on Agenda And Bias in the aftermath of the Great Albom What-Is-Your-Job Debacle. If you're looking for something shorter and in a very narrow column, that guy who still reads the Free Press because he wonders "how was Rosenberg supposed to determine what was true and what was not?"—guh—received a number of responses, the best from Section 1 and M-stache, in a thread that oscillated from dismissive flaming to patient explanation from better men than I.
After all of it poor neg-bombed MgoMatt, the poster of that thread, returned to edit his original post like so:
EDIT: Based on the responses below, I suppose my standards for responsible journalism are pretty low. I blame 24 hour cable news.
True. But Matt's standards are also the exact same ones Rosenberg and the rest of the Free Press hold themselves to. Note the defense above: "players told us this." How were they to know different? People said things, the Free Press reported them. Asking for anything else is madness, and anyone questioning the framing of the story… well, we're objective. We just happen to find it "sad" that Rich Rodriguez is Michigan's coach, you know, objective-like.
ESPN's dealt with a number of screwed up recent stories featuring anonymous sourcing, leading to an apropos column from ESPN ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer:
In theory, anonymous sources are a last resort. Reporters are challenged to get people to speak on the record, but sometimes that's just not possible. If the source remains unnamed, it must be a trade-off for candor and quality of information. Of course, there are times when information a source ardently believes to be true … turns out to be false. That's why independent corroboration by a reporter is key. Bad sourcing or lax oversight can result in the equivalent of a journalistic drive-by shooting, aided and abetted by information cloaked in a shroud of anonymity.
Check, check, check, straight outta Compton. So it goes.
Hockey bits. Whatever doubt there was about Summers returning this weekend is just about evaporated. Berenson is "over 80 percent confident" he will be back:
"I thought he looked pretty good again [on Wednesday]," Berenson said. "He's such a free skater, and that's an advantage he has. And he's a senior. He's fit. He's worked hard in this whole rehab. If he gets through the next few days, he'll play."
As mentioned in the preview, I assume this means Lee Moffie gets sent to the press box. Hogan is still out.
I updated the preview with some extra television information, but if you missed it Saturday's game is now on Comcast so everyone should get it. Channels:
- Comcast: 900
- Dish: 432 and 436.
- DirecTV: 640 and 668.
The game is also on ESPN360 and will be on ESPNU on tape delay. Hypothetical Sunday game would be on ESPNU.
Rothstein has a piece on Fort Wayne's preparations for the NCAA tourney—he used to work at the paper there—and asks whether neutral sites really work for the NCAA hockey tournament. In my opinion, not really. It's goofy to have the most important games of the season played in sterile, largely empty buildings, and moving to home ice for top seeds would help make the tourney less of a random number generator. Playoffs should strive for a balance between unpredictability and a satisfactory champion. The NBA has too little unpredictability, MLB too much. College basketball is just right. Single-elimination hockey is on the MLB side of the scale.
Comley says MSU was the last team out of the NCAA tournament and if Michigan had not beaten Miami, then MSU would have replaced the Wolverines in the 16-team field. He is not for expanding the current 16-team format, although I am in favor of expanding it to 24 because a couple of teams with automatic bids, like Alabama Huntsville, are in the field with a losing record.
As Western College hockey points out, 24 teams would be 40% of college hockey. It would be all but one TUC. The tourney is more likely to contract back to twelve than expand further. Hockey is already over the 25% mark, the maximum amount of tournament participation advised by the NCAA. Also, Comley's wrong. Ferris State is the first team out of the tourney.
BONUS: Junior defenseman Jeff Petry is a holy lock to sign with Edmonton. I'm hoping Tropp heads out the door, too, so that karma delivering a fatality to him is the last thing that happens to him in college hockey, but it sounds like he's leaning towards a return.
So how's that working out for you, being ornery? Ever since the Free Press Jihad started there has been a wing of Michigan's internet fandom dedicated to the proposition that Michigan should pursue a scorched-earth policy with the paper. They imagine David Brandon revoking press passes and locking anyone from the paper with temerity to show up on campus in stocks on the Diag.
A popular sentiment amongst these folks in the aftermath of Urban Meyer going all no-you-di'in't…
…at the reporter who quoted Deonte Thompson saying he was glad to have a "real quarterback" was "that's how you handle the media."
This, of course, releases the hounds. (There's plenty more if you want it.) Two of those are from Bruce Feldman and Tony Barnhardt, adults capable of stringing together paragraphs. But the latter is from Mike Bianchi and is closer to certain local folks' speed. Prepare for the one-sentencing:
First Urban Meyer quits.
Then he comes back.
Then he takes a leave of absence.
Then he doesn’t take a leave of absence.
Now, incredibly, he is threatening reporters because one of his players was quoted … correctly?
Can you say Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?
Good grief, that Florida coaching job really is a pressure-cooker, isn’t it?
Urban Meyer has to care zero percent because he has a two-deep at crystal football, but it's an illustration of the cliche about not getting in arguments with people who buy ink by the barrel. It doesn't matter that according to people on the same beat think Urban was basically right about this guy…
other Florida beat reporters contend Thompson's quote was merely a poor, vastly overblown choice of words by a 21-year-old who will never be mistaken for Barack Obama as a public speaker, and I can tell you some of them think Fowler has had it coming for a long time.
…any time a reporter takes a shot from a coach, rightly or wrongly, it's time to close ranks and howl at the moon. Meyer didn't even raise his voice here; his "threat of violence" was phrased as a hypothetical from the start. And this reporter basically deserves his chewing out. But get pissed off at a guy and you'll never hear the end of it, no matter how righteous your wrath is.
So… yeah, Michigan's doing the right thing by sucking it up and smiling nice for the cameras. Sadly.
How's that working out for you, being a hypocritical weasel? Win at all costs is apparently a totally awesome strategy for John Calipari:
REFUSE TO LOSE. It sounds like such a simple, inspirational phrase for a team -- and it can be. But it also describes the man. He's a scrapper, and will weigh all of his options besides losing.
Calipari has done the most remarkable coaching job of this season, and nobody is close. Think about it: He convinced John Wall, Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins to come to Memphis, inserted clauses into their letters of intent so they could go somewhere else if Calipari left, convinced Memphis to keep its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA quiet for three months, took the Kentucky job before anybody knew about that notice, then convinced Wall and Cousins to join him in Lexington. That is refusing to lose.
Can you guess who wrote that? It's freakin' Mike Rosenberg, the guy who's spent the last two years ripping Rodriguez for recruiting one kid who got in trouble, slightly exceeding allotted NCAA practice time, and a bunch of other inconsequential or totally imaginary crap. I'm too busy slamming my head into the desk to analyze this, so I beg you to head over to Braves and Birds for righteous indignation.
Etc.: I really wanted the Tebow Wonderlic prayer thing to be true because I thought it was hilarious. Football players pray all the time. They pray before games. They pray during games. They pray when they score touchdowns. They pray when someone's injured. They pray all the time. So Tebow wandering in and saying "HAI GUYS LET'S PRAY" so often that football players were getting exasperated at him was an awesome mental lollercoaster yesterday. So of course it is 0% true.
Kenpom's doing very well through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, but don't tell my bracket that. [shakes fist at Kansas] [feels douchey for bringing up his bracket]. Wisconsin fans want to demand more out of Bo Ryan. This is because they are insane.
Last year, Glenn Winston put a hockey player in the hospital, costing him a whole year, and injured a second bystander. Neither victim did anything to provoke the violence, and Winston was fortunate to plea-bargain himself down to a misdemeanor and six months in jail. Mike Rosenberg on that:
Plus, people forget this: Winston was convicted of a misdemeanor. If anything, his sentence (six months in jail) was excessive for a misdemeanor. So I understood why Dantonio reinstated Winston this summer. Yes, it looks awful now. But it made some sense this summer.
"Excessive for a misdemeanor." Rosenberg is downplaying a scary, dangerously violent incident because he doesn't understand that a misdemeanor basically means the jail sentence can't be longer than a year. Six months in jail might be excessive for pot possession. It doesn't seem excessive for endangering someone's playing career.
Remember that Rosenberg wrote an "I'm just sayin'" column after Justin Feagin's situation, citing Rodriguez's decision to recruit linebacker Pat Lazear as evidence Rodriguez doesn't care about the character of his players:
The fact that Rodriguez was recruiting Feagin to West Virginia is telling because Rodriguez took considerable heat for some of his recruiting choices in Morgantown. Most noteworthy: Rodriguez signed linebacker Pat Lazear to a letter of intent even though Lazear had been accused of orchestrating an armed robbery of a Smoothie King store.
"That was a situation that was cleared up before he left high school," Rodriguez said Monday.
Well, that depends on your definition of "cleared up." Lazear pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and received a 10-year suspended sentence for his part in the robbery. He also was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest and 150 hours of community service. And in a previous incident, Lazear had been found guilty of using a stolen credit card.
I guess you could say his situation was "cleared up."
Lazear has not been in trouble at West Virginia and is on the academic honor roll. That same column cites Feagin's high school coach saying that Feagin hadn't been in trouble there only to dismiss that. Rosenberg's thrust is that Rodriguez should have known better than to recruit Justin Feagin, and should never have gone near a guy with nothing on his record other than a dropped misdemeanor and some traffic tickets. If Rodriguez didn't know Feagin was a bad guy, it was because he didn't care to know. The upshot: Rodriguez is unethical.
Here's a similar conversation in the Winston case:
MARK DANTONIO: Are there any issues with this Winston guy?
MARK DANTONIO: Well, he beat up two innocent people, putting one of them in the hospital.
MARK DANTONIO: What's that? I can't hear you. You must be breaking up.
MARK DANTONIO: We're not talking on a cell phone. I am you. We're having a schizophrenic episode. You're talking to yourself.
MARK DANTONIO: I am very public about my faith!
And yet reinstating this guy "makes some sense." The double standard could not be clearer.
Is there any question that Rosenberg would be calling for Rodriguez's job if 15-20 Michigan players had beaten the hell out of innocent bystanders for the second time in two years? Michigan State has had 20% of its entire team involved in unprovoked violence against other students for two consecutive years.
Rosenberg can couch his eminently reasonable opinion in eminently reasonable columnist terms, but the bias is screaming. Mark Dantonio's got a hell of a jaw and a bible on his desk. He's also in charge of a bunch of thugs, and got a Michigan State student injured and, likely, his university sued. This is enough for Rosenberg to gently suggest that Dantonio might need to get his team under control—oh, really? Meanwhile, Rodriguez correctly judging the character of Pat Lazear and immediately dealing with the Feagin situation is enough for the "win at all costs" headline.
This is the fair and balanced person the Free Press thought they'd have investigate the Michigan football program.
More about this on the message board.
You know, I liked Justin Feagin. As a guy thousands of miles away from the man in question and limited to assembling things other people wrote about him, I had just more than zero to go on, but I liked him anyway. He played both ways at a tiny school and smiled big and innocent on signing day and said things that seemed different and bouncier than your average bouncy, meaningless quote from a guy on or around the greatest day of his life.
He said this about Terrelle Pryor's potential addition:
"What if he does go to Michigan? Shame on me if I sit back and think he's better than me. If he wants to play quarterback, we'll have to fight each other for the job. If I win the job, then I'll know I beat out the No. 1 quarterback in the nation."
And I wrote this:
this is one of the recruits in this class I'm baselessly excited about in defiance of recruiting rankings and reason. If you're so inclined you can see Feagin doing squats until two in the morning in his quotes. … Feagin sounds like the kind of guy who will thrive under the pressure of the Rodriguez regime and is clearly a high caliber athlete.
This is going to be a pretty stupid statement, but I like the kid's quotes a lot.
Apparently, the ability to give a good quote to a local preps reporter is not highly correlated with success on the field or off. Not giving a good quote to the police when you don't have to might be more valuable. This is noted for the future.
I know what some of you are thinking. I thought it, too, albeit briefly, when the news first broke: An event like this would have never happened under Lloyd Carr's watch. And that's almost certainly true. Lloyd Carr was and is a uniquely gifted and genuine man whose priority has always been the peak mental and emotional acuity of the players under his watch, and I know I am not alone in expressing my gratitude for his immaculate representation of a university that likes to think of itself as superior to all others.
But this is not reality. An enraged Chitownblue, prompted by the idiotic diary that inaugurated the 200-words-or-more era, rounded up a dossier of 29 Michigan arrests of various sorts under Lloyd Carr. Lloyd recruited Kelly Baraka and Eugene Germany and Carson Butler and Chris Richards and Johnny Sears and Will Peterson and another, more internet famous felon chased from the team:
Even Lloyd, whom we would like to believe incapable of such an oversight, could only sit with folded hands as opposing fanbases across the country laughed at the dismissal of defensive tackle Larry Harrison, who was charged with four counts of sexual delinquency and suspected in 16 more. Harrison endangered fewer people than Feagin, certainly, but the fact remains that Rich Rodriguez does not stand alone among Michigan coaches who have seen a felonious embarrassment take place on his watch.
I'm not even sure Feagin endangered anyone. He admitted to getting into some trouble in high school, but the crime here—if he actually gets charged with one—is taking $600 from some burnout and promising to get him cocaine, then not getting him cocaine. The endangerment came when the burnout had his great arson idea. The offense clearly warrants dismissal, but as far as disgraceful acts committed by Michigan football players go it's somewhere between Germany running from the cops (and getting caught!) and Carson Butler's St. Patrick's Day Nerd Massacre*.
Meanwhile at Michigan State, a guy who put a Spartan hockey player in the hospital and was sentenced to six months in jail got an early release so he could make Michigan State's first practice. This is the way a sane person, in this case AnnArbor.com's Dave Birkett, reacts to the juxtaposition of these events:
…one coach took the proper actions with his troubled player and one coach took an unnecessary gamble for reasons I can’t explain. Sure, everyone deserves a second chance, but that second chance doesn’t have to be at the same school where you committed such a major offense.
So of course Michael Rosenberg's latest article is headlined "Win at all costs a poor formula for Rodriguez." This is because Rosenberg has completely lost his shit about Rodriguez, as detailed in this space before. Last summer Rosenberg threw together a pastiche of assumptions, omissions, and flatly incorrect statements and titled it "Embarrassing ordeal reveals ugly truths about U-M coach Rich Rodriguez"—the ordeal in this case being the lawsuit over Rodriguez's buyout—that permanently submarined his credibility about Rodriguez.
This one is no better. He cites Rodriguez's recruitment of Pat Lazear at West Virginia, who got ten days in jail and a suspended sentence for his role (driving) in an armed robbery (FWIW, the weapon was a BB gun), as evidence Rodriguez will take anyone not wearing an orange jumpsuit. He does not mention the Winston thing which hey pick out which quote here is about Lazear and which is about Winston…
"[Assistant Coach] and I have researched [Player's] entire situation over several months," [coach] said in a statement released by the school's athletic department. "We have talked to a number of people, and after a thorough review, I am reassured that [player] will be a successful student-athlete and a positive member of our university community. We are eager for him to join the [Mascot] family."
"[Player] has done everything that he's been asked to do from a judicial and a team standpoint. He has paid the penalty for his actions -- publicly, legally and athletically -- and he worked hard to maintain his academic eligibility while doing so. We regret the entire incident, however at this time it is important that we support [Player] socially, academically and athletically. He still has a lot of work to do."
…functionally identical except in Michael Rosenberg's eyes. Lazear, by the way, is entering his third year at West Virginia on the Academic Honor Roll. He has not been in further trouble.
And then there's this on Willie Bueno's statement that he didn't know of any trouble with Feagin:
Should Rodriguez have known about Feagin's transgressions? Well, Bueno said Monday that he didn't know. But frankly that raises questions about Bueno, and it shows the importance of relationships for college coaches. They have to really know the communities where they recruit, and they must be sure that coaches and administrators are informed and honest with them.
Christ. Rodriguez talks with Willie Bueno, who says Feagin is a good kid without issues because he apparently believes it, and it's up to Rodriguez to "be sure" that this guy isn't lying to his face. Feagin mentioned a couple of issues in high school that "nothing came of"; as a juvenile he wouldn't have a record unless something extremely serious went down. Nothing did, so even if Rodriguez checked up on that supposed record it would come up clean. Rosenberg suggests that Rodriguez should assume every coach is a liar and undertake investigations of everyone so that a bad apple doesn't arrive. This is obviously infeasible. Hell, Lloyd Carr made that mistake at least 29 times in his career.
To date Rodriguez has dealt with two DUIs (Grady and Stonum) and one coke-deal-that-wasn't in a year and a half. [UPDATE: There was also the Cissoko-yells-at-cop incident, a disorderly conduct.] Michigan doesn't even register on the Fulmer Cup scoreboard (2008, 2009—if Feagin gets charged with something Michigan will get points above their current one), and Rodriguez racked up fewer points in his last two years at WVU than Carr did over the same timespan at Michigan. The numbers say Rodriguez's recent behavior record is better than Lloyd freakin' Carr's, and the guy who just got out of jail and walked on to a Michigan State practice field say that there's one strict program in-state but it's not run by the guy who's an Upstanding Football Coach. But because Rodriguez doesn't stare at you really hard and talk the right way, he's running a renegade program. Right. Rosenberg's just another Drew Sharp now.
Meanwhile, Justin Feagin's transferring somewhere where he'll give a good quote and smile and maybe this time he'll come through on those. But probably not. It's tough to defy your surroundings.
*(The listed in approximate order: Baraka (weed), Sears (weed + performance in The Horror), Germany (possibly joking cell phone theft coupled from dumb running from police), Butler(assault), Chris Richards (assault, B&Eing his own dorm room), Peterson(assault + theft), Harrison.)