I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
This A2.com story details the results of its investigation of the communications between the U-M Athletic Department Compliance Office and the football staff. Its FOIA turned up emails and meeting agendas that back up the contention that RichRod was never informed of Compliance's attempts (from Sep 2008 until the Aug 2009 audit report) to get then-Director of Football Operations Brad Labadie to turn in the missing CARA forms.
When Michigan football players didn’t turn in forms about what cars they drove and who owned them in 2008, administrators from the university’s compliance office let head coach Rich Rodriguez know.
That wasn’t the case when football administrators didn’t turn in required forms tracking the number of hours the team practiced.
Instead, compliance office administrators spent more than a year-and-a-half cajoling football administrators to turn in the Countable Athletically Related Activities forms, but never copied Rodriguez on the e-mails.
With the university and Rodriguez headed to Seattle for meetings Friday and Saturday to defend themselves against allegations they broke five NCAA major rules, there are still no answers about exactly why the compliance office never told Rodriguez about the missing forms.
For me, the story highlights the administrative dysfunction that existed during this period within the football program. The inattention to this aspect of compliance can be chalked up to RichRod's lack of managerial oversight of Labadie. My speculation is that Labadie got behind on the task and when he realized it was becoming an issue, he realized that addressing it would result in unwanted negative attention to his job performance, so he continued to ignore it hoping it would just go away, but knowing it never would.
And that's how maddingly avoidable the violations were.
Dave Brandon addressed the Canton Economic Club on 7 April and discussed several issues of interest to the U-M faithful including: Instituting positive change, Practicegate, The Big Chill, the Basketball Practice Facility, Crisler renovations, and whether he's considering a run for governor.
Change: “One of the first things I did is I decided I wanted to identify something that was an opportunity for us to be different and show change. [The night game is] going to be unbelievable. Michigan against Notre Dame, nose to nose, under the lights, prime time. National television. That’s cool. That’s change to grow. That’s change is good.”
Other changes are in the works: “No hints. We’ll talk about cakes after they’re baked.”
Practicegate: No self-imposed penalties are contemplated, only action so far was Alex Herron's dismissal.
The Big Chill: “The current record is 70,000-ish, and we’re going to beat it. We’re going to create an atmosphere and an opportunity, tailgating in December. We’re going to (transform) Michigan Stadium into a hockey rink and … it’s going to be phenomenal. Tickets are going to be very affordable. This is not an opportunity to make a lot of money, it’s an opportunity to fill that stadium, set a record and be part of an experience that no one else will be able to duplicate. That’s change to grow, that’s change is good.”
New Basketball Practice Facility/Crisler Renovation: Construction of the new Basketball Practice Facility will begin immediately after Spring Commencement. As previously noted here, the next phase will be improvements to Crisler's infrastructure followed by a third phase that “...will be absolutely a complete remodel of the facility where you would potentially bust out the concourses and you would create the bigger circulation space. More restrooms, capacity, more amenities, better food service, maybe some kind of club-seating opportunities for those who are interested in that experience. Really making it a modern arena for the purpose of big-time college basketball. And that’s ultimately where we’d love to go with Crisler Arena because the program deserves that. Both the men’s and women’s program deserves that.”
Governor ambitions: “No. I made a five-year commitment to President (Mary Sue) Coleman and to the university, and I also in that spirit said if things are going well and the university’s pleased with my performance and I feel like I’m making a difference that I want to make, then I’m here to extend that for another five years. So I’m all in for Michigan.”
We already know that one change that has proven to be good and will certainly create growth was MSC's decision to hire Dave Brandon.
So does it only create NCAA issues if Michigan coaches observe "voluntary" workouts? I've seen a couple of things come across Twitter in the last week that suggest that coaches at other programs are either observing workouts directly or having someone report back to them on workouts. For example, Ed Orgeron tweeted that,
The usc trojans are having fantstic pre spring workouts in weight room and on the field
Tuffness [sic] and discipline are 2 major areas for us this spring. Coach kiffin is doing a great job teaching those things.
Perhaps it is okay for S&C coaches to report back on progress, but how could Orgeron know about the great workouts on the field? And how could Coach Kiffin be doing a great job teaching toughness and discipline before spring practice begins? It looks like USC isn't scheduled to start spring practice until March 30th (see http://www.conquestchronicles.com/2010/2/22/1321997/uscs-2010-spring-pra...).
I have similar questions about Bret Bielma's knowledge of his team's off-season workouts via Twitter http://twitter.com/bretbielema:
Today we had another 6 AM conditioning session with our entire staff and coaches. All players were on time and competed well...
Another day of perfect attendance for 6 AM conditioning drills again. To get close to 100 guys here all winter at that time has been great.
This group has really worked daily to build a great foundation for the 2010 season. We know what we have now and are working to get better.
It may well be that I just don't understand the rules, but I have to believe that the Freep would be all over this if the tweets came from Coach Rod.
Yes, I know it's a Freep link and therefore a number of you will refuse to click on it on principle. I think this is stupid, but each to his own. Anyways, apparently the regents held a closed meeting on a probe for 90 minutes today. The report also mentions that the university will probably release information on the matter in two weeks.
Having read the article and the response, I'm pretty comfortable in knowing that the NCAA is not going to drop the hammer on Michigan. There will likely be no probation or scholarship reduction. All this is a distraction. One that will blow over soon. So why are we so upset? Why can't I get excited about the season again?
The fact is, the story is out there, and herher everyone laugh at scUM (uh .. we still went 3-9 last year). Also, everyone laugh at Tennessee, USC, PSU, and Iowa, etc., schools whose issues are, in my epinion, far more serious and pervasive than Michigan's. In fact, almost all schools have some experience with this level of "distraction". The deeper question is, why are we, as well as the national media, so concerned?
Is it because we run a squeaky clean program? Or because we never get in trouble? For those that think the issue stems from the fact that Michigan never, ever dreamed of skirting a rule prior to Rodriguez, I submit David Terrell's "3.3" GPA. Anyone that is familiar with DT knows that he was not the "bomba$$student". Something always stunk about that to me. Love it or hate it, but the puppet show that is Michigan football shows strings when you look close enough. Maybe DT was like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Or, maybe something fishy was going on.
So, is it that we never get in trouble? There's no doubt that we haven't been in trouble, especially in football. But, we aren't immune to bad press. I'm a biased observer, but it seems like the press can't wait to pile on Michigan. Likely caused by years of excellence and large fanbases of our three rivals, but when Michigan does bad, for a lot of the country, the news is good. Lest anyone forget, we are not the only historical powerhouse (or the first) to lose to a D-IAA team. Just the most publicized.
IMHO, what's happening here is a boiling over of frustration. It's easy to deal with the negative when we own the Big Ten, save OSU. Things are much more personal when we're losing. However, it is important to note that, perhaps other than Notre Dame, we are the school that people love bad news about. Bad news about Michigan and ND sells.
With that backdrop, I think Bo/Gary/Lloyd is what Michigan needs. A headman that treats everyone outside of the program as a liability. An insular program that defends those inside aggressively, and keeps outsiders at bay. Also, we as a fan base, need to take a similar stance. Are we perfect? Nope. But, with the good and the bad, Michigan football is ours. As a fanbase, we need to understand that others love to tear our institution down. And we need to move on. So what that there are some silly accusations being leveled (it's not like we're paying off players, having player's get arrested, or cursing in practice). We need to be confident enough to blow it all off and move on. Stay excited for the season, and hopefully not feed the machine that will chase off RRod. To the extent that he isn't a homegrown "Michigan Man", the guy cares ... about the team, about his players, and about the institution.
Go Blue! Let's beat the Bronco's on Saturday!