So the NCAA is all calling people at West Virginia to see if Rich Rodriguez was illegally stretching lawyaz in Morgantown, too, and the people who do the sort of stentorian wailing that passed for insight in 1982 are doing what they do:
How Much More of This Man Can Michigan Take?
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem.
The second step is doing something about it.
THE FIRST STEP IS REALIZING YOU DON'T HAVE TO HIT ENTER AFTER EVERY PERIOD ARGH.
The second step is assessing whether this is likely to be a big deal. You'd have to be a complete Stacy to voluntarily put yourself on the chopping block merely to spite your ex-boyfriend, but… yeah…
That is a state full of Stacys.
What we know is that in September, WVU was nonchalant. A quote given by one of the WVU guys has been kicking around message boards and blogs as people attempt to relieve the panic, but that quote is old. A fuller excerpt:
Of course, WVU officials identified this as a concern back in September of 2009, when the UM-Rodriguez story first broke. Our Dave Hickman caught up with athletic director Ed Pastilong, who indicated then his big house was in order. He suggested he and then-compliance man Brad Cox almost babysat Rodriguez's practices, almost obsessed over record-keeping.
So when the news broke, they double-checked their records and smiled.
"We looked into it,'' Patrick Hairston, WVU's assistant for compliance, said. "We're very comfortable no NCAA rules were broken."
I can't help but wonder how comfortable that position is today. There certainly seemed to be a lot of squirming in the practice facility on Tuesday.
That last sentence is complete speculation. Nonetheless, the happy quote has no relation to the investigation-type activity that's going on now. Which is this:
The NCAA has met with individuals involved with the West Virginia football program to identify any potential rules violations. The university has fully cooperated with the NCAA during this process. West Virginia University and its department of intercollegiate athletics is committed to operating its athletics department in conformance with the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big East Conference.
That is all the new information we have. "We looked into it" is not new.
Okay, so that's no good and certain excitable people are running around screaming about the end of the world. Allow me a moment to defuse that: the NCAA had access to everyone in Michigan's program discussing events that happened while they were at Michigan. They also had a variety of disgruntled ex-Wolverines willing to exaggerate wildly because of a combination of ignorance (of admittedly arcane rules) and bitterness. What they came up with was less than earthshaking.
At West Virginia they'll be attempting to determine what happened in 2007 and before with no leverage on players who have already seen their eligibility expire and probably like Rodriguez just fine. The exact details of a practice week three or four or five years ago are not likely to be fresh in their minds, anyway. This will come down to records. If West Virginia does not have records, that's a problem for West Virginia. If they have records that show a pattern of misbehavior that's gone unreported for years, that is a problem for both Rodriguez and West Virginia. If the pattern of misbehavior remains "slightly exceeded NCAA practice regulations," it won't change anything.
Would West Virginia actually have records that show years of unreported NCAA violations? Doubtful. They did hire Bill Stewart because he was a nice man who didn't trip Noel Devine so that is a possibility, but a screwup that vast has to be considered improbable.
Preliminary assessment: file this with Braylon Edwards #1 Jersey Fiasco in the pile of fiascoes that have no tangible impact but will be cited in all cases to fire Rodriguez by people who are bad at making arguments. Show tangible progress towards being a football team and this is just another scrap of noise.
Of Course This Is The New Policy
A rain on your wedding day note follows. The Bylaw Blog suggests this is a new thing:
This isn’t standard due diligence though because to my knowledge, this is unprecedented. The most likely comparison will be Kelvin Sampson, but that case was much different in that Oklahoma was already under investigation and going to appear before the Committee on Infractions when Sampson left for Indiana.
This is the opposite: a violation at the second school causes an investigation at the previous institution. Now knowing what to look for, it makes it much easier for investigators to see if the violations stretched back to previous programs in a coach’s career.
Hopefully this a move toward building cases against the individuals involved rather than the school.
It seems like John Calipari's great escape after a second Final Four appearance was vacated under his watch is the equivalent of Houston Nutt's 37-member Ole Miss class of a year ago: the straw that breaks the shame-camel's back and forces a re-evaluation of priorities. The NCAA is now trying harder to pin stuff on people, not just universities. And Rodriguez is the first guy subject to an "unprecedented" background check. Of course he is.
FWIW, The Bylaw Blog seems skeptical anything can come of this since Rodriguez, unlike Sampson, has been clean to date and there was no hint of any issues when he was hired at Michigan. In the seemingly unlikely scenario where this amounts to something serious, the end result would be a sanction against Rodriguez that could force Michigan to dump him but nothing else that impacts the school.
Here is a picture of a ninja assassin fairy:
I think it's about equally likely that Rodriguez is done in by one of these as this look at West Virginia's books. I'm going to resume panicking about the spur and bandit positions, because I like my panic to be sensibly directed.
Etc.: Doug Gottlieb had some strong words in favor of Rodriguez, for whatever that's worth. Sporting News guys say the needle doesn't move: win and stay.