"The face of the operation is Briatore (referred to exclusively in the film by his colleagues and angry, chanting detractors as "Flavio"), an anthropomorphic radish who spends most of his time at QPR plotting to fire all of the managers."
At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
[Ed.: FL RB Demetrius Hart was high on every Michigan fan's list of desired and expected commits early in the recruiting cycle, but that was before a flurry of articles in which Michigan found itself on the outside looking in of a top three consisting of Alabama, Auburn, and Florida. Tom caught up with Hart and discovered a recent change in plans that should see Michigan re-enter Hart's recruitment as a serious player. Without further ado.]
TOM: There’s a rumor going around that you’re coming up to Michigan soon?
DEMETRIUS: Yeah, we’re coming up April 16th. I just wanted to see Ricardo, and see the spring game and everything. We’re all family, so we look out for each other. My mom is like Ricardo’s Aunt, so we’re all close like that.
TOM: What prompted this visit?
DEMETRIUS: My mom is going to have a meeting with Coach Rod, and talk to him about everything that’s been going on. She has a lot of say in this, so she needs to figure some things out. She wants to know about the allegations, and their plans for the future, and what they’re going to do from here on out.
TOM: Michigan’s out of your top three right now, but can this visit get them back in?
DEMETRIUS: Definitely. I mean, Michigan has always been the best for me, but like I said, my mom needs to hear some things. I already talked to Coach Rod about everything, so he knows what’s up. After she talks to him, then we’ll sit down and talk and figure it out. I’ve always loved Michigan, though.
TOM: After this visit, what happens from here?
DEMETRIUS: I had a timeline, but I’m not sure. I want to take this visit, then one to Alabama. After that, I’m just going to go with the flow, and see what happens.
Having read all of the positive comments about RR's friendliness and hospitality from recruits and their parents, I feel pretty good about this. I hope mom gets all her questions answered the way she wants them answered!
"In desperation there's that shred of hope; people who are down and not desperate are resigned." - Brian Cook
I am admittedly making the following conclusions based only on the previous three questions, so I can't claim that they are irrefutable. However, this really seems like direct evidence that the Free Press "reporting" on the over-practicing issue and the subsequent NCAA allegations could unfairly result in a potential loss of recruits.
From the interview, it appears that Hart personally favors Michigan ("Michigan has always been best for me"), while his mom is concerned about the allegations and seems to have a negative impression of Michigan, which is what led him to remove (temporarily, we all hope) Michigan from his top three.
I am certainly not upset at his mom for being concerned about the ethics of the program - I think participation in an ethical situation/career is a very worthy goal for a parent to have for their kid. And, given the press the mainstream media has given the program's NCAA allegations situation, it's understandable that she would have questions.
My hope is that once she talks to Rodriguez and gets to know more about the SEC schools, Michigan will stand out, accurately, as the best choice from a purely ethical standpoint.
The whole Freep situation is sad, but to see it get to the point where a recruit's parent currently thinks that Rich Rodriguez runs a less-clean program than Nick Saban due to some terrible journalism is awful.
Keith, I think it's pretty clear from the interview (and from other coverage of Hart) that he likes Michigan the most, but is worried about Rich Rodriguez's job security and/or potential sanctions for the football program.
1) that Michigan has a small class this year, so doesn't need to communicate this message to too many kids and
2) RR is at least getting a chance to tell the Michigan side of the story, which is all he can ask for.
Many here believe that the Free Press jihad has sort of run its course in terms of damage and that simply winning more games will make it go away. I don't.
The bias was there before RR ever coached a game at UM and while I think the current state of the win/loss record makes their job a LOT easier because fickle, short-sighted fans seem so eager to join them, I strongly believe that this would still occur if the W/L record were reversed over the last two years and we won 9 and lost 3. They would spin it differently. They would be accusing him of all the same things and chalking his success up to his lack of regard for the rules and all things good and holy, but they would still be doing it.
Beyond the obvious threat of sanctions or probation in one form or another from the NCAA, I think the real damage they have inflicted is in public perception. In this instance, we have a player that grew up loving Michigan who is open about his concerns and those of his parents. Concerns that have resulted in turning a nearly automatic commitment into one that we have to work just to get back on his 'possible' list. Now take away his direct/inside connection to the program in Ricardo Miller and you have a recruit with no connections and no way to get the real story. The coaches would not likely even be given an opportunity to speak with the Mother and address her concerns.
How many recruits and their parents have had similar reactions that simply do not give Michigan a serious/second look? How many have looked and decided to play elsewhere without voicing their concerns?
Furthermore, Hart has grown up loving Michigan, how many kids are we losing at that stage who are viewing Michigan in a negative light and putting us into the same category as schools that might be more habitual offenders. Especially since the kids this turn off to M will be kids that have more character and aren't interested in a program that they perceive as perhaps lacking it?
I really don't think the Freep is acting alone and I sincerely hope that the party or parties in the AD that have been actively feeding information to the press can step back and realize that they aren't doing anybody any good. Quite the opposite.
You are so right in saying that the Freep isn't acting alone. I have heard second hand that Martin was not able to stop this from happening. That was one thing that Brandon was on the minute he hit the athletic offices...find who was leaking info to press/NCAA and stop it.
Having said that, I hope Demetrius comes in and has a great visit in A2. I hope the weather is warm and sunny and we can tell him and his mother that the violations are probably violations that are happening everywhere (doesn't make it any better) and that any potential sanctions will be minor or none at all.
More importantly, Demetrius needs to know that RR will be his coach, not just his recruiter.
This has nothing to do with the Freep. His Mom's stance has nothing to do with the Freep's poor reporting--it has to do with US. We ADMITTED to bending/slash breaking guidelines on practice and coaching supervision. While we are preparing a response, and likely will dispute some of the charges, we stepped up and positively confronted the issue. I'm rather frustrated with most on this blog who trace all parts of the negativity here to an idiot reporter and an irresponsible newspaper. While there are many mitigating circumstances here, the fact is that we will have self-imposed sanctions to serve at the end of the day--those sanctions are not due to the stupid Freep, they are due to OUR actions.
"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."
You've been negged -- not by me. You have a right to your opinion.
But do not be sucked into all of the self-reporting, self-imposition of sanctions, etc. That's the way the NCAA works. They want schools to pay for their own investigations. They want schools to impose their own sanctions. They have a system set up to do that, and by any standards, going back to the July '09 audit memo, Michigan has been watching itself very carefully.
It isn't clear to me that you really beleive your own words about "an idiot reporter and an irresponsible newspaper." If you are serious, then you and I have a common viewpoint that we can celebrate together.
It IS important to keep up the drumbeat with resepect to the Free Press. A message like "the Free Press jihad" has to be kept up; keep it simple, keep it clear, keep it repetitive.
First of all, point of order, 'US' and 'OUR'? I am glad you are taking some responsibility in all this ;) I keed, I keed.
If you look at the situation without any regard for the circumstances from which it was born, you suffer a myopia of convenience which permits you to focus solely on the revelation of some rather moderate infractions and to fittingly ignore anything beyond that as inconsequential. Happily this absolves you from acknowledging the reality of cause and effect and seemingly to rationalize the opinion that ‘the end justifies the means’ with regard to the methods that initiated the self-admission and subsequent investigation. It doesn’t.
I get tired of people on this site that are apologists for the journalistic malpractice committed by a ‘newz’ organization that so clearly seeks to inflict continued harm on the Michigan football program. It doesn’t take Noam Chomsky to see the obvious double-standard applied in reporting on recent events concerning both UM and MSU football programs, nor the clear bias in evidence with regard to the slanted and agenda-focused coverage of the Free Press in denigrating Michigan specifically. And yet, we are supposed to hold them blameless on all accounts?
'This has nothing to do with the Freep'
...and the investigation that brought about these self-admitted infractions came from....(drum roll please)....a wholly biased, baseless (in terms of even the most minimal of journalistic standards), radically exaggerated, nearly completely inaccurate and sensationalized 'article' (I use the term in the loosest sense b/c it was written by an editorial writer with a self-professed bias against the subject, 'hit job' would be more apropos) that was published in....(drum roll again please).. the aforementioned ‘Freep’. Whether you think they are at fault in whole, in part, or not at all, to take the position that the Freep has ‘nothing’ to do with this is, at best, tenuous.
I actually hold them nearly 100% responsible. The other people I hold responsible are the compliance people that decided to suddenly stop doing their jobs, which pertain to, you know, compliance.
Quite simply, if the Free Press article had been properly investigated and sourced, and therefore based only on verifiable facts, we would not be here. Instead, they went to print with something that ignored any sense of integrity or principles with the goal of producing something as damaging as possible. The article took heresy from biased, anonymous sources and blew it completely out of proportion. It used the comments of a few non-biased sources completely out of context and failed to provide any framework at all as to the nature of the rules and regulations that were allegedly being broken. It explicitly omitted any shred of an opposing viewpoint or easily obtainable information that might provide a counter-point to their accusations. Had they employed even basic journalistic standards, more than likely the 'article' would never have been published because a 5% overage in practice time due to some stretching time misallocated as voluntary just wouldn't be a story, certainly not the headline grabber that they ended up fabricating. Remember that staff participating in 7-on-7s was not any part of the focus of the original article and the ‘Freep’ certainly wouldn't have included anything about RR's staff going above and beyond in trying to enforce class attendance in the summer, as this would have been antithetical to their acknowledged agenda.
And thus, here we are. ‘Nothing’ to do with it? Hardly.
Beyond the simple reality of cause and effect, there is also just the unfairness of trying to crucify a single program for failing to be perfect in complying with the arcane and complex rules that are nearly impossible to follow perfectly. The NCAA wholly admits on their own website that the rules and regulations are so complicated that most D-1 programs have trouble understanding them and following them to the letter and run afoul of them in one way or another. That is to say, if you go digging far enough into any major D-1 program you will find that many will have infringed upon these regulations in some like manner due to similar errors of interpretation and application, not as a result of a subversive and devious intent to gain a competitive advantage.
Before you go frothing at the mouth, I'm NOT saying everyone does it, so that makes it okay. I'm not and it's not. The point I am making is that a 5% margin on practice time between what is defined as voluntary v. involuntary is an error of definition and categorization, not an intentional and explicit attempt at 'bending/slash breaking guidelines' with malevolent intent or callous disregard for the welfare of the players. It is a minor problem of institution and bureaucracy that can be found anywhere you want to look. It is certainly not the hanging offense it was originally portrayed as by the Free Press.
Let's try a test to see if the cause were removed, the result would be similar, or the same.
Let me provide you an alternate scenario where the Free Press retains their journalistic integrity and let's speculate what might happen had that occurred. Let’s re-write the original article to do the following:
A. Name anonymous sources and therefore reveal their potential for having a bias
B. Present the comments of the current M players in the appropriate context to the conversations from which they were gleaned
C. Ask a few players from other teams the same questions (remember that the comments from current M players were obtained at the Big 10 media days in Chicago, so players were certainly available and I'm sure would have responded in similar fashion had they been asked, 'are you working hard getting ready for the season?'
D. Ask athletes from other sports what their schedules look like and whether or not they have intimate knowledge of the rules that govern the time they contribute to their sport
E. Limit speculation as to the nature and extent of the infractions, or in other words remove all exaggeration and only state overages that are verifiable, rather than resort to the hyperbolic 'limits could be exceeded by up to 10 or 20 hours per week' type of conjecture that turned out to be so off-base
F. Present even a cursory understanding of the rules that you are accusing the program of exceeding
All this could easily have been achieved in the span of a few days of investigation, most of it within a few minutes. This is what a responsible news source without an agenda would have done. Instead, the Freep deliberately lied and restricted themselves to furthering an anti-Rodriguez agenda.
The resulting story equals something like 'Widespread Practice Compliance Issues throughout NCAA/Big10/Michigan Athletics', or 'Michigan Football May Be Over Practicing by 5%'. The former, at most, would result in some posturing by the NCAA about compliance and some additional rigor on the part of programs throughout the NCAA. The latter would result in a statement from UM that they are now aware of the misallocation of the stretching time and will be making changes to address the issue and furthermore they would likely have proactively notified the NCAA about the overages and the reforms being made with a received a hearty nod of approval.
Neither story, IMO, results in even so much as a hint of any kind of sanctions for M football, nor does it end up attempting to drag the reputation of the program through the mud.
Do I hold the lying, deliberately slanted Free Press responsible? Yes, absolutely. I just don't understand why any other Michigan fan doesn't. I understand that those with an agenda against Rich Rodriguez have been quick to enjoin this as yet another indictment of his character and don’t want to hear or accept anything that would possibly divest them of their belief that he is the Devil incarnate, but does that really necessitate giving the Free Press a pass on starting this whole mess? No way.
Let's conduct a quick test in objectivity.
Suppose I dug around in the past and write a piece that:
-lifted player quotes from old newspaper articles and twisted them around to support my position
-interviewed past players and used their words out of context in furthering my intention to slander Bo Schembechler
-interviewed a few ex-Michigan players that quit/left the team during the early days of the Schembechler regime, chosen because they would anonymously support my agenda by stating that rules were broken
-failed to ask the same question of players on any other team, and deliberately omitted any quotes from players on other teams that might serve to indicate that the problem is widespread, or not a problem at all
-Made hugely exaggerated claims of rules infractions based on the above 'evidence' that indicate Bo went over the allotted time by somewhere between 25% and 50%.
-Demonstrated in the article that I clearly do not have even the most basic understanding of the rules that govern practice time at that point
Given that situation, would you think it fair of me to print an article titled 'Those Who Stay Will Be Cheaters!' in a major news outlet in an effort to smear Bo Schembechler? What if an NCAA investigation resulted and it was revealed that Bo did actually exceed the limits by more like 5% due to an error in the categorization of stretching time? Imagine that Michigan would have to vacate all wins in '69 and '70 as a result, would you hold me blameless and defend me saying that it was due to Bo's ACTIONS? No, I would be a douchebag to do that, and more importantly I would be wrong and completely at fault.
If you think that would be unfair to Bo, then you aren't being objective and you are letting some other agenda against the current coach have an undue influence on your opinion.
Also, as long as we are talking about ACTIONS….in my opinion, the compliance people are the ones that should be holding the bag for this, you know, the ones that are actually supposed to know this stuff and are charged with, you know, compliance. The same people that seemed perfectly knowledgeable of the University processes and methods for documenting and adhering to the guidelines under Carr suddenly decided that IN-ACTION was the way to go. At very best RR shares only a modicum of the responsibility and for an embattled coach who is out there giving it is all trying to get our program back to where it should be, I would hope he is not spending his time dotting I's and crossing T's and micro-managing a bunch of adults who seemingly knew how to do their jobs not too long ago.
Yes, I type fast and had a lot of free time today.
Dude, I mean, whoa. I admit to not reading you entire post, I'll respond to your main point as I see it;
FACT: the Freep was APPROACHED by players with a complaint
They then ran with a sensationalized, biased article lacking in context that implied that "OMG THE CHILDREN." I have never and will never say that this article was anything but biased and lacking in context, but an article would have been written even if the players spoke to Wojo--or any other journalist anywhere.
FACT: We and the NCAA launched an investigation where we and the NCAA concluded that some rules were stretched in mostly minor ways. The summer coaching presence was not minor.
Your conclusion that if the Freep article had been fair and good journalism we wouldn't be going through this is wholly unsupported by logic and sense. This is Michigan, ANY fair article would have caused us to self-examine and would have drawn NCAA scrutiny, though not the OMG factor.
The disgruntled players that approached the Freep caused this--any media outlet would have run with some kind of story. And a fair story would still have caused an investigation.
I'd rather side with David Brandon and Mary Sue Coleman in how I react to this situation rather than with people who continually blame the messenger.
"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."
Freep was approached by ex-players with an axe, not a complaint and not current players. BIG difference. Either way, journalists need to assess their source and investigate then provide a balanced account, not rush to press with unverified accusations from one side, after adding additional trumped up evidence to support it. If I walk into the Free Press with accusations that a major corporation in Detroit is cooking their books and providing fraudulant accounting data to investors, would they go directly to press with my accusations? Why is it okay in this case?
An article 'may' have been written, or perhaps not. Like I said in my diatribe above, a fair article that only dealt in facts or that was fairly reported would not have been nearly as desireable to print, and it certainly would not have been a hit-job resulting in an investigation.
Sorry it is long, but read the whole thing, I say exactly that, so perhaps we agree in some sense. If it is a fair article, UM would certainly have self-reported the 5% overage to the NCAA and preemptively notified them of the measures being taken to address the overages....and the NCAA nods their head in agreement and we are done. I would not support sweeping this under the rug in any way, shape or form. I completely agree with M's approach and the manner in which they are dealing with it and I would not be happy with UM if it was pointing fingers at the Free Press and trying to avoid/avert blame.
You are missing the point.
My point is this, the accusations in the article were completely out of proportion from reality and THAT resulted in an NCAA investigation. The exaggerrated claims of up to 10-20 hours of extra time are far more serious than what actually transpired and resulted in a reaction and investigation far out of proportion with reality. A fact-based article reports on the potential for some small overages and I believe at that point that self-reporting to the NCAA, an internal investigation using a third-party mediary and a follow-up report with steps to address the issue and perhaps some self-imposed penalty is accepted by the NCAA. I do not believe the NCAA would have felt the need to investiagte on their own and that is supported by precedent in many cases. The NCAA does not and cannot investigate accusations in every instance and only do so when the transgressions are of a serious nature. In the case the published accusations were very serious, only completely out of proprtion with reality.
That's where we differ, I don't believe that a fairly reported story results in the NCAA investigation and believe that self-repreporting, self/mediary investigation and potentially self-sanction would have been sufficient and far less damaging to the reputation of the program than what actually transpired.
Let's just agree to disagree?
I do feel like I am aligned with MSC and David Brandon and I do believe that if given the option, they would have preferred to have this reported in a fair manner and have the ability to deal with it publicly and oown their own terms, rather than having the 'OMG M Cheats and Works Players 10-20 extra Hours!' article published with very little basis in fact.
Good response. We'll have to agree to disagree, though you make some good points. While I agree that part of the response to the article was based upon the claims in it (OMG 10 hours in Sunday!) IMO the result given a fair and balanced article would still have been damaging. Remember, part of the claims in the article, specifically that coaches were supervising summer workouts, turned out to be true, not embellished in any way. That turned out to be the most serious breach of NCAA rules that we are facing, and we have practically admitted that this was true--along with having one guy lie about it. So IMO that validates the point I made above, that we'd be facing this regardless of Freep bias.
"Before I could pull the trigger, I was hit by lightning, and bitten by a cobra."
Good response right back at you, you also bring up valid points. I suspect that rather than 90/10 and 10/90, we are a lot closer to 49/51 and 51/49 with repect to the variance in our opinions.
I certainly respect your opinion as well reasoned, informed and rational.
I could go all binary and say no article, no issue, but that would seek to excuse the fact that the issues did exist in the program and I am not about that. I do believe we hold the luster of the program's reputation in equal esteem, that being more important than what we think of the Free Press. Go Blue.
So, do you want to be Toe-MAY-toe, or Toe-MAH-toe, you can have first pick.
[shake of hands]
P.S. FWIW, I didn't drop any negs on you. Poor form.
There are a lot of other spring games on 4/17 as I understand it. Is OSU the same day? Nice that he's coming here. Hope we get a great, sunny day, and that it's one of the most fun weekends of Dee Hart's young life. Nice too that Ricardo is already in school, and can fill Dee Hart on that. You gotta love a game-highlight mixtape that leads off with GPA and SAT scores.
I may be a bit too optimistic, but from his comments, it definitely seems that if his mom (parents) are happy, he is ours. Basically all that's standing in the way of a commit is his parents blessing...???
1) Working too hard to achieve our goals (too much practice time, and too many people working with the athletes to help them improve)
2) Monitoring athletes' class attendance and enforcing that attendance even when we weren't supposed to do that (in the summer).
These were errors, Mrs. Hart, but they emanate from the core values of our program, and we will not shy away from those values no matter what. Your son will work very hard to be the best athlete he can be, and he damn well will go to class and work hard in the classroom.
Exactly. I think that once the self imposed sanctions come out and the final ruling from the NCAA comes down, we won't have any major loss of scholarships or post-season ban. Then, when we have a resurgent year (I am predicting 9-3 assuming no new injuries and that Molk, Forcier and Martin are 100%) Hart and a bunch of other top 100 recruits will be jumping on board. I think we will get a top ten class once its clear we are back and Rodriguez isn't going anywhere.
Is there anyway we can get him the best piece of u know what on campus. We got to get this guy. Pull out all the stops and sign him up. Hopefully R.Miller shows him a good time and they hit the parties.
It takes a big man to admit when he's wrong...and I am that big man.-Micheal Scott