"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
First of all, only of Big Ten fans and Notre Dame (and others who want to join the Big Ten) would be upset about Rutgers joining the Big Ten. Big Ten fans would obviously be upset (with the possible exception of Indiana football fans) because Rutgers would be a perennial doormat in football and basketball. Notre Dame would also be upset because the generally open door that the Big Ten has left for Notre Dame to join would likely close. Now, Notre Dame has made it clear that they have no desire to join the Big Ten and prefer their independent status in football. However, the open door that the Big Ten has provided for Notre Dame has given them a powerful tool when negotiating with the Big East.
This brings me to the heart of the matter. Should Rutgers join the Big Ten, the Big East could actually benefit. Rutgers has given the Big East very little. Through St. John's, the Big East already owns the New York basketball market. Meanwhile, Rutgers football has generally been unable to deliver any ratings in New York, due to their being generally terrible through the years, and thus the Big East hasn't really benefitted from them. However, if Rutgers were to leave for the Big Ten, the Big East would get a huge opportunity. Because the Big Ten would have been eliminated as an option for Notre Dame, the Big East would likely have a conversation like this with Notre Dame:
Big East: Since Rutgers has gone, we're looking for a new football team to join the conference and we think you would be a great addition.
Notre Dame: Well thanks for the offer, but we're quite happy with our independent status and we don't think that such an arrangement would benefit us financially or athletically.
Big East: Don't be so sure. You would get five non-conference games every year, so you could keep up your rivalries. And let's face it, our conference is weak enough that you'll be able to get to a BCS bowl at least 2 out of every 3 years, so long as your coaching hires work out.
Notre Dame: Still, we would prefer independence. Joining the Big East would restrict our schedule a lot and our alumni would be very unhappy. Furthermore, we could still easily lose football revenue.
Big East: That's a shame, because if you can't join us for football, we'll have to kick you out for basketball.
Notre Dame: [mouths a few profanities] That would be unfortunate, but we can always join Conference USA or the Atlantic 10.
Big East: Well, that's an option for you, I suppose, but you should know that we'll probably be raiding those conferences for replacement teams for you and Rutgers [evil grin].
Anyway, should Rutgers join the Big Ten, they can easily get a replacement like Memphis or someone, and they would also gain a huge amount of leverage when negotiating with Notre Dame. And that situation, I feel, is likely the reason that Notre Dame is saying that they may be forced to join a conference. Also, I really hope that leaking the idea that Rutgers is perhaps the preferred candidate is just a method of putting pressure on Notre Dame to join the Big Ten, because if Rutgers actually came to the Big Ten, it would really suck.
List of Instances Suggesting a Potential Journalistic Bias by The Detroit Free Press Sports Department
· Concerns Regarding the Free Press investigation on alleged practice violations by Michigan:
o Rosenberg and Snyder do not, at any point in their investigation, explain what they mean when they term the Michigan practices “mandatory”. They claim that Rodriguez and the coaching staff called extra-hour practices voluntary but these were actually required, without specifying what the consequences of missing these practices were. For instance, it could well be the case that players who did not attend voluntary practices were denied playing time. However, that would not be a violation, because the coaches could correctly argue that they award players who put in extra work playing time. It would be a violation to threaten to kick a player off the team for failing to show up at these practices. The only consequence specified for failing to show up at voluntary practices was extra work at practice, according to the report, which makes sense when you consider that they would need to work harder if they were going to catch up to their teammates in terms of physique and skill level in order to play. As none of the consequences specified for failing to show up for voluntary practices broke NCAA rules, I fail to see how Rosenberg and Snyder can legitimately call these practices mandatory in the context of violating NCAA rules.
o The report failed to specify that any strength and conditioning sessions outside of practice hours can be considered voluntary, so long as missing the sessions do not jeopardize a player’s status as a member of the team. The same goes for 7-on-7 scrimmages and various other activities.
o The only alleged violation in the report that is specifically defined is the presence of quality-control staffers at 7-on-7 practices. None of the other specified practice violations are explained in a matter such as being irrefutably in opposition to existing NCAA practice rules.
o There is no reason given for allowing the former members of the Michigan football team to remain anonymous, especially when former team member Toney Clemons came forward publically with accusations. As the Michigan coaching staff lacks the ability to sanction former players, there is no reason to allow former players to function as anonymous sources.
o The distribution of current and former players is never specified. Also unspecified is whether any of the named interviewed players (including Stokes and Hawthorne) counted to the total number of 10 current and former players. Furthermore, the number of current players who are anonymous sources is never specified.
o On September 5, the Free Press released an article acknowledging that a 2006 survey showed that high level collegiate football players spend an average of 44.8 hours on football. Furthermore, it was noted in that article that there was big question surrounding whether hours beyond the 20-hour limit were considered mandatory or voluntary. The Free Press willfully ignored this in its initial coverage, waiting a week to release this story. Doing so was an unethical method of attempting to increase the ‘importance’ of the original story.
o The article entitled “MSU plays by the rules, says ex-players” should never have been published. It is impossible to compare a few interviews with ex-MSU players with an investigation that took months to complete. Including that article alongside the Michigan Practice investigation is highly unethical.
o The coverage of the online reaction to the Free Press investigation from the Michigan blogosphere amounted to little more than an ad hominem attack. Rather than address the validity of any points about the investigation made by the Michigan blogosphere, the Free Press published an article that was designed to make the entire forum of the complaints look ridiculous. For instance, it noted that the coverage from mgoblog regarding the investigation was entitled Jihad the Second, without explaining the satirical intent. Furthermore, it noted that a petition urging a boycott of the Free Press appeared in the same forum as petitions made about saving television shows. In doing so, the Free Press acknowledged that there is a sizable segment of Michigan fans who disbelieve their report without actually naming a single reason they have for doing so, something that is ethically dubious if the Free Press truly desires to make a balanced report about the online reaction to their investigation.
· Concerns regarding the Free Press Coverage on Demar Dorsey
o The coverage of Demar Dorsey has failed to acknowledge the fact that recruiting players with his history in college football is commonplace.
o The coverage of Demar Dorsey has failed to acknowledge that Michigan State has taken players with similar histories (exp. Roderick Jenrette) onto their team. Furthermore, the Free Press has failed to report on any Michigan State recruits with similar criminal backgrounds in the past.
o I question the logic of the lack of any major coverage surrounding Glenn Winston’s return to the team after being released from prison and Demar Dorsey’s signing. It suggests that the Free Press considers that Mark Dantonio’s policy of giving second chances for violent offenses committed as adults is not overly objectionable, but Rich Rodriguez’s policy of giving second chances for non-violent offenses committed as minors is overly objectionable. This speaks to a double standard when comparing Michigan and Michigan State.
· Examples of a Double Standard Regarding Michigan and Michigan State Employed by the Free Press
o The Free Press Practice Investigation Page includes 57 individual stories, most written over the course of the first couple weeks. The Free Press page on the Spartan altercation at Rather Hall includes 13 stories.
§ This is an issue because it shows that the Free Press considers a potential NCAA violation regarding Michigan practicing too much as more important than a large number of Michigan State football players being prosecuted for acts of violence.
§ It should be noted that certain stories concerning the Rather Hall altercation are omitted from the Rather Hall Coverage Page, such as an interview with Mark Dell Sr., an article that heavily features the father of Mark Dell Jr., one of the players charged with assault and battery. In the article, Dell Sr. claims that his son was innocent further claims that only a few of the charged players actually committed acts of violence. Later, Dell Jr. pled guilty to a count of misdemeanor assault and battery. The article can be found and purchased in the Free Press archive. At the time the article was released, no coverage was given regarding any statements made by any of the victims of the assaults.
o Feagin and Winston
§ When Justin Feagin was kicked off the Michigan football team for his involvement in a rather unclear situation involving an aborted cocaine deal that turned violent, the Free Press released an opinion article, written by Michael Rosenberg, one of the authors of the Free Press investigation into Michigan’s practice hours, stating that the Feagin incident was indicative of a lack of standards by the Michigan football team.
§ When Glenn Winston was released from prison and rejoined the Michigan State football team on the same day, the only mention of the occurrence by the Free Press was a brief article stating that Winston had rejoined the team.
I wrote this open letter to Drew Sharp after listening to Sharp's podcast provided by BlockM. Should he reply, his reply will appear in the comments. Anyway, here it goes:
I am going to preface my email by telling you that I am a Michigan student and a lifelong Michigan fan, as I feel that it is only fair that you are aware of this before I address the subject of your comments about Demar Dorsey. Furthermore, I will also say that I have no problem with your asking questions about Dorsey’s history to Coach Rodriguez, as that is justifiably part of your job as a reporter. However, I do take issue some of your comments made on your 1130 radio show, having listened to the released podcast.* Also, it is only fair that I inform you that this is an open letter and I will make public your the entirety of your response, if you are so kind as to provide one.
First of all, I question your stance on accepting athletes who have been charged with a crime, but not convicted. As I understand it, Demar Dorsey was acquitted of an armed robbery charge and had charges of burglary against him dismissed. Based on your comments, I assume that you do not believe that athletes who are charged with a crime (or at least, charged with a crime and brought to court), should be allowed to play for the University of Michigan. I take issue with this because it means that any teenager incorrectly charged with a crime is automatically precluded from playing football at Michigan through no fault of his own. As Dorsey was acquitted, and Coach Rodriguez says that he has investigated the matter and believes that he did not commit any crime, I cannot see any moral justification for denying him the opportunity to play football at the University of Michigan. According to your view on how Michigan should conduct itself, Michigan should not accept any player accused of a crime, even if the university believes the player to be innocent, on the basis of upholding a high moral standard. Forgive me, but that seems to be rather disingenuous.
Second of all, I question the journalistic ethics that you have applied when commenting about Demar Dorsey. You compared Dorsey’s acquittal to OJ Simpson’s acquittal without giving any link between the two cases other than the fact that both of them involve football players. Furthermore, you heavily suggested the possibility, and seemed to insinuate that you believe it is likely, that Demar Dorsey was not found guilty because he is a high profile football player. I take issue with this because you did not justify this suspicion with any evidence. You did not discuss any specifics of the Dorsey case, including the evidence that the prosecutors presented in his jury trial. You did not provide any quotes about Dorsey by anyone who knew him. In fact, the only thing that you provided as reason to distrust the Dorsey verdict was a sweeping generalization of football players in the court system, claiming that football players often receive favorable treatment in the justice system. And the only evidence that you provided to back up this generalization was the OJ Simpson case, a heavily publicized trial involving one of the most famous NFL players of all time. Forgive me, but that does not seem to be a fair parallel to a trial involving a high school football player in Fort Lauderdale.
As you consider yourself to be a legitimate journalist, I feel that it is your obligation to provide specific details and a body of evidence to support your view that there is reason to doubt that Dorsey actually committed any crime. If you do not do so, as a journalist it would be unethical to do anything but recant your previous statements and offer an apology to Demar Dorsey.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
*Here is the link to the podcast I listened too, should you wish to hear the entirety of the comments that I am writing to you about:
First of all, I sincerely doubt am pretty much willing to completely discount the possibility that the Big Ten will expand to 14 teams. However, it is an interesting exercise to consider the possibility, particularly when the alternative would be to do the physics homework I have due tomorrow. Anyway, here we go:
Current conventional wisdom considers adding Maryland, Syracuse, Pitt, Rutgers, Missouri, etc. (i.e. an array of palatable choices) to the Big Ten. No group of three here could even hope to better the Big Ten financially, because these schools cannot generate enough revenue collectively to improve the financial situation of the Big Ten. This is not to say that an individual school wouldn't be able to do so. With the exception of Rutgers, who doesn't produce a lot of revenue, despite their proximity to New York, and would become an instant doormat in every important sport, each school on that list has the potential to benefit the Big Ten financially. Every school would likely add something in television revenue and a Big Ten championship game could be a huge moneymaker. In fact, if the Big Ten does expand, it is possible that they may consider putting the game on the Big Ten Network, which would suck to watch but would either make the network more profitable or allow them to drive up the price that another network (likely ESPN/ABC) would have to pay to televise the game. This means that the addition of one school adds some television revenue and the revenue of a championship game. However, any school in addition to a 12th school would only add television revenue in their market, which would almost certainly cause the Big Ten member schools to lose revenue.
Now, if the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams, the move would have to include several major schools, not unlike the ACC bringing in Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College. In fact, if the Big Ten were to attempt to expand east, it is likely that at least some (or even all) of those schools would be recruited. However, I think that if the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams they would most likely move west. This thought is not based on some whimsical geographic notion, but rather because I have three specific teams in mind.
This is where it gets interesting. If the Big Ten were to expand to 14 teams, I believe the best move is to poach Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. These teams would be more likely to leave the Big 12 as a group, because it would allow them to maintain some rivalries (most notably Kansas and Missouri), increase their revenue, and join a conference that is much more prestigious than being in the Big 12 North. Meanwhile, the Big Ten might be able to increase their TV revenue by adding a larger geographic footprint (Kansas and Nebraska aren't much from a revenue standpoint, but Missouri would be a nice addition*), and the addition of a national football power in Nebraska and a national basketball power in Kansas would allow the Big Ten to sign much larger television contracts. Also, from a competitive standpoint, this move would make the Big Ten stronger in football and much stronger in basketball.
Obviously, this is not remotely likely to happen. The financial uncertainty and legal problems that this type of move would cause would be a huge risk for a conference that doesn't need to take it and universities who stand to potentially lose a lot of money. That said, it is a fun idea to think about, particularly when you consider how much havoc this would cause (bye, bye Big 12...cackle cackle).
Not well thought out fun with divisions in the new 14 team Big Ten (note, I am assuming nine conference games with one game reserved as a permanent inter-divisional rivalry):
Ohio State-Penn State
Note: I considered leaving out permanent rivalries because outside of Northwestern-Illinois (and OSU-PSU to an extent), none seemed that important. However, I decided that it would be worthwhile to do them as an exercise. My methodology to making them was to prioritize current rivalries first (MSU-Indiana, OSU-PSU, and Northwestern-Illinois), then match the remaining teams as best I could. I put Michigan and Nebraska together because of the historical success of both programs, although it also makes a lot of sense to put Iowa and Nebraska together (it could be called the Corn Bowl, a trophy game in which the winner gets a golden corn...).
A quick preliminary note: If the Big Ten becomes a twelve team conference, it should no longer be called the Big Ten. The Big North would be more appropriate, as would the better, yet redundant, Awesome Northern Conference of Awesomeness and Death (the ANCAD).
And now on to the important stuff:
I do not think that Notre Dame is likely to join the Big Ten. It is what the Big Ten wants the most, but because of Notre Dame's current financial situation, it is unlikely that they will be willing to make the move in the near future.
Instead, I think the most likely candidate is Pitt. They have geographic proximity, acceptable academics, competitive athletics, and a natural rival in Penn State. Now if Pitt were to join the
|From Big Ten + Pitt|
Geographically, there are two ways to separate the schools into divisions. The first is an East-West division and the second is a North-South division. Let's look at a straight East-West division first:
This system would be terrible. Like the Big 12, there is no competitive balance, with Michigan, OSU, and PSU in the same division. So instead, let's look at a North-South division:
This system is much better, with very good competitive balance in football and basketball, and rivalries are preserved. Allowing for one permanent inter-division game* per team, every major rivalry (and most minor rivalries) would be preserved. Michigan and Minnesota fans can rejoice at the Brown Jug becoming a yearly rivalry, while OSU and Illinois (well, OSU) can enjoy fighting over the Illibuck. In fact, out of the 14 rivalry games in the Big Ten, 12 would be played every year (with MSU-Indiana and Minnesota-Penn State being played only 4 years out of every 10, but honestly, who cares). Currently, only 10 are annual games. Additionally, Penn State benefits by getting Pitt every year.
The only real detriment here is that the Michigan-OSU game would have to be moved from the final week of the season, in order to avoid a potential (and often likely) rematch in the conference championship. A possible solution here would be to have Michigan and OSU open up conference play every year one week earlier than other teams. To elaborate, I would have all teams play three non-conference games to start off the year, then have Michigan play OSU while the rest of the teams either take a bye or play another non-conference game (obviously, there's room to maneuver here). Michigan would then close out with MSU (which would make MSU happy) and OSU would close out with Penn State (Pitt would still close with WVU in a non-conference game, so there's no real issue here). I think that opening conference play with OSU could easily keep the game in the national spotlight.
I know that this model isn't exactly ideal, but I think it's a pretty good one considering the realities of the situation. Any thoughts?
*Permanent Inter-Division Games
Michigan State-Penn State
Note: I matched the last three games on the competitiveness of the teams more than anything else.
From 2008 through today, our teams have led us to feel pretty much every possible emotion that we would ever feel towards them. We've been elated by championship runs, magical seasons, and incredible victories. We've been shocked, disappointed, and angered by terrible seasons, heart-breaking losses, and record setting futility. We've even felt the nagging frustration of general mediocrity, something that is unusual for us, considering the rather bipolar history of our teams.
From 2008 through today, Michigan football has a record of 9-13. Michigan basketball has gone 27-26, Michigan hockey has gonef 48-18-4, the Tigers have gone 160-164, the Red Wings have gone 121-71 (I count OTL's as L's), the Pistons have gone 85-70, and the Lions have gone 1-21. Without weighting the games, our teams have a combined record of 451-383-4, good for a winning percentage of .541. Giving equal weight to each team's winning percentage, the overall winning percentage of our teams is .479. These numbers are somewhat interesting. When treating each win equally, our teams have made us happy the majority of the time. When treating each team as equal, our teams have disappointed us the majority of the time. I would do a more in depth analysis on the numbers here, but for one thing; when we think about it, they mean crap.
When 2008 began, our outlook on our teams was generally good. We had an uncertain optimism towards Michigan football, with Rodriguez about to take the reins, and high expectations for Michigan hockey, the Tigers, the Pistons, and the Red Wings. We accepted that Michigan basketball would be a multi-year rebuilding process and we had a somewhat apathetic expectation that the Lions would suck and continue to suck. The year started off great, with Michigan beating Florida in the Capital One Bowl, a great send off for Lloyd Carr. Michigan Hockey and the Pistons did well, advancing deep in their respective playoffs. The Pistons did as well as we could have reasonably hoped, while our hockey team lost a heartbreaker to Notre Dame in the Frozen Four. However, we received a nice consolation prize, with the Red Wings cruising through the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup.
After that, we endured several months of pain. The Tigers, with a lineup that many thought would score 1000 runs, flopped and finished at the bottom of the Central, while Michigan Football endured its worst season of the modern era. Then a highly touted Michigan hockey team began the season with a dismal start, having a terrible first half to the season. And throughout it all, we watched the Lions, with a horrified fascination, finish a record breaking 0-16 season, including one memorable play where Dan Orlovsky infamously safetied himself.
The winter ended our agony, as we enjoyed the Michigan Basketball team's magical run to the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile the Michigan Hockey team rebounded and became a one-seed in the NCAA tournament and the Red Wings rolled through the regular season. It would have been perfect, if not for the frustrating mediocrity of the Pistons that marked the end of their run among the NBA's elite teams.
The spring brought a number of painful losses, as the Pistons were swept in the first round of the playoffs, Michigan Hockey lost a shocker to Air Force in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and the Red Wings lost a heartbreaking game 7 in one of the most exciting NHL playoffs in history.
The Tigers followed this up by be surprisingly good, taking control of the division over the summer and driving towards a likely playoff bid. Tigers fans were overjoyed to see Brandon Inge selected to the All Star game, which seemed fitting for a team leading the division through the help of a number of unlikely players. Then Michigan football started, and we were treated to one of the most exciting games in Michigan history with a win over Notre Dame. Overjoyed, fans looked forward to a great season of Michigan football and a playoff bid to the Tigers. Even the Lions provided some fun, by finally winning a damn game.
This all changed in one week. It began with a heartbreaking loss to MSU and the Tigers dropping a series to Chicago, forcing a one game playoff against the surging Twins. Then the Tigers lost to the Twins in spectacular fashion, blowing multiple opportunities to win the game on the way to a loss in the 13th inning. Meanwhile, Michigan hockey began the season by losing to Alaska and we lost to Iowa the week after. This funk by our teams has yet to end. The hockey team has been shaky, the Lions have continued to lose, and our football team was just blown out by Illinois.
Now, as I write this at 1:30 in the morning after watching one of the most atrocious games I've ever seen out of a Michigan football team, I wonder why it is that we surrender our emotional well-being to these teams that so often disappoint us. I am still simultaneously depressed and angry about losing such an awful game to such an awful team and I know that this will persist for at least the rest of the week. And it's not as if this situation, this streak of disappointing performances, is unusual. Our teams will generally disappoint us, because we will always hope that our teams will do better than what we can reasonably expect from them. So why is it that we let ourselves care so much? Why do we look to something as inconsequential as the result of a football game as a source of elation or despair?
The answer is certainly up for debate. My personal thought is that loyal fans root for their teams with fervor because doing so allows fans to take pride in their teams' accomplishments. Suffering with the Michigan Football team when they lose to Illinois will makes it possible for a loyal fan to feel a legitimate sense of pride whenever they beat Ohio State. This is a good thing, because for Michigan football fans' true loyalty generally lies with something more broad than the team itself. For instance, when most people root for the football team, they are really supporting the university, an institution that they are apart of. Others support Michigan for different reasons that are more akin to the professional teams that they support. Most Tigers fans, for instance support the Tigers because they represent the city of Detroit, or more broadly, the state of Michigan. Others root for the Tigers because their parents brought them up rooting for the Tigers, and thus rooting for the Tigers is an extension of the bonds that they feel with their parents.
The point here, and the reason I am posting this after a blowout loss to a terrible team, is to note that rooting for a team is an expression of our loyalty to something greater than the team itself. Furthermore, the thing that we are loyal to is generally something that we value greatly (using myself as an example, I greatly prize my affiliation with the University of Michigan). Therefore, if you allow the pain you feel in the aftermath of a loss to turn you away from supporting your team with the same fervor that you did before, then you are to an extent betraying your bond to whatever it is that causes you to root for your team.