Mike Lantry, 1972
west virginia is a post-apocalyptic den of insanity
No in-out since it’s the first one in a while, but a dossier of those in trouble:
MY FATHER has a shirt that says he’s my dad and points me out to various passers-by who notice it. This is not cool.
ANTONIO BASS’ TRAITOROUS KNEE. Bass was a high school quarterback who made Incredibly Surprising Quarterback Draws work with some regularity during his freshman season. He’d be a redshirt junior who couldn’t throw worth a lick but could be Pat White if his knee hadn’t exploded in a contact warmup drill. Preposterously, the injury was the worst knee injury Michigan football’s ever experienced and Bass’s career is over.
EAGLES FANS IN MAIZE. There was a smattering of boos at halftime, which is only barely acceptable when a team is clearly playing under its capabilities and even then it’s pretty dickish since no one’s getting paid. When no one from the fans to the coaches to the players knows what they can do, booing can only be the province of people who should exit the stadium like stray extra points.
(THE) GENERAL BLOODYMINDEDNESS OF (THE) UNIVERSE. The Year of Infinite Pain, The Horror, Josh Moore, the Bass thing above, the transfer of Jason Forcier just in time for him to watch Tavita Pritchard beat Oregon State, Mr. Plow’s departure to the maw of the Great Satan… I mean, come on.
WEST VIRGINIA. Make one funny move and we’ll hire Huggins to coach Grand Valley State.
THE SUN. By the time the game was over half the people in the stadium looked deep-fried and the other half had evaporated. Also it got in my eyes. Stupid sun.
THE 4-3 AGAINST A SPREAD. I thought we ditched this at the same time we ditched Jim Herrmann? At least Shafer got wise relatively quick and junked in in favor of nickel packages galore in the second half; though most credit the defensive line with the carnage wrought it was the secondary actually covering Johnson’s first and sometimes second reads that allowed the defensive line to exercise their constitutional right of assembly at the quarterback.
The thing about time machines is this: you show up with a copy of tomorrow’s newspaper, and the day after tomorrow’s. On day one, you loudly proclaim “I AM FROM THE FUTURE” and people laugh at you and you make bold proclamations about newsworthy events, holding up tomorrow’s paper. The next day you’ve gained some credibility but skeptics remain, so this time you show them the day after tomorrow’s paper, which just has one story on the front page. The headline, in “WAR”-sized caps: “HOLY CRAP, THIS GUY IS FROM THE FUTURE.”
Your credibility established beyond a doubt on day three—which is sometime in late August, 2007—you sit the Michigan fanbase down and carefully explain everything that is going to happen to them over the next twelve months, at which point they laugh at you again.
Travelers pursuing this course of action are strongly recommended to depart before September. Buy stock in Ann Arbor Torch And Pitchfork, Inc., before you go.
If you’re not out by now, you screwed up, Bakula
Right, so all that happened. We didn’t listen! We didn’t listen.
It all went down. The Horror. The Post-Apocalyptic Oregon Game. The resumption of normal service against Notre Dame and Penn State and a bunch of other teams before the Ryan Mallett Experience and Chad Henne’s traitorous shoulder submarined a promising(?!) season. Defeating the Tebow Child by scoring 41 points and deploying an all-shotgun spread offense that looked like it came from, well, the future.
Mike Hart fumbled twice inside the five in that game. Of course he did.
Then Lloyd Carr retired and things got weirder than the absolute weirdest things that had ever happened before. Kirk Ferentz was considered. Bill Martin was on a boat when Les Miles’ agent frantically attempted to reach him; Miles then theatrically signed a contract extension with his Damn Strong Team(tm). Greg Schiano chose Rutgers—Rutgers!—over Michigan. Brady Hoke was theorized.
A few days after the internet burned down, Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez, a man with a four million dollar buyout at his alma mater. Twelve months earlier he turned down six bazillion dollars from Alabama to stay at said alma mater, saying he planned “on being here a long time.” Michigan had acquired a former coal miner from Grant Town, West Virginia, running the swankiest offensive system this side of Urban Meyer. Mere hours before the news broke the most likely candidate seemed to be Hoke.
Michigan fans put the gun back in the drawer; the level of drinking remained constant but the intent shifted 180 degrees.
It was at this point the clocks started to melt. Some guy named Dave Hickman published a story in the West Virginia Daily Whatever claiming Rodriguez had somehow gained access to the Sacred Single Hard Copy Room where West Virginia kept the Sacred Single Hard Copies containing every piece of information WVU had about its football team. He then shredded all of it, laughing maniacally, as dozens of onlookers let Sacred Single Tears roll down their cheeks. The complete implausibility of it all was no obstacle to the story’s ascendance into fan lore; this blog started a series tracking the “West F-ing Jihad” as a nation got its clucking seriously in gear.
We could go over the events that followed, or we could just sum it up in video form:
Everything about this is perfect, from the impotent rage of the West Virginian to the skeezy hotness of the prize to the vaguely douchy New York frat vibe given off by the West Virginian’s target and eventual victor. Oh no he di’in’t, said everyone, and this blog attempted to slay all of them with the Power Of The Internet. It didn’t work.
Things reached their peak weirdness a week or two later, when Hickman – the guy who wrote the article that started the whole mess – wrote a column that actually contained this sentence: “Go ahead, name one thing WVU has done to antagonize anyone.” He followed it up with this defense of the article he wrote, which I remind you was written by him and was also authored by him and all other various sorts of things that involve choosing and ordering words to form sentences:
The shredding accusations, you say? Yes, WVU officials commented on it off the record, but the issue had festered for several days without a word from West Virginia until the media pressed the issue. [emphasis mine] At worst you can argue that was planted by WVU, but even if that were the case, the information about Rodriguez destroying files was true. [and, of course, by “true” he means “not true in any way whatsoever.” –ed]
I’m neither proud nor surprised that in the recesses of the old site there is a draft of a post titled “I want to fight Dave Hickman.” (On the other hand, I am a little surprised I had the sense to not publish it.)
Sample sentence: “Oh, I don't know, you stupid [redacted], maybe we could check the GODDAMN ARTICLE your GODDAMN IDIOT EDITORS APPROVED with YOUR GODDAMN IDIOT NAME ON IT and this GODDAMN IDIOT QUOTE IN IT:
“It’s unbelievable. Everything is gone, like it never existed,’’ said a source within the athletic department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Good, bad or indifferent, we don’t have a record of anything that has happened.’’
Which is an outright lie that you gullibly printed.”
And so on and so forth for the entire irritating summer. Some offensive lineman transferred to Ohio State, blasting the “erosion of family values” as he went. By mid-August more words had been written about a football coach accepting his second job in seven years than Tom Zbikowski’s boxing, Brady Quinn’s sister, and Joe Paterno’s potential retirement combined.
Now we play the games and put this all behind us. Thank God.
So. Here we are. Which is… somewhere. The acquisition of Rodriguez is thrilling in the long term but extremely painful as far as the 2008 offense is concerned. Mallett, Manningham, Arrington, and Mr. Plow all lit out. Terrelle Pryor chose the wrong school. The leftovers at quarterback are a walk-on, a Lurch-sized redshirt freshman, and a true freshman very few thought was a quarterback. One starter returns on the line and the first guy off the bench could be a true freshman.
The outlook is grim. For the first time since 1985, Michigan was omitted from the AP top 25. The coaches deigned to include Michigan at #24, possibly because they weren’t supposed to vote for Duke any more.
And you know what? This seems like great fun. Michigan’s going to run out on the field and play like they’re one of those teams trying to make inferior talent work. They’re going to line up in the shotgun without a huddle. When whichever quarterback happens to be that play’s piñata raises his leg, the team will glance to the sideline and get the new play in. On average, this will be a run that goes for six yards.
At no point will they assume physical or mental superiority over their opponent. Their plan is to raid the endzone as best they can, which may be “not very well at all,” but by God they’re going to try on every snap.
It’s going to be a fiasco. It’s going to be ugly and tantalizing and dispiriting and awesome. I can’t wait.
By multiple, persistent request. Some time back the Hoover Street Rag pled for assistance, asking if anyone out in MGoBlog land had a copy of "The Victors" by a jazz singer named Pat Suzuki. Several people offered versions of this weird piece of Michigan apocrypha, the HSR's request was met, and I got a file containing the audio. At the time, however, the laptop's soundcard was on the fritz and I had no idea what was actually in my possession.
One thankfully persistent reader, however, has not let it drop. It turns out that the item in question is surreal. Its closest analogue in my experience is Marylin Monroe's infamous rendition of "Happy Birthday" directed at JFK; both are utterly transformative. And weird. And were undoubtedly undertaken in cocktail dresses.
Seriously. I was pretty annoyed by Josh Jarboe's sudden dismissal from Oklahoma for -- gasp! -- rapping, more annoyed when I read Bob Stoops' pre-dismissal quote to the effect of "sticks and stones," and just plain angry when the bitter old men at the Oklahoman smarmily applauded the about-face. So I wrote something to that effect.
I probably wouldn't have bothered, though, if I knew that SMQ was going to kick off his final week of amateur wordsmithery by dropping a bomb on the Typical White Middle-Aged Sportswriter villians referenced above:
Was it "the Internet culture" that asked him to act swiftly, with the full weight of his position? Every Day Should Be Saturday, the most widely-read college football blog on the Web, linked to the video with no call for discipline. The very mainstream-leaning Wizard of Odds, which broke the video's existence and posted the version that drew tens of thousands of hits last week, made no call for discipline. None called Jarboe a "thug" or described his freestyle efforts as "jabber." Who, then, is Stoops actually frustrated with?
The finger points squarely at the old men who don't understand the internet but feel free to blame it for all ills, real or imagined.
Maybe they need someone to degrade them. West Virginia has leapt up the Fulmer Cup scoreboard with a series of crimes spectacular and petty:
- Three players are caught with felonious, drug-dealing amounts of weed.
- Noel Devine and four other players got in a nightclub fight.
- Charles Pugh pulls a Kevin Quick and goes on a stolen credit-card spree.
- Evan Rodriguez beats up a girl.
- Kendall Washington breaks into a home, steals some stuff, and shoots a guy. He wasn't actually on the team at the time, FWIW.
When I initially noted this apparrent explosion of bad behavior, Washington was believed to still be on the team and his nine points brought the 'Eers into a tie for the lead. It turns out he was dismissed after spring practice. The points go away but this is a kid who had some major issues in high school; Rodriguez pursued and acquired him.
So, like... WTF? As I've noted before, West Virginia was not a big mover in the first couple years of the Fulmer Cup, scoring nine points total. Michigan racked up 15 points, all of them coming last year when Lloyd Carr's retirement was impending. Driven by the realities of recruiting players to West Virginia, Rodriguez brought in his fair share of... uh... characters but he largely kept them in check. Even Pacman Jones had but one incident, that as a freshman. From there on he was off the police blotter.
"Coach Stew" -- West Virginia fans are constitutionally incapable of using their coach's full last name -- has not had similar fortune. Why?
It's tough to scare the hell out of your players when you're obviously thinking "I can't believe I'm a Division I head coach. How much are they playing me? I get a whistle!"
I foresee this ending badly.
(Sidenote: in searching for Stewart pictures I came across this engineering dork LOL page:
Fatal error: Call to undefined function: graceful_fail() in /web2/dmblogs/docs/wp-content/blogs.php on line 77
Back to the future. Wolverine Historian has assembled Rick Leach highlights for your edification.
Dude, seriously: what's wrong with Michael Rosenberg? Over the past few years he's been one of the few Detroit sports columnists worth reading, but he's rapidly descending into Sharp territory. His column on the Big Ten Network's Comcast deal was stupid, ill-researched junk concluding with this Plaschke-worthy array of "paragraphs":
But whether you're watching football or field hockey, just remember:
Comcast is in this to win.
And Comcast gets to define winning.
Stay tuned -- if Comcast will let you.
Comcast has signed a seven- to ten-year contract that guarantees the BTN placement on the digital basic tier, which 80% of the Big Ten footprint already recieves. That number will probably be 90% a couple years into the deal. These facts 1) completely invalidate Rosenberg's entire column and 2) were available to anyone who could peck "BTN comcast" into Google. Sharp pretty much wrote the same column. Ouch.
Guess whose latest extremely reasoned and fair piece is headlined "Embarrassing ordeal reveals ugly truths about U-M coach Rich Rodriguez"? Rosenberg, and the words that follow it are terrible. The only embarrassing ordeal here attempting to get through them. I have no choice. I am forced to deploy the fisk.
Finally, somebody at Michigan was embarrassed enough to settle West Virginia's lawsuit.
Not Rich Rodriguez. He is way too bullheaded. And not Bill Martin. He was never going to stand up to Rodriguez.
It took Mary Sue Coleman, the school president, to end this mess. Coleman was on the verge of being deposed, and she obviously didn't want to be dragged into it. Not so coincidentally, Rodriguez finally settled.
Hello! Right out of the box we are treated to multiple enormous assumptions, all dubious. We know that Michigan and Rodriguez had an agreement about the buyout from the day Rodriguez was hired, and we know that the deposition Mary Sue Coleman was about to give was about this agreement. Since Rodriguez's case was (perhaps unwisely) largely based on the validity of a clause he felt was not valid, clear evidence that he acknowledged the validity of the clause and planned ways to pay it equals lawsuit FAIL. Michigan knew they were going to lose and bailed. (Michigan did not pay or plan to pay any portion of Beilein's buyout, BTW, which appears to be the critical difference between the cases.)
This had absolutely nothing to do with embarrassment. It was about poor legal strategy and a hurried negotiation process that contained slipups.
What the fuck, Rosenberg? I pretty much expect Sharp to sit on his ass all day and fart out a 600-word piece of garbage without lifting the slightest finger to do any research, but you have proven to be a non-asshat. It took me two minutes to confirm all this stuff that had flitted through my RSS reader over the past few days. Two minutes. You suck.
Predictably, Rodriguez got absolutely nothing out of this except embarrassment. His buyout did not go down a dime. The U-M athletic department has to pay his legal fees. Rodriguez got a delay in his payment schedule, but that is a small victory.
This whole thing could have, and should have, been settled long ago. But RichRod was determined to fight West Virginia all the way to the bitter end. Anybody who has even driven past a law school knew he had no case, but that didn't matter to Rodriguez.
...or a university that had just hired a coach from the same school who had flirted with other jobs the year before and signed a contract extension with a stiff buyout clause and successfully negotiated that buyout down by 40% thought maybe the same thing would happen again. Which is completely ludicrous, of course. No similarities between those situations. Anyone who's driven past a law school could pick that out.
Martin should have told Rodriguez that this whole ordeal was embarrassing the university, and that the case was a lost cause. But Martin's legacy is in Rodriguez's hands, so he let his coach do whatever he wanted.
Again the assumption that the lawsuit was entirely Rodriguez's decision. I don't know what happened and I don't think anyone will, but we have an absolutely clear series of events here: Michigan agrees to pay part of the buyout, Michigan figures out it can't win the lawsuit, Michigan throws in the towel. Given that Michigan is and was on the hook for a large portion of the $4 million, isn't it reasonable to assume that they were going forward with the lawsuit?
The kicker here is the legal fees: Michigan pays them. Is that not an indicator as to who was behind the lawsuit? If Michigan just wanted to pay the thing and have it go away but Rodriguez was telling everyone The Truth Was Out There, no doubt he'd be the one footing the bill. I'm not saying I know exactly what went down, but the preponderance of the evidence suggests the university was at least an equal driver in the lawsuit.
Unless you've completely lost your shit and are flying off half-cocked without a shred of research or common sense, of course. Then who knows what happened? Maybe flying bears did.
There are only two winners here. One is West Virginia, which will get the $4 million it is rightfully owed. The other is those of us who just wanted the truth.
...wait, what? No way, man, I wanted Bill Martin deposed for six days so we could find out what really happened during the Les Miles fiasco. I want him on the stand with Tom Cruise bellowing "did you order the mizzen-mast furled?" over and over again until he finally cracks. We don't get any truth here. At least not fun truth.
We now know Rodriguez to be a serial job-shopper. His agent, Mike Brown, had pitched Rodriguez's services to Alabama, Arkansas and Lousiana State in recent years before pursuing Michigan.
This passage is outright dishonesty. Rosenberg makes it sound like the well-publicized Alabama flirtation was one in a series of dalliances stretching back over the years, and that Rodriguez was constantly looking for a way out of West Virginia. Rosenberg's own paper summarnized the deposition by noting that Brown contacted LSU "less than a year after Les Miles took over," which is a pretty weird way of saying "in 2006." Rodriguez was on the market last year because of his poisonous relationship with the dysfunctional, nepotistic WVU leadership. Brown was contacting everyone who might be interested. The only indication that Rodriguez had any interest in other jobs was Brown "speaking to" Chuck Neinas in 2006, which could reasonably be interpreted as the first sign of a rumbling discontent.
Rich Rodriguez was not happy at West Virginia. He looked to extricate himself. This is something any rational human would do, and very few would give the situation another chance after being on the verge of departure.
We now know Rodriguez doesn't believe in contracts. He signed an amended contract with West Virginia just four months before he left. He then claimed that the signed contract was not as important as a verbal agreement that preceded it - a laughable legal argument.
Every coach who changes jobs violates a contract. The reasons buyouts are in contracts is because contracts are violated. Coaching contracts are expressly constructed with the idea they will be violated. No one believes in coaching contracts except jilted fans and columnists with an axe to grind. Wanton naivete.
Rodriguez said in December that he was battling the buyout because "we have to do what we feel is right." He meant right for him, not the school.
This is an unsupported ad-hominem. Michael Rosenberg punches small children for fun.
Michigan is just a name to him. The school is just a platform for winning championships. This is evident in everything Rodriguez does, from his abandonment of a century-old captains tradition to his bristling at the notion that Michigan holds itself to a higher standard.
"The Michigan way is just the right way," he said in December, before adding that a lot of schools do it the right way.
Scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Michigan's traditions have varying degrees of importance. Winged helmet: 1000. Running under the banner: 900. How the captains are chosen: 0.0001. Pretending Michigan is Stanford: 0. Here, again, Rosenberg omits the context... if this thing ever actually got said.
The only reference I can find to it is in this article from the wonderful John Heuser, who must have found some time in between lying to Chad Kolarik and others to attend Rodriguez's introductory press conference. The Rivals transcript($) of the press conference has no mention of the quote and the audio file($) of the presser also omits it. Even if this quote did actually transpire, it was no doubt in response to some media guy questioning his recruiting methods and was a way of pointing out that Michigan will accept any athlete that meets NCAA minimums and the occasional Marques Slocum who doesn't. It is an accurate representation of reality.
Rodriguez is an excellent coach. I'm not sold that he is the right coach for Michigan.
He can charm the media, which is nice. But those who have attended his practices say Rodriguez's staff uses some of the foulest, most degrading language imaginable. I know coaches curse, and I'm no prude, but this goes way beyond a few dirty words. He belittles his players. This is a big part of why offensive lineman Justin Boren left the team. He felt his dignity was at stake.
Of course, a lot of Michigan fans would rather think of Boren as a traitor who couldn't handle tough coaching. They tell themselves Rodriguez is no different from Bo Schembechler, whose rigorous 1969 practices are part of the program's legend. And there will always be some people who happily make that comparison, especially if their income comes from Michigan football.
Tell yourself what you want. I find it sad that the University of Michigan is paying a man millions of dollars a year to humiliate some of its students.
Justin Boren left the team for a lot of reasons, but those who stayed behind think those reasons are mostly Justin Boren. Desmond Howard:
So I came up here (to Michigan) and I watched them practice. I was in the weight room working out, and two players started talking to me, and in general conversation they said, 'This guy, Desmond, was a complainer. He complained about workouts, he complained about practices.' And this is what they told me: 'Really, we're better without him.'
Boren was one of sixty scholarship players around for spring practice, and the only one who found Rodriguez's degrading language impossible to take. In the interim, enough high-profile players committed after observing Michigan practices to vault Rodriguez's first full recruiting class into the top five. (So far, obviously.) Shaun King is running around telling anyone who'll listen about Rodriguez's general brilliance. Rodriguez coached up and held together a high quality football program for seven years. You don't do that without earning some level of respect from your players.
This shouldn't be dismissed entirely. The Feldman article on Rodriguez and Michigan had some piercing quotes:
"Rod cusses. A lot," says former NFL QB Shaun King, who played at Tulane when Rodriguez ran the offense there. "He takes some adjusting to. I hated his ass at first." Says Michigan wideout Greg Mathews, "You have to learn how to not take it personally."
I'd rather have a guy you didn't have to tune out. I'd rather have a version of Lloyd Carr who was ruthlessly cutting edge. That's not likely, though, and there doesn't appear to be any backlash from the actual players. Even the guys he ditched at West Virginia -- the most likely to have a beef -- were universally positive when interviewed in March. Slaton: "I'm happy for him because he gave me a chance." Reynaud: "Did I have any anger? I never did." They were given a chance to say their piece in a decidedly unfriendly environment; they praised Rodriguez, shook their head at some of the treatment he's receiving, and went back to West Virginia.
The bottom line for coaches is whether or not their players are happy once they're done. I don't think we have enough data to draw a solid conclusion yet -- Pat White has been quoted as saying it will be nice not to be yelled at, though I can't dig that article up right now -- but there are 60 players and 35 recruits and hundreds of former players, none of whom appear to have Amani-Toomer-like negative things to say about the program. They appear to like Rodriguez just fine. This is basically superficial.
When Rodriguez was hired, he and Martin spun the story well: Martin landed a premier coach, and Rodriguez, who loved West Virginia, couldn't turn down Michigan. The truth is not as simple, or as pretty.
The first part of the "spin" here is indisputably true. Rodriguez is a premiere coach. So the messy, ugly truth that's coming is about the hiring process. And what a mess it is...
On the night of Dec. 6 - several days after the Les Miles fiasco - Martin told several people he had hired a coach. He thought he had landed Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. But the next day, Schiano turned down the Michigan job, sending Martin scurrying for another plan.
This is actually interesting. More on Schiano in a separate post.
Schiano's financial adviser, Mike Wilcox, nudged Michigan in the direction of another of his clients: Rich Rodriguez.
Rodriguez wanted a chance to compete for national championships. Martin saw a chance to hire a big name. They were in love with each other's names - so much so that they failed to do their due diligence.
Martin met with Wilcox before he ever talked to Rodriguez. When Martin finally met Rodriguez at Wilcox's office in Toledo, he brought Coleman with him.
Martin and Coleman did not go to Toledo to interview Rodriguez. They went there to hire him.
At Rodriguez's introductory press conference, he was still selling the line that he was in Toledo to meet with his financial advisor. You know, like they were discussing tech stocks and all of a sudden the president and athletic director at Michigan magically appeared in the room.
The ugly truth... Martin and Coleman wanted to hire Rich Rodriguez and did so? BUT THEY DID IT IN TOLEDO! I guess the upshot of the passage is that the Rodriguez hiring was rushed so Martin and Coleman couldn't find out the awful truth.
But what's the awful truth? Rosenberg's leveled the following criticisms:
- Rodriguez selfishly dragged Michigan into a lawsuit they wanted no part of. This is very probably untrue.
- Rodriguez looked for other coaching jobs. Uh... I have a feeling they knew this. Call it a hunch.
- Rodriguez didn't care about his contract. I'm getting that hunch thing again.
- Rodriguez swears and is "degrading."
So... that's it. Rosenberg has heard Rodriguez is mean at practice in a way that has turned off one scholarship player. I raise with Ty Law and Amani Toomer.
Rodriguez might win big at Michigan. But if he does, and he demands a big raise every year, or flirts with other employers, or ignores his contracts, or refuses to put the school's interests ahead of his own, then Michigan fans should not be surprised. As we have seen in the last few months, this is who he is.
Michigan is a terminal college job and if Rodriguez is flirting with the NFL despite running an offense the NFL isn't ever going to run... uh... okay. I think I can deal with that, as it will come after a Spurrier-esque run of fun, ass-kicking football. This is the big objection? Rich Rodriguez may someday take another job? Rodriguez has every right to take whatever job he pleases, and he tried to make his situation at West Virginia work despite West Virginia's best efforts.
A question between this and the Grady thing: what is it with sportswriters offering no quarter? Rosenberg just wrote two straight columns that were garbage and I'm still trying to be polite-ish to a guy who's proven to be a solid columnist in the past. I'm not doing a good job, but assuming he stops writing hysterical, ill-researched trash I can, like, forgive and forget. If Rodriguez has committed any sins they're ones just about every coach has. And yet...
The Jihad is over:
Rodriguez, the University of Michigan football coach since December, has reached a settlement to pay the $4 million liquidated damages clause, commonly referred to as a buyout, for leaving West Virginia to take the U-M job.
My suspicion throughout all of this was that Rodriguez would have preferred to settle quickly and move on with life, but the guys on the hook for most of the buyout -- Michigan -- wanted to whittle down the amount they had to pay and the John Beilein precedent was encouraging. This appears to be a plausible scenario:
Rodriguez is expected to pay $1.5 million spread over three years, beginning in 2010. U-M is expected to pay the balance of the sum, $2.5 million, immediately and cover Rodriguez's legal fees later, two people with knowledge of the agreement told the Free Press this morning.
Hurrah, who cares, let's play football.
Update: Further evidence Rodriguez was probably not the one who wanted to lawsuit it up:
The agreement spells out how much Rodriguez will pay and how much will be paid on his behalf. The former WVU coach apparently had a deal with Michigan right from the start of his employment there to pay all or part of the tab.
Reports are that possible depositions of Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman were sticking points -- sounds like the U said "screw it, it's chump change" and settled. (Via Bastard Sons.)
'House. Jimmy Johns delivers coke so fast you'll freak*, and 'Bama is one scholarship closer to cramming everyone in the phone booth. Just like Saban planned. (Thanks to the dozen or so emailers on this... more email than I've received on a single topic in blog history, I think.)
I think I should revise my position here: Saban's managed to sluff off most of his roster deadweight on medical scholarships of dubious merit and it looks like there will be no outright cuts. So this is not PURE EVIL, as previously theorized. It is still KIND OF EVIL, a highly unethical way to game the system that makes Alabama hope something like 20 Fulmer Cup points happens. As the JCCW says:
...I doubt Lionel Mitchell probably thinks very much of the crunch. I have zero clue how severe his back injury might be, but either a) it's hella severe, career-threatening, painful as anything, and still even 'Bama fans are writing things like "If I had to wager, I would bet there's nothing wrong with his back" and believing he was just too crappy to keep his scholarship; b) it's not that severe, but rather than wait and see if he could come back from it and contribute, his coach has told him his career's over anyway. Neither seems like a scenario that would make Lionel Mitchell happy.
Second: I certainly don't blame 'Bama fans for not wanting to put the 2 of Lewis's surprise academic disqualification--which even OTS said was "dumbfound[ing]," "never made sense," and left him with "no clue"--and the 2 of "'Bama needs scholarships" together.
Also at the FanHouse: if you have Time Warner you may be getting good news about the Big Ten Network soon.
(HT: Pete Holiday.)
Vic Sprouse might want to buy a disguise kit. The West Virginia Record describes itself as "West Virginia's legal journal" and one Vic Sprouse comes down on Rich Rodriguez's side in the ongoing spat:
Looking at the RichRod saga now through the prism of knowledge of the utter disaster that is the Garrison administration, it is apparent that they ran Rich off.
I believe Rich is telling the truth when he said the entire relationship changed when Garrison took over. His relationship with Pastilong changed. His relationship with Garrison changed. And, before you know it, Garrison was wanting to show he was the new Sheriff in town and he wasn't going to accept ANY ADDITIONAL demands of Rich Rodriguez.
What a shame.
Michigan lucked out because West Virginia is the sort of backwards place where the governor can appoint an unqualified unversity president the entire faculty thinks is a dolt, and that president and his athletic director can poison their relationship with one of the best coaches in the country. Rodriguez fell into our laps just when we were going to start scraping the bottom of the barrel.
First, one thing I can't take is just how often Rich refers to himself in the third person. That is such a bad habit, someone needs to break him of it, it's tough to listen to him say "Rich Rodriguez" over and over.
I don't have as much revenue as the Big Ten, so I can only read a couple sentences from this Sports Business Journal article:
The Big Ten Conference generated more than $177 million in revenue during its 2006-07 fiscal year, according to documents filed this month with the Internal Revenue Service.
Anyone got the full monty on this? I assume it has interesting Big Ten Network details.
Worst. Comic. Ever. Andy Staples has an entertaining piece on the constant race to stay one step ahead of the NCAA's recruiting regulations. The real meat, though, is an honest-to-god recruiting tool used by Oregon to land Jonathan Stewart, who you may remember from such runs as "Aaargh," "Aaaargh not again," "I want to die," and "How many points do they have now?" It's a comic book. The worst comic book ever made. This is perhaps my favorite stupid part of many stupid parts:
The comic's "plot" consists of a kindly old grandfather telling his towheaded little brat all about the legend of "Snoop," AKA Jonathan Stewart. That grandfather is... familiar.
Follow up. Lake The Posts landed an interview with the Northwestern sign-stealing guy that's worth a read. There's this on Payne's tendencies -- the Luther Van Dam bit:
As I broke down the film of Michigan's offense in '95 I thought there was a possible tendency with the center's non-snapping hand. I went back and checked every snap and sure enough the tendency was about 95% that when his hand was on the ground it was run and when he had it on his thigh it was pass. This was not signal stealing, this was just a tendency found way before the game was even played. But it was a GREAT help for our defense. (As a GA I was in the coaching booth for games and was not stealing signals.) This is not exactly unfair tactics on our part but more of an error on their part. Either they coached the center to do the hand thing or the kid was doing it himself and their coaches never noticed. Either way it was their own fault.
That speaks to a certain complacency, I think. I wonder how many other teams noticed?
Etc.: normally I am a Michael Rosenberg fan but I have to agree with BSD and their fisking of his BTN-Comcast column. Said column made no sense. Vijay's trying to figure out if ESPN's any better at ranking players. Autumn Thunder makes a triumphant return. More pictures of stuff, this the football practice facility.