west virginia is a post-apocalyptic den of insanity
Oh, right. Amongst the many mysteries found in Rich Rodriguez's phone records are the 112 calls to Peterstown, a tiny hamlet of 300 on the Virginia border hours away from Morgantown. This all seems verrry suspicious to crack West Virginia reporters:
Let the latest innuendo roll as many seem suspicious of the 112 calls placed by Rich Rodriguez to Peterstown in his final two months on campus. A lot of the phones calls are to faraway cities â€” Phoenix, Boston, Toledo, to name a few â€” but it's easy to make logical connections to Rodriguez.
Peterstown is puzzling, though. I've gotten a bunch of calls and e-mails wondering about the identity or the person/people. I do not have the number. Every number was blacked out except for the calls made to and received from the state of Michigan. Why? I have no clue.
"The intrigue lives on," concludes crack West Virginia reporter. Indeed. The intrigue. The mystery. The... voicemail:
It does appear that the voice mail number for Cellular One (which was the carrier for at least one of Rod's phones) uses the Peterstown exchange
Type: Cell Phone
Provider: American Cellular Corporation
Location: Peterstown, WV
I'm a cell one customer and 994-0001 is definitely the voice mail #.
Man... jeez. Everyone's ready to string up Jim Carty after yesterday, when he wrote an article stating Rodriguez should apologize and pay up, then directly asked Rodriguez about apologizing in the teleconference. Rodriguez responded "apologize for what"; Carty responded "for hurting their feelings." Which... uh... didn't go over well amongst Michigan fans. A followup today:
What he still doesn't seem to get, though, is that the main reason he's being smeared is because he behaved so poorly on his way out as West Virginia football coach.
Michigan fans want to overlook that. They want to circle the wagons around their guy, even though he's a guy they hardly know.
This cuts both ways, does it not? Both Rodriguez defenders and assaulters hardly know him. We know almost nothing about what went on in the WVU athletic department. We have no idea why Rodriguez left. Carty details a list of offenses:
Let's imagine you had a football coach you loved at Michigan, who told you, "This is my school," who said he was going to be "here a long time," and a year later, behind your back, when he was thought to be recruiting for Michigan, he's caught interviewing for another job.
Then the coach informed Bill Martin he was quitting by sending a graduate assistant to tell Martin, and called Michigan's top recruit - and incidentally the best player in the nation - to tell him he was leaving, before he told his own Michigan players, and invited the kid to ditch Michigan and come to New Job U.
Then, hours after quitting, he used his Michigan cell phone to call high school recruits who had already committed to New Job U.
Oh, and he hired lawyers to get him out of the buyout he owed you according to terms of the contract he just signed last summer.
There's no way you'd be defending that guy.
Defending, no. This is not about "defending," though. There's a proper level of disgust here that WVU fans are entitled to about equal to Michigan fans' disgust with Ryan Mallett. I don't want Mallett to be any good at Arkansas and I think the guy is a prima donna. But I'm not going to sneak into his dorm room every night and hit his fingers with a tiny hammer so they're oddly sore the entire year. He left. I don't care past that.
Rodriguez left. This is his sin. Leaving a school is unavoidably kind of skeezy in a way that taking a new accounting job is not because you have made promises to a bunch of kids in college. There's no way around that. But the same curse would have followed Greg Schiano (who flirted with Miami last year) or Kirk Ferentz or, hell, even Brady Hoke.
The rest of it doesn't bother me, though. Who was harmed by any of it? At one point Rodriguez flipped from being WVU's coach to being Michigan's coach, and he immediately started acting on behalf of Michigan. Rodriguez got burned by the Pryor call when Pryor immediately rang up Scout to break the news, but given the state of the rumors flying around it's very doubtful something wasn't going to break in the next couple hours. And does it matter how the news breaks? He left.
I fail to see anything even slightly unethical in Rodriguez's initial calls to Michigan recruits. They occurred after Rodriguez met with his team; he had discharged his obligations to WVU then. Does it matter which phone he made them from? No. Thought that may be a technical no-no, it's not unethical in any way. Sticking that in there submarines Carty's thrust much in the same way WVU now looks ridiculous for claiming that the entire athletic department went through Rich Rodriguez's shredder.
Attempting to get out of a buyout is SOP; see John Beilein. No one demanded Beilein apologize.
Similarly, the infamous "grad student" thing. Who cares? He left. He met face-to-face with his kids and told them. That's what's important. He did that. I don't care what Ed Pastilong thinks. I care what Owen Schmitt thinks:
Schmitt, an honor student, did not criticize his coach's departure.
"You've got to do what you've got to do sometimes," Schmitt said at the time. "He did all he could for us. As far as I know he did a lot of great things for this university."
Giving Schmitt a chance was one of them.
Criticisms of Rodriguez all boil down to "he left." Yes, he did, and he's already apologized to the people he had to. Yahoos like this...
...deserve nothing but pity.
Update: Wow. This blog has given Stuart Mandel a lot of stick in its history, but his latest is a comprehensive WVU takedown. I take back 20% of all the nasty things I've said.
Today was Return Volley day in the WFJihad; Rodriguez spoke to the Toledo Blade, made an appearance on the Huge Show, and held a teleconference with various reporters. I haven't listened to the teleconference yet, but did listen to "Huge".
The Huge interview was mostly a rehash of the Blade article except for one point I don't believe has been broached so far: Rodriguez's office cleaning took place in the middle of a typical workday in the WVU offices, in the midst of secretaries and associates and what-not.
Rodriguez has provided his side of the story now and probably won't be heard from again on this topic; WVU's "investigation" continues apace.
I need some positive encouragement from the you about the football team in 2008. While I think Rodriguez is a GREAT coach and can do amazing things for Michigan, my concern with his hiring was always the transition. While I'm excited about the new era of Michigan football, I need someone to convince me that we're not going to go 6-6 next year. My big fear is a John Beilein-like transition period. Here's the parallel:
1. New coach comes in with a radically different philosophy
2. A large and talented senior class leaves the roster inexperienced (Hart, Henne, Long, Kraus, Crable, Adams, Englemon) vs. (Sims, Petway, Harris, Abram)
3. A collection of other experienced contributors leaves by choice or otherwise (Manningham, Arrington, Mallet....others?) vs. (Baker, Morris, Price, Smith)
4. The team is now composed of talented but inexperienced players who are not a great fit for the type of scheme the coach wants
5. The coach somewhat writes off the season while he pushes his system in place
Now, I certainly realize that the basketball team was not in great shape regardless of the transition and that losing 8 contributors from basketball is far more drastic than losing 10 from football. However, the similarities are starting to worry me. Everyone will now assume that we're getting Pryor - but what if we don't? Tell me why we can win 8 or 9 games....or can we?
-Adam R Cole
Uh, well... next year looks pretty rough to me and your basketball analogy is terrifying. I hate your analogy so much.
The upside: even with the departures of Manningham and Arrington, that's only eleven contributors departing. Michigan was pretty young this year and returns its entire defensive line plus its top three corners.
The downside: Freshman quarterback of some variety, entirely new offensive system, one returning WR with appreciable experience, and wholly new safeties. Ugly kicker: More attrition is on its way, as Rodriguez has repeatedly stated he expects to sign a full class of 25 players. Ugly kicker x2: road games against Penn State and Ohio State and, uh, I guess Notre Dame. Who will still probably be bad, but... yeah. So will we, in all likelihood.
I'm not expecting anything great.
so, we know that coach rodriguez (i cannot do coach rod sounds like a bad porn moniker) wants a full recruiting class of 25, but i am curious as to what you are hearing vis a vis antonio bass.
the kid will likely never play again, but he has worked his ass off (from the little i read) and stayed in school. is there any chance that the road to 25 recruits will come on the back of guys like bass?
i think coach is a good honorable man, and denying a 'ship to someone like that would have profound affects, not mainly upon his psyche, but his life options as right now the UM degree, along with his perseverance, are two things that can greatly aid his future. it would also seemingly send the wrong message to players. no?
thought you might look into/weigh in on this.
Players who cannot continue because of medical hardship can be removed from the team but keep their scholarship without occupying one of the 85 slots. When Zia Combs was forced to retire because of a neck injury, he remained on scholarship. If Bass does not return, and despite hopeful noises from his father whenever they ask him about it that seems exceedingly likely, he will still be able to get his degree.
brain, [WORD -ed]
i was reading "West Fin'Jihad: Day II" today and i finally reached the
doesn't it seem like WVU must have some good reasons to be *this* pissed at
RR? i mean, coaches leave schools all the time and very rarely is the venom
this poisonous...and in this case from the university itself, not just the
now, i know one might say, "yeah WVU has 4 million reasons to be mad at RR"
but this seems over the top.
put that together with the comments from the crazy NC State player who used
to go to WVU about RR.
point is, are you at all worried that RR might be, well, someone who we will
be cursing in 4 years with adjectives like dirty, selfish, slimy, etc.?
(Nick refers to this post from Scout's message boards by one Sean Berton, late of WVU and NC State.) I don't lend Berton's post much credence, since he transferred immediately upon Rodriguez's arrival and has no personal knowledge of the guy except a couple meetings, during which he found Rodriguez to be the worst person ever... possibly because Berton was not wanted by the new staff. Berton compares and contrasts Rodriguez to Nehlen, painting the latter a saint and the former a devil, without mentioning that Nehlen was and is one of Rodriguez's biggest supporters. Sour grapes from a guy in no position to make credible accusations.
As to your larger point: there is obviously extreme animosity between Rodriguez and the WVU athletic department that goes both ways. WVU is bitter, suing Rodriguez pre-emptively and releasing this likely-spurious shredding garbage. Today WVU papers are filled with the shocking revelation that Rodriguez called Michigan recruits after being announced as Michigan's head coach. Rodriguez has made some relatively mild public comments about being disappointed in the reaction of his home state and made a dark comment about stuff "coming out" that was tinged with bitterness; he's also either enlisted WVU booster Ken Kendrick to tell his side of the story or, at the very least, not politely asked him to shut up. His quotes in the Blade today are the topper.
This is an ugly public spat on both sides. He and Ed Pastilong hate each others' guts, and their uneasy truce finally blew up in the aftermath of the Pitt loss. That's the only way, IMO, that Rodriguez was ever going to leave WVU: if he found the working environment intolerable. Now each has found their nemesis in the other.
What does this say about Rodriguez? Well, not everyone gets along with him. He can probably be a bit of a dick from time to time. And Ed Pastilong is his antipode. It doesn't mean much else. For all the talk about Rodriguez's horrible ethics, WVU hasn't had a hint of scandal in his tenure there. His major sin appears to be making do with a cast of dodgy characters like Pacman Jones, et cetera, because of the limitations imposed on him by West Virginia's status as a state entirely devoid of football talent.
Though Jones and Chris Henry have proven themselves to be world-class jackasses, many other people in the WVU program have not. Pat White's a legendarily nice guy. Owen Schmitt is 250 pounds of awesome. WVU didn't score at all in the 2006 Fulmer Cup and had but 9 points in 2007, six less than Michigan. (I wonder if EDSBS ever anticipated the day when the Fulmer Cup would be used in a serious discussion of disciplinary issues. ) Nine points in the last two years is well within the bounds of reason.
Rich Rodriguez has a bad reputation, but for what?
One thing that might cause Michigan to regret the hiring of Rodriguez might be wild success followed by a big-bucks NFL departure. (I'll believe Michigan is not a terminal college job when I see it.) Personally, this would be okay with me since Rodriguez's name is built entirely around his NFL-unfriendly offense. Teams would be leery until he had a Spurrier-like run of ownage, and if Rodriguez does that... uh... okay.
Would such a departure be "selfish"? I guess in a technical sense, yes
. He would be doing something he wanted to do. But not really.
More in this vein:
For a guy who likes to come off like a real hard driving, critical blogger you either are displaying some incredible naivete or are just wearing maize-and-blue glasses regarding the destruction of records.
Rodriguez did do something in his office to some materials. Even the most venomous West Virginia, Rodriguez-hating fan can't make up all the details that have been provided.
At the very least what Rodriguez is accused of doing is petty and vindicative. Why in the world would he want to destroy player records? Was there something to hide? Or was he just pissed off at the nasty response to his leaving W. Va.?
At the very most Rodriguez performed a criminal act, ridding himself of personnel records, all of which are confidential and none of which he had a right to destroy. He works at a public university and I very seriously doubt that a UM coach, who if he/she had done the same thing would feel a nasty outcry.
I was a Rodriguez fan long before that eventful Friday afternoon when The Sporting News reported that Martin and Campbell were interviewing Rodriguez for the job.
His hiring sent me into an orgasmic ecstacy. I guess all orgasms are ecstatic.
This one was particularly powerful.
The fact is that at least some of the accusations will turn up to be true. Depending on how much is proven perhaps Fred Jackson will have "interim head coach" added to his resume.
Marvin and I are operating with different assumptions. His assumption is that there is enough smoke to assume Rodriguez did something wrong. My assumption is that Rodriguez has pissed off a group of people like no coach ever did before and they're out for blood. In clear terms: nothing the West Virginia athletic department claims can be trusted. Everyone from the governor on down is pissed and trying to nail Rodriguez on anything they possibly can. Witness the Rodriguez-phones-M-recruits thing from today.
If you're inclined to think Rodriguez is equally unreliable on this matter, fine. That leaves this situation at a he-said-they-said stalemate. Of the two scenarios -- Sacred Single Hard Copy and Insane Rednecks -- which seems more plausible? I know which one I've got.
Riposte. For those wishing Rodriguez himself would say anything, he has. The Toledo Blade, oddly, has the scoop:
"The things they are saying are not true," Rodriguez said. "It's a lie. How can you put out lies and think it's OK? They don't care what the truth is, they just want to smear Rich Rodriguez." [It don't matter to Jesus! -ed]
"The implication to me is slanderous," Rodriguez said. "What they are implying, to me, attacks my integrity, and that's why I'm so upset. This has gone too far.
"It's bad enough that they throw things out there, and my family gets harassed, my relatives get threatened, and they try and attack my credibility right in the middle of recruiting. And then to throw something out like this, with anonymous sources ...
"And how it becomes a story, and why it's become big news, to me, is just baffling."
"Every coach got a file when a kid missed a class. The academic people got it, and the athletic director got it. All this stuff about not having contact information or academic information on the kids, it's a lie, it's all a lie," Rodriguez said.
"They're painting a picture like I'm the only one that had those files, and I threw them all away. That's not the truth. They're painting a picture like I erased all the kids' files, and that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. And anyone with any common sense that's in a Division I athletic department or football program knows the same thing."
This is the crux of the matter: the accusations against Rodriguez are completely, wholly, and totally unbelievable. There is no way WVU does not have all the critical files the need backed up. This is a multi-million dollar operation. This is not 'Nam. Even if they did not follow basic procedures every small business in America manages, there is no way WVU would permit the announced coach of another school into the Sacred Single Hard Copy Room with a shredder, nor that "several" people would watch him shred Sacred Single Hard Copies and do nothing about it except let a single tear run down their cheek. Anything that only Rodriguez had was by definition a personal file.
More devastating allegations from WVU:
In the hours after telling his team he was leaving for the University of Michigan, former West Virginia football Coach Rich Rodriguez called at least two Wolverine recruits from his WVU cell phone, according to records obtained by the Daily Mail through the Freedom of Information Act.
The recruits in question are Boubacar Cissoko and Rocko Khoury, Wolverine commits from Michigan who never even looked at WVU. There is a third phone call that WVU thinks is Dann O'Neill, another Michigan commit from the state who wouldn't attend WVU if you held a gun to his mother's head, and others to places like Houston and Toledo that may or may not be to other Wolverine commits. This is a coach going to work at his new school after informing his old school of his decision, but doing it on the wrong phone.
Apparently either Dave Hickman or the WVU athletic department doesn't know anything about NCAA regulations, because this paragraph features in the article:
The NCAA recruiting calendar was also in a quiet and dead period when WVU believes some contact was made.
Dead periods and quiet periods have nothing whatsoever to do with phone contact -- coaches are allowed to call a recruit once per week. Instead they regulate in-person contact; a "dead" period means no in-person contact at all and a "quiet" period means no off-campus contact. The dead period regulation even has this disclaimer in it:
It remains permissible, however, for an institutional staff member to write or telephone prospective student-athletes during such a dead period.
Even an athletic department as addled as WVU's should know these things; throwing this in the article is an attempt to baselessly smear Rodriguez.
And it's one that appears to have worked. The Wizard of Odds frets that "the calls appear to have been placed during a recruiting dead period, meaning contact with recruits was forbidden, according to NCAA rules. This, of course, is an even bigger no-no." It is not a no-no. It is a yes-yes, but the dangerous assumption that something in a newspaper is correct causes memes like this to spread out of control. Reliable Spartan shill Mike Valenti got Hickman on his show yesterday and spent the time saying extremely balanced things like "he's [Rodriguez, not Hickman] being spiteful and really, really low about it." On PTI yesterday, Mike Wilbon called for Rodriguez's suspension until the matter's completion based on one anonymous source with no evidence but one hell of an axe to grind. Even Jim Carty, so skeptical at first, now claims that Rodriguez needs to "apologize and pay up". Apologize for what? Carty says that...
The first - and best - action the new coach could take is calling a press conference to announce he's paying West Virginia the $4 million buyout that was in the contract he signed.
It's the right thing to do.
You signed the contract. Live with it.
All well and good if Rodriguez is the only one in violation of the contract; he obviously does not think so. Neither do a whole bunch of pissed off WVU boosters. Was John Beilein supposed to "apologize and pay up" when he got his buyout reduced? Everyone regarded that little standoff as a matter for the lawyers and an obvious move by both sides that would end in a settlement -- these punitive buyout clauses are often regarded as unenforceable. Not so here. Why?
Look, if Rodriguez really did shred a bunch of critical WVU documents that had no duplicates elsewhere that's a serious problem. If these allegations turn out to be true it will seriously darken my opinion of this hire. But the accusations leveled are so improbable that what's far more likely is that some very bitter people in West Virginia just can't handle Rodriguez's departure.
I'm sure Dave Hickman is getting great information from someone high placed in the WVU AD, as he claims. But he appears to be regurgitating the information provided without applying a critical eye to it. Thus the "dead and quiet" period comment, and the remarkably gullible publishing of WVU's ludicrous claims they had no idea who was even on the team in the wake of Rodriguez's exit.
"We think there was a guy named Pat something," say West Virginia officials. "And maybe a 'Noel,' though that girl must be a kicker."
Do not believe everything you read in the paper.
Expect more articles with quotes like this:
University spokeswoman Amy Neil said the WVU Office of Admissions and Records maintains grade and attendance records in a separate location, so no student-athlete's academic career is at risk.
"We're not sure what records are missing, but all student records, including those of the football team, are kept within the Office of Admissions and Records," she said. "Those records are secure."
Really. I'm shocked.
It don't matter to RichRod!
West Virginia's ongoing quest to become the most jilted wife in all of jilted wifedom has hit upon a jackpot. Rich Rodriguez only operates at one speed, be it against defenses or documents, and that speed is shred:
Soon after returning to work after the Fiesta Bowl a little more than a week ago, the staff at the Puskar Center found that most of the files â€” including all of the player files â€” that had been stored in Rodriguez's private office were missing. In addition, all of the players' strength and conditioning files in the weight room were gone.
"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.''
This is obviously sketchy behavior if it's true; given that state's complete mental breakdown about precious favorite son leaving that is not 100%. Jim Carty:
On the other hand, it's fairly common practice in almost all businesses for departing executives to shred and/or remove documents that they believe were confidential and/or document methods that could be considered trade secrets.
Either way, it doesn't ever look good to have your name linked with shredding and missing documents. Whether this story is true or not, at first glance it adds to the image many critics in West Virginia are painting of Rodriguez as a slick opportunist.
And maybe that's the goal. ...
Bottom line? Take the shredding allegations with a grain of salt until someone at West Virginia puts their name to them.
The Free Press has an article up with no additional information.
At this point, all we have are unanswered questions. Questions like:
- Why would Rodriguez shred all this stuff? (Ohio State fans: because he's a dirty cheater covering his tracks. West Virginia fans: because his one goal in life is to destroy us. Michigan fans: because he knew crazy WVU officials/FOIA-toting fans would go over the documents with a fine-toothed comb and attempt to nail him on every piddling recruiting violation like "called five minutes late.")
- Why would WVU let Michigan's coach into the building? (Probably because WVU's AD is full of morons.)
- Corollary to previous question: why would "several" people notice Rodriguez, already announced as Michigan's head coach, shredding documents and make no effort to stop him?
- Why would all these important documents exist only in single hard copy formats? (See answer to previous questions.)
- Corollary to the previous question: do they have computers in West Virginia?
Maybe the files are in the computer.