Names Named, Heads Should Roll

Names Named, Heads Should Roll

Submitted by Brian on May 26th, 2010 at 10:06 AM

stocksMichigan's epic document dump provides a harrowing window into the world of TPS reports, staplers, and increasingly alarmed emails that is the University compliance environment. I started reading these things and I could not stop, delving deeply to 73-page Exhibits that are little more than compliance folk making heroic efforts not to bludgeon the football administration and hardly getting responses.

A couple things are clear.

Brad Labadie should be fired. Now. I'll leave the decision as to whether he should be put in stocks on the Diag up to Brandon, but I vote yes. The vastly ineffectual management of Scott Draper should also see him go out the door. If either of these individuals had competently executed his job, there is a strong possibility this whole thing never happens.

Brandon said yesterday that none of the seven people who got naughty notes put in their permanent record would see further repercussions. I strongly disagree with this decision.

Here's why:

You Can Take This Job Description And Shove It, Except You Can't Because It Doesn't Exist

The CSO made several attempts to obtain written job descriptions for the quality control staff from Scott Draper and Brad Labadie during 2008 and 2009. A copy of the written correspondence related to these efforts is attached as Exhibit 15. Draper provided the first version of the job descriptions on August 28, 2009 after the University began its investigation following media inquiries. See Exhibits 3 and 4.

Exhibit 15… good lord.

April 2008

Judy Van Horn asks Ann Vollano to get job descriptions for all sport-specific administrative staff. Her only sin here is saying "Let's strategize on how to implement."

July 2008

Van Horn emails Draper about a meeting that Draper may or may not have to attend about "compliance monitoring systems that are under Brad's purview":

There have been some glitches with systems that Brad thought would work better under Rich but haven't as well as times where Brad has felt hounded by CSO staff and CSO staff have felt him to be nonresponsive. I think we need to touch base to make sure we can close out 2007-08 and have a workable plan and strong relationship moving into 2008-09.

In this email Van Horn mentions the CSO is expanding monitoring of QC-type people, a "growing employment area" subject to "increasing NCAA scrutiny and controversy" and they are proactively attempting to get these agreements in place in order to avoid any troubles.

Draper responds:

If there is an issue with Brad, I need to know about it. If he was disrespectful or anything along those lines that is something I need to address. If it is not, then as his supervisor I should be made aware of it and handle it with Rich. … Please help me understand what is going on I am in the dark. If there is an issue I need to be made aware of it. Brad reports to me.

August 2008

Vollano sends a memo requesting job descriptions for all sport-specific staffers in an effort to ensure Michigan is "meeting NCAA coaching staff limit requirements," asking for a response no later than August 22nd.

September 2008

Vollano emails Draper, reminding him to turn in the form requested in August. Draper says he did it, asks Vollano to look for it again. Vollano says it is not present and the CSO has been "on high alert looking for it." Draper says he will re-do it and bring it in in the morning. Rich Rodriguez is CCed on this email. He does not receive further correspondence.

October 2008

Vollano emails Draper having received football's "limitations form" but still needs the job descriptions.

December 2008

Vollano:

Brad:

I have left a couple of messages but I thought that maybe email would be easier. I want to remind you that I need job descriptions for all of your non-coaching-specific staff members, As you may recall, the "Designation of Coaching Category" form for the 2OO8·09 academic year was changed and to include space for each member of your non-coaching sport specific staff to sign. In addition, a copy of each sport specific staff person's job description was to be attached. I have your form but I do not have any job descriptions for any of the non-coaching sport specific staff. The job descriptions should include the title of the position and a description of duties. Once we have the job descriptions, we will have the staff members sign an agreement related to their role with your sport. The role of non-coaching, sport-specific staff continues to receive increased scrutiny from both the NCAA and Big Ten Conference staff. These agreements will ensure that we are meeting NCAA coaching staff limit requirements. Thanks for your attention in this matter. An Email would be sufficient if it is easier for you, Take care! Ann

P.S. I have attached a copy of the form with all of the signatures and positions that you turned in. lf there are any people missing, please let me know. Thanks!

Labadie responds that he "just listened to the voicemail from earlier where you said you are not taking it personally" and asks for the people who need job descriptions… that Vollano has already told him twice already on the memo.

lets_all_go_to_the_lobby11

August 2009

The 28th: Draper submits a job description for QC staffers. It is a hastily slapped-together piece of crap.
The 29th: Free Press report published.
The 30th: Draper submits another job description for QC staffers.

You Say CARA, I Say "Shut Up, I'm Playing Halo"

You know the CARA forms? Yeah… about them:

The CSO made repeated requests for the CARA forms during 2008 and 2009. Most of these requests were made to Brad Labadie by email. See Exhibit 18. Scott Draper received a copy of several of the e-mail requests to Labadie. The CSO also notified Joe Parker, Senior Associate Athletics Director, Development/Corporate Relations, about the football CARA forms issues in early 2009. After the requests to Labadie produced no CARA forms from football, on May 19, 2009, the CSO office again informed Parker about the absence of CARA forms for football. Parker contacted Labadie and Draper about the issue the same day. Van Horn also notified University auditors of the issue, and the auditors found no CARA forms for football when they reviewed CSO records in April and May 2009. …

CSO officials did not meet in-person with Rodriguez to notify him of football's failure to provide CARA forms until July 30, 2009. The University is satisfied Rodriguez was unaware of the problem until he received the auditor's memorandum dated July 24th, 2009.

… The CSO was persistent in its efforts to gather CARA forms from football, including eventually seeking the assistance of the direct of athletics. The University believes, however, t he CSO should have met with Rodriguez to alert him to the CARA forms issue and seek his assistance much sooner than it did. The University believes that had the CSO done so, the CARA forms issue likely would have been addressed at a much earlier date.

The next section details what Rodriguez's part was in this. The U did not believe Rodriguez knew about the specific CARA procedures; RR states that he was not briefed until the summer of '09, but the matter was on multiple rules education agendas. Van Horn stated she and RR "agreed that Labadie and Draper would continue to be the administrators responsible for football compliance issues."

As you'd expect, the compliance issues are sheltered from the coaches as much as possible since they have more important things to be doing. The U is "satisfied Rodriguez did not know that the football program had failed to submit its CARA forms for more than 18 months."

Let's go to Exhibit 18, then. It's 73 pages.

January 2008

"Compliance assistant" Rachel Strassner sends a general email asking for telephone recruiting logs, off campus contacts, and CARA forms for December '07—before Rodriguez was hired. On the 31st, Strassner specifically emails Labadie asking for CARA forms from October, November, and December of '07, telephone logs for December, and a bunch of other stuff. Again: before Rodriguez is hired.

February 2008

Monthly reminder from Strassner. On the sixth, Strassner emails Labadie again requesting missing docs: one week of CARA forms from November, recruiting logs from Mike Debord, December telephone logs from all coaches, and October contact logs from most of the coaches. On the 12th she emails again asking for the missing CARA week, a number of contact logs, and everyone's telephone logs. On the 20th she's still missing the single CARA week and believes one other week has an overage.

March 2008

Reminder ping. Strassner now sending emails with the subject line "Compliance Documents – STILL MISSING". The November 18th week that has been outstanding for months is still outstanding, as are contact logs and telephone logs. Questions about possible overages have not been answered.

A week later, Strassner sends an email to Michael Parrish, cc-ing Labadie and asking for CARA forms for January and February, February telephone logs, and February contact logs. Vollano replies to this, noting the university's auditor will be in on Thursday and "Auditors like to find things missing so they can put them in their reports." A week later, both Vollano and Strassner request the missing logs again. A week later, the email mentions the auditor "is in the process of reviewing football's records"; it does appear that the rogue November CARA form has been submitted along with most of the missing Carr-era documentation and the contact/eval logs from the first couple months of the Rodriguez regime.

April 2008

Ping. Strassner now trying "Compliance Forms Missing – DELINQUENT." We have our first Labadie sighting as he emails that Carr and Rodriguez didn't make calls in certain months and that the CARA forms are "being completed." Quiet month after this.

May 2008

Ping. Apparently everything except the CARA forms has been submitted because Strassner's gone down to DEFCON 3: "CARA Forms – Delinquent" and all the telephone/contact log mentions have been dropped. Unfortunately, as time passes the CARA forms keep building up. Labadie has not submitted CARA forms since January 6th. At the end of the month Strassner asks again. Also, CSO still needs Fred Jackson's telephone log from December.

June 2008

Draper is now getting CCed on "Football CARA forms MISSING"; Strassner has taken the desperate, futile step of using the little doohickey that makes your emails "high" importance. CARA forms and the rogue Jackson telephone log have not been submitted. Getting slightly snippy: "Please let me know when I can expect these."

July 2008

This is the point where Brad feels "hounded by CSO staff" and CSO staff feels he could be a tetch "nonresponsive." The department stops asking about the 2008 CARA logs here so it seems like they were submitted at this point.

August 2008

Michigan sends a memo to all coaches and admin staff reminding them about CARA forms for 2008-09.

September 2008

Strassner has either moved on from a student job or an internship or thrown herself off U Towers, leaving one Roy Shavers Jr the thankless task of attempting to get CARA forms from Labadie. He takes up the monthly pings. The U reduces the submission frequency from weekly to monthly. It is the CSO's hope that this will simplify the process by "avoiding the need to ask you at the end of each year to account for past weeks of your team's countable athletically related activities."

October 2008

Just a ping.

November 2008

Ping, and then Shavers emails Labadie to remind him he needs to turn in CARA forms for August and October.

January 2009

Ping, ping. The U has pinged Joseph Parker at this point and he now (Jan 8) asks Draper, Labadie, and Parrish to get the CARA forms completed, mentioning that "we need to put a process in place to ensure this information is delivered to the CSO staff in a timely manner." Bill Martin is CCed. Labadie responds that he will get CARA "cleaned up" at upcoming meetings/workouts.

Twelve days later, Parker emails Labadie again asking about CARA.

March 2009

Ping, ping. Parker emails on the fifth noting that "as a follow-up to our conversation yesterday, compliance has not received any CARA Forms for football for 2008-09." Draper replies that Brad is acquiring the "last remaining signature[s]" from the seniors.

April 2009

Ping. On April 3rd Vollano asks "any idea when we can get the CARA forms?" Incredibly, she then adds "I do not want to bug you about it but as an FYI, the university auditors are going to start their audit of CARA" instead of "if you do not give me the forms I will chop your head off."

On the eighth Shavers emails Vollano noting that they are missing all CARA logs and the telephone logs from November, December, January, and March. Vollano pings Parrish.

May 2009

Ping. On May 7th Vollano emails Labadie with a last-ditch plea: "I just wanted to let you know that the auditors are here doing CARA. They have an empty folder for football. Any chance you bring them over?"  Double incredibly, she ends the email "Thanks for your help" instead of "I hate you so much."

Labadie actually responds here: "Figured out what the voicemail was about. Sorry I've been out this morning and I just got the auto reply that you are out later today." Vollano replies the next day asking for the forms ASAP so the auditors can review them, nothing that their report goes to "Bill, the President and Regents."

Two weeks later, Parker emails that Vollano has been requesting the documents for "several months" and asks if they can submit the CARA forms by tomorrow. Labadie replies "Yep. Had them finished yesterday at workouts and they should have been delivered today."

Poor, sweet Ann G.Vollano the next day:

image

For this, she has been officially censured. Poor, poor Ann G. Vollano.

lets_all_go_to_the_lobby11

August 2009

Van Horn and Draper set up a meeting. Unclear why, but "CARA forms" is on the agenda. A week later, Michigan sends out the annual CARA memo. A meeting agenda with Martin on August 18th summarizes the "formal communication" regarding the 2008-09 CARA Form fiasco, noting that "at the time of audit during may 2009, no football CARA forms from the 2008-09 academic year had been submitted to the CSO," that "all other varsity sports" had submitted the forms, and that an "inordinate amount of communication occurred between CSO, football administrative staff and sport administrators regarding football CARA forms."

A section later it notes that "having student-athletes provide written verification of the time they spend in CARA activities protects the head coach and institution from unfounded allegations."

August 28th: CSO finally receives CARA forms for winter and fall of 2008. They are signed by Rodriguez, but not student-athletes.
August 29th: Free Press report.
August 30th: Vollano emails Labadie a special individual ping stating they need the August 2009 CARA forms. Labadie replies in 21 minutes. Subsequent CARA reports are submitted monthly with student-athlete signatures.

-----------------------------------------

You'll note a few things other than a torrent of email from poor, sweet athletic department compliance personnel virtually begging Labadie for CARA forms: the documentation problems started before Rodriguez even arrived, that Labadie had been "hopeful" the bookkeeping processes would be better under Rodriguez, and not even the freaking auditors being in the office looking at an empty folder could get a response other than "ohhhhh, that's what that voicemail meant." The main document also states that Labadie was the responsible party for the warm-up and stretching time that put Michigan over on Mondays during 2009, although Labadie said that this opinion was based on conversations with Barwis. Why the person in charge of football compliance administration thinks he should talk to Barwis instead of compliance is unknown.

Most importantly, either Labadie lied to Draper when he said he was just getting the "last signatures" from the seniors for the 2008-09 forms or Draper lied to CSO. The main document states the CARA forms, hastily submitted the day before the Free Press report, have no student signatures. Draper, for his part, made zero effort to check up on his employee despite his apparent desire to play Tropico at work all day. He had no idea there was anything going on for months, and complained to compliance that he needed to know what was going on with the person who reports directly to him.

The worst part of all of this is how comprehensive, intelligent, and concerned the compliance side of all this was. CSO constantly badgered Draper and Labadie for the missing documents and was in the process of putting together a system that would hopefully have clarified what the QC assistants could and could not do. They anticipated potential problems with the QC staffers! Judy Van Horn just won a prestigious award and it's not hard to see why: Michigan's compliance department was machine-like in its precision. Its primary flaw was being far too polite to the unresponsive Draper and Labadie—not once did Strassner threaten to mail Labadie's pets to Albania, or shave his head in his sleep, or put him in a bun and leave him on Justin Boren's doorstep. If they had been cut-throat about it and immediately raised holy hell with Martin, Rodriguez, and others this may not have occurred.

Maybe there are things yet unrevealed by 100 pages of emails. Maybe there were behind-the-scenes reasons Labadie could not put the documents together. However, if there were the proper thing to do was to express this. Labadie didn't even get them in when threatened by an audit; it took  the freakin' Freep report to get the sloppy, unsigned CARA forms in—the ones that Labadie claimed he was just getting the last signatures on five months earlier. The main document specifically states that when Rodriguez took over it was decided to leave the CARA process exactly the way it was under Carr, and Labadie still completely failed to file reports for a whole year when the system had been in place for several years and was apparently not an insurmountable task for anyone else in the department. Rodriguez's response makes it explicitly clear that no one informed him the already-prepared job descriptions for QC people had not been submitted and that the lack of CARA form submissions was also unknown. Why was it unknown?

Labadie told the enforcement staff that he did not tell Rodriguez that he had failed to submit CARA forms because he did not want Rodriguez to look unfavorably upon him.

There is no possible excuse for the massive breach in protocol here and the missing CARA forms and QC assistant job descriptions are the primary reasons Michigan is reporting major violations instead of a selection of secondary ones. Everyone involved with Michigan football compliance administration has failed massively and should be fired. Now.

Day Of Slight Reckoning Roundup

Day Of Slight Reckoning Roundup

Submitted by Brian on May 25th, 2010 at 1:16 PM

jihad-2006-2007-tercera-guerra-mundial-01lg barwis

just one more chance to use these babies after today

Recap. Read this again: Tentative Results of Jihad The Second.

Michigan's violations were borne of incompetence, sloppiness, and misinterpretation.

That's not why the Free Press story was major news last year. No one picks up the story "Michigan could be slightly over their daily allotted maximum in countable hours." The lurid allegations that Michigan was not just exceeding but totally ignoring NCAA limits on football-related activities are the entire crux of the Free Press article. With one brief assertion that the players interpreted the technically voluntary activities as mandatory, the Free Press dismisses the idea that a non-countable hour exists. In this they were not only totally wrong but dishonest. Honesty requires framing the facts in a responsible way. No effort was made at this.

One more tree. I previously asserted that Michigan's self-imposed sanctions would be accepted as-is by the committee given the recent precedents, but Compliance Guy foresees the potential addition of a year of probation (which who cares) and possibly the coach reduction it seemed like Michigan was anticipating when they hired Braithwaite:

While Michigan is reducing the staff that caused the football program to exceed the limits on countable coaches, Michigan is not actually reducing the number of countable coaches. This will be an area where the Committee asks why the penalty was not targeted more narrowly at the violation, and they may add a reduction in the number of countable coaches for 2010-11 and/or 2011-12.

This is phrased as a hypothetical, albeit one Compliance Guy seems to think has a better than 50/50 chance of happening. We'll see. I tend to think that Michigan has gotten very specific advice about what will be a sufficient penalty to self-impose, but he's the subject matter expert.

Man up. It's pathetic that the Free Press takes multiple direct shots from the university in their response to the NCAA and can't see fit to mention any of them in a whopping-for-print 2167 word story about the document dump today, which I will link sometime after the Sun engulfs the planet. The thing runs seven pages online and not one word is "exaggerated." At no point has the paper seen fit to defend itself from charges their initial story was essentially bullshit, and now the university itself has said as much and the Free Press chooses to ignore it.

Again, the reader is invited to compare and contrast the ethics of the two organizations. One immediately launched a massive investigation and forthrightly disclosed every document they produced or received from the NCAA within 24 hours of sending or acquiring it. The other has not seen fit to even comment on the vast discrepancies between their article and reality.

Furthermore, no other outlet featuring Official Journalists has seen fit to make anything but the most oblique reference to the shoddy reporting in the original story. How is that not news? It's hypocritical to circle the wagons.

BONUS: Brandon did interviews with "select news outlets Monday night": the News and AnnArbor.com.

Click clack. Rittenberg also highlights Rodriguez's attempt to put on a Steve Spurrier mask and bolt the room:

"I wish we could have got it done earlier. Get all this stuff behind us so the only conversation with the old ball coach is, ‘OK, who is your quarterback going to be?’ ‘Why’d you run this coverage?’ ‘What kind of scheme are you going to run on defense?’"

Okay. Deep breath. Okay. RICH RODRIGUEZ: YOU DO NOT EVER ANSWER THOSE QUESTIONS USEFULLY WHEN I TELL TIM TO ASK YOU THINGS LIKE THAT. Argh.

The QC items in detail. The practice overages were obviously petty as soon as they were announced, but the NCAA's Notice of Allegations had some accusations leveled at the use of QC staffers that were vague. At the nasty end of the spectrum, Michigan could have been running an end-around on coaching limits intentionally. It doesn't appear this was the case:

They sat in on film sessions they weren’t supposed to. They attended coaches meetings that were off limits. And they took part in summer skill-development workouts that were restricted to non-sport specific strength coaches, trainers who work with multiple athletic teams.

But Rodriguez disputed charges that his quality-control staff improperly took part in winter workouts, an allegation Michigan accepted as fact.

In his response, Rodriguez argued that his quality-control assistants doubled as part-time strength coaches, something his filing says the NCAA allows and “Michigan’s chief compliance officer” - associate athletic director Judy Van Horn - “told the enforcement staff” may be “permissible.”

Back in the day I did notice the strange distinction in the NCAA rules between department-wide S&C staff who can work with athletes basically whenever and sport-specific S&C staff, who can't. There were still some violations there that deserved the punishment Michigan has proposed but the actual illegal contact with the players was due to a misunderstanding.

The tape really holds the towel together. MVictors notes this cinematic exchange in one of the Exhibit documents:

the_towel_thumb

That reads like a Cohen brothers script, doesn't it?

Well, that's just, like, your opinion, man. Feldman tweet:

ESPN poll: majority of football fans think over 50% of BCS teams would be in violation of "too many hours" rules if investigated by NCAA.

less than a minute ago via web

FWIW, which isn't much since this is a peanut gallery of people consisting of "ESPN poll voters." It does punch a hole in the meta-disaster narrative often crafted in the one-sentence-pargaraph sort of columns: sure, Michigan's self-imposed penalties are extremely light but think of the shame that will cause Michigan to be outcast. It's always annoying when a column's main argument is "look at this other column!"

As per usual. Wojo's column is about the only local take worth reading…

Michigan did what it had to do, and took great pains to explain its historic actions. It admitted guilt, in meticulous and frank detail. It outlined changes. And within the pages and pages of documents, it also took the next important step, and carefully began defending itself.

With one hand, Michigan slapped firmly, humbly. It acknowledged its football program committed major violations and placed it on self-imposed probation for the first time ever, a crushing day for the school.

…even though "crushing" seems an order of magnitude excessive here. Ed Martin was crushing. The practice violations here are frustrating, borne of equal parts incompetence and sloppiness.

Similarly, Adam Rittenberg leads off his initial piece with this:

Michigan begins its official response to the NCAA's Notice of Allegations with a sobering statement.

The University of Michigan ("the University"), which fielded its first football team in 1878, has won more football games than any institution, all without a major infractions case. After more than 130 years, the University's football program is before the Committee on Infractions for the first time. The University admits the violations in fact occurred. The University is disappointed that its history of no major infractions cases in its football program has ended.

It can't be easy for Michigan fans or anyone associated with the football program to read those words.

Well… am I the only guy who thinks the Michigan reputation for sanctimony is ridiculous? The last person who should have been allowed to say the words "Michigan" and "Man" consecutively was Bo.

I don't really care that Michigan has been deflowered by the NCAA per se. I care that the picture painted by the allegations is of a complacent and/or dysfunctional athletic department, and I'm a little put off by some instances of finger pointing in Rodriguez's individual response (which may be right but adopt an unpleasantly accusatory tone from time to time). If the violations were something that seemed like a willful and knowing flouting of NCAA rules, I'd be pissed. As it is I'm pretty much indifferent. As long as the U takes the opportunity to clear out 40 years of cobwebs, I'm fine with the ethical state of the department. The organizational state is another matter.

The University's public response has a necessary quotient of hang-dog apologizing. Gosh we're really sorry, please don't kick our face in, etc. That's the organizational equivalent of coachspeak, done more to placate the committee than to accurately reflect how much hairshirting is going on in private. The penalties speak for themselves: not much.

Rittenberg, by the way, does mention the University's pointed shot at the Free Press.

Etc.: DocSat take.

NCAA Presser Highlights

NCAA Presser Highlights

Submitted by Brian on May 25th, 2010 at 12:32 PM

Tim's best effort at a transcript of the press conference. All answers are paraphrases.

Brandon: Relief comes from the fact that it's all out there. Made the notice of allegations public within 24 hours of receiving it—same story here. Lot of pages, lots of detail, documents speak for themselves—what happened, why, how they plan to deal with it.

Who's to blame for the situation?

Brandon: I take full responsibility for issues across the athletic department. Sloppy handling of information. Failures in checks and balances as well as through the chain of command. No single person to blame.

Probation is expected. Do you anticipate that? What would probation mean to the program?

Brandon: We have identified probation as a self-imposed sanction. 2 years is appropriate. No additional sanction, but a significant amount of reporting to the NCAA over the duration. Puts the program under the microscope.

Will there be any other discipline against the individuals other than a letter of discipline?

Brandon: One guy [Herron] was terminated for lack of integrity in the process. Everyone else will receive a reprimand in the file. They didn't perform duties to the appropriate level, causing the violations.

Should the NCAA define exactly what S&C and QC should do?

Brandon: When the smoke clears, a bunch of topics need to be discussed. Can improve job descriptions in NCAA rule. We misunderstood between compliance and NCAA re: interpretation of those rules. We can work with them to tighten up those definitions - what is and isn't permissible. Not a criticism of the rules, but we can see where we interpreted it wrong and make the improvements.

How do you avoid this becoming a distraction again?

Rodriguez: Players and staff stayed focused through the investigation last year, which started mid-season. This ongoing case shouldn't affect players at all. They're excited about the upcoming season, and it's a relief to get it over with. Shouldn't distract.

Recommending as a punishment that they lose more practice time. What if the NCAA says it's not good enough? What if NCAA says recruiting or postseason restrictions? Would that surprise or upset?

Brandon: More thorough review will indicate that the sanctions include a little more. Terminated the individual who had the integrity problem, reprimanding those involved, removing QC staff, and prohibiting QC from sitting on coaching meetings, etc., for a year. We believe based on the advice and precedents, we've matched up the consequences with the content of the violations. NCAA has the ultimate authority, and we'll speak in front of them in August.

NCAA says Rich fostered an atmosphere of non-compliance. Why do you disagree?

Brandon: Strongly disagree. Internal investigation showed that's not the case. Compliance group says this is one of the most open coaching staffs. They had the ability to access whatever they wanted. Rich and crew made no effort to hide anything from the compliance staff. Rich understands following the rules, and has a history of doing so.

Provision in Rich's contract that says he could be terminated. Why hasn't he been fired?

Brandon: COULD be cause for termination. I don't think the violations that occurred are significant enough. Said in February that he wouldn't be fired, and the investigation didn't change their mind on it. We don't believe termination is appropriate under these circumstances.

The NCAA looks to take each violation on its merit, and respond accordingly. The people we've retained said that's right to do.

What if NCAA says scholarship or recruiting violations?

Brandon: every case with Reductions in scholarships or coaches, or postseason bans, has stemmed from serious lack of institutional control or a competitive advantage. The NCAA can disagree if they want, and we'll have our day in front of them.

What were the precedents? [Ed.: Jesus. "Can you do my research for me?"]

Brandon: You can piece it together from various other cases.

How much has this investigation cost?

Brandon: I have no clue. It's not relevant. Did what we had to do to protect our interests and employees.

Is the M image tarnished?

Brandon: There's nothing good about any of this stuff. It's unfortunate. Our history and tradition is out there for the world to see. We'll let our integrity continue to stand as it has. We made mistakes, but we're being transparent, accountable, and doing something about it.

Who was responsible for crafting the response?

Rodriguez: My counsel and the University worked very closely. I was obligated to give an individual response. We'll continue to work closely, correcting the issues that we need to correct. We'll get together to prepare for the meeting with the infractions committee. Everyone that was interviewed has been forthright and accommodating.

Do you now have a chance to focus on football?

Rodriguez: This is not the only thing I've been working on. Issues within the program and my response have been time-consuming. Moving on from this (knowing what the investigation entails). It's important to be transparent, and this shows that.

What did you want to get across in your response?

Rodriguez: No one main point. Wanted to present the details from the investigation. We go in front of the committee, and have to explain what happened, the response lays the groundwork for that. There will be more questions we have to answer. My response details what I needed to explain, where communication broke down, and where we can improve.

No evidence of disregarding student-athlete welfare?

Brandon: Super important. There was innuendo about that we were mistreating players—to the level of abuse—which wasn't true. None of that was the case, and there was nothing in the practice time issue that endangered welfare of student athletes.

Rodriguez: That was the most important issue for me. We've always looked out for student athletes, and will continue to do so. The investigation made clear that the student athletes never felt endangered - and never will. Rodriguez enjoys developing student-athletes.

How is extra hours not interpreted as a competitive advantage?

Brandon: Not counting stretching as warmup is a violation. It's still a significant leap of logic to call that a competitive advantage. The amount of time that went over could not be perceived as a competitive advantage.

Was it a new coach issue?

Brandon: We had a whole new coaching staff, with a whole new routine. Most of the people in administration have been around for a long time. There was a combination of many factors. We will never have lower-end chain of command people having discussions about things, without reporting it up the chain of command. We're going to handle any issues at the senior levels.

What was it like to have the school defend the charge against you?

Rodriguez: there have been mistakes made at various times by various people, and I've had to answer for it. Talking about an atmosphere of non-compliance is a serious allegation, and my response and the school's response indicate we don't think that's the case.

Major Major Major Major

Major Major Major Major

Submitted by Brian on May 25th, 2010 at 10:50 AM

"I have named the boy Caleb," he announced to her finally in a soft voice. "In accordance with your wishes." The woman made no answer, and slowly the man smiled. He had planned it all perfectly, for his wife was asleep and would never know that he had lied to her as she lay on her sickbed in the poor ward of the county hospital.

-Catch-22

"The University is satisfied that the initial media reports are greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect."

-University of Michigan

So there are about a zillion documents to go over but here are your thunderbolts of justice:

  • Michigan has reduced the number of QC staffers by 40 percent (ie, by two) and prohibited them from attending practices, games, and coaches meetings for 2010. A new bylaw specifically allows QC staffers at coaches meeting, but Michigan won't take advantage of this until 2011. Michigan will not add more QC staffers until the 2011 season ends.
  • Michigan will give back 130 hours of practice time over the next two years.
  • Michigan has taken "corrective action" to prevent a repeat.
  • Two years of probation.

…aaaaand that's all, folks. No scholarships, no reductions in the number of actual coaches, and they didn't even fire anyone other than Herron—the other QC staffer they're losing is Braithwaite, who's now an actual coach. This is actually less severe than the mild sanctions this site has ballparked since May. The NCAA will accept the report essentially as-is in August and Michigan will get on with it.

This is it, by, the way: these documents are the official results of the investigation release to the public and the NCAA. Michigan took this seriously enough to bring in third-party NCAA investigators and this is what they turned up. If there is anyone out there still defending the original article as something other than a one-sided hit job that cost Michigan thousands of dollars and should cause any Michigan fan to boycott the Free Press until the people who wrote and edited it are gone, read the PDFs. Just a couple days ago someone was complaining that characterizing the violations as "stretching" was a dishonest representation of the violations and hurt the site's credibility. It's true that there is a tale of sordid institutional miscommunication buried in the documents, but "warm-up and stretching" is literally 90% of the hourly overages. The QC issues came because Rodriguez thought they were classified as S&C assistants, which they were not.

Compare that—a very serious document that will have consequences if it is wrong—to the Free Press report detailing lurid excesses, student abuse, and complete disregard for NCAA regulations. If newspapers cared about truth in reporting as much as the university does about its compliance with NCAA regulations, everyone involved with the story would be looking for a new job.

What To Expect Tomorrow

What To Expect Tomorrow

Submitted by Brian on May 24th, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has made it clear that today is the day Michigan will send a hundred or so practice hours onto the beaches of Normandy, where they will be cut down by the relentless pillbox gunners of the NCAA. We'll find out what the results were tomorrow. This does not count as Godwinning myself because I am attempting to make a D-Day reference and not angry enough at the infractions committee to compare them to Nazis. Promise.

Anyway: there will be other sacrifices as well. I've been unable to figure out exactly what those will be, but the word is "an eye for an eye." Since we are talking about practice, in the words of the Great Iverson, this will mean giving back the excess hours two for one and possibly putting some restrictions on quality control assistants or giving up the use of a coach for some period of time.

Back in February when the university announced the Notice of Allegations, message board folk scoured the NCAA archives for similar infractions and came up with two recent examples at San Diego State and Florida International; this blog then attempted to figure out what tomorrow would look like. Both gave up a bunch of practice hours over three years and imposed some additional coaching restrictions. San Diego State then took six total years of scholarship reductions. The Bylaw Blog's proprietor did not think that was something Michigan would see done to them:

Based on the difference between these two cases [SDSU and M], I would say reduced scholarships are still on the table, but are most likely to be self-imposed. Michigan might give up scholarships if they believe scholarships are worth less than practice and they can reduce the practice penalties somewhat by giving up something else.

IE: San Diego State probably had a chronically under-supplied roster then and the scholarship penalties were giving away things they didn't need. Michigan won't want to follow that path, though I've been pushing the idea that Michigan might take one this year because they won't be able to get up to 85 scholarship players anyway. On the other hand, the practice penalties won't be severe. Michigan's total hour overages come to 66. If they give back two for one (132 total) and they're allowed to spread that over three years Michigan will have to give up 44 practice hours this year. That's not a whole lot, especially if some of them take the form of conditioning sessions that go from mandatory to "voluntary," which seems like a reasonable thing to do since the practice overages were conditioning sessions.

Potential Complicating Factors

There are two things in Michigan's naughty file that do not have clear precedents. One is the "Failure to monitor" accusation leveled at Rodriguez. (The separate failure to monitor accusation against the university was something SDSU and FIU got hit with, so the penalties they took include that.) The NCAA took a poke at WVU to see if they were sitting on any records of malfeasance as part of their new effort to tag coaches with stronger consequences—see also the proposal to track coach-specific APRs—but the chance of that turning up anything other than a chagrin-inducing lack of records at WVU is slim. Still, it is possible the NCAA could levy a sanction against RR. Since this is a new initiative what that might be is unknown.

The second is exactly how bad the Quality Control staffer excesses were.  It is one thing if they were helping out with stretching; entirely another if they were basically operating 7-on-7 drills supposed to be voluntary. That has not been made clear.

Once On The Beach

Once that's announced Michigan is basically done. In both of the similar cases above, the Committee on Infractions didn't impose any additional punishments except short probationary periods of two (the minimum) and three years. Michigan has those precedents to work off of and has hired the former head of the COI to prepare the response. The announced sanctions will be accepted by the COI basically as-is in August, and then it will start to recede into the past.

I'm actually looking forward to the word coming down tomorrow, as the distant possibility the NCAA sets fire to everything should be removed. This is especially relevant for recruits, as Michigan should be able to point to the self-imposed sanctions and declare the ability of the program to compete will not be compromised. After tomorrow, we can start talking about the important thing: wins and losses.

Illegal Stretching Goes On Tour

Illegal Stretching Goes On Tour

Submitted by Brian on April 15th, 2010 at 1:40 PM

So the NCAA is all calling people at West Virginia to see if Rich Rodriguez was illegally stretching lawyaz in Morgantown, too, and the people who do the sort of stentorian wailing that passed for insight in 1982 are doing what they do:

How Much More of This Man Can Michigan Take?

The first step is acknowledging you have a problem.

The second step is doing something about it.

THE FIRST STEP IS REALIZING YOU DON'T HAVE TO HIT ENTER AFTER EVERY PERIOD ARGH.

The second step is assessing whether this is likely to be a big deal. You'd have to be a complete Stacy to voluntarily put yourself on the chopping block merely to spite your ex-boyfriend, but… yeah…

image

That is a state full of Stacys.

What we know is that in September, WVU was nonchalant. A quote given by one of the WVU guys has been kicking around message boards and blogs as people attempt to relieve the panic, but that quote is old. A fuller excerpt:

Of course, WVU officials identified this as a concern back in September of 2009, when the UM-Rodriguez story first broke. Our Dave Hickman caught up with athletic director Ed Pastilong, who indicated then his big house was in order. He suggested he and then-compliance man Brad Cox almost babysat Rodriguez's practices, almost obsessed over record-keeping.

So when the news broke, they double-checked their records and smiled.

"We looked into it,'' Patrick Hairston, WVU's assistant for compliance, said. "We're very comfortable no NCAA rules were broken."

I can't help but wonder how comfortable that position is today. There certainly seemed to be a lot of squirming in the practice facility on Tuesday.

That last sentence is complete speculation. Nonetheless, the happy quote has no relation to the investigation-type activity that's going on now. Which is this:

The NCAA has met with individuals involved with the West Virginia football program to identify any potential rules violations. The university has fully cooperated with the NCAA during this process. West Virginia University and its department of intercollegiate athletics is committed to operating its athletics department in conformance with the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big East Conference.

That is all the new information we have. "We looked into it" is not new.

Okay, so that's no good and certain excitable people are running around screaming about the end of the world. Allow me a moment to defuse that: the NCAA had access to everyone in Michigan's program discussing events that happened while they were at Michigan. They also had a variety of disgruntled ex-Wolverines willing to exaggerate wildly because of a combination of ignorance (of admittedly arcane rules) and bitterness. What they came up with was less than earthshaking.

At West Virginia they'll be attempting to determine what happened in 2007 and before with no leverage on players who have already seen their eligibility expire and probably like Rodriguez just fine. The exact details of a practice week three or four or five years ago are not likely to be fresh in their minds, anyway. This will come down to records. If West Virginia does not have records, that's a problem for West Virginia. If they have records that show a pattern of misbehavior that's gone unreported for years, that is a problem for both Rodriguez and West Virginia. If the pattern of misbehavior remains "slightly exceeded NCAA practice regulations," it won't change anything.

Would West Virginia actually have records that show years of unreported NCAA violations? Doubtful. They did hire Bill Stewart because he was a nice man who didn't trip Noel Devine so that is a possibility, but a screwup that vast has to be considered improbable.

Preliminary assessment: file this with Braylon Edwards #1 Jersey Fiasco in the pile of fiascoes that have no tangible impact but will be cited in all cases to fire Rodriguez by people who are bad at making arguments. Show tangible progress towards being a football team and this is just another scrap of noise.

Of Course This Is The New Policy

A rain on your wedding day note follows. The Bylaw Blog suggests this is a new thing:

This isn’t standard due diligence though because to my knowledge, this is unprecedented. The most likely comparison will be Kelvin Sampson, but that case was much different in that Oklahoma was already under investigation and going to appear before the Committee on Infractions when Sampson left for Indiana.

This is the opposite: a violation at the second school causes an investigation at the previous institution. Now knowing what to look for, it makes it much easier for investigators to see if the violations stretched back to previous programs in a coach’s career.

Hopefully this a move toward building cases against the individuals involved rather than the school.

It seems like John Calipari's great escape after a second Final Four appearance was vacated under his watch is the equivalent of Houston Nutt's 37-member Ole Miss class of a year ago: the straw that breaks the shame-camel's back and forces a re-evaluation of priorities. The NCAA is now trying harder to pin stuff on people, not just universities.  And Rodriguez is the first guy subject to an "unprecedented" background check. Of course he is.

FWIW, The Bylaw Blog seems skeptical anything can come of this since Rodriguez, unlike Sampson, has been clean to date and there was no hint of any issues when he was hired at Michigan. In the seemingly unlikely scenario where this amounts to something serious, the end result would be a sanction against Rodriguez that could force Michigan to dump him but nothing else that impacts the school.

Here is a picture of a ninja assassin fairy:

ninja-assassin-fairy

I think it's about equally likely that Rodriguez is done in by one of these as this look at West Virginia's books. I'm going to resume panicking about the spur and bandit positions, because I like my panic to be sensibly directed.

Etc.: Doug Gottlieb had some strong words in favor of Rodriguez, for whatever that's worth. Sporting News guys say the needle doesn't move: win and stay.

Unverified Voracity Isn't Afraid Of A Zeig Rush

Unverified Voracity Isn't Afraid Of A Zeig Rush

Submitted by Brian on April 13th, 2010 at 5:23 PM

See what I did there?

The Zeiglering. According to Trey Zeigler, Trey Zeigler will announce his college destination on ESPNU tomorrow. A guy named Drew Ellis said he was delaying his decision, but on matters related to Trey Zeigler my number one source is Trey Zeigler. His destination is unknown but Michigan and Central Michigan, where his dad just picked up a four-year extension, are usually the teams mentioned as having the best shot. UCLA doesn't think it's part of the festival and Arizona State didn't get a visit and is almost definitely out of the picture. Michigan State is the other team in Ziegler's top five. They have a logjam at the three with Keith Appling and others, though.

ESPNU's signing day special kicks off at 4 PM, which means we'll be waiting anxiously for an hour before Zeigler shows up. No one has anything approaching solid information. I think it's Central but I am biased to believe nothing good will happen with Michigan basketball recruiting.

Fun. I don't know if this means anything other than the NCAA doing its due diligence:

"The NCAA has met with individuals involved with the West Virginia football program to identify any potential rules violations," school officials said in a statement, released on Tuesday. "The university has fully cooperated with the NCAA during this process. West Virginia University and its department of intercollegiate athletics is committed to operating its athletics department in conformance with the legislation and policies of the NCAA and the Big East Conference."

We'll see if anything comes of it. Right now it's just a phone call and another opportunity for people to restate their opinions about how Rodriguez should or should not be fired.

Epic Red. The Daily continues its series of articles that have no-foolies established it as probably the best newspaper of any variety covering Michigan sports. Seriously. the sort of long-form profile/investigative pieces that are the main thing people point to when they lament the coming end of newspapers have been almost exclusively the province of the Daily this year. There was the Pahokee article, the Antonio Bass profile, and now a look at Red Berenson 26 years into his career as Michigan's head coach. Here's Red recruiting Chris Fox:

“If you want to be a Michigan Man, you should know in the next week,” the coach said to the recruit, who looked and felt much more like a kid than he did when he walked into the office just minutes before. “It will just become clear.”

It became clear.

(HT: MGoJen.)

Quarterback. Rapper. Auteur. David Cone has a short film in the Statesboro Film Festival. Seriously.

/in before lame freep joke based on ending.

A "these are my readers" moment. So a junior clarinet major at Michigan sends me this Microsoft paint reimagining of Tom Harmon:

tom harmon 2.0

It's a revamp of a Terran Marine:

terran_marine

By his account, this took Andrew Kobalka seven hours. He asked I not retouch it before posting.

Yeah… these are my readers. I am a privileged man.

Vada update. It kind of sucks that I'm tracking the progress of three separate former Michigan players battling cancer, but at least the news on all three has been encouraging of late. Vada Murray's wife has just updated their caringbridge site and the news in it seems positive:

We needed more tissue in order for the tissue to be tested to get Vada into a very promising clinical trial.  In order to get into this trial, Vada's cancer needed to carry a particular mutation.  After lots of waiting for the trial to be approved, a screw up at the lab, and many sleepless nights, we learned recently that Vada's cancer does carry this mutation.  The presence of the mutation is significant.  Only 7% of non-smoking adenocarcinoma patients carry this mutation.  We haven't felt recently like the odds have been in our favor, but now they are. We plan to head to Karmanos shortly for some tests & his official "start" of the trial. 

Vada has felt great physically but emotionally has been out of gas, especially for the last two months.

So there's that. Phil Brabbs just underwent a bone marrow transpant and seems in good spirits.

We cheer and cheer again. Touch The Banner brings a reveal and a story. The reveal: epic MGoCommenter Magnus was in the glee club. The story comes from the GC's 150th anniversary celebration, which featured one Lloyd Carr:

Coach Carr told a story about former UMMGC director Willis Patterson, who directed the group from 1969 to 1975. When Carr was head coach, he invited Patterson to teach his players how to sing "The Victors," Michigan's fight song. After ten years of teaching the team the song, Patterson once said to Carr, "You know, those players just aren't very good at singing that song."

Carr responded, "Well, who's teaching them?"

Etc.: BHGP's latest linkdump post notes that Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God has stricken all three of Iowa's potential starters for their upcoming spring game, documents the annual refugee camp forming outside Carver-Hawkeye, and embeds a truly epic redneck video. WLA propaganda posters ho.

Unverified Voracity Snaps Back

Unverified Voracity Snaps Back

Submitted by Brian on March 25th, 2010 at 4:26 PM

Hockey bits. Whatever doubt there was about Summers returning this weekend is just about evaporated. Berenson is "over 80 percent confident" he will be back:

"I thought he looked pretty good again [on Wednesday]," Berenson said. "He's such a free skater, and that's an advantage he has. And he's a senior. He's fit. He's worked hard in this whole rehab. If he gets through the next few days, he'll play."

As mentioned in the preview, I assume this means Lee Moffie gets sent to the press box. Hogan is still out.

I updated the preview with some extra television information, but if you missed it Saturday's game is now on Comcast so everyone should get it. Channels:

  • Comcast: 900
  • Dish: 432 and 436.
  • DirecTV: 640 and 668.

The game is also on ESPN360 and will be on ESPNU on tape delay. Hypothetical Sunday game would be on ESPNU.

Rothstein has a piece on Fort Wayne's preparations for the NCAA tourney—he used to work at the paper there—and asks whether neutral sites really work for the NCAA hockey tournament. In my opinion, not really. It's goofy to have the most important games of the season played in sterile, largely empty buildings, and moving to home ice for top seeds would help make the tourney less of a random number generator. Playoffs should strive for a  balance between unpredictability and a satisfactory champion. The NBA has too little unpredictability, MLB too much. College basketball is just right. Single-elimination hockey is on the MLB side of the scale.

Also, lolsparty:

Comley says MSU was the last team out  of the NCAA tournament and if Michigan had not beaten Miami, then MSU would have replaced the Wolverines in the 16-team field.  He is not for expanding the current 16-team format, although I am in favor of expanding it to 24 because a couple of teams with automatic bids, like Alabama Huntsville, are in the field with a losing record.

As Western College hockey points out, 24 teams would be 40% of college hockey. It would be all but one TUC. The tourney is more likely to contract back to twelve than expand further. Hockey is already over the 25% mark, the maximum amount of tournament participation advised by the NCAA. Also, Comley's wrong. Ferris State is the first team out of the tourney.

BONUS: Junior defenseman Jeff Petry is a holy lock to sign with Edmonton. I'm hoping Tropp heads out the door, too, so that karma delivering a fatality to him is the last thing that happens to him in college hockey, but it sounds like he's leaning towards a return.

So how's that working out for you, being ornery? Ever since the Free Press Jihad started there has been a wing of Michigan's internet fandom dedicated to the proposition that Michigan should pursue a scorched-earth policy with the paper. They imagine David Brandon revoking press passes and locking anyone from the paper with temerity to show up on campus in stocks on the Diag.

A popular sentiment amongst these folks in the aftermath of Urban Meyer going all no-you-di'in't…

…at the reporter who quoted Deonte Thompson saying he was glad to have a "real quarterback" was "that's how you handle the media."

This, of course, releases the hounds. (There's plenty more if you want it.) Two of those are from Bruce Feldman and Tony Barnhardt, adults capable of stringing together paragraphs. But the latter is from Mike Bianchi and is closer to certain local folks' speed. Prepare for the one-sentencing:

First Urban Meyer quits.

Then he comes back.

Then he takes a leave of absence.

Then he doesn’t take a leave of absence.

Now, incredibly, he is threatening reporters because one of his players was quoted … correctly?

Can you say Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?

Good grief, that Florida coaching job really is a pressure-cooker, isn’t it?

Urban Meyer has to care zero percent because he has a two-deep at crystal football, but it's an illustration of the cliche about not getting in arguments with people who buy ink by the barrel. It doesn't matter that according to people on the same beat think Urban was basically right about this guy

other Florida beat reporters contend Thompson's quote was merely a poor, vastly overblown choice of words by a 21-year-old who will never be mistaken for Barack Obama as a public speaker, and I can tell you some of them think Fowler has had it coming for a long time.

…any time a reporter takes a shot from a coach, rightly or wrongly, it's time to close ranks and howl at the moon. Meyer didn't even raise his voice here; his "threat of violence" was phrased as a hypothetical from the start. And this reporter basically deserves his chewing out. But get pissed off at a guy and you'll never hear the end of it, no matter how righteous your wrath is.

So… yeah, Michigan's doing the right thing by sucking it up and smiling nice for the cameras. Sadly.

How's that working out for you, being a hypocritical weasel? Win at all costs is apparently a totally awesome strategy for John Calipari:

REFUSE TO LOSE. It sounds like such a simple, inspirational phrase for a team -- and it can be. But it also describes the man. He's a scrapper, and will weigh all of his options besides losing.

Calipari has done the most remarkable coaching job of this season, and nobody is close. Think about it: He convinced John Wall, Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins to come to Memphis, inserted clauses into their letters of intent so they could go somewhere else if Calipari left, convinced Memphis to keep its Notice of Allegations from the NCAA quiet for three months, took the Kentucky job before anybody knew about that notice, then convinced Wall and Cousins to join him in Lexington. That is refusing to lose.

Can you guess who wrote that? It's freakin' Mike Rosenberg, the guy who's spent the last two years ripping Rodriguez for recruiting one kid who got in trouble, slightly exceeding allotted NCAA practice time, and a bunch of other inconsequential or totally imaginary crap. I'm too busy slamming my head into the desk to analyze this, so I beg you to head over to Braves and Birds for righteous indignation.

Etc.: I really wanted the Tebow Wonderlic prayer thing to be true because I thought it was hilarious. Football players pray all the time. They pray before games. They pray during games. They pray when they score touchdowns. They pray when someone's injured. They pray all the time. So Tebow wandering in and saying "HAI GUYS LET'S PRAY" so often that football players were getting exasperated at him was an awesome mental lollercoaster yesterday. So of course it is 0% true.

Kenpom's doing very well through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament, but don't tell my bracket that. [shakes fist at Kansas] [feels douchey for bringing up his bracket]. Wisconsin fans want to demand more out of Bo Ryan. This is because they are insane.

Unverified Voracity Is Walk-On Carlton

Unverified Voracity Is Walk-On Carlton

Submitted by Brian on March 17th, 2010 at 12:36 PM

Programming note. I am out of heeeere, en route to Las Vegas to hang out with my friend who runs around like one of those tiny dogs whose blood is 90% cocaine during the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Tim is spending today enjoying Irish culture—I think this means he's going to a museum or eating some cabbage—so the recruitin' post will be Thursday. I have a hockey preview in the can. There might be some other sporadic content, but I'm looking at Thursday, Friday, and possibly Monday as vacation days. Our flight gets in at 5 AM. I will be super excited about that.

Q for people more experienced than me: I'm sure sportsbooks will have the BTN, but does anyone know how likely it is I can get a TV tuned to the Miami-Michigan game and hypothetical championship game? Please advise. Also if you have other advice, I am listening.

Surprise! Oh, actually not a surprise in any way at all. Grad assistant Alex Herron is being dumped overboard:

The graduate assistant accused of lying to NCAA investigators is no longer part of Michigan's football program.

Alex Herron, who was named in a Notice of Allegations the NCAA sent to Michigan last month, does not appear on Michigan's spring list of administrative personnel.

This is an obvious consequence of being personally named in a major violation because you lied to the NCAA.

Walk-ons for water. Michigan has its own version of Paki O'Meara, the Iowa walk-on tailback who was occasionally thrust onto the field because the only petty deity more wroth than Angry Michigan BLANK Hating God is Angry Iowa Tailback Hating God, in the form of freshman O'Neil Swanson. His name fascinates. Now he pitches Vitamin Water to you:

I'm not sure if he's really O'Neil Swanson III, which would make his name worthy to bask in the radiance of Barkevious Mingo, or if he's just screwing around for the Youtubes. Obviously, I hope it's the latter.

Oh, right, and here are five minutes of highlights thanks to poster steviebrownforheisman. What a country!

Okay then. After some initial futzing by Birkett on his twitter, AnnArbor.com posts an apology sort of thing for the crowbar comment. Fine, hatchet buried and all that.

Elsewhere, there are two reactions to that apology from people who are bad at having opinions. Site the first is College Football Talk: "for a website to force its writers to pretend that an athlete wasn't arrested multiple times for burglary is plain ridiculous." The Big Lead: "Even if Dorsey deserves a second chance, he in no way deserves a clean slate or media sheltering."

Yes, Demar Dorsey has been a sheltered little bunny in his little bunny cage. Drew Sharp feeds him a carrot cut into the shape of a heart every day. No one has heard ten thousand things about Michigan recruiting this character when kids with Dorsey's background enter schools across the country without so much as a peep.

Michigan fans have a right to expect a lack of unsolicited cheap shots. Birkett doesn't know anything about this kid except his high school record and what's been in the paper. He posted something that wouldn't be out of place on an Ohio State or Michigan State message board, and it's his job to interact with the kids on the team on a daily basis. That's totally unprofessional and Birkett deserves all the crap he gets for it. It's not about sticking your head in the sand, it's about having the tiniest modicum of respect for the program you're supposed to cover.

Meanwhile, a poster around these parts put together a diary in response that's longer and better written than the initial, pointless Big Lead post, and Duffy responds about the declining standards around here… in the user-generated area of the site. As someone who writes for the Big Lead. Quick, what are Kim Kardishan's boobs looking like today? Are they still enormous and airbrushed? Lawya, please.

Buzz after-effects. I went on a little torrent of hockey recruit googlestalking in the aftermath of the Michigan State series, partially because of general enthusiasm and partially because Michigan picked up its second commit of the 2012 class in Chicago defenseman Connor Carrick. The Wolverine's Bob Miller describes him as a bigger, quicker, better version of Langlais—yes please. I didn't find anything else on him other than a teaser from the perpetually sketchy "Scouting News" that suggested he blew up at a recent tourney and is now being mentioned at the very head of the upcoming OHL draft. In my experience those guys are used car salesmen; I wouldn't put too much emphasis on that.

While searching around I ran across some random guy's late January listing of the top 100 guys for the upcoming OHL draft and found some familiar names:

1. F Matia Marcantuoni (if he chooses college it will apparently be M, but that's a big if)
8. D Jacob Trouba (choosing between M and ND, OHL a possibility)
10. F Boo Nieves (commit)
17. D Connor Carrick (commit)
24. G Dalton Izyk (Nieves's teammate)

Who knows if this guy actually knows anything but when it comes to 15-year old hockey players there's not much else to go on. Not that there necessarily should be, or I should be looking for it.

Also from the potentially dubious depths of the Hockey's Future message boards is this report on Nieves:

I've seen Nieves play numerous times in different tournaments, and he's solidified himself as a top 10 talent, but is not likely to come to the OHL. He's a massive body, that has great acceleration, a pass first centre, and rarely if ever loses faceoffs. Would like to see him use the body more often, as he has a massive frame to grow into. He's a guy I'd keep an eye on, as he'll most likely get drafted in the later rounds, but is a real talent for the next level.

That is all sorts of things I like to hear.

The CHL has your education foremost in its mind. Lethbridge is losing its goalie this year after five years. Let's hear about the rigorous education he received:

"I guess real life is around the corner," [Linden] Rowat said with a smile. "I have to get a job and go to school. You kind of take it for granted playing in the Western League for five years, getting up at 11 o'clock, playing video games, going to practice. Now it's going to be a lifestyle change. A complete 180."

Woo!

Etc.: MVictors has its own version of everyone else's twelve minutes of spring practice. There is a second mgotourney bracket. This one will not have prizes, unfortunately. More on Sheridan and Wright moseying off.

Unverified Voracity, Avoiding Easy R Jokes Today

Unverified Voracity, Avoiding Easy R Jokes Today

Submitted by Brian on March 1st, 2010 at 3:51 PM

Iowa. Asian pop bands. A love that is forever. Via the message board, another inexplicable Asian pop song in which the Hawkeyes feature prominently. This one is less pedobear and more 120 Minutes.

One correction to the MGoBoard poster: Girls' Generation is totally not obscure. "Gee" was the longest-running #1 song on KBS's Music Bank, I will have you know.

Enter the Schnell. Michigan will play Howard Schnellenberger University, also known as Florida Atlantic, in 2012:

It appears the Owls will play at Michigan in 2012 barring any snags in the final negotiations.

"It looks like both sides are amenable to it," said FAU AD Craig Angelos.

I don't really care who Michigan brings in as a random tomato can, but do have a preference for local schools. I guess the FAU game is a vague attempt to increase Michigan's profile in the state, or something. Rod Payne is a coach there and Grant Debenedictis an athletic department employee, FWIW.

"Hey, in my kit back there where I've got all my dope." I hit up NCAA.org today in search of APR information to update last summer's post about what will certainly be a dip in Michigan's numbers this year—more on that later—and the top headline is the fourth item in a series about Division II reform. This would normally rank low on my list of things to bring you, but here's the topic:

Hourly limits to be evaluated in Phase II review

Among the areas of review in Phase II of the Life in the Balance initiative is the nebulous “20/8-hour rule,” which regulates athletically related activities in and out of season.

Given that it’s difficult to understand and even harder to track (the rule trips up Division I institutions, too), it’s probably going to be tough for the Division II Legislation Committee to develop recommendations for modifying it.

The NCAA's official website just called the in- and out-of-season hourly limits "nebulous," "difficult to understand," and "even harder to track." So there you go.

Well… yeah. Add this to the pile of former Michigan players asked about Rich Rodriguez who all basically say the same thing in different ways. It's Brandon Graham's turn:

“After the season, we said that, ‘you can’t be up for so long, eventually you have to pay taxes,’ ” Graham said on Saturday. “That’s how we look at it until we get it back up. That’s what we’re going to do. I hope them boys get right next year. Because coach (Rich Rodriguez has) only got one more year — if they don’t do (anything). Because of the allegations, and then, if you have a bad year, then you’ve got to get someone new.”

Again, this is just a different version of the same opinion heard in all of these quotes. They don't say anything about Rodriguez, really. They say something about the guy offering the quote. Brandon Graham, as per usual, is win.

Another version of same. Doctor Saturday evaluates Michigan in his "road to recovery" series and comes to basically the same conclusion as the rest of the planet:

Target date for reacquisition of mojo. … If you mean "enough for Rich Rodriguez to keep his job," there is no patience for those questions to work themselves out; it's 2010 or never. The Wolverines need seven regular season wins to ward off the inevitable mob clamoring for Rodriguez's head, which probably means breaking even in Big Ten play, which means winning more conference games this season (four) than the 2008-09 teams won in the last two combined (three).

That's a dramatically lowered bar relative to anything Michigan has considered a reasonable standard in 40 years. At this point, though, beggars can't be choosers: Every energy this fall has to go to getting back above .500, finding something to hang a helmet on and setting higher goals from there.

Yeah, basically.

A theory put to the test. My swanky blogging program has an auto-link capacity that I've used to link to my Bleacher Report hating (hey, there it goes) since I published it. In that post is this assertion:

The mere fact that people can't immediately tell the difference between the dreck on the Bleacher Report and your average MSM columnist is perhaps the most damning criticism you can offer of MSM columnists.

Now we'll get an opportunity to test that out in practice. A few newspapers desperate for free content have signed one of them content-sharing agreements. Congratulations to newspaper subscribers in Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco, and Seattle: you are the vanguard. Someone who works for a newspaper said this:

“Bleacher Report’s publishing platform provides a powerful way to serve our readers quality, original content that complements our own coverage,” Stephen Weis, executive vice president of the Houston Chronicle and general manager of Chron.com, said in a statement. “Working with Bleacher Report, we’re able to reach out to local fans and add a variety of viewpoints on each of the day’s sports stories that matters most to our readers in their home markets.”

Sporting News colleague Dan Levy says "there's something missing" in his BR critique on the Sporting Blog. This is because Dan Levy is a very nice man. I have many theories as to what the missing thing is that are not very nice. I do eagerly anticipate the day when either the Free Press or the LA Times hops on board and people can't tell the difference between Plaschke, Sharp, and a 14-year-old whose main interests are Tony Hawk and imagining what it would be like to touch a boob. Dress them up in Official Journalist trappings and give them once-over from a copy editor and it'll be hard to distinguish.

Etc.: Tom Harmon goes to work.