The Dantonio Double Standard

Submitted by Brian on December 1st, 2009 at 11:58 AM

mark-dantonio rich-rodriguez-p1

Last year, Glenn Winston put a hockey player in the hospital, costing him a whole year, and injured a second bystander. Neither victim did anything to provoke the violence, and Winston was fortunate to plea-bargain himself down to a misdemeanor and six months in jail. Mike Rosenberg on that:

Plus, people forget this: Winston was convicted of a misdemeanor. If anything, his sentence (six months in jail) was excessive for a misdemeanor. So I understood why Dantonio reinstated Winston this summer. Yes, it looks awful now. But it made some sense this summer.

"Excessive for a misdemeanor." Rosenberg is downplaying a scary, dangerously violent incident because he doesn't understand that a misdemeanor basically means the jail sentence can't be longer than a year. Six months in jail might be excessive for pot possession. It doesn't seem excessive for endangering someone's playing career.

Remember that Rosenberg wrote an "I'm just sayin'" column after Justin Feagin's situation, citing Rodriguez's decision to recruit linebacker Pat Lazear as evidence Rodriguez doesn't care about the character of his players:

The fact that Rodriguez was recruiting Feagin to West Virginia is telling because Rodriguez took considerable heat for some of his recruiting choices in Morgantown. Most noteworthy: Rodriguez signed linebacker Pat Lazear to a letter of intent even though Lazear had been accused of orchestrating an armed robbery of a Smoothie King store.

"That was a situation that was cleared up before he left high school," Rodriguez said Monday.

Well, that depends on your definition of "cleared up." Lazear pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and received a 10-year suspended sentence for his part in the robbery. He also was sentenced to 30 days of house arrest and 150 hours of community service. And in a previous incident, Lazear had been found guilty of using a stolen credit card.

I guess you could say his situation was "cleared up."

Lazear has not been in trouble at West Virginia and is on the academic honor roll. That same column cites Feagin's high school coach saying that Feagin hadn't been in trouble there only to dismiss that. Rosenberg's thrust is that Rodriguez should have known better than to recruit Justin Feagin, and should never have gone near a guy with nothing on his record other than a dropped misdemeanor and some traffic tickets. If Rodriguez didn't know Feagin was a bad guy, it was because he didn't care to know. The upshot: Rodriguez is unethical.

Here's a similar conversation in the Winston case:

MARK DANTONIO: Are there any issues with this Winston guy?
MARK DANTONIO: Well, he beat up two innocent people, putting one of them in the hospital.
MARK DANTONIO: What's that? I can't hear you. You must be breaking up.
MARK DANTONIO: We're not talking on a cell phone. I am you. We're having a schizophrenic episode. You're talking to yourself.
MARK DANTONIO: I am very public about my faith!

And yet reinstating this guy "makes some sense." The double standard could not be clearer.

Is there any question that Rosenberg would be calling for Rodriguez's job if 15-20 Michigan players had beaten the hell out of innocent bystanders for the second time in two years? Michigan State has had 20% of its entire team involved in unprovoked violence against other students for two consecutive years.

Rosenberg can couch his eminently reasonable opinion in eminently reasonable columnist terms, but the bias is screaming. Mark Dantonio's got a hell of a jaw and a bible on his desk. He's also in charge of a bunch of thugs, and got a Michigan State student injured and, likely, his university sued. This is enough for Rosenberg to gently suggest that Dantonio might need to get his team under control—oh, really? Meanwhile, Rodriguez correctly judging the character of Pat Lazear and immediately dealing with the Feagin situation is enough for the "win at all costs" headline.

This is the fair and balanced person the Free Press thought they'd have investigate the Michigan football program.

More about this on the message board.

Comments

macdaddy

December 1st, 2009 at 12:04 PM ^

Is to renounce (if you haven't already done so) both the News and FP. We still get the FP but it's only for the wife. I stopped reading/believing it years ago. Much better sources of higher quality rumor and innuendo are available than those two rags.

michgoblue

December 1st, 2009 at 12:17 PM ^

You can't really say that you renounce the FP if you still get the FP delivered to you house. The powers that be at that rag don't really care that you choose stopped reading or believing in their papers, so long as you make your monthly subscription payment.

That said, I agree with the concept of your post. I refuse to buy the FP, and, taking it a step further, I will not visit their webpage to generate the "hits" that they use to generate marketing dollars.

Also (yes, this violated my ban on their webpage), there is a link that allows you to contact the paper with any concerns or comments, and I made sure to let them know that my personal decision not to purchase their paper or visit their cite was based upon their anti-Michigan anti-RR slant.

lexus larry

December 1st, 2009 at 2:42 PM ^

My wife received the direction to cancel the Freep, and those bozo's then responded with a $6/month subscription for Thurs/Fri/Sun deliveries. (I guess it's worth it for the Sunday inserts and coupons, but really...)

That said, the entire paper has that anti-U-M bias. Sunday's sports section had some tool named Steve Schaefer throw down against RichRod and the football team not once, but twice. Nothing about St. Dantonio.

And then there was a snippy comment about RichRod getting support from Bill Martin, characterized as 'nothing like getting a little support from a short-termer.'

And then there was the note about MSC being rated among the top ten best college presidents, but U-M losing out yet again to OSU (never naming the OSU prez or whether this ranking actually meant anything, anyways...), but happy to take another shot at U-M.

The Freep sucks balls. Death to the Freep!

JPQ

December 1st, 2009 at 12:12 PM ^

is a travesty. Ignore it at all costs. Since I discovered MGoBlog, I've never needed to go anywhere else for all things Michigan. I actually had a conversation about the Dantonio double-standard with my brother over Thanksgiving. This post pretty well summarizes how we feel about the situation. If this double-standard doesn't prove there is a sizable faction in the media working to oust Rodriguez by any means necessary, nothing will. These are hit pieces and completely unnecessary.

Captain

December 1st, 2009 at 1:52 PM ^

In general terms, the Freep can write four pieces on the coaches:

Positive-RR
Positive-Dantonio
Negative-RR
Negative-Dantonio

Only one of those four combinations possesses national appeal. There isn't a lot of interest in the heart of Nevada about Dantonio, good or bad. Similarly, a fluff piece on RR will appeal locally and to UofM alumni scattered throughout the country, but isn't likely to garnish a national following. A negative RR piece, on the other hand, is far more likely to get picked up by national news outlets for the same reason that I would probably read a scathing piece about Urban Meyer.

If there's a silver lining behind this double standard, its that we have a coach significant enough to draw national media attention for relatively minor occurrences.

mgovictors23

December 1st, 2009 at 12:15 PM ^

Is exactly why I don't read newspapers. Mark Dantonio can do anything and he won't ever be as bad of a guy as Rich Rodriquez. It's complete crap and I wouldn't waste my time with it.

matty blue

December 1st, 2009 at 12:16 PM ^

the free press and their ilk (i.e. newspapers) are not paragons of responsibility and / or fairness.

what they are is dinosaurs, and should be left to quietly go extinct.

Crime Reporter

December 1st, 2009 at 12:33 PM ^

I have worked at newspapers for 11 years covering everything from government to cops/courts. And while I agree the bias at these Detroit papers against Rodriguez is staggering, be careful how you lump all newspapers into this category. One thing I am not is bias in my reporting. I take great pride in my job, and the best compliment a reporter can get is that he was fair. Rosenberg is a jerk with an agenda. No question. You will find that many of the larger media outlets are like this to whatever extent. That can not be disputed. However, that is not true for the smaller outlets which actually serve the community they represent. I'm talking about your papers with less than 100,000 circulation. I cover some complex stuff, but I never find myself taking a personal approach to it. I am simply the messanger.

matty blue

December 1st, 2009 at 1:34 PM ^

...no question, it's unfair to lump all newspapers and their reporters into a single category. i've known several reporters and had some dealings with the press, and the people i dealt with were, without exception, upstanding and fair people who simply wanted to report.

again, my apologies to you.

but not to rosenberg. that guy is just a dick.

Crime Reporter

December 1st, 2009 at 2:28 PM ^

The media deserves most of its bashing, and I will not make excuses for the likes of Rosenberg that make objectivity a punch line. It's not necessary to apologize. Like any profession, there are good and bad employees. Unfortunately, we have a lot of bad ones.

MichIOE01

December 1st, 2009 at 12:17 PM ^

He says "But it made some sense this summer."

Which is complete BS. It made no sense in the summer other than "he can help the team so I'll let him back on." It was a bad decision then, and has been proven so now.

Also, were those (Winston and Jenrette) the only players involved? If we find out others were involved, will anything happen to them?

brianshall

December 1st, 2009 at 12:18 PM ^

Sometimes, that feels good. Like now.
But Rosenberg and the Freep aren't gonna get RR fired. Results will.

Like you already done said, he wins at least 8, he takes the team to a bowl, there's no big violations, the trajectory of the team looks (way) up, or, after 2010, he's toast.

So don't you pay no nevermind to what the Free Press is saying, my friend.

Yinka Double Dare

December 1st, 2009 at 12:19 PM ^

Rosenberg is a moron. It was "only a misdemeanor" because he plea-bargained it down to that. Had he gone to trial there's basically no way he wasn't going to be convicted of felony battery. He didn't "just" get six months, he was lucky to get six months, for if he had gone to trial it would have been more than a year.

Of course, MSU then hid behind the "we only kick people out who get convicted of felonies" in order to keep Winston around. Pathetic.

Not for nothing, but I think a majority of MSU fans, or at least the ones who actually went there and care about the reputation, also thought that reinstating Winston was a bad idea before the Ski-Mask Frat Beatdown happened (take one look at the comments on The Only Colors back when Winston was reinstated, a clear majority disagreed with it). Yet somehow Rosenberg was completely OK with it and now making excuses for Dantonio? That says it all if you ask me.

tbliggins

December 1st, 2009 at 12:20 PM ^

I really think that RR's "WV aw shucks" hurts him the most when it comes to perception and portrayal in the media. If you are straight faced and serious, it appears that you can get away with much more in the media. Just look at what Ferentz has gotten away with the last couple of years at Iowa.

Erik_in_Dayton

December 1st, 2009 at 12:20 PM ^

To add to Brian's point, a court's sentence is more telling of the severity of a crime than is the charge that a prosecutor agreed to accept a plea on...People don't, to my knowledge, usually do much time (if any) for your typical bar fights, frat parties gone bad, etc. unless someone gets injured badly. Six months is a long sentence for something like that, as it should have been w/ Winston.

gnarles woodson

December 1st, 2009 at 12:24 PM ^

Everyone and their brother who defends Dantonio will site the second chance side of things. Dantonio deserves credit for giving him a second chance, the player is to blame for blowing it. I heard that argument on 1130, Tom Kowalski made statements close to that. The problem I have with that is this: Players can earn a second chance but it shouldn't be at the same university.

Dantonio is part to blame for this. He shouldn't have welcomed back a player that cracked someone's skull. Weather Winston deserved a second chance or not isn't a good argument. He shouldn't have been given that second chance at MSU. Dantonio could have done right by Winston by helping him find another school where he could get a fresh start. But Dantonio thought only about himself and what Winston would do for his chances to win.

Spartan fans don't even realize that the only thing this guy has done is bring them back to being barely a bowl team. I guess they are okay with that. "John L. Smith sucked, St. Mark has us back to winning 6 games....YEAH!!!"

MichIOE01

December 1st, 2009 at 12:30 PM ^

I do think that some players deserve second chances depending on the situation. If this was some heat of the moment fight, that would be one thing. But it sounds like something happened, then Winston left, had time to think/cool off, planned a revenge, got some friends, and then went back. That type of pre-meditation does not deserve a second chance.

Yinka Double Dare

December 1st, 2009 at 12:36 PM ^

From what I understand, Winston wasn't there in the first instance, he was part of the posse rounded up by the guy who lost a fight with hockey jackass Clownboy. So he went there specifically to fight and put a guy in the hospital with a cracked skull. I'm not sure whether it's worse that he wasn't part of the original ruckus or not.

Colt McBaby Jesus

December 1st, 2009 at 12:50 PM ^

I like how you bring up that Winston busted the hockey players skull open. I saw an MSU poster on ESPN (yeah, yeah, I know) say that Winston wasn't responsible for the guys skull being cracked open. His punch didn't break his head, the curb did when he fell to the ground. That, apparently, wasn't Winston's fault. Some people are idiots.

Engin77

December 1st, 2009 at 2:49 PM ^

Rosenberg saw the writing on the wall (newspaper readership on the decline; he'll never be top columnist at freep) and decided he wanted to go national, perhaps at Sports Illustrated. Best way for a "journalist", and I use the term loosely, to get national notice is to be an objective observer, not swayed by homerism. Rosenberg capitalized on the dissension among former M players and M fans for his personal gain.

The veracity of this scenario has not been denied by any of the present and former Free Press staffers I know.

Okay, I don't know any present and former Free Press staffers.

Darth Wolverine

December 1st, 2009 at 12:34 PM ^

I wish the Free Press would realize what a joke Rosenburg is, but if it were not for tools like him and drew sharp, they might get less readers. It's kind of like Skip Bayless on ESPN. The producers know that almost everyone hates Skip because of his ridiculous beliefs, but they keep him on because no matter what he says, it draws viewers in. People claim to hate him (like me), but they still watch him when he is on (which I don't do...no really, I don't).

Credit812

December 1st, 2009 at 12:39 PM ^

I've gotten a chance to work with and get to know some teachers who grew up and live in West Virginia over the last ten plus years or so. On a number of occasions I've had conversations with them about the bias that they see from the national media towards West Virginians and people from Appalachia in general. It's not quite racism, but it is culturally based, and is one of the few bias' that is openly tolerated. Nobody minds making hillbilly jokes or characterizing everyone from West Virginia as rednecks.
I think a lot of the negative reaction towards RR, both in the media, and among a certain segment of fans is based in that cultural bias. Simply put, they see him as a hick who is not worthy of representing an esteemed university like the UofM. I think in eyes of these people, the moment he quoted the Lion King at his opening press conference, he was done.

jlvanals

December 1st, 2009 at 1:13 PM ^

The last thing we need in this country is more idiots trying to show how they're disadvantaged and discriminated against because of some nebulous racial or cultural heritage. It's annoying when people who once had a legitimate claim to it use it as a crutch, but it's flat out ridiculous when white people claim racism/bias. Just shoot me now.

speakeasy

December 1st, 2009 at 1:35 PM ^

No reasonable person thinks that the vendetta agains RichRod is based on his Appalachain roots, however to wholesale dismiss all racial bias against all white folks is irresponsible and incorrect. I'm going to leave it at that because this isn't the place for that debate.

jlvanals

December 1st, 2009 at 2:12 PM ^

Yeah, twangy accents and good ol' boy demeanors really hurt your coaching prospects. I mean, you of course know about Mac Brown and Roy Williams, two Southern boys who've hit the glass ceiling more times than they can count because of their drawl and nice guy approach. Bobby Bowden got hit with a double whammy of discrimination: a southern drawl PLUS starting his major college career in Morgantown, WV. Amazing those FSU boosters could see past him living with those inbred hicks for the better part of a decade all the way back in 1976 when the EEOC was just getting revved up.

And Lou Holtz, a native West Virginian? He certainly couldn't seem to find gainful employment at any stage in his career either. Yep, it must be that damn Appalachian accent of his that held him back. A buttoned down, private, Catholic Midwestern University full of intellectual elitism could never fall in love with him and his lispy drawl so much so that he becomes synonymous with their program and is routinely listed as one of their best coaches of all time. Nope, there's just so much damn racism out there against Appalachian people no one would ever even let a lispy West Virginian NEAR a television camera.

matty blue

December 1st, 2009 at 2:44 PM ^

i was trying to stay relatively neutral and non-confrontational here, but now you're just being difficult.

look - i'm not crying "racism" here, nor am i saying that rodriguez is anything resembling a victim. nobody but you is talking about "discrimination."

i'm just saying that we view southerners in a particular way. i don't know how you can possibly argue that.

jlvanals

December 1st, 2009 at 4:04 PM ^

If you want, feel free to replace "discrimination" with "bias" or "seeing southerners in a particular way" in my post. It changes nothing and it is still impossible to construct an alternate universe where a coach is thought of in a negative light simply for having a Southern accent, unless the thinker is a complete dumbass.

I suppose if you're saying you, yourself (or others in this amorphous "we"), assume southerners are stupid, infantile or otherwise somehow less capable than say, your average Michigan graduate, because of a regional accent then I can't really argue with that. I guess I just don't know many people who view them similarly. Maybe I've been living in New Orleans for too long and have been giving the locals too little credit for consistently arguing that most yankees are uppity, close-minded douchebags.

To the neg bangers: I apologize for arguing that Michigan fans and media are not shallow enough to engage in cultural bias against someone because they are "folksy", "southern", "Appalachian" or "have an accent".

Proceed espousing half baked conspiracy theories, bang away.

El Jeffe

December 1st, 2009 at 5:00 PM ^

Two thoughts:

1. You're not being negged because you disagree with the point about anti-hick bias. You're being negged because you're being a douche.

2. Credit812's original point was that Michigan people, "both in the media, and among a certain segment of fans" were somewhat biased against RR.

Your counterexamples of Mack Brown and Roy Williams and other unnamed southern coaches are idiotic because they coach at southern (or in RW's case, nearly rural Kansas, prior to southern) schools. You see the difference, right? Why on earth would people from Texas be biased against a southerner just for being southern?

On the other hand, almost the first day I arrived in A2, I heard Michigan natives derisively referring to Ypsi as "Ypsitucky" because of all the poor out of work coal miners who came to the Detroit area to work in the auto plants.

Now, your example of Lou Holtz is a good one. In the future, you should use more examples like that, use fewer examples that are idiotic, and also stop being such a douche when someone posts an entirely reasonable thought.

bjk

December 1st, 2009 at 2:49 PM ^

You have put your finger on a subtext that I had noticed but hadn't consciously identified before. For instance, check out this gem (http://mgoblog.com/diaries/jurys-still-out-rodriguez):

"Let's face it, Rich Rod doesn't come to Ann Arbor with the intellectual and character credentials normally associated with Michigan football coaches. He still has a ton to prove at the big time college level and successful results on the field will make up for his hick-ish, base behavior."

Perhaps ambivalence toward 'white trash' == expressed concerns about 'character,' 'family values,' 'not a michigan man," etc., in a nutshell.

BlueinLansing

December 1st, 2009 at 12:40 PM ^

prosecuter said Sunday the incident was "not on my radar, its not a high priority". Monday he says after learning new information on the case "its on my radar".

This should be interesting.

Also he said he doesn't expect the investigation to be settled in the next 2 months. Conveniently after the bowl games of course.

Today's article in the Lansing State Journal is the first time it has even been referenced in the local paper since the incident was first reported.