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.

Comments

Tim Waymen

May 25th, 2010 at 2:26 PM ^

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...

After all this, would you really expect any different?  I mean, it's not like they proven to have any scruples or anything.

mgoblue0970

May 25th, 2010 at 11:46 PM ^

Another perplexing thing is John U Bacon defending the freep in general.  He's written on his blog that he respects Drew Sharp and Sharp is a genuinely nice guy.  

Huh?!?!

Has he SEEN how Sharp behaves at a press conference?  Arrogant?  Yes.  Asshole?  Yes.  Professional?  No.  Nice guy?  Hardly.

Don

May 25th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

Bando, read this article at MVictors.com about the crap occurring during Harry Kipke's tenure and then get back to us about how this is the first time in our history there have been problems with the football program.

http://mvictors.com/?p=6144

The actions and practices Kipke was dismissed for are far more serious than anything RR has done. And if anyone's curious why the NCAA wasn't apparently involved in the Kipke matter, the NCAA didn't have an enforcement mechanism until 1952.

evenyoubrutus

May 25th, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

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).

With the way RichRod has been treated by local (and some non-local) media and even, sadly, fans for the last two years, and the multitudes of character-assassination attempts and media hit-jobs put on him, he can point as many fingers as he wants to, IMO.

mtzlblk

May 25th, 2010 at 3:17 PM ^

As presented by someone else on another thread, he is in a no win situation:

-Eat it and accept a level of blame that is not commensurate with his actual involvement

-State what he feels truthfully and let the chips fall where they may.

I, for one, am glad to see him a bit defiant and actively defending himself.

Personally, i think he takes issue with any assertion that he does not have the welfare of his players at heart all the time and is not going to accept any accusation that would indicate he doesn't.

Don

May 25th, 2010 at 4:12 PM ^

That's the understatement of the year.

In January, RR was down in Florida and was interviewed by the Orlando Sentinel. Naturally, the subject came around to the investigation and RR's hold on his job, and he was asked if he was happy with the amount of support from the University. RR said directly he was very happy with the support he's gotten, referring of course to the Athletic Department and MSC, among others.

When Defran was on the air a couple of days later, he said RR was happy with his support because he was "surrounded by yes men." That's when it was confirmed beyond all doubt that Defran is basically a turd with a microphone.

Needless to say, if RR had said he was not happy with the support, it would have been Armageddon. There is literally nothing he can say that won't be criticized by the portion of his critics outraged that he's not Les Miles.

WichitanWolverine

May 25th, 2010 at 4:23 PM ^

I wonder if RR ever peruses MGoBlog.  I hope so, but doubt it.  He'd probably be able to find some solace in the fact that there is a large portion of the MGoCommunity that truly appreciates and supports him.  I really think he's just wisely lying through his teeth when he says he's been supported.

mgovictors23

May 25th, 2010 at 4:26 PM ^

I did find it interesting that his comments kinda sounded like "It wasn't just me". But at the same time I wouldn't expect to say I didn't create a environment of compliance either. When the season starts though I'm sure he will be a lot happier when we start winning.

M-Wolverine

May 25th, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

I haven't read the full thing yet, so I don't know what exactly he said.  It's unfortunate in that (part of what caused Brian's reaction, I'm guessing) is that it's feeding the impression he has given a couple of times of blaming others and not himself.  But in this case I'd posit a guess that any such language is VERY lawyer driven.  Sending the message that "maybe I screwed something up, but it wasn't all my fault, so if you're thinking of firing me, I'm not given up my contract and going quietly into the night".  The University doesn't have that intent, and I don't think Rich believes it does either....but a lawyer is going to make sure it's in there anyway.

M-Wolverine

May 25th, 2010 at 5:00 PM ^

Public speaking is not his specialty.  But then, we didn't hire him for a speech class.  It doesn't excuse the other occasional foot in mouth disease.  I'm just thinking this time, I can't really blame him for it.

michgoblue

May 25th, 2010 at 4:41 PM ^

Now that we have more than rampant speculation and sensationalized media reports, let's step back for a second and examine these "major violation": 

1.  Our compliance staff was not detailed oriented and screwed up on filling out some forms;

2.  Our coaching staff and compliance department were not as well versed in the minutia of the detailed NCAA rules; and

3.  As a result of that sloppiness, we went over our countable hours allowance by around 65 hours over two years. 

The violations did NOT include:

1.  Willful disregard of NCAA rules;

2.  Recruiting violations;

3.  Player safety deficiencies; or

4.  steroid or performance enhancing supplements being used by the players (Barwis, maybe)

If we put this in context of much more serious violations, this really seams like crap, and, as recognized by even ESPN's poll participants (who are the authority on such things, right?), the type of thing that probably exist at the majority of NCAA schools.  Am I disappointed that our "perfect record" on football violations has been broken?  Yes, but not a disappointed as I am that our Bowl streak was broken.  This is chicken crap, and once the media frenzy about this dies down, we can get back to football.

As a side note, I agree with several of the previous posters that I was somewhat disappointed in RR's "don't just blame me" tone.  That said, it is just one comment, made during a stressful process, so I will not hold it against him. 

Njia

May 25th, 2010 at 5:07 PM ^

For a person who was supposed to be a former employee of the NCAA, the head of the Compliance Department seems quite, well, incompetent. Frankly, in my experience, "compliance" people, (like any auditing or policy organization) are detail-oriented to a fault. For this person and her group to be doing anything less than a 100% thorough job, and be completely aware of the entire rulebook  is just mind-boggling.

There are people who can literally quote the Bible from front to back, so I have no patience for someone whose job it is to do the same with the NCAA rulebook and who is "unaware" of the rules. That's like a person with a law degree who doesn't know the content of the bar exam. Who the hell hired her in the first place?

michgoblue

May 25th, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

I am not defending the individuals in the compliance department that are responsible for this.  They were sloppy and did the department a disservice.  My point, however, is that in the grand scheme of things, this is trivial crap.  Yes, higher standards of our great university, we are better than this, we should be a leader, this shouldn't be happening, it didn't happen under Lloyd, it neve happened before . . . just saying that given the amount of media attention that this has received, the actual violations are not all that horrible.

Njia

May 25th, 2010 at 5:42 PM ^

I agree with you. However, I am dumbfounded that a person - and her organization - whose job it is to know and communicate the minutae as a supporting function within the department, could have somehow been unclear as to the rules. Especially so, since she was an employee of the NCAA and was sold as a subject matter expert.

Rasmus

May 26th, 2010 at 7:52 AM ^

Compliance is not being accused of incompetence or any lack of knowledge -- the problem was administrators for the football program failing to give Compliance what it was asking for. The Response states more than once that if the job descriptions and the CARA forms had been provided when they were supposed to have been, then it's likely there wouldn't have been as many problems because Compliance would have been able to do its job.

The only failure by Compliance was not going to the higher-ups to complain about not getting the materials it needed when the mid-level administrators proved unresponsive -- specifically Van Horn should have gone to Rodriguez or perhaps Martin directly.

restive neb

May 25th, 2010 at 7:53 PM ^

I think you've oversimplified it a little.  Although it is true that there are people who can quote the Bible (and the NCAA regulations) front to back, that does not mean there is no room for debate on the meaning or intent of selected passages.  If knowing the Bible were sufficient to understanding the rules of life, there wouldn't be so many different forms of Christianity.

BiSB

May 25th, 2010 at 11:45 PM ^

 That's like a person with a law degree who doesn't know the content of the bar exam. Who the hell hired her in the first place?

Yeah, that's how most law students gets hired.  Firms hire a student before she even cracks her first bar review course pack (typically early in the 3rd year).  The idea is that any trained ferret can memorize the property laws of the state of Michigan long enough to regurgitate them on a bar exam. 

They want people who can think critically and apply the principles to the facts before them.  Methinks THAT'S why they hired NCAA Dude.  Hell, you can probably read the rules as well as he can (it isn't a closed-book investigation), but he can run circles around you in applying them.

Njia

May 25th, 2010 at 11:53 PM ^

I assume you're a lawyer, based on your response, so try this on for size: I'm not referring to "NCAA Dude". I refer to Ms. Van Horn, who is - still - the Director of Compliance for the AD. She was hired based upon her past experience with the NCAA.

mtzlblk

May 26th, 2010 at 12:40 AM ^

however I think the error was less a result of not knowing the regulations than it was a failure to interpret and apply them correctly and to subsequently monitor and track adequately.

I would agree with you that the biggest failure in all of this would exist within the compliance department given that it is specifically their role to monitor and prevent infractions from taking place.

In their defense though, the NCAA itself indicates on their website somewhere that the rules with regard to voluntary v. involuntary and limits on time spent are difficult to interpret and that many DIV I schools run afoul of those rules due to incorrect interpretation.

Rasmus

May 26th, 2010 at 7:39 AM ^

Nowhere does the Response say the CSO ("Compliance Services Office") failed to interpret or apply the rules correctly. The problem was that two other offices failed to provide CSO with the information it needed to make those evaluations.

Of the three mid-level administrators named in the report, Van Horn is the least culpable. Draper, who brushed off and then ignored Van Horn's questions and requests with regard to the QC positions for more than a year, and Labadie, who failed to do his job in producing timely and accurate CARA reports, are the most culpable. The Response states quite clearly and repeatedly that if the CSO had received these materials and they had been accurate, they would have caught most of these violations.

TrppWlbrnID

May 25th, 2010 at 5:44 PM ^

is the barwis + steroid thing a thing? when did that happen?

if its not a thing, you need to shut the f**k up, because that kind of thing floats around and after all the stuff this team has been through with people blowing stuff out of proportion, the last thing necessary is something like this.

TrppWlbrnID

May 26th, 2010 at 10:48 AM ^

i just don't think that kind of stuff is very funny.

didn't you see on The Hills when Stephanie and Lo thought Kristin was using drugs and then a huge rumor exploded and almost ruined her relationship with Brody?

bacon

May 25th, 2010 at 5:59 PM ^

I thought this whole thing was about football and not about compliance officers and QC staffers.  The real issue to me is not that Michigan broke some stupid rules, it's that the NCAA makes all this crap necessary.  It's supposed to be a fucking game.

Don

May 25th, 2010 at 6:43 PM ^

Paying players or recruits is morals and ethics. Altering grades or supplying exam answers is morals and ethics. Going over the amount of practice time by 60 hrs in two years and having some punk GA's impermissibly present at a few practices is bookkeeping. I have two degrees from UM, and I don't feel any rage or anger at RR or BM about this. It's piddly shit, for chrissakes.

CalifExile

May 26th, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

Unless there's something more than this: "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.'"

I'm going to have to disagree. If you ask a professional for advice you should be able to rely on the advice. That's what the "expert" is for. If RR acted in accordance with professional advice from the expert then no blame should attach to him.

Personally, I prefer RR's honesty to the AD's nonsense that the blame is all his - Dave Brandon wasn't here when it happened so, no, it wasn't his fault.

wiscwood

May 25th, 2010 at 8:47 PM ^

Michigan is still Michigan to me. The Free Press is a funky, stinky rag of a paper.  I'm sadden this happened. It was a sloppy mistake. David Brandon is going to be good for Michigan in the long run. We know he was not here during the infractions, but he took the blame which all good leaders do.

Michigan will have to be better than good this year. I hope this is the end of all this mess. When will the NCAA start in on USC? Michigan's allegation were trivial. I'm hearing players (Bush) took money etc. at Southern Cal. Ask Seattle Pete. 

harmon98

May 25th, 2010 at 9:13 PM ^

funny you should mention a Coen brothers script as I can't help but think of Showalter's rant at the airport parking attendant:

"I guess you think you're... you know, like an authority figure, with that stupid fuckin' uniform, huh buddy? King clip-on-tie there, big fuckin' man, huh? You know these are the limits of your life, man. The rule of your little fuckin' gate here. Here's your four dollars, you pathetic piece of shit." 

 

so to the haters, here's your four dollars.

Seth

May 26th, 2010 at 8:39 AM ^

"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."

A Michigan Man:

No, Brian, Bo wasn't the last one.

As for a reputation for sanctimony, well there's holier-than-thou, and then there's just plain holy. A cursory glance at the career of Harry Kipke will tell you all you need to know about Michigan's supposedly perfect record of program squeaky-clean-ity.

No, Michigan would not be the first to cast a stone. But if you line up all the programs who chose to continue competing when it became something other than an amateur game, and you lined up all of their sins, I think it's safe to assume that Michigan ends up less corrupt than the common politician.

There's good reason for it: if schools were to compete for recruits based solely on the academic and institutional opportunities provided by each school, how would anyone compete with us? We can be sanctimonious because utter sanctity would mean we lose a few recruits to Duke and Stanford and Cal and Northwestern sometimes, but otherwise clean up (until the Ivy League reasserted its dominance).

Perhaps we are truly, comparatively, less corrupt than those schools more used to being called dirty, by which we mean Ohio State, USC, Miami (that one), the middling Pac Ten schools, a handful of try-to-compete Big East and mid-majors, everyone who used to have the unenviable task of competing with Texas in the oil-slicked Southwest Conference, and today's win-now-or-die SEC.

But 'holier-than-thou' is the kind of sanctimony that sets you up for a Goliathan fall. It's the kid of sacrosanct nonsense that can drive an erstwhile respectable poster like Michael Rosenberg to flame out in a ball of negs.

There's not much you can say for someone whose goal it is to be only more honest than the next guy. And there's a boldy reason for this: We are all of us very bad at judging the holiness of the next guy. We can make assumptions, but if you find yourself assigning a value to X in:

My opponent = Dirtyx

...then you are probably making an unfair assumption. It is a human fallability that we can never accurately assess our own good, or another's evil. It is how we justify unfair terms that favor us; it is why the dishes in the sink are always our roommates' responsibility.

Here comes the big "but..."

but

We all may certainly strive to act holy within ourselves. We do this not by overall assessment, but decision by decision, judging each thing we do, before we do it and after, on its own ethics. This, too, is sanctimony, but of a different kind. And I still believe it is something we can expect, and something we have continued to see, from our program.

Are we as clean as Stanford? As Northwestern? As Notre Dame? As Alabama? As Ohio State? We can make guesses, but those guesses will never be accurate. The proper question is whether Michigan is as clean as Michigan can be, while still maintaining our high standard of competitiveness.

No politician today ascends to high office without touching the muck of politics, but the best politicians are those who are victorious in spite of, rather than because of the sordid state of the business. That is how I see Michigan. I also see how it is self-serving, since we hold all the cards, since we have a home field of 112,000 that was built by Fielding, and helmets designed by Fritz, and mission that was defined by Bo. These are not things that we drop when a new age dawns, but rocks that we carry that continue to define us, even as their original purpose is lost in the shifting sands of time. They are burdens to us as much as benefits. They are who we are.

I still believe in the "Michigan Man," just as I still believe in "The American People," however much those phrases are bandied about for craven or sullen purposes. There is also nothing in these documents to make me question whether or not Brandon and Rodriguez believe in it too. They know this is a ticket for going 39 in a 35 zone, and how ludicrous it is that such a thing is being prosecuted against a safe driver. They also had the strength of self to stand before the judge and say "I went 4 over and I am sorry for it."

There is such a thing as holding oneself to a higher standard, to assessing one's own decisions and regrets in a vacuum rather than in context. We do this because we are more capable of judging ourselves than others, because we cannot know all there is to know about context. But more importantly, because we are ultimately culpable for our own actions.

Today made me proud to be associated with Michigan. There is still more reason to root for this program beyond "I went to school there," or "this is my state," which are fine and respectable reasons for fandom. This program "gets it," where "it" is culpability. And I think that a fine thing.

M-Wolverine

May 27th, 2010 at 11:20 AM ^

I think the tiredness of the Michigan Man meme comes when someone uses it to say it refers to someone who came from Michigan, or worked there and such.  When, that's not what Bo ever really meant by it.  Yes, Frieder was leaving the team, and no longer coaching at Michigan.  But it meant more than that.  Someone who didn't want to be at Michigan.  Someone who would sign with another team before the Tournament even started, in a self-serving way (and before anyone says it...with recruiting dates, football is different), and would only be half-assing it for his current/soon past team.  And, I'm sure, it had a bit to do with the  fact that Bo never trusted Bill.  It always seemed kinda shady.

Anyone who is really close to the Michigan Program knows that it's not talk.  They really believe that there's a better way to do things. (And that at times the NCAA is full of crap, too). It's a mindset that they cling to, because it's been ingrained in them. So it's not having coached or played at Michigan, or being from the State.  It's believing that there's a right way to do things, and as you said, doing them to the best of your abilities.