Demar Dorsey And Drew Sharp

Submitted by Brian on February 4th, 2010 at 2:46 PM

A little background on Michigan and Demar Dorsey from a reliable source: Dorsey started seriously looking around after Urban Meyer had his momentary retirement and both Charlie Strong, his future defensive coordinator, and Vance Bedford, his primary recruiter and future position coach, left for Louisville. Bedford, of course, had two stints as Michigan's defensive backs coach under Lloyd Carr.

Michigan got involved with Dorsey when Bedford called up Rich Rodriguez and told him to look at the kid; Bedford personally vouched for his character.

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In my years writing this thing, the red mist has descended and I've lit up an unsuspecting dullard quite a lot. Here's a tempo-free aerial of various college football blogs measuring crankiness versus verbosity:

imageChart!

As you can see in this highly scientific study, the combination of crankiness and verbosity here is virtually unmatched. If you write something dumb about Michigan sports, chances are I've called you horseface or fitted you for a Darth Vader mask or stated my surprise no one has tazed you, bro. This is either an asset or a detriment to the site, depending on who you are and the topic at hand. I'm not sure which myself.

But one guy I've mostly ignored has been Drew Sharp. Other than one incident where Sharp suggested that the Big Ten had totally caved in their Comcast negotiations because Comcast could switch the channel to a digital sports tier when his own paper was reporting that this was complete bunk, he's only drawn mention in UVs when his book reviews are hilariously negative or he doesn't understand the First Amendment. This is because criticizing Sharp for being an incompetent bomb-thrower is like criticizing Kim Jong-Il for creating a backwards nation of racist dwarves: yeah, you're right, but that's the goal. Drew Sharp is North Korea on paper. What's new?

But a man must draw a line somewhere. Here's my line: when Drew Sharp uses Demar Dorsey as a piece of meat for his own personal gain.

A selection of things Sharp said yesterday while pushing his contention that Michigan shouldn't have signed Dorsey:

MATT SHEPARD: "He was timed with a 4.4—"
SHARP: "Avoiding police."

SHEPARD: "That happened when he was 16 and he was acquitted.
SHARP: "I wonder if that was because he was a high profile recruit. Hmm. I wonder. … OJ got acquitted. Being acquitted doesn't mean you're innocent."

"If this was any other 16 year old facing charges on buglary [ed: of an unoccupied building; dropped], armed robbery, and assault [ed: fictional charge], that kid might be serving probation. He probably thought 'I have to go to trial so I can get this off my record.'"

….

"I'm done with second chances. I have a hard time believing this kid Dorsey's learned one damn thing through his close calls with the criminal justice system."

SHEPARD: "It's been a couple years… has he gotten into any trouble since?"
SHARP: "Not that we know of! … It's naive for for people to automatically assume that you have to give these guys another chance."

SHEPARD: "Why take a chance?"
SHARP: "It's desperation."

He's also got a column but since it starts "It's not National Signing Day. It's National Sighing Day," I refuse to expose anyone else to its toxic brain-killing funk. It's basically the same premise, except on paper and written by a third grader.

Drew Sharp doesn't know anything about Demar Dorsey except that when you search for his name in a Broward County database it comes up with a traffic violation and two felony charges, one of which was dropped and the other he was acquitted on. He only knows that because someone on the internet did it for him. The amount of research he has done to make these statements is exactly zero.

This is not enough information to make sweeping assertions that Dorsey probably wasn't innocent, doesn't deserve a "second chance"—in this case a first chance, but whateva—, that it's desperation to take a kid Florida*, USC, and Florida State were after, and that you have to be naive to think Dorsey hasn't gotten in trouble since. He defamed the character of a high school kid he's never met, and the point is that it's a "risk" for Rodriguez and Michigan.

A risk of what? A risk Dorsey does something dumb in college and doesn't make it? That's a risk for Dorsey wherever he  goes, and since one of the reasons Dorsey cited for leaving Florida is that being farther from home will help him "concentrate on football" coming to Michigan makes it less likely that happens. And dumb stuff is a risk for Michigan no matter who they sign.

The risk appears to be that Sharp and his fellow hard-hitting journalists will follow up with articles when and if Dorsey messes up. Articles like this:

There's more drama down the road at the other school, but Michigan State doesn't mind the boredom.

Rich Rodriguez dismisses a wannabe drug dealer from Michigan and immediately there are suspicions regarding the tautness of his program -- procedural questions that were once mostly asked of Michigan State head coaches.

Yet on the same day, Mark Dantonio welcomed back a running back freshly released from a four-month jail term for hospitalizing a hockey player during a campus fight last fall. Dantonio placed unspecified restrictions on the player's return, reminiscent of Lloyd Carr's private penal policy at Michigan, and the actions barely raised a public ripple.

Roles are reversing. Perceptions are changing.

How did that work out again?

As I wrote at the time:

I'm not even mad. I'm impressed. Here Sharp acknowledges the double standard—at his own newspaper, in his own column—and uses it to criticize Rodriguez and praise Dantonio. He sits at A, takes a good hard look at B, and then leaps to Q. I hope he donates his brain to science.

So because twits like Sharp will misrepresent hypothetical Dorsey misbehavior it represents a risk that Rodriguez shouldn't take no matter how long Vance Bedford has known the kid—over a year—and how flimsy the sketchy past angle is.

For this he spends two days dragging an innocent—literally—kid's name through the mud. So he can have attention.

Here's the thing: Rich Rodriguez cares about his players. When he left West Virginia, they were the only people in the state to defend him. When the NCAA stuff came down and Rich Rodriguez had his press conference about it, he hit his shakiest, teariest point when he was talking about the effects this had on his players. When you listen to Mike Barwis talk about Pacman Jones, the pain is evident—they just couldn't straighten him out enough. He has a good track record. He was right about Pat Lazear, and his disciplinary record over the past five years is considerably above average. Every time he picks up a guy with a rough past and puts him in college he's trying to make the kid's life better.

And yet he gets painted as a bad guy by people who don't care about anything but themselves. Drew Sharp is a selfish, cynical bastard. He's made a career out of making people angry with his half-assed, research-free opinions. He's a disgrace to journalism. If the Free Press had any scruples whatsoever, rampantly bashing a kid with no evidence, or even an effort to collect any, would be so far beyond the journalistic pale that no combination of weasel words could save him.

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As part of the segment, Sharp read an email from a current Michigan student than finished "You are a classless, insignificant human being. I am glad that regional newspapers like the one you work for have become obsolete." In response, Sharp said if the kid read the regional newspapers he'd have a better idea of what's being reported—something Sharp could work on himself—and about how blinkered fans were.

I'll let Sharp condemn himself:

Until you get your heads out of your back pockets and look at everything, don't stand up and pass judgment. Because you make yourself look like an ass.

Indeed. In four years, Demar Dorsey is likely to be in the NFL or graduating from Michigan. Drew Sharp is likely to be unemployed.

*(The story that Florida dropped the kid because of his quote-unquote "checkered legal past" is obviously crap. Dorsey had been a Florida commit for over a year. If Florida dropped him it's because he was wishy-washy about his commit and they didn't want to get ditched by him at the last second when they could go out and get an nearly equal recruit who wouldn't jet.)

A final note on Dave Birkett. The AnnArbor.com reporter was also part of the stir by repeatedly pounding Rodriguez on the Dorsey "point." He didn't make any criminally insane and cynical assertions afterwards, so there's that. It is a valid question to ask.

Note the plurality, or lack thereof, of "question." Rodriguez provided the nothing answer he was going to, and when the followup met a nothing answer it's clear that's all you're going to get. Not like that's a surprise, anyway. Birkett would not let it go, though, and dragged it out until Rodriguez got slightly steamed and Dave Ablauf had to step in. This did nothing except waste time. You're not Woodward and Bernstein, you're a freaking entertainment reporter. It's disrespectful to the rest of the room and everyone trying to find out information that Rodriguez would actually communicate if asked about to harp on one topic.

Elsewhere

The WLA also goes all screedy. MVictors has audio of the Dorsey questioning and a press conference recap. Orson on the kerfuffle:

Not even convicted? Next question, coach--we don't even want to finish this one, since clearly Demar Dorsey has no problems whatsoever and will be a fine addition to the football team. That, Michigan fans, is what it would be like if you were anywhere else in the nation and had a recruit with a couple of nasty juvenile arrests, but the Freep is on the scene for this extremely overblown story like the WITI TV 6 news crew. DURR HURR WHY DOES RICH ROD RECRUIT THUGZ OUTRAGE HURR. Because some of them are fast, can play football, and can be kept out of trouble for four years while they win football games? The Michigan press is the polar opposite of SEC press corps, and we mean that in the good and bad way: not fawning, but also convinced there's a potential Watergate beneath that Gatorade bucket over there.

Comments

andriy

February 4th, 2010 at 3:46 PM ^

Maybe Drew Sharp is posing as Mr. Bungle in our very own version of Julian Dibbell's "A Rape in Cyberspace".

That's literally the best case scenario.

mgovictors23

February 4th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

I want to welcome Demar Dorsey to Michigan and wish him the best of luck not just because he is a great player but as a person. Drew Sharp is a disgrace and that "running from the police" was one of the most disgraceful, scumbag moves of all time.

JLC21

February 4th, 2010 at 4:16 PM ^

Former journalist myself (lotta good my Master's is doing me now), and it's guys like this that make me worry about the future of the industry.

You know what makes it worse? I know plenty of really good, hard-working, ethical, responsible journalists that are losing their jobs left and right -- and all the while, this hack has more than one media outlet sending him paychecks. It's sad.

kman23

February 4th, 2010 at 4:18 PM ^

I'm assuming based off your name that you work for a paper around DC. I just wanted to let you know that as a student in DC I appreciate the quality of many of the papers here. There will always be rags but the top end papers in this city blow everything I knew from Michigan out of the water.

BlueinDC

February 4th, 2010 at 5:57 PM ^

I work for one of the Hill rags, fwiw (would prefer not to say which one). But re: the comments below -- yeah, this guy sucks, but I'm maybe still naïve enough to think there are enough good reporters out there to save the business.

jamiemac

February 4th, 2010 at 3:51 PM ^

Agreed, 100 percent Brian. Nicely done.

Little disapoointed, though, that the JCB didnt appear anywhere on that chart. What am I lacking? Verbosity? Crankiness? Both?

colin

February 4th, 2010 at 3:58 PM ^

his email is [email protected] and his twitter is drewsharp.

I sent the following to him just to vent a little:

"Who's to say I'm qualified, but I thought I'd offer some advice in these tough times. I don't like to see people get crapped on repeatedly and just had to come to your defense. So here goes:

Never ever get caught up in self-awareness or guilt or some other recognition process whereby you come to understand your own faults. It's going to get in the way. You and your employers are going to be out on your asses unless you can piss off enough people in the short term to keep cash flow up. And there's no way that's not foolproof. So remember: anything that gets in the way of you spouting whatever inanity comes to mind is keeping you from getting the cash."

dahblue

February 4th, 2010 at 4:01 PM ^

Don't forget that the editor is more powerful than the writer. Drew doesn't run this without permission. Frankly, the paper probably likes the extra attention...the clicks, the ad revenue. I don't excuse his poor journalism, or the Freep for nearly ignoring the wrongs of Dantonio and pouncing on a kid who hasn't even arrived in A2 to do any wrong.

At the same time, UofM needs to do a better job preparing RR for pressers. Media know that he can be riled up, leading to more interesting columns. If RR had just stayed mellow and firm... "Thank you, but I've already answered your question" (repeated as frequently as necessary)...he could've shut the issue down somewhat.

That being said, Dorsey is like a fucking rocket and I can't wait to see him run back a pick 6 against MSU.

dahblue

February 4th, 2010 at 5:15 PM ^

RR is the coach of the University of Michigan football team. He, when speaking in public, is a politician of sorts. The media market here is worlds different than West Virginia. I don't expect him to be perfect from the jump, but I do expect the University to work with him to make sure he maintains the upper hand in such situations.

I don't think he did anything wrong, but I do think that he could have done a better job by maintaining poise no matter what came at him. Again, not a huge deal, but we're all rabid fans...so we see RR under attack. Not everyone else will see it that way. Better media relations skills would have made Sharp and Co. the "bad guys" to all, not just us.

BiSB

February 4th, 2010 at 4:56 PM ^

The folks in the room were going to either get an answer, or they were going to pester him until he got mad. If he had given that same answer 27 more times, they would have asked it a 28th time.

I, for one, don't mind that he got mad in defense of the character of an 18-year-old kid he just promised to look after for the next four years. It would have been easy to say, "yeah, given his history, we're going to keep an eye on him. The bar is higher for him, and we won't tolerate any more shenanigans." instead, he flat-out vouched for the kid as a regular recruit, rather than as a probationary test case who was on a short leash. RichRod put his own reputation on the line stepping up for the kid, and I respect that.

Dr Sardonicus

February 4th, 2010 at 5:39 PM ^

I had exchanges with both the sports editor and the Freep's editor/publisher. Even late last August the paper had stuck its neck out so far that the higher-ups were manning the barricades, defending their writers and articles.

It's probably their best bet -- hope that the NCAA finds something on Rodriguez then claim vindication no matter how minor it is.

If U-M is cleared, then there would be hell to pay for the Freep no matter how strongly or weakly their editors supported their writers.

pharker

February 4th, 2010 at 4:09 PM ^

What burns me most is that Sharp (along with Rosenberg and Snyder) is a Michigan alumnus. I get that you're scrutinize what you're close to a little more harshly - like when you as the coach work your own kid a little harder - but Sharp et al are out of a tradition that has produced some brilliant real journalists like Mike Wallace and Robin Wright and Eugene Robinson.

Yostal

February 4th, 2010 at 4:13 PM ^

One of the things that bothers me about National Signing Day is that, in the midst of doing my job and working with 18 year old students, I also know there are a lot of people obsessing over the life choices that other high school students, ones with a very specific skill set are going to make.

But, that said, I understand that there's interest in it largely because it comes down to hope. On Signing Day, every one of those kids is an underrated gem just waiting to be coached up and the victories will flow in like water. It's the same thing with the NFL Draft, which as a good friend of mine broke it down, is essentially a televised Human Resources meeting.

18 year olds can surprise you in a lot of ways, some good, some bad. They can have tremendous depth of understanding of the world around them, they can have seemingly limitless reservoirs of compassion, of hope, of faith in what the future can be. They can also be shortsighted, immature, and make poor decisions. This is what makes them so maddening at times and why the recruiting process is so screwed up, because it really doesn't take much to persuade an 18 year old to do something that might not be in their best interest, simply out of fear of disappointing someone else. If reputation is what other people think about you and honor is what you know about yourself, too many young men (and women) will end up worrying about reputation because they do not know the pain of wounding their own honor. Which I think is one of the best things about being young, if you make mistakes, hopefully they aren't so massive that you can never recover from them and hopefully you learn something from them.

Which brings me back to Mr. Dorsey. It is my genuine hope that all we hear about him is how well he played on Saturday and maybe about his leadership or the good work he's doing with the other Michigan athletes when they visit Mott or other worthy causes. That is my hope for every member of this and every recruiting class, not just at Michigan, but across the country. No one should be rooting for these young men, who have faced media and public scrutiny unlike what most of us can fathom at an age where they were likely ill-equipped to handle it, to fail or to make mistakes.

This is what angers me most about Drew Sharp's worldview here, he's essentially already decided that Mr. Dorsey is doomed to do something untoward and how dare Coach Rodriguez facilitate that. In essence, he's rooting for Dorsey to fail so he can say "See, I told you so." And while that makes me angry on some level, it really just makes me sad more than anything.

harmon98

February 4th, 2010 at 11:50 PM ^

This is what angers me most about Drew Sharp's worldview here, he's essentially already decided that Mr. Dorsey is doomed to do something untoward and how dare Coach Rodriguez facilitate that. In essence, he's rooting for Dorsey to fail so he can say "See, I told you so."

precisely the angle I see as well.
Sharp treats this young man as a commodity. a means to an end. Machiavellian journalism at its worst.

aaamichfan

February 4th, 2010 at 5:27 PM ^

This is actually a great idea. If the CEO gets 50-100 emails threatening a lawsuit, I guarantee Sharp will be spoken to in some capacity. The last thing corporate offices want is for a "break even" newspaper to end up costing them $1M in a lawsuit.

http://www.expertlaw.com/library/personal_injury/defamation.html
I actually believe there is a strong case against Sharp in this situation. It might be tough to prove "damage to the plaintiff", but I'm sure steps can be taken to change that.

Blue2000

February 4th, 2010 at 4:18 PM ^

He defamed the character of a high school kid he's never met

This is what makes it so bad. It's one thing for Sharp or the FREEP to go after Rich Rod for whatever reason. It's unfair, but at least RR is an adult, getting paid a lot of money to stand in a very high-profile position. Dorsey is an 18-year old kid, and Sharp is engaged in the full-scale, totally baseless character assasination of him. That's not anywhere close to journalism. That's just fucked up. Namecalling is lame, but Sharp is a shameless, pathetic excuse for a human being. Why attack a kid like that?

BGAlumLovesUM

February 4th, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

I have to wonder if Sharp realizes the idoicy of interpreting a teenager's life as worthless/unredeemable. Or the decision being the result of a google search pinging a couple of arrests (fully acknowledging the difference between "arrest" and "conviction"). It would be classless enough to bring it up in conversation, let alone in the media where the masses can read or listen to it.

Is it surprising that he would do so? Hardly. He gets his jollies out of reading our pissed off reactions. Not even worth spending any more attention on, in my opinion. Congrats to Brian for a thorough, well-deserved annihilation of Mr. Sharp.

wishitwas97

February 4th, 2010 at 4:35 PM ^

If Dorsey didn't visit USC or FSU, none of this would have come up. The only reason why his so called "criminal" record(which he doesn't have any) came up in the public is Florida leaked it to the internet/blog/newspaper or whatever. It was sour grape on Florida's part.

J. Lichty

February 4th, 2010 at 4:47 PM ^

Traffic and attention are what Sharp and Freep crave. They are not able to do that without creating a niche for themselves. They are now the anti-Michigan paper and those who hate Michigan will read it to nod in agreement, while those who love Michigan or Rodriguez will give him negative attention, which is still attention.

While this incident cannot be ignored, unlessed coupled with actual consequences, it plays right into his hands.

J. Lichty

February 4th, 2010 at 4:47 PM ^

Traffic and attention are what Sharp and Freep crave. They are not able to do that without creating a niche for themselves. They are now the anti-Michigan paper and those who hate Michigan will read it to nod in agreement, while those who love Michigan or Rodriguez will give him negative attention, which is still attention.

While this incident cannot be ignored, unlessed coupled with actual consequences, it plays right into his hands.

Blue Balls

February 4th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

To go after a young man the way Drew Sharp did makes me ill. This reporter obviously feels it's better to step on a guy that's down, rather than offer him a hand getting up-what a shame.

jlvanals

February 4th, 2010 at 4:54 PM ^

Sharp is classless, and this ad homenim attack on Demar Dorsey is truly the culmination of his erratic and largely unsubstantiated work as a journalist. However, when I read the EDSBS post about how "in the SEC, etc, etc. this would not be a big deal," I remembered why I love the Big 10 in general and Michigan in specific. That we generally care about class and dignity and having good people on our team more than winning ultimately meaningless football games is a good thing in the end. Sharp is just a retarded, puritanical, same-kind-of-dude-who-lead-the-crusades cariacture of that otherwise good and decent mentality.

I don't know how many of you live in the South, but for me one of the worst parts about living down here was coming to the realization that people here accept cheating as a neccessary and unavoidable part of life. They expect to be swindled by the government and/or businesses (usually both) and very few people value honesty any more than it can be used as a currency to gain more influence or income. I cannot describe how depressing it is to live in a place where all people care about is "winning" by any means neccessary and not doing things the right way.

I trust Rich Rodriguez to recruit upstanding students to Michigan because, besides the Kevin Grady DUI complete wuss out, he has handled discipline matters very well. I just hope that we don't become the soulless mass that is the rest of college football; willing to sacrifice anything for a chance at having a better football team. Almost everything in life is more important than football and hopefully we are able, as a university, to maintain that perspective while still striving for excellence on the field.

FWIW, I think the Demar Dorsey signing has the potential to be a great success for both Michigan and a kid who could be helped considerably by being taken out of a toxic environment. As far as I'm concerned, being a Michigan man is about character and choosing to do the right thing, regardless of the cost, not the dreadlocks on your head or past mistakes you've made. So far, Coach Rodriguez has been a pretty good judge of character (the Feagin mess aside), I see no reason to doubt him now.

rainking

February 4th, 2010 at 5:01 PM ^

I sort of feel sorry for the moron. I know people at the Freep, and have friends in the sports talk radio community, and he's basically known around the office and the radio circuit as an idiot. Recently on a Sat. night i was having beers with some of his colleagues and his name came up and everybody just moaned and rolled their eyes. He probably knows this and that's why he's so bitter. Poor dude has really become useless.

GOBLUE4EVR

February 4th, 2010 at 5:22 PM ^

terry foster putting on an act or are they good friends??? i remember in 2008 valenti had an issue with sharp over a column he wrote about state being the worst 9-3 team in the country... terry acted like a go between for them...

Yinka Double Dare

February 4th, 2010 at 5:37 PM ^

It was the exact same way with Jay Mariotti. When he left the Sun-Times, they had

1) At least one column basically saying "good riddance, we all disliked you"
2) A headline at the top of the freaking front page with a picture of someone I know along with a quote "I can subscribe to the Sun-Times again". The guy had written a letter to the editor that he was cancelling his subscription because of Jay Mariotti. I don't remember if they printed that letter, but when Jay left they either called him or he wrote in again, and there was his smiling mug right there on the front page. Hilarious. Apparently the editors really hated Mariotti that much too.

bronxblue

February 4th, 2010 at 5:04 PM ^

Great post Brian.

Typical diatribe by Sharp, who has gone from being an occasionally-introspective and controversial writer to just a hack. But I do think that this type of article is endemic of the shifting focus in mainstream journalism. While there remain some really good writers and reporters in the world, the meteoric rise of the Internet and the continued degradation of newspapers' importance (first exposed with the advent of cable television) have led many to focus on the more sensational and inflammatory stories in order to draw eyes and raise one's "Q" rating.

Sharp certainly has the chops to write compelling stories, but he realized long ago that playing the "douche" and constantly needling his readership was a way to keep the page views up and make him relevant. He could have easily written a story about how Dorsey has some baggage, but that others schools were willing to give him a chance and that he chose RR and UM because he felt it would be a great fit for him on and off the field. As a reporter, Sharp should point out that Dorsey was charged with various transgressions, but he must also report that Dorsey was ultimately exonerated. He could have written about how Dorsey was like a number of young athletes like Dorsey, great athletes who unfortunately run in crowds that expose them to danger and that, perhaps, he will blossom at UM specifically because he can now "focus on football." And don't tell me people don't care about that type of story - the freaking "Blind Side" is up for a damn Oscar and has made hundreds of millions of dollars with a similar story.

But to write that story, Sharp would have been forced to actually do some research, talk to some former coaches and recruiting pundits, and write with a slightly different twinge. But the allure of the "gotcha" headlines proved just too great for him, and as he has done for most of his career, a good story from Drew Sharp was usurped by an easy story, and everyone - from RR to Dorsey to the readers of the Freep - are the ones who suffer.

M-Wolverine

February 4th, 2010 at 5:15 PM ^

...that of all the things Brian writes, it's when he goes off on the traditional media that I like reading it the best, and it makes me feel warm and tingly inside?

markusr2007

February 4th, 2010 at 5:19 PM ^

I'm not a lawyer, but I'm wondering whether Sharp's written and oral statements defame Demar Dorsey (false statements, causing that person harm "in the form of mental anguish"), or maybe a case of per se defamation?

Are there any potential legal consequences for Mr. Sharp and his employer for making these kinds of statements with lack of supportive evidence (i.e. truth, which would squash any libel/slander charge)? Or because it's just opinion, they're safe to assert and deduct whatever they like?

stmccoy

February 4th, 2010 at 5:29 PM ^

I wonder about the credibility of any journalist who writes a kid off for being guilty of no crime while second chances are reserved for the kids who serve jail time for beating up hockey players. Ass backwards if you ask me.