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 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…


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:


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.



April 15th, 2010 at 1:54 PM ^

Brian's drop of Stacy into the mix with the Smoking Musket is not only a sublime Generation X&Y* cross-reference, it also makes me wonder what I would do with a gun rack. I don't even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack. What am I gonna do... with a gun rack?

*-The term I developed for people born between 1975-1982 (and yes, pseudo named after the Coldplay album) who work in the pop cultural space of Generation X while being deft in the new media space of GenY. Since Generational theorists disagree on the beginning dates of Gen Y and the end date of Gen X, this Venn overlap seemed reasonable to me, especially since everyone is just making things up when it comes to generational theory.

His Dudeness

April 15th, 2010 at 2:03 PM ^

Sometimes in the morning I am petrified and can't move
Awake but cannot open my eyes
And the weight is crushing down on my lungs
I know I can't breathe
And hope someone will save me this time


April 15th, 2010 at 3:22 PM ^

My legal instincts are telling me that that the NCAA is not investigating WVU with the expectation of finding any infractions connected to RR, but rather with the expectation of not finding any such connection.

The NCAA needs to determine whether or not there has been any knowledge or intent by coach or university to violate practice limitations. Thus far, both RR and UofM have stated unequivocally that any violation was unintentional and based upon a misunderstanding of the impact of time allocated for stretching.

The NCAA could simply take RR and UofM at their word, and conclude they neither knowingly nor intentionally violated the rules. Doing so, however, would come across as unduly deferential to the program under investigation (i.e. would appear that the NCAA, as usual, isn't doing its job.) By "investigating" half-a-decade-old practice logs at WVU, the NCAA can firmly declare with its head held high that its independent investigation of the situation has uncovered no nefarious intent to violate rules.

This, I believe, is the true purpose of the WVU investigation.



April 15th, 2010 at 6:01 PM ^

They aren't necessarily looking into past violations as a means to punish past violations, and as Brian indicated the NCAA never punishes a coach for actions at a prior school (and this seems like an unlikely candidate for the first cracking of the whip).

I think they're looking for past violations as evidence of RR's knowledge of, and intent (or lack of intent) to violate the rules AT MICHIGAN based on his actions at previous institutions. Did his prior practice schedules show he knew that stretching didn't count? Or did he flagrantly violate every rule in the book? Or is it like he's saying, and he's been doing practice like this for years because he thought it was kosher?

I may be one of the few people who thinks this might actually be a positive sign.

If the NCAA had RR dead to rights on this one, and planned to punish him (and/or Michigan) severly, it wouldn't matter what he did in the past. Past innocence doesn't negate present guilt. However, if they were toying with the idea of a very minor penalty, or no penalty at all (a guy can dream, right?), they would need assurances that it wouldn't come back to bite them.

Think of the NCAA as a parole board, and RR as a convict (calm down, Rosenberg, it's just a metaphor); You don't need much in order to justify sending him back to his cell, but if you're gonna release him, you've gotta make damn sure you didn't miss anything about his past to avoid sending a dangerous repeat offender free.

EDIT: tl;dr. Sorry.


April 16th, 2010 at 9:14 AM ^

Interesting take and I hope you're correct. I don't feel it will amount to anything, but am tired of the constant fire RRod banter... I'm more nervous about all the reports of Denard possibly being "the" guy. RRod future is in the hands of 2 sophomore QBs and that's going to be the determining factor IMO.


April 15th, 2010 at 3:30 PM ^

Breaking New:

Rich Rodriguez yelled at his wife today. Then he proceeded to eat a lunch high in fat and cholesterol. He also wore a plaid shirt with striped pants, and jaywalked across Packard St. Clearly this behavior can not be tolerated. The NCAA and U of M must stand up and stop this horrible man from further influencing and corrupting their upstanding student athletes.


April 15th, 2010 at 3:40 PM ^

I am a big IS fan! When do tickets go on sale at Ticketmaster?

My favorite songs from IS are:

Freep Bird
Who Lost the Logs Now! (whoops whoops whoops)
Panic in AA


April 16th, 2010 at 9:54 AM ^

Rosenberg has just discovered a major violation caused by Rodriguez.

After seconds of intense research on MGOBlog, Rosenberg has pieced together proof that Rodriguez is stealing air by farting.

By carefully linking Bluerock's post on RR being an oxygen thief, and Big Boutros's scathing in depth piece on RR farting, he has ABSOLUTE proof that RR has been stealing oxygen.

Additionally, according to the Big Boutros admission, several fans are calling for RR's firing.

There will be a three part series on this topic in the Freep starting tomorrow.


April 15th, 2010 at 5:29 PM ^

"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."

This has been my assumption ever since hearing the news on Tuesday. Like everything else about Rich Rod, this is once again just a bunch of hot air.


April 15th, 2010 at 6:17 PM ^

When you consider that on one hand the NCAA regards a coach buying a recruit a Happy Meal as a serious violation while on the other John Calipari continues to coach free and clear, I have absolutely no confidence in how the NCAA judges nefariousness. I am fully expecting the penalties that the NCAA levies on UM to equal or surpass those that are levied against USC.

That's assuming they penalize USC at all.


April 15th, 2010 at 9:56 PM ^

in that he denied everything prior to the investigation, during the investigation, and even after the investigation, after it was clear that he had been caught red-handed doing the exact same thing he got caught doing at Oklahoma, the same thing he duped IU's foolish AD into believing he wouldn't do again.

I don't mean "clear" in a Rosenbergian sense, or even in a common-sense sort of way. I mean "clear" as in "Even the NCAA has no choice but to pin this on your stupid ass, Coach."

I agree with all conclusions above and reasonable conclusions to follow: Freep-type "reporters" will jump on whatever faint similarities there are and expand them. Normal people will recognize this as different and, for the most part, ignore them.


April 15th, 2010 at 10:00 PM ^

As my name implies, I'm slightly removed from the local chatter. There has been much coverage of the anti-Rodriguez sentiment, but little explanation of why. Could someone please clearly articulate the apparently deep seeded despise for Coach Rodriguez from a group of people without resorting to descriptors such as stupid, grumpy, etc. It appears this contempt has existed from the very beginning. In my years of following sports, I can not think of a single similar situation. I understand the two losing seasons, the loses to MSU & OSU, the investigation, etc. But these all seem to only add fuel to an already existing fire. Almost any school would have been ecstatic to land a perennial top 10 coach. What's the deal?

Section 1

April 16th, 2010 at 1:06 PM ^

There are three categories of "negative stories" on RR.

1. Category One is the kind of story that goes with any coaching departure. The former school is sometimes pissed off, and stories get generated. In the RR-WVU case, there seem to have been more than the usual amount, probably because WVU is a major-aspirant in big-time football, and because the Michigan vacancy was a historic one given that it was the end of the Schembechler era. The upshot of all of those stories was that a lot of crazy shit was alleged (shredding files, etc.) that was virtually all untrue. That there was litigation has almost nothing to do with who and what RR was and is as a coach; rather, it is the product of the two schools' lawyers. Both the contract-drafting lawyers, and the litigators. I'm a litigator; I know first hand how irrelevant it is whether or not the "Defendant" is truly a good guy or not.

2. The second category of Rodriguez-stories are the ordinary, true reports of some odd things that are no doubt newsworthy and that would be reported about any major college coach. These stories include the reports about RR's being a defendant in the South Carolina and Alabama investment property lawsuits, and teh very unfortunate association with the now-deceased Cleeg Lamar Greene, who defrauded almost everyone he knew before dying while awaiting federal sentencing. These stories all have zero bearing on RR as a coach.

3. The last category of Rodriguez stories are the ones generated by the efforts of Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press. Without Rosenberg, there'd have been no interviews of disgruntled ex-players. Without those Rosenberg interviews, there'd have been no front-page Free Press story worked up to coincide with the opening of the 2009 season. Without Rosenberg's front-page story, there'd have been no NCAA invesitgation. And with no NCAA investigation, the whole world would have been talking about Michigan's talent levels and the last few Carr recruiting classes, and about the curious departures of Justin Boren and Ryan Mallett. Curious, that is, from the standpoint of Mallett and Boren.

Each of these three categories of stories ultimately leads to the conclusion that RR is the victim of a wildly mistaken general belief that if there are that many stories, there must be something to them. The malice, and the deception, falls mainly with Rosenberg and his newspaper. There are no doubt others with malice toward RR, but in all truth those numbers are probably very small. What would be helpful is to identify all of them, to the extent possible. Rosenberg obtained a copy of the July '09 CARA-audit memo with the assistance of someone in the Athletic Department. Rosenberg may have an ally of sorts in Regent James F. Stapleton of Eastern Michigan. (Stapleton is a UM alum, a former member of the Athletic Board in Control, a former alumni association officer, and a guy whose current day job is some kind of quasi-athletic consulting business. He is a Granholm-Democrat appointee to the EMU Board of Regents.) We should all keep an eye on Mr. Stapleton, who was widely thought to have been bitterly disappointed that Ron English didn't get the Michigan Head Coaching job. Rosenberg may have other allies, few they may be. Ditto them; if they haven't the guts to be open in any criticisms of RR, and their reasons therefore, they are perfectly fair game to be outed in my opinion.


April 16th, 2010 at 5:33 PM ^

WVU was heartbroken when RR became Michigan's coach. Any comment made about RR is sour grapes by them. He put together a monster at WVU, and he will do so again at Michigan. I have friends that were from WV. They swore by this guy, that he was a good coach. This was before Carr retired in 2005. They said his schemes are wonderful. They also derided the recruit rating system. They said this guy can get the most out of his players. My friends were upset when he left WVU.

Don't let the "sour grapes" of WVU rabble jade your Blueness.


April 16th, 2010 at 8:04 AM ^

Even though I read this yesterday, when I looked at the title this morning I thought it read: "Illegal Stretching Goes Too Far". Panic ensued, then dispersed.