Indefensible Comment Count

Brian August 23rd, 2018 at 11:24 AM

[Eric Upchurch]

Big mood today:

I thought Urban Meyer would skate away from the Zach Smith thing largely unscathed, and he has. But I'm still shocked this morning because OSU released a report that provides details of Smith's employment and Meyer's actions. First and foremost, Meyer's first action after the Brett McMurphy report that set this chain of events in motion was to delete all text messages older than a year off his phone. If your first reaction to a media report is to destroy evidence, that's a firing offense.

It goes on, pointlessly, detailing years of Smith's very very obvious issues and Meyer's continuing enablement of them before getting into OSU's response post-McMurphy and the lies Meyer told in an effort to make it all go away. It concludes with a burst of stunningly inane pretzel logic in the service of keeping Meyer in his job. Nicole Auberbach:

The 12-hour meeting was about inserting the pretzel logic. Meanwhile, this was the guy who Meyer kept in his program for a decade:

(b) At 7:35 p.m., Shelley Meyer conveyed, in a text to Coach Meyer, that “I am worried about Zach’s response. He drinks a lot and I am just not sure how stable he will be. Afraid he will do something dangerous. It’s obvious he has anger/rage issues already.” Meyer did not respond to the message.

In response to this, a slap on the wrist and a warning that if Meyer covers for the actions of a serial abuser for another decade there might be Serious Consequences.

And I dunno, guys. What's even the point anymore? Michigan's main rivals are both proven loathsome institutions. They beat Michigan on the football field, so no one cares. Meyer will face no real consequences for his behavior. Mark Dantonio has faced no consequences for bringing Auston Robertson to campus. Both have enabled abuse, in full view of the public, and nobody cares because they win games. Michigan State tried not to care about Larry Nassar and even when forced to by public outrage still gave Lou Anna Simon a golden parachute; they continue to lie to this day.

No real consequences for anyone for anything except losing football games. No shame. Michigan will go down to Columbus in November and very probably lose again and all will be forgiven, except all is already forgiven. Except there was never anything to forgive in the first place.

We need to stop looking at the NCAA as an organization that is supposed to check these behaviors and start looking at it as the primary cause of them. Every big time school looks at their bylaws as a joke to get around. Every major recruit is getting paid under the table. There is a giant see-no-evil culture across the sport. To some extent this is fine because the evil that people aren't seeing is people exchanging labor for money, but once you have a sport-wide code of silence it can easily be extended to wife beaters. Or rapists. Or anything, really.

And then how are you supposed to care?


Bando Calrissian

August 23rd, 2018 at 11:30 AM ^

I'm finding it harder and harder to care. And it's not about wins and losses--it's about the fact that this sport, this culture of college sports, is becoming more and more indefensible as the years pass.


August 23rd, 2018 at 11:34 AM ^

This. I think yesterday sort of broke me. I don't care anymore. Winning is good, but not like this [insert switch matrix gif].

Will watch Michigan games...and thats about it. Don't care if we make it into playoffs or not. Its become a show. Heck gladiator fights probably had more moral fiber than this "sport".



August 23rd, 2018 at 4:05 PM ^

Screw That.  Seriously, sports is a microcosm of the world.  Some people are good, some are bad.  Good thinks happen, bad things happen.  Sometimes the good guys win, sometimes the bad guys get away.  At its core, college athletics is about the players playing the game they love, and I will always watch and always care.  I choose to think of Caesar Ruiz stuck in a kayak on the beach, that is what it’s all about.   Meyer is a scumbag, this much was already understood long before this.  Even more reason to bring him down on the field.  Don’t let OSU being OSU effect you that deeply.


August 23rd, 2018 at 10:28 PM ^

I suppose you won’t watch then. Nope, you will.  And that is because you know it isn’t all gloom and doom.  If it bleeds it leads, but college athletics does a hell of a lot of good for a lot of kids who are getting a fantastic opportunity doing something they love and brings people and communities together in a way that little else does.  Hope is a great thing, Dudeness, maybe the best of things.

Longballs Dong…

August 23rd, 2018 at 4:52 PM ^

Meh, I don't really believe either of you. I don't think this changes your behavior. The OSU thing was bad but if PSU, MSU, Baylor, Ol Miss, et al didn't make you feel this way, I'm not sure why this does.  OSU is clearly not as bad as these other scandals. This should be a tiny incident in a shit pile of awful incidents around college footbal. This one bothering you more (IF it bothers you more, I'm inferring a bit here) implies to me that you are part of the problem of only caring about winning and rivals losing.  There are bigger issues to care about (not trying to minimize this situation, but c'mon, go read about Baylor) and bigger justifications to "lose hope" over.  I can't help but think people are morally outraged only because a rival wasn't as hurt as we would have liked which... is kind of a reflection of only caring about winning and losing.  


August 24th, 2018 at 3:01 AM ^

I do, too. A lot of people thought that Meyer had the stink of the high-handed cheater and liar about him, and they just found another very ugly bit of confirmation. Amid a lot of talk about how OSU had become something more than a minor-league institution, it just confirmed its wretched priorities very publicly. I see this harming them now and down the road. Don't think Urban Meyer ever ends up at Notre Dame, either. The bottom line on this one is lies, cover-up, arrogance, all glaringly obvious. And Urban Meyer's next such failure will be his last.  


August 23rd, 2018 at 5:39 PM ^

My reading of Brian's article, and my person feeling at this moment, is more of a moral fatigue.

Baylor was hideous, but it's the South. Ol Miss was always dirty. PSU was shocking, but certainly an abberation. Right?

MSU was kind of the tipping point for me. But the collective collegiate failure to respond to the MSU event told me that the industry of COLLEGE simply does not have any morality. While the act of an evil man is evil, the organized response to that action, the failure to do anything punitive, the failure to admit wrongdoing, by ANYONE . . . I honestly can't rehash that shit again, but you get my point, I'm sure . . .MSU, BigTen, NCAA did nothing meaningful and convinced me of their amorality.

The OSU event (even though smaller in scale), so close to the beginning of the season, is asking me: why do I care about the sport?

I love Michigan. I got to run out of the tunnel in the band. I got to help call a game in the booth once with student radio. It's been 25 years and I think about Michigan almost every day. But. . .should I care about the sport?  Does the current state of morality within the sport outweigh my love of it?

A kid was essentially coached to death a few weeks ago and his coach was only suspended because a reporter outed him - the university WANTED TO IGNORE IT. Those are bad people. Those are not good people. President of the university, AD, Head Coach, Trainer - all are bad people and should be fired, several might need to face criminal charges. Where is the BIGTEN and NCAA on this? Why hasn't the conference taken action? They are filled with bad people who either don't care or who can do nothing. 

Does it matter if I love watching the game? Love watching the players get better? Love watching 19 year old figure out how to do pressers? Love reading stuff here? Does that all love and support go to an industry that filters billions of dollars and untold influence to people who should have neither?

Bando Calrissian

August 23rd, 2018 at 11:35 AM ^

And because I wanted to feel worse about all of this, H/T to Ace for this story about Jim McElwain pulling scholarships without even telling his players. Really, really not a good look for a now-UM assistant.

Ali G Bomaye

August 23rd, 2018 at 11:42 AM ^

I don't like McElwain, and I'm still befuddled that we hired him, but I think the details matter here. If McElwain gave a walk-on a scholarship for a semester with the message that he's getting it because he worked hard and we have a scholarship available right now, but that the scholarship is semester-to-semester subject to availability, I think that's OK. It's certainly better than banking the scholarship until a scholarship-level recruit comes along. And it doesn't compare to promising a guy a scholarship to get him to attend your school, then "processing" him when he doesn't work out on the field.

Space Coyote

August 23rd, 2018 at 12:24 PM ^

Also important to note that the handling of scholarships is the head coach's job, of which McElwain is not at Michigan. Certainly, it can raise other questions about McElwain's character; but in the grand scheme of things that's probably pretty low on the list for a WR coach.

Also, I have no issue with McElwain's handling of giving a kid a temporary scholarship where one was warranted. Heck, celebrate putting a kid on scholarship if you even with the understanding that it may be for a limited time. I'm pretty sure that's basically how it works everywhere, whether they celebrate it or not, unless the kid is a Glasgow type starter.


August 23rd, 2018 at 7:19 PM ^

So much agree. I don't think the point of bringing this McElwain issue in response to Brian's story about OSU is to get him fired or say that he should be fired. Whatever the original poster's point actually was, the Del Rio-McElwain story itself AND some of the responses to it here do illustrate a few troubling things. One, it's just one more, rather small, example of the poor behavior that is allowed to thrive in major college football. Whether or not it's ethical to give out temporary or limited scholarships to walk-ons, if you're going to do it that way, be a decent human being about it: be clear in your communication with the athlete, both up front and ongoing as the situation develops. If it's actually true that the athlete in question learned that his scholarship had been pulled via the goose-egg scholarship level, that's lazy and shameful behavior. As has been noted, that's not out of character for McElwain as a head coach, which is part of why it was so disappointing that Harbaugh hired him. 

Secondly, the "whatabout" argument/rationalization TIMMAAY rightly calls out is quite relevant in exposing our own biases as fans, especially as UM fans amid the further exposure of how detestable the world of big-money college athletics is. It was a shitty thing for McElwain to do, shittier still if it was indeed his systematic way of doing it and rationalizing it in various ways and to various degrees lays squarely on the slippery slope to the kind of full-on blinders fandom that has rightly been demonized in the fan bases at OSU, MSU, Penn State ... The point is that the potential for that kind of fandom, and more seriously that kind of organizational blindness, exists everywhere in college football (and any athletics where even relatively small amounts of money are involved), including at Michigan. If you don't see that, you're fooling yourself (and probably too delusional to ever come around to it) because we already know it happened at Michigan. In this particular case of McElwain's, Harbaugh did something pretty similar with the offensive lineman that ended up at Oklahoma (I believe it was Eric Swenson): Harbaugh did not make it clear that his commitment wasn't ironclad, that he needed to continue improving as a senior, to continue to earn it. It wasn't an NCAA violation, but it was a pretty shitty way to go about it, one that we expect our coaching staff to be better than morally but also better than organizationally, to be so lazy in their communication with a recruit. 

It is fair to say that those two situations are small potatoes in terms of the evaluation of bad behavior, but that doesn't mean Harbaugh and McElwain shouldn't be chastised or given a free pass. That criticism should be relative to the behavior itself. In that case, they should be called out for it and, as Michigan fans especially, we need to hope that Harbaugh learned his lesson. If so, then it really is just a blip. If not, then we're playing a role, however small, in enabling the terrible culture of college football and need to acknowledge being on the same spectrum of bias that currently features many Buckeye and Spartan fans on the far side of the bad end. 

We also know that Michigan has actually done worse things (Brandon Gibbons was a pretty dispicible situation), pretty much got away with it AND that fans brushed it off to varying degrees in a way that probably contributed to the school getting away with it and contributed to the corrupt system chugging along.  

Michigan failed in that situation and while Hoke and Brandon are gone, all we can realistically hope for is that it is operating better under new leadership, but that's still a hope at best. As fans, we shouldn't get too "holier than though" without acknowledging the transgressions that have been made, that there's a strong possibility there are still bad actors/corruption in our own house, that because of the money and power involved, the possibility of that corruption always exists, and lastly that we ourselves have to be vigilant about our own biases. 


August 23rd, 2018 at 12:31 PM ^

That story feels a little axe-grindy to me. Especially given the nuance involved in scholarship awards to walk-on students and the myriad ways it could be handled by a program.  McElwain was a pretty bad head coach who likely didn't have the best grip on stuff like that. It doesn't mean there's anything nefarious going on.  He was fired and took a much lower exposure position at another program.  All reasonable things to occur given his history I would say.

Blue In NC

August 23rd, 2018 at 1:27 PM ^

That article is fairly misleading IMO.  I thought it was quite typical that walk-ons might get a one-year scholarship from time to time with the understanding that it was a one-year thing.  My perception might be wrong.  Now if the follow up was a similar letter with the amount of $0, that seems stupid more than anything but nothing wrong with "taking it back."


August 23rd, 2018 at 11:41 AM ^

It's not just college sports. It's ALL sports for me. Are the guys in MLB or NFL better - either ownership or players? How about FIFA, is that really an honorable organization? NASCAR?

Frankly, I don't know if I'm just becoming a bitter old man, if the world is getting shittier, or if the world was always shitty, but I am just hearing about it now . . .

Thank all the tiny gods for John Beilein - he's like a ray of light these days . . .


August 23rd, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

While things seems pretty shitty right now for all kinds of reasons, I can assure you there were times when it was shittier.  In the mid-14th century, almost half the human population died from plague.  In the mid-20th century people were subjected to systematic murder at the hands of governments simply on the basis of their ethnic background.

The whole culture of silence around college sport profit centers sucks and the people victimized by it shouldn't be diminished, but the human race has seen deeper lows than what we face currently.


August 23rd, 2018 at 12:32 PM ^

Idk this whole way of looking at this just rubs me the wrong way... technology and medicine have advanced and lead to a world where half of us probably won't die from a plague. Ok great. How do we go about judging the moral compass and general good or badness of a society? There has always been good and bad. Frankly im struggling with how to say what I'm trying to say... Best of luck to all of us. 


August 23rd, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

Getting waaay OT here, yes, the advancement in medicine in regard to the Black Death is not a statement on morality, but the fact that 2000 Jews were burned alive in Strasbourg in 1349 in response to the Plague does say a lot about the morality of the time.  It's a lot less shitty now, but that doesn't mean that it's not discouraging to see how malleable morality is to many people.


August 23rd, 2018 at 1:51 PM ^

I have said this before but it's worth repeating here. In a subculture (like major college and pro athletics) with high egos, a lot of money, and a clear "winner" you are going to attract a lot of very driven, but morally "challenged" people. Wall Street is a great comparison to this and many of those guys make Urban Meyer look like a saint. National and maybe even state politics is similar.




August 23rd, 2018 at 3:00 PM ^

The world is getting better.  100 years ago this wouldn’t even have been a story.  How Zach Smith treated his wife would have been considered nobody’s business but his.  Hell, even a decade ago this might not have been a big story.  Society is changing the way it deals with violence against women.  Ohio State’s handling of this shows how far we have to go but the near universal condemnation they are receiving is a good thing.


August 23rd, 2018 at 3:00 PM ^

The world is getting better.  100 years ago this wouldn’t even have been a story.  How Zach Smith treated his wife would have been considered nobody’s business but his.  Hell, even a decade ago this might not have been a big story.  Society is changing the way it deals with violence against women.  Ohio State’s handling of this shows how far we have to go but the near universal condemnation they are receiving is a good thing.


August 23rd, 2018 at 11:43 AM ^

The other part that has me completely throwing my hands up is the attitude that damn fanbase has/will have as time marches on about it.  They. Don't. Care. About any of it.  All they care is wins and losses and one particular win in November.  As long as that happens, they'll continue to sweep it under their collective rug and just say, "Eh, we still beat you" and whatever the fuck time it is and Michigan still sucks.  They can't spell the damn name of the damn state without two people, they have no other hope or distraction to latch on to so they'll justify anything to keep that asshole as their coach. They poop in coolers, start fights with opposing fans as it's some sort of joke, piss off of balconies on other fans as if it is their right/job to do so...and DON'T care a damn bit how it looks.  

I know Michigan is hated for a number of reasons, but for the reasons why the osu fanbase is hated...I'll gladly make that trade.  

Fuck that whole damn institution and their entire fanbase.

/ramble over

Bando Calrissian

August 23rd, 2018 at 11:53 AM ^

Look at Bucknuts editor Dave Biddle yesterday, whose only retort to Meyer critics was "you're just mad about 15-2 in this century." And then he took on Nicole Auerbach with the same crap.

No, we're mad because your coach is an irresponsible waste of humanity who kept employing an even bigger waste of humanity because his grandfather was a legend.

And that was before Ace managed to dig up a pile of Biddle's misogynistic posts and messages dating back several years. Which Biddle seems to once again chalk up to Michigan fans being mad about wins and losses. It's about us, not him. Just like Urban.

No. Your program is indefensible, your fanbase is indefensible. After lo these many decades, why is it always you people?

Watching From Afar

August 23rd, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

And the BEST part with the whole Biddle thing is he has called ACTUAL SCREEN SHOTS OF HIS COMMENTS fake news or "generic email responses."

Like, what the actual fuck dude. Someone sees me run over a baby in the street and I'll just say, nope, FAKE NEWS! You doctored your eyes to see the baby get run over but I didn't do it! LIAR!

It's fucking ridiculous. I don't even know how to have conversations with people anymore.


August 23rd, 2018 at 1:00 PM ^

is earle bruce the only OSU coach who had any reasonable success, who didn't also face some sort of significant discipline for misconduct?

  • woody - fired for punching a player
  • tressel - fired for violating ncaa rules
  • meyer - suspended for covering up domestic violence