An Interview With Compliance Guy

Submitted by Brian on February 24th, 2010 at 11:29 AM

Bylaw Blog is the "Unofficial Blog of NCAA Compliance," which just goes to show that you can find anything on the internet. Its author is an anonymous employee in the compliance department of a Division I school who pegged Michigan's findings in a totally speculative post that some people got upset about but turned out to be accurate. He goes by Compliance Guy. I flagged him down and asked him a number of questions about where we are now and what's likely to happen in the future.

1. What is the process that Michigan has gone through to reach this point? I might be a little bit fuzzy on the details, but this is what I think has gone on so far:
- Article.
- Notice of Inquiry
- Michigan internal investigation undertaken with assistance/cooperation from NCAA.
- Michigan files report with NCAA
- NCAA responds with Notice of Allegations.
Is this an accurate picture of how the process works?

Flop the notice of inquiry and Michigan's investigation starting and you have the basic order. Michigan would have started the investigation the moment the story broke. At a certain point, either because of what Michigan was telling the NCAA or what the NCAA was hearing from somewhere else, the enforcement staff got involved and issued the Notice of Inquiry.

2. Past this point there are a couple more steps. Michigan will respond. They may or may not issue self-imposed sanctions. And then they'll go in front of the committee. How often do accusations of major violations get degraded to secondary violations in practice? Is the NCAA-issued NOA going to closely resemble the final findings at the committee or is it likely to get walked back? If so, how much?

A major violation case, once it gets to this point, rarely is argued back down to a secondary infraction. To get to a Notice of Allegations, especially in this case, the enforcement staff and Committee on Infractions would have worked very closely to decide if there were major violations, ultimately the COI's decision.

Individual major violations are sometimes downgraded to secondary violations during the response and hearing. In the Kelvin Sampson case at IU, one of the original five major violations--that Sampson and assistant coach Jeff Meyer gave Derek Elston a backpack and t-shirt and recruited him during a camp--was found to be only a secondary violation. Of course, the COI can add too, like the failure to monitor charge that came after the committee hearing.

The final report is going to look very similar. The most likely charge to be downgraded is actually the excessive practice, since it was never grossly beyond the limits like originally alleged by the ex-players. But the lack of documentation at the time makes it difficult for Michigan to prove that the violations were "isolated or inadvertent" and did not result in a "significant competitive advantage."

3. The five accusations:

1) Michigan quality control staffers "monitored and conducted skill development activities," assisted with "warm up and flexibility," watched film with players, and occasionally attended coaching meetings.
2) Similar in nature in points a) and b). c) consists of disciplinary measures after missing class in summer. d) consists of varying but relatively small amounts of excessive mandatory activity.
3) A graduate assistant lied during the process.
4) Rich Rodriguez "failure to monitor."
5) Athletic department "failure to monitor."

Are my characterizations of all these charges correct? If so, how serious are each of them?

#2 is, very generally, excessive practice. Michigan allowed excessive practice in one of three ways:

1) Did not count stretching and warm-up, thus requiring too much CARA (countable athletically related activity);

2) Disciplined players for missing class over the summer, when no required physical activity is permitted for any reason; and

3) Allowing excessive voluntary activity during the summer.

The third type is likely the most bewildering to fans. The NCAA tightly regulates even voluntary activity during the summer in football. The large team peer pressure and culture of discipline in football can cause it to get out of hand, so the NCAA limits how long you can work out with strength coaches in the summer, even voluntarily and sets periods of time where strength coaches cannot work out with football student-athletes at all.

The most serious charge is the failure to monitor charge for the university. It does allow for a wider variety of penalties. The "failure to promote an atmosphere of compliance" charge for Rodriguez means his continued employment at Michigan might change things. The ethical conduct charge is serious, but only really affects Herron. The other two violations are normally secondary in isolated incidents, but went on long enough to be considered major. Of the two, exceeding the coaching limits by a significant amount (11 is the limit with a total of five extra) is more serious.

There's also a sixth violation floating around, as an element of other violations but should be considered almost like a separate violation: the failure to submit practice logs for over a year and a half. Why that happened is going to be one of the COI's burning questions and the lack of the logs makes raising a defense to the charges that much more difficult.

4. On your blog you've recently documented a gradual broadening of "major violations" from serious dolla-dolla-bill ya'll type charges to considerably less severe violations, using the recent Arizona basketball issues as an example. Would these charges have gotten the same amount of scrutiny five, ten, fifteen years ago?

15 years ago, we wouldn't have the 24-hour news cycle that caused the violations to come to light in the first place. In addition, neither the NCAA nor Michigan would have had the resources to devote to discovering just how serious the violations were. Even now, we only know that limits were exceeded "some weeks."

But with larger compliance offices, bigger NCAA staffs, and a Committee on Infractions getting sick of the idea that secondary infractions don't matter, there is increased scrutiny. 15 years ago Michigan might have just reported a vague secondary violation and negotiated how much to reduce the practice time by. Now, just the fact that neither Michigan nor the NCAA has been able to completely quantify how big the violation was is not helping Michigan.

5. During the press conference new Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon downplayed a number of the charges, particularly the hours exceeded. Those were declared a misunderstanding about how stretching and other prep time was classified. It sounded like he was preparing a defense. If the NCAA and Michigan worked together on this, how could they be unfamiliar with this point of view? What is the probability that arguments like "it was a misunderstanding" will have any effect?

Brandon is preparing a defense, but at this point reducing the penalty is the more likely goal rather than winning an acquittal. Secondary violations need to meet two requirements: isolated or inadvertent AND did not produce a significant competitive advantage. Convince the NCAA of both and you have a secondary violation. Convince them of one, and you still have a major violation, but a lesser one.

Trouble is that the NCAA looks at what coaches and administrators "should" have known rather than what they did know. If the NCAA changes a rule, issues an interpretation, or releases an Educational Column (non-binding, technical discussions of the rules), a compliance officer is virtually presumed to have read it. And if the coaches were never educated about the rule, not only does it not save them, but it also becomes an element of bigger institutional charges like failure to monitor and lack of institutional control.

6. Michigan's handling of the situation has been fairly controversial on the internet because Michigan fans, rightly or wrongly, feel that the university's relative openness was detrimental in the Ed Martin case. Michigan has apparently been as accommodating as possible with the NCAA. Is inviting NCAA investigators in asking for trouble or a way to mitigate any potential sanctions? If you were in Michigan's position, what would you have done?

That's a tricky question because as a public institution, Michigan can only be so secretive. A great deal of the investigation can be open to the public via open records laws and the Freedom of Information Act. Look at the fervor caused by one informational meeting with the trustees that Michigan attempted to keep quiet.

What is the measure against which Michigan's openness is being judged? I'm sure most fans are pointing at USC and how the Reggie Bush investigation took five years and it seems like USC is in front of the COI almost out of the blue. But USC is a private institution, and doesn't have to worry about bitter rivals, wronged alumni, and nosy reporters demanding every scrap of paper. Michigan probably hasn't made public anything that wouldn't be made public before.

Looking back to the Ed Martin scandal, Michigan's willingness to cooperate was likely a key consideration in getting the second year of postseason ban overturned on appeal. Cooperating with the NCAA is wrongly portrayed as "going above and beyond vs. defending yourself." It's an obligation of being a member of the NCAA.

Michigan fans like to talk about the integrity and class in the program. If that means anything, it means acknowledging your mistakes, taking your medicine, and working to improve. It doesn't mean being difficult just because it seems USC is.

I think Michigan's handling of the case has been a model of how to deal with a major infractions case so far. And the result will likely be fairer penalties and a case that is disposed of quickly rather than casting a shadow on the program for a number of years.

7. Would one GA lying to the NCAA seriously hurt the university as a whole, assuming that he is then fired?

It's highly unlikely. A single, isolated unethical conduct violation generally hits the person who committed it rather than the institution. The primary tool the COI uses for this is the show-cause penalty, which states that any institution who hires the person must appear before the committee and "show cause" why they should not be punished the same way the previous school was.

As a counterexample, Dave Bliss' unethical conduct, in instructing players and coaches to lie in the Baylor case, is much more serious on an institutional level. When high level administrators (ADs, presidents, etc.), head coaches, or people who should know better (compliance staff) commit unethical conduct, it speaks to institutional control.

8. Is there any possibility Michigan escapes a major infraction at this point? What do you think Michigan's penalties will be? If you think some of the accusations are walked back, what would they be in that case?

It's almost a certainty that come October or November, Michigan will be back on probation. The Committee on Infractions generally doesn't start flimsy cases. Look again at USC. Since the original Yahoo! Sports report about Reggie Bush, the COI could have sent a Notice of Allegations as a fishing expedition. But given the fact that they were dealing with a major football program, they couldn't afford to have the case blow up in their face. So they continued investigating, interview, asking for documentation, and working with USC to develop the case until they had a slam dunk.

I'm also confident the same five charges in the Notice of Allegations will be in the final report. Like I said earlier, the excessive practice is the most likely candidate to be reduced, but Michigan lacks the best tool for doing so: detailed logging of practice time during that period. Consistent and timely logs, though mistaken, would have been the best evidence that the violations were all an honest mistake.

I expect a lengthy list of penalties, but none of which are too severe. Despite Michigan's status as a repeat violator due to the Ed Martin case, the death penalty is clearly not in the cards. [Editor's note: I think this is meant to be reassuring.] Neither are more severe penalties like a postseason or TV ban. In fact, Michigan doesn't even need to vacate wins (unless it self-imposes) because these violations do not affect eligibility. I think you'll see a list like this:

  • A reduction in countable coaches (one coach will have to be reassigned to a noncoaching position);
  • A reduction in practice with a shorter spring season in 2011 and/or reduced hour limits;
  • Possibly recruiting restrictions, including limiting the number of coaches off-campus at any one time;
  • Possibly a reduction of around three scholarships for a year or two;
  • 3-4 years probation (longer due to repeat violator status)

Combined I think they are a setback (which they're intended to be), but they aren't program crushing penalties that will take years to crawl out from like the Ed Martin penalties were.

[Ed: Many thanks to Compliance Guy. Again: Bylaw Blog is his internet home.]

Comments

David

February 25th, 2010 at 8:46 AM ^

Thank you. A voice of reason.

As the Bylaw Blog says, NCAA compliance is so complex that compliance departments need to be on the ball to educate coaches about the rules:

In addition to the large NCAA manual, there is a body of interpretive law that grows even faster. There’s also a body of case law that grows so fast you cannot possibly be expected to keep up with it, only peaking at the bits you need.

http://bylawblog.com/about-2/

Again, Rich is not "innocent" (the previous poster knocked down that straw man), but, again, the big problem was at the athletic department level.

M-Wolverine

February 25th, 2010 at 10:36 AM ^

" The biggest violations were because of stuff not under Rich Rod's command." Your words. Words that seem to absolve Rich of any blame for the MAJOR violations. If one has no command over a situation, we don't usually blame them for things out of their control, thus innocent. If you are splitting hairs that he's not totally innocent because he's to blame for some minor stuff, but not the major stuff, I guess that could remove the "totally". But who cares about the minor stuff? The program has gotten secondary violations before. But since the whole notion has been shown to be false shows that you are the only one putting up arguments with no basis in fact. It's not a strawman if you claimed it.

M-Wolverine

February 25th, 2010 at 10:27 AM ^

Edit: this is in response to Maizenbluenc's comment. Not sure how it ended up here, considering I could see his a), b), and c) as responding, and that post and the one it follows here were on different pages at the time...but sometimes I don't get the breakdown of post replies here...just to clear it up.

Thanks for the reasoned argument, rather than "lalalalalalala it's not truuuuueeeeee!".

The gist of the problem of the role of compliance comes down to this:

"a.    During the winter of 2008, shortly after head football coach Rich Rodriguez's football staff was hired, compliance services office staff members became aware that the football program employed quality control staff members (noncoaching sport-specific staff members) and were concerned about the duties and activities of those individuals. However, the compliance services office failed to gather appropriate information regarding the quality control staff in order to determine whether the duties and activities of those individuals were permissible. Additionally, athletics administrators with responsibilities in the football program failed to provide appropriate information to the compliance services office pertaining to the duties and activities of the quality control staff members upon request. This collective failure partly resulted in the violations outlined in Allegation No. 1. [NCAA Constitution 2.8.1]"

Compliance WAS concerned by the existence/duties of these positions. Which must NOT be universal, because earlier the NCAA requests the job descriptions and justifications for their reason for being. It seems Rich has created a whole new level of Intanglement that compliance did not understand and think was right. As I did say, and the NCAA agrees, the Compliance Department has the responsibility to point it out, and if they're not getting a response, to report it higher on up the ladder. It's said there was concern, and they couldn't get the paperwork on the positions from the coaches. It's in those details culpability lies. If they questioned it and got stonewalled, that's on the coaching staff, and it's QA representatives. Then, the failure for that occur SHOULD have caused that to be pointed out to the Athletic Director, and then the issue be put in his hands. (Which I whole-heartedly agree with - Martin's failure to run a tight ship, get the Department together, and reign in his coaches was a HUGE part of the problem).

The NCAA is also requesting the letters from Compliance requesting the CARA forms. Which seems to indicate that the University told them they exist. If there are letter requesting them, but the forms did not come in for a year, you can certainly ask why it took that long for them to make sure they were in. I ask why the letters weren't responded to, or complied with, and turned in. Yes, Compliance should say "Billllllll, we can't get the CARA forms...!!". But coaching staff or QA's, Rich Rod hires, should just...be...filling...them...out. When requested. And likewise, if ThEY dont understand something, they have just as much responsibility to say "uhm, hey, I dont get it...a little help here!".

At worst it creates the appearance of stonewalling and ignoring requests, probably more out of arrogance than any desire to cheat (which I guess would be the worst case, that they hired QA's to circumvent the amount of coaches limits, but I don't think that's really on the table), or incompetence. Best case Rich created a level of of staffing that created confusion, with ill-defined rolls that no one seemed to be able explain the rolls of clearly, that thusly had some impermissible overlap.

It's all there in the allegations. And it's not any one person's fault. But it seems the new infrastructure, created by Rich's ENORMOUS staff, filled with his guys, caused the confusion and problems, which the department didn't monitor or correct well enough. But my attitude is not that a coach gets to do anything if the department doesn't reign them in. That kind of ignores the political power of the coach vs. regular employees. He's the head guy...the guy getting the big bucks. It's his responsibility to know if he's unsure. And I think a Michigan coach should believe that. (And Rich may...it's not him making any arguments on posting boards like us).

M-Wolverine

February 24th, 2010 at 1:42 PM ^

The bar just got lifted higher. If the interview is to be believed, we're about to get hit with major sanctions, for the first time EVER. Now we're not talking loss of bowl streaks, but the streak of the appearance of integrity.

I do think 10 wins might be a little on the high side, but I do think he's gone up to probably needed to win 8 or 9 games to keep people happy. I'm less convinced that 7-5 will be a record he gets by on at this point. Where, before this, I thought that was at least possibly survivable.

03 Blue 07

February 24th, 2010 at 12:57 PM ^

Actually, once Fish found out that something sketchy was going on or U of M suspected it, they barred the players from having ANY conduct with Ed Martin and even showed his photograph to players and said "do NOT associate with this man."

And then Louis Bullock and Mo Taylor did it anyway. Why is that relevant? Because if those two knuckleheads hadn't linked up with Martin, after KNOWING not to and being specifically instructed not to, Michigan would've escaped any sanctions because the statute of limitations (5 year) would've lapsed before the NCAA got its hands on it.

Personally, I am more pissed at Bullock and Taylor than C-Webb, who was in Martin's pocket from the time he was like 14 or 15. Not to mention they were specifically informed of what kind of guy Martin was and instructed explicitly not to associate with him, and their blatant disregard of this mandate caused us to fall within the statute of limitations and, thus, all of the sanctions ensued.

Bando Calrissian

February 24th, 2010 at 1:22 PM ^

All great points. The one thing that's always majorly irked me about Bullock was that (if I'm not mistaken) his parents were doctors. He didn't grow up impoverished, he didn't particularly need the money. Yet he did it anyway.

What didn't irk me, however, was his sick stroke from behind the arc.

Mr. Robot

February 24th, 2010 at 12:21 PM ^

If I am understanding this correctly, this is why we're in trouble:

We went over the practice time limits because we weren't aware stretching counted. This resulted in no more than 20 extra minutes on Sundays and no more than 2 hours a week SOMETIMES.

We're in trouble about the 7-on-7 because there were staff observing that were not technically suppose to be coaches. The NCAA thinks otherwise though, so now we have a charge of coaches at 7-on-7s AND exceeding the maximum number of coaches.

A grad assistant lied and the NCAA doesn't like him.

We are still under probation for an incident that occurred over 15 years ago in a different sport involving a booster who has been dead for like 6 or 7 years.

David

February 24th, 2010 at 12:24 PM ^

Overall, this is bad news.

The penalties suggested will hurt the team's performance, but the stigma for recruiting will hurt it worse.

Bad, bad, bad.

robpollard

February 24th, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

I agree being on probation is not good news, but why would it affect recruiting? For example, you know who's been on probation for most of the past decade, including until 2012? Your current natl champs, Alabama.

The only time NCAA investigations hurt recruiting is when it results in a coach being fired. Based on Brandon's comments yesterday, that's definitely not going to occur b/c of this NCAA stuff.

Plus, this stuff was out there all of last recruiting cycle. Can someone point to one player we lost, who we had a reasonable chance of getting, b/c someone negatively recruiting by saying, "They'll be on probation soon."? Our recruiting was good (12-20 range) last year and by far the biggest reason it was not spectacular (i.e., Top 10) is b/c of 3-9 and 5-7, not the NCAA.

David

February 24th, 2010 at 1:41 PM ^

I think you minimize the effect this will have on the program. A few points:

1. Unlike at Michigan, violations under Saban did not result in scholarship reductions, reductions in coaching positions, or recruiting restrictions.

2. Between 2000 and 2007, after the NCAA violations came out, Alabama was pretty inconsistent. It seems to basically be the worst era in the program's history.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Alabama_Crimson_Tide_football_seas…

3. Finally, part of Michigan's competitive advantage is the whole "Leaders and Best" thing. It's about integrity, tradition, and doing things the right way. This case erodes our brand.

robpollard

February 24th, 2010 at 2:38 PM ^

Good points, but my quick thoughts:

1. Let's say Alabama would have lost 2 scholarships - do you think that would have prevented them from going 12-0 in the last two regular seasons? Doubtful, though perhaps there would have been a minor impact, I'll concede.

2) The reason for the Ala. lack of success is simple - coaching. Mike Shula largely presided over that dark era, did nothing of note before Alabama as an HC and nothing of note since. Now, they have Nick Saban, who may be an a*hole, but is top 3 in terms of college coaching. That explain success, not probation (or lack there of)

3) I agree with you that integrity is important just as a general rule of living. It matters to me. I'm sure other alums/UM fans (non-players) do as well. However, I have to say, based on my observations on recruiting, it's quite low (bordering on nonexistent) for the actual PLAYERS.

They care about 1) wins, 2) playing time/exposure for NFL, 3) relationship with the coach, 4) facilities, 5) girls/parties/weather/location, 6) academics. That order is shuffled for some folks (e.g., academics definitely DOES help UM with a select # of kids), but they only care about NCAA rules as far as impacts the other things. If you can find one quote from a 4 or 5 star player who says, "Well, I came to Michigan b/c they've never been on probation, as opposed to Oklahoma/Miami/USC/etc" (or something similar) that's one more than I'm aware of.

I mean take a look at USC. They've been on probation before (1980s - banned from bowl games); they've had a great deal of NCAA smoke/potential probation for multi-years now and v likely are soon to go on probation this year. Has it hurt recruiting? Except for maybe S. Henderson, not at all - they regularly pull top 5 classes b/c of wins, the coach, etc.

In short, it may matter to you. It may matter to me. But to recruiting (unless we're banned from bowl games)? Nope.

David

February 24th, 2010 at 5:12 PM ^

Good points. Thanks for the discussion. A few responses:

1. M will likely be hit with more than a few scholarship reductions. It will lose coaching time, spring practice time, recruiting time for coaches, limitations on off-campus activity, etc. In aggregate, I think those things will be a not-insignificant disadvantage. Perhaps I'm wrong.

2. Recruiting is all about perception. Our brand at Michigan was our strongest asset, and that's will take a hit. Will it cause all recruits to ignore us? Of course not. But I do think the spector/reality of "major violations" will hurt us in the eyes of 17-year-old kids. You may disagree, but I guess time will tell.

3. I don't know enough about Alabama football to discuss intelligently how their restrictions hurt the program. Either way, it's probably a poor analogy as their violations were much more severe than ours will be.

MI Expat NY

February 24th, 2010 at 12:37 PM ^

Those allegations sound quite a bit worse. We didn't have ineligible player participating and RR didn't fail to report upon learning of violations. So I'd imagine these punishments will be higher than what we could see. That being said, take out the bowl ban and I don't think any of those punishmants would harm us too badly.

michgoblue

February 24th, 2010 at 12:25 PM ^

I don't want to be too negative, but if we look at the likely punishments will be from Brian's interview, they are especially harmful to a young team such as ours:

1. "A reduction in countable coaches (one coach will have to be reassigned to a noncoaching position);"

Anyone watch our team over these past two years? We need as much position-specific coaching as possible. Think about the linebackers, special teams, etc. This doesn't sound glitzy, but this one will hurt.

2. "A reduction in practice with a shorter spring season in 2011 and/or reduced hour limits;"

Our team is young. We have a ton of guys who are switching positions, and the number of new guys coming in to key roles makes every hour of practice critical. Losing even an hour or so a week is harmful. While losing practice is never a good thing, to a team of largely 3-4 year starting upper-classmen, this would be less harmful.

3. "Possibly recruiting restrictions, including limiting the number of coaches off-campus at any one time;"

I don't want to start a whole discussion on whether start matter, whether our coaches are able to sniff out good sleepers, etc. (personally, I think that our staff is going a good job recruiting in light of all of the bs surrounding our program lately), but during our last few classes, including those under Carr, we whiffed on some big name prospects, and generally did not reel in a large crop of highly-recruited 5* OMG Shirtless studs. This, again, hurts. If USC receives this same punishment, it has virtually no effect - we, however, cannot afford this.

4. "Possibly a reduction of around three scholarships for a year or two;"

From what I have read on this board, we have very few open schollies for next year as it is. Losing 3 of them would be pretty damn bad, especially in light of the fact that this class contained virtually no linemen on either side of the ball and that we have already offered to a few projects.

5. "3-4 years probation (longer due to repeat violator status)"

Who cares. So long as we are careful not to do anything stupid, this has no effect.

Just my take on this - I am having one of those glass-half-empty days, I guess.

brianshall

February 24th, 2010 at 12:29 PM ^

so we aren't in shock when Michigan gets slammed for NCAA violations.

This is shocking.

I will say this and no I"m not a dick: I think these NCAA regulations are absolutely bogus. Not a SINGLE big time coach doesn't make it known that he expects your ass in the gym all the time, all the time, getting better and helping the team. If Michigan gets dicked for this then the NCAA either has to go after every other big conference team or admit they are a bunch o shiteaters.

That said...

While I've long said 2010 is RR's last and have long said his style of play does not fit here, if there are violations that even seem to the general public (not you rationalizers) that they are major, then he is gone. Immediately. Done. Toast. Fired. Maybe it won't be fair. Maybe he got dealt a bad hand. But there's a lot of bad blood within some small but influential segments of the michigan community, and RR's record has sucked here and if there's violations, the new AD will dump him, no matter what was or wasn't said at this week's press conference.

jg2112

February 24th, 2010 at 12:38 PM ^

You're wrong.

Everyone here is overreacting.

Brandon and MSC knew this was coming. If they blamed RR for these violations and were holding him accountable for them, do you (a) think they'd have let him talk yesterday, and (b) do you really think they'd keep him around after everyone at the meeting accepted responsibility for the violations (which, if they're major, gives Michigan grounds to terminate RR with cause and no buyout?).

No.

There are other actors in the athletic department which are equally at fault, or more, for these violations. They are being moved on or moved out.

RR will only be fired for on-field failure, not because of this. The table is set.

wesq

February 24th, 2010 at 1:23 PM ^

I want to make this clear, I really like RR, work at the stadium and have met the man. I love how much he cares about his kids I think the violations are the result of him trying to put his players in a structured environment that would help them succeed as men and not as way to gain competitive advantage. I am just being realistic to what I think this means for Rodriguez and this program. Major violations give the anti-RR that much more ammunition. Most of the alums/fans only care about the winning but if he isn't doing that definitively after this season I think he's in trouble.

Section 1

February 24th, 2010 at 12:42 PM ^

"But there's a lot of bad blood within some small but influential segments of the michigan community, and RR's record has sucked here and if there's violations, the new AD will dump him, no matter what was or wasn't said at this week's press conference."

Shouldn't somebody -- WE? -- report on that story? If there is an "opposition" to Rodriguez, why are they only discussed in whispers? Why don't we put names with those stories?

Are we talking about EMU Regent James Stapleton? Who is he? What is his role? What is his position? What are his intrests? Are there others, within the University of Michigan?

I'm not looking for an argument with you; I am simply saying, taking your presumption/assertion as true, and observing that there are "some small but influential segments of the michigan community," why don't we name them? What reason is there not to name them, on such an important topic?

MaizeAndBlueManGroup

February 24th, 2010 at 12:31 PM ^

But if compliance guy's predictions come true, I think the most damaging would be the reduction in number of practice hours/shorter spring 2011 season. With the amount of young guys we are playing, those hours are vital.

jg2112

February 24th, 2010 at 12:40 PM ^

Again, don't worry about it.

Michigan is going to get 15 additional practices this fall via a bowl game.

So, losing a couple of practices in the spring won't be that big of a deal. On the whole, Michigan will practice more next offseason than they will this offseason, and I'm sure the players will voluntarily practice to make up the difference.

M-Wolverine

February 24th, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

Yes, but it's still a couple less practices than our rivals get. Because they go to bowl games. Now, if you mean it's not nearly as much as we HAVE been missing out, you are of course, correct. But it's still a couple less than everybody else. The fact that we have been missing way more than that is not a reassuring defense.

BornInAA

February 24th, 2010 at 12:37 PM ^

You practiced too much because...
Somebody said so...
And you watched practices you were not allowed to because...
Somebody said so...
And you can't prove you did/did not because...
You didn't log your practices...
Because your boss (head coach) didn't make sure you were.

Is the NCAA turning Dilbert?

Dr Sardonicus

February 24th, 2010 at 12:42 PM ^

But this statement stood out: "I think Michigan's handling of the case has been a model of how to deal with a major infractions case so far. And the result will likely be fairer penalties . . . "

This seems to imply that if a school is uncooperative they will receive unfair penalties. Does he have examples of unfair penalties being imposed on uncooperative schools?

I mean, the schools which stonewalled/repeat offended over the years seem to have bounced back pretty quickly from whatever sanctions were levied (look at Kentucky around when Pitino arrived), so I wouldn't characterize those sanctions as severe or unfair. SMU's an exception, but that was over 20 years ago.

Steve in PA

February 24th, 2010 at 12:47 PM ^

She's really hot but something is just not right in the relationship. No matter what the two of you do it doesn't seem to be working, but you're keep trying because she's really hot and she's into you.

I think we're approaching that point with RR. We stay with him because we see that he's done some good things in the past and hope that in a Big-Time program he can take it to the next level. But, no matter what we've tried it just isn't working.

These violations are probably the last straw. Someone mentioned earlier 10 wins. I think that's high but 7 wins isn't gonna cut it this year for all the BS he's put the school through since coming. There comes a time when those in charge have had enough drama and I think RR is quickly coming to that point. Those in charge will take a few more bad years to end the drama.

I support RR until he's no longer the coach, but I'll also support just about whoever is the coach unless it's someone like Kiffin.

bronxblue

February 24th, 2010 at 1:26 PM ^

The problem with this outlook is that much of the drama really wasn't RR's fault. The buyout was something that the media made a bigger deal about, and frankly happens at most major programs. The subsequent media storm about the destroyed records, clearly fabricated by an angry local media guy (wait, where have I heard that before) had absolutely nothing to do with RR as a coach and everything to do with a couple of people unhappy with losing a good coach.

The massive attrition wasn't really RR's fault either - guys left because they didn't think they were a good fit. Boren, though, mouthed off on his way out, so that "lack of family values" stink was unfairly attached to RR even though he probably did nothing more than yell at players to work harder i.e. what every coach in America does.

Now, the Feagin issue does fall on RR, but he also remedied it immediately. The losses hurt, and those certainly fall on the coach, but let's not forget that at least part of the blame should fall on the last few Carr recruiting classes and the overall lack of depth on the defense. As for these violations, I'll wait for the final report, but I'm confident that RR's involvement was relatively limited. As Doc Saturday noted yesterday, this issue has everything to do with a local media guy scrounging for a story and virtually nothing with wholesale cheating or abuse of the rules. Go to any major D1 program (or into our own past under Carr, Bo, etc.), and you'll probably find similar violations.

If anything, the drama surrounding RR has been inflicted by a myriad of sources, many of which he has had little to no control over. I feel bad for him in that he walked into an unwinnable situation and has been lambasted ever since.

bouje

February 24th, 2010 at 1:33 PM ^

I was talking with my friend today and we both feel bad for him. But then my friend said "Maybe he's just not a good fit for Michigan" and to that I told him "He was never given a shot. People had already made their minds up on him before he even coached a game and that's a shame.

Because he has not gotten a fair shake from the Michigan community, the media or anyone really.

bronxblue

February 24th, 2010 at 1:45 PM ^

I agree. I think that if he had coached a bit better down the stretch last year (esp. beating either Illinois or Purdue), then he goes to a bowl game, possibly finishes with a winning record, and the story is completely different in A2. But that said, he has been under fire since day 1, and most of the fire wasn't due to anything he did save for deciding to follow Carr as head coach of UM. I still have faith that a guy who could turn WVU into a national power can coach. What does bug me, though, is how petty the media blitz against him has portrayed "UM fans" and the region in general. I don't remember ever seeing such a hatchet job by the local press to bury a guy, and it is disheartening to know that these idiots reach far more individuals, and frame national discourse about the team, than the myriad of bloggers and other non-traditional voices out there with clearly cooler heads.

michgoblue

February 24th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

Bronxblue, all of your reasoning is entirely valid - much (but not all) of what happened since RR arrived in AA was not his fault. Most of us on this board agree on that. But it happened anyway. And since it did happen, the next question we have to ask ourselves is can it be fixed? Some will say yes and some will say no. But, going back to the original poster's comparison to dating, sometimes you meet a girl and she is everything right - hot, fun, tolerates your obsession with college football - but it just doesn't work out. That same girl may be a perfect fit for someone else, but not for you. Sadly, I think that is the point that we are approaching with RR.

bronxblue

February 24th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

I agree that we might hit a point of no return, but I also expect that winning this year will really help to silence many of the critics. Just look at what 4-0 last year did - people were going crazy about RR. People like a winner, and if he wins 7-8 games this year (esp. if against OSU/PSU/Wiscy [leaders in the conference] and MSU [to keep the local media quiet]), then I fully expect this drama to die down quickly.