Yes. Yes, it's a Downfall parody. But it's a good one.
Does it inadvertently Godwin itself, though?
"Current and former." Outstanding catch by diarist summit595 to lock in on this snippet of Drew Sharp's appearance on Dan Patrick:
Dan Patrick: Current players turned on RRod. What's that all about?
Sharp: Well the Free Press talked to a couple freshmen at media day. They gave an honest answer - that's what work days are like. They were surprised how long it was. Now there are some former players, who knows if they have an axe to grind, but it doesn't preclude the very real possibility that these guys are telling the truth...hard to believe all these guys are lying.
Oops. When presented with an opportunity to be Drew Sharp and rail about a lack of team unity, Sharp instead outs his colleagues' deception. As noted in an earlier post, the section on who the Free Press talked to and about what was confusingly worded and vague. You could even call it weaselly. Check it:
For this report, the Free Press interviewed 10 current or former players and the parents of four others.
The drop of "current and former"—the only place "current players" are mentioned aside from the "twisted" quotes from the freshmen—has led to a large number of people who dismiss the excessive practice charges to fret about Rodriguez losing his team. For example, two of the thee questions Rodriguez was asked on his ESPN appearance*:
Question: How do you explain loyalty among the players when 10 players former and current were interviewed?
Question: But how much unity is there if current players are talking to media but not to you?
All the accusations in the article came from Michigan's own players and not just the ones who fled the program.
"The most troubling parts about the alleged NCAA rules violations that took place in Michigan's football program aren't the accusations themselves, but who made them.
The bigger issue for Rodriguez is the splintering around his program, even inside his program.
There are dozens more. Sharp's revealed that the story's "current" players are limited to the freshmen. Neither has any problem with the program. All of the inflammatory quotes in the piece are from disgruntled transfers. This was obscured through either incompetence or malice.
(Side note: there is one report—which, unbelievably, I can't find, sorry—from Joe Schad with a "confirmation" from a current player, but he's not quoted. There's a big difference between saying "yes I was at the football facility from X to X," which we've all learned is an incredibly malleable statement in the eyes of the NCAA," and saying "Michigan has committed violations." [Update: Tom found it.])
*(Okay, maybe the press conference isn't the only time I'll be reminded of Lloyd Carr. Article headline: "The chemistry is tremendous.")
This is still mindblowing. More from, yes, Carson Butler:
"In college football, ain't too much voluntary," he said. "If the weight room is open, you're going to go. If it's a run, you're going to go, if it's a workout, you're going to go whether it was voluntary or not. That's every player on the team. For all of the years I was there, everything that was voluntary, I remember every player on the team being there.
"Especially at this level, you're supposed to be in there, and that's how it was."
Perhaps more importantly Butler describes the Sunday activities as "going over game film and making corrections." This is the second time a player has brought up film as a Sunday activity, with Toney Clemons the first. Video watching is explicitly stated as a non-countable hour by the NCAA. I need a graphic that has the national debt clock photoshopped to read "noncountable hours."
That article also contains quotes from Jeff Backus and John Jansen that are ambiguous. Backus:
"I know how it was when I was there - we went by the rules," he said. "As far as what's going on there now and how the players are being treated or whatever it is, I haven't experienced it.
"I know what happened when I was there and Lloyd (Carr) always had our best interest at heart."
Am I paranoid or is that less than a vote of confidence?
They found another Sacred Single Hardcopy Room. West Virginia did a cursory examination of their records and found nothing out of the ordinary:
"Based upon our looking back over the weekend, we don't feel we have any concerns," WVU's Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Michael Fragale said Monday. "We have checked it out and there has been nothing flagged and nothing out of the ordinary.
"There were no student-athlete complaints during the time (Rodriguez) was here."
This isn't surprising, but given that West Virginia's compliance department doesn't sound like a rinky-dink organization…
"Compliance was always around," one player said. "You couldn't do it even if you wanted to. There wasn't any rule-breaking going on because you couldn't do any of that with compliance around like they were."
…it does reduce the chances that Rodriguez was going ape at WVU without anyone noticing and casts further doubt on the idea that Michigan's operating recklessly outside of NCAA maximums.
Parents are not exactly fleeing. Forcier, Schofield, Stokes, and add Donovan Warren and Craig Roh to the list of players whose parents have been somewhere between supportive of Rodriguez (Forcier) and ready to burn down the Free Press (Stokes and Schofield, who's following up his earlier statement everywhere he can post it). Roh posted on the Scout free board:
Again, Coach Dews made it abundantly clear what we had to pay for and what the school was allowed to pay for, what our responsiblities were and what the school's were. I was tired of hearing about all the rules. It was like dealing with the IRS. There was NO push to report to school early, in fact we were told that if craig wanted to report to summer school early, it was on his dime and totally voluntary. Craig's summer was very balanced. He VOLUNTARILY asked to watch tape as much as he could. Nobody pushed him to do it or even suggested it. He had more free time than he wanted.
Lastly, I know for a fact that Craig missed workouts in the summer and even missed parts of at least three practices at camp so that he could attend class. He was excused with absolutely no repercussions by the coaching staff.
There's a good bit more. (I've reproduced the elder Roh's post in the diaries so that it's archived in a place more permanent than a message board, where it will eventually evaporate. Also while I'm in a parenthetical, HT: Genuinely Sarcastic.)
The elder Stokes and Warren called into WTKA. Stokes:
Daaaang. Kirk Herbstreit on Sportscenter:
"I think that it's a bit of a witch hunt."
"It's pretty easy to select a group of people to find that can turn their back on Rich Rodriguez after a 3-9 year."
"It's easy to pick on a guy...after the worst year in school history."
"I find this really insulting to everything that Rich Rodriguez and everything that he and his training staff have stood for."
Anyone notice that the opinion on this thing amongst the talking heads breaks down neatly into guys who played football, who universally think this is a crock, and journalists, who think this is brilliant? I mean, when Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman are laying into this thing you know there's not a former player on the planet who would say anything different.
Jim Tressel and a bunch of OSU players are also "providing moral support," in Hinton's words, which yes lol they want to keep Rodriguez around. But when virtually every coach in the Big Ten is saying something similar that speaks to muckrake fail. Hinton:
After three days in the headlines, I think it's safe to say the broad reaction has veered sharply in Michigan's favor from the standpoint that a) There's no effective way (short of staring into players' souls) to distinguish between what was actually mandatory and what was just strongly encouraged, if you know what I mean, and b) The precedent from an actual crackdown would send ripples toward the compliance departments of essentially every major program in the country, forcing halfhearted reforms no one cares about except, apparently, the Free Press. They got their investigation, but when you're up against a cultural norm so entrenched that Ohio State comes rushing to Michigan's defense, that boulder's not going anywhere.
And, finally. Johnny! Hey-o!