Jihad The Second: "Current And Former"

Submitted by Brian on September 2nd, 2009 at 11:36 AM

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?

Deadspin:

All the accusations in the article came from Michigan's own players and not just the ones who fled the program.

Rittenberg:

"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.

Wojo:

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:

Warren:

(HT: Scout.)

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!

Comments

Jorel

September 2nd, 2009 at 5:20 PM ^

... it's entirely possible Sharp doesn't have all the details on the sources Rosenberg and Snyder cultivated. I don't count his opinion on the matter for much no matter which way it bends.

The Schad ESPN report with mention of a current player that started some games last year indicates its quite possible that some (at least one; maybe more) of the sources were current players other than the freshman quoted in the article.

Yostal

September 2nd, 2009 at 11:47 AM ^

Brian, as I parsed Backus' quote, it rings like something I would say when I know what my experience was like and would not presume to speak to anything beyond it, partly because I don't want to further speculate and because I would be concerned that I might look foolish if I turned out to be wrong.

It's not the strongest statement of support and it could be spun as suspicion, but really I see it as a guy who is solely speaking to his experience.

me

September 2nd, 2009 at 12:03 PM ^

Brian I think this is that original Joe Schad report you're talking about

http://abclocal.go.com/wabc/story?section=news/sports/college/football&…

A current member of the Michigan football team, who has started, also told ESPN his in-season Sundays at the football facility lasted from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., although he acknowledged the first two hours were spent in treatment, which is not counted against the restricted hours.

I'm not sure why it linked to abc because this is the google result for Schad as an author:

http://news.google.com/news/search?um=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=author%3A%22Joe+…

EDIT: It's the third one in the search

I will say though that ESPN kept editing the main article they had on this story. That's probably why you can't find it. For example, on Monday the story had that Big Ten officials were in Ann Arbor investigating. However, later that afternoon the same story had quotes from the Big Ten saying they don't investigate these things. Of course this change wasn't pointed out at all.

MVictors

September 2nd, 2009 at 12:20 PM ^

This report is attributed to ESPN news services and at the bottom credits Schad and the AP:


"A current member of the Michigan football team, who has started, also told ESPN his in-season Sundays at the football facility lasted from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., although he acknowledged the first two hours were spent in treatment, which is not counted against the restricted hours.

The player said this season players will be off on Sundays, practicing on Mondays.

The player said he worked out about twice as many hours as the allotted eight per week in the offseason. He asked strength coaches why the workouts seemed excessive and was told that some parts of the exercises, such as core work and injury prevention, were not counted as required.

Don

September 2nd, 2009 at 12:26 PM ^

"But in certain instances, malice combines with stupidity and is then coated with a thick layer of arrogance, creating the most toxic substance in the universe."

Don

September 2nd, 2009 at 12:34 PM ^

I'm sure everyone at the Freep, including Rosensnyder, are patting themselves on the back so hard that they're going to need rotator cuff surgery. There are probably sizeable short-term gains in the sale of the print rag and increases in the online activity. However, in the long term, I suspect the Freep has permanently alienated a large chunk of readers in southeastern Michigan with a ham-handed "investigation" that would have made Joe McCarthy proud.

Undefeated dre…

September 2nd, 2009 at 12:43 PM ^

Well, I may get negged for this. But much as I disagree with how the Freep and Rosenberg presented its 'investigation', I'm old enough to think that a video tagline of "Rosenberg confronted" with an image of Hitler beneath it is not appropriate.

"But it's funny!", I know, I know. I've heard funny jokes about plane crashes, too, but they still make me feel a little twisty inside.

03 Blue 07

September 2nd, 2009 at 2:19 PM ^

I have to say, that video was really, really funny. However, Hitler...man, that's kinda tough. Especially considering given his last name, I'd imagine Rosenberg is Jewish. I mean, I'm just saying... it's kinda pushing it.

But yes, I will absolutely say that I thought it was magnificently subtitled and pretty damn funny. Just may not be in the best taste.

Undefeated dre…

September 2nd, 2009 at 4:06 PM ^

I laughed pretty hard at one of the earliest versions of this, which was when 'Hitler' was discussing HD-DVD vs. Blu-ray. Back then, it was a novelty.

But you're right, it is a meme now. SHOULD it be a meme? Hitler was a singularly evil, REAL presence in the world, responsible for the deaths of millions. Now he's reduced to parody. And when the name 'Rosenberg' appears above said parody, it just ain't funny anymore. Because Hitler would have wanted to exterminate somebody named Rosenberg, not because of what he wrote or did, but because of his name and who his parents were.

StephenRKass

September 2nd, 2009 at 3:15 PM ^

The video is funny. But I think to use it is unwise. Why?

1) Because Rosenberg, presumably, is Jewish. (must say, I don't know . . . this is an assumption.) Regardless, I think it is bad form to make an analogy between a Jew and Hitler. Everyone has their sore points: Muslims and Allah, Catholics and the Pope (sometimes), Jews and Nazis. Just don't go there.

2) Because it opens mgoblog to criticism. And I want mgoblog and Brian to be beyond reproach. The problem is that MSM hold bloggers to a very high bar. You get enough criticism as it is without inviting it.

3) Because of Rosenberg's track record. Specifically, given the way his original article was written, I could see this whole piece being spun: "Mgoblog uses unprovoked anti-Semitic slur against Rosenberg. Free Press is exploring unexamined connection of Mgoblog to White Supremacy groups."

However, I am thrilled in general with the great coverage on mgoblog of so much this week.

jsimms

September 2nd, 2009 at 1:00 PM ^

ok ,it appears that the only current players that were interviewed were freshmen who were unfairly not told what the interviewer was trying to accomplish---good

but i think the issue that needs to be addressed eventually is that this whole firestorm over this issue [and maybe going back to the initial leaks/suggestions to the reporters] shows just how many big shots/university insiders cannot stand something about the current athletic department. perhaps they are against bill martin, perhaps they hate rich rodriguez and want him gone now, whatever it is i think the attacks will not stop until one side defeats the other or some sort of compromise is reached.

Token_sparty

September 3rd, 2009 at 9:46 AM ^

In the field of rampant speculation, I am unmatched.

I work at the U, in another 'auxiliary' department (read: we won't help you do jack, unless you make money, and then we'll help ourselves to it), and after I got over the first thrill of 'ha ha, Michigan's in trouble!', I gave it another think. I believe someone in the AD and/or higher administration is using contacts with their Freeple to try to get Coach Rodriguez to quit. Why else would the Freep publish an article about Rodriguez getting sued (seek and ye shall find) for some construction deal that went wrong? Note that the article doesn't mention how the reporter came to know about the suit, but it does mention that Coach Rodriguez was served in his office. Hmm, might someone in that office have called their Freeple to spread the noose? This is the kind of backbiting that used to go down at State, for crying out loud.

Please, let's not kid ourselves either about the Freep's dedication to truth, justice, and the American Way. Mitch Albom still writes for them- that's all I need to say. They wouldn't know a story if it bit 'em in the ass, and now they have turned Rosenberg from semi-decent reporter to RichRod-hating zombie.

That said, here's the pattern. First, the Rosenberg hash. Next, dig up some other dirt and put it in the paper. After that, you have President Coleman promising a 'thorough' investigation, with outside counsel lawyer dudes checking the shredder and everything. And I'm sure you have good ole' Bill Martin whispering in Coach's ear, "You can make this hard or easy, how do you like it?"

Maybe I'm jaundiced because I've seen some shady stuff go down, but I believe this is more witch hunt than 'sweep under the rug'. NOTHING happens accidentally at Michigan. And to those people, I say 'Eat a d*ck.' I HOPE Coach Rodriguez wins out this year (every game but one). I HOPE he crashes the Regents meeting with Big and Rich singing that horrible 'Coming to your Citay' song. I HOPE he is successful in driving the vermin back underground again. F*ck those weasels.

wolverine1987

September 2nd, 2009 at 1:06 PM ^

I disagree with the prevailing sentiment that this will end up as nothing, for one reason: the school administration and board of trustees.

In my opinion, the outside investigation will find something that breaks the technical spirit of the rules--sure, every top school does it, but the fact that they all do it means that there is something to find. And they are not being investigated either, we are. So when they find that something, if you think that the administration will conclude it is minor and then do nothing, IMO you are naive. They will uphold the Michigan name by doing self-punishment of some kind, which will then, to our detractors, be an admission of guilt, which will then keep the story going and in some fucked up way validate the Freep in some idiot minds.

Trust me, i don't want this, and agree with the general mgoblog debinking, but I have a hard time believing the above will not happen.

Undefeated dre…

September 2nd, 2009 at 1:55 PM ^

My guess is that something will happen akin to what happened with the academics issue. Either a new position is created and/or a new process is instituted that will pay lip service to making sure students know what voluntary means and their rights are preserved.

Keep in mind that the NCAA wants NO PART of this. Because if Michigan finds problems, then every other school will find problems, and the NCAA does not want that. My guess is that they will either explicitly or implicitly encourage Michigan to act as I described above (unless, of course, truly serious violations did occur).

maizenbluenc

September 2nd, 2009 at 5:34 PM ^

Brian -

You should take down the Hitler video. While kinda funny, and well done, it only gives Rosenberg an angle to denigrate and marginalize your site, thus making him appear the victim and more legit.

I can just see the headline tomorrow: "mgoblog equates Rosenberg to Hitler, site full of other falsities, and funded for propaganda purposes by Rich Rod and banned boosters ....."

baorao

September 2nd, 2009 at 6:13 PM ^

a headline and topic of widespread discussion, I'll eat my hat. The way they look down on bloggers means they probably wouldn't give any real tasteless insults the time of day, let alone narrowly perceived ones.

quiqsilver

September 2nd, 2009 at 7:31 PM ^

I'm the author of the video in question. I have no problem with Mr. Rosenberg. Frankly, nothing about him is my concern. I do have a problem with something he calls journalism. A few comments refer to a possible detail about Mr. Rosenberg that is coincidental and completely immaterial to both the goal and content of the video. This is comedy, folks -- like an article about football players doing way too much football stuff -- except that the video was crafted for that purpose. The great thing about comedy is that it's not about being tasteful, it's about being funny.

Crime Reporter

September 2nd, 2009 at 11:41 PM ^

Sorry to be OT, but the actor who plays Hitler in this movie is so spot on it's scary. Everything from his mannerisms to his German. The Hitler in Valykrie, while limited on the screen, did a good job at picking up on little ticks Hitler had toward his later years, but this guy, damn. I want to rent this movie.