Morgan Trent Is Not All In

Submitted by Brian on May 10th, 2010 at 12:27 PM

greek-riots-police-eu morgan-trent-ron-english

Another week, another riot. We are all Greek. The cause of this one:

At the end of the book, Deren describes the scene with Lloyd Carr, the former Michigan head coach that recruited Trent to Ann Arbor, breaking the news to Trent that current head coach Rich Rodriguez did him no favors.

“Rodriguez had bad-mouthed him to every NFL scout he could,” Deren writes. “Rodriguez claimed that Morgan was lazy, he had an attitude problem and he was a big reason the Wolverines finished with a 3-9 record…”

Trent admits the words were “jarring,” and they were hard to understand given that he was so serious about his career that he actually moved in with his brother and sister-in-law and their two small children while going to Michigan. [ed: "Morgan Trent was so serious about football he decided to save on rent."]

But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez. “I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.” …

“I guess it was motivation,” Morgan says of the words that Deren estimates may have cost him $1 million. “(I) want to show people it was all false.”

Consider it done.

Here we go again, after one hell of a game of telephone from Rodriguez to NFL scout—at this point the story can get passed to and fro ad nauseum—to Carr to Trent to book author Deren. Rodriguez issued a denial

“The comments attributed to me are inaccurate and absolutely ridiculous,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I said just the opposite about Morgan Trent to NFL scouts and wish him well with the Bengals.”

…but even so, don't you kind of believe it anyway? Don't you sort of want to believe it? I believe Rodriguez told NFL scouts some version of what Deren says. I also believe that Trent was a lazy player with an attitude problem who was one of the main reasons Rodriguez's first team was a jumbled sack of cats attempting to claw in 20 different directions. Even if he didn't say it, I believe the words attributed to Rodriguez are accurate.

Trent's personal animosity towards Rodriguez has been made plain. We've previously established around here that football players are not compliance experts and the distinction between countable and non-countable hours befuddles even said experts. A former player's opinion on Michigan's we're-talking-about-stretching violations says more about his relationship with Rodriguez than anything about the violations. It's a Rorshach test. What Morgan Trent sees*:

"I'm not surprised because I know what happened, and I know what kind of rules were broken. I couldn't see how they were going to get out of that."

"Whatever steps need to be taken (to restore Michigan's winning tradition), I'm all for it. What is happening right now obviously is not working. I don't know how long they're going to let this last until changes are made."

What Brandon Graham sees:

"Coach Rod’s a good coach, and people are just trying to get him in trouble to me," Graham said.

So Morgan Trent is not disposed to give Rodriguez the benefit of the doubt when Lloyd Carr convenes a special meeting of the Anti-Rodriguez illuminati with the express purpose of revealing the dastardly secret carried about by Rich Rodriguez…

stonecutters_song_1

who controls the practice logs?
who puts Michigan Stadium in a bog?
weeeeee dooooooo… we do!

…that any Michigan fan could already have told you.

Here is the reason Morgan Trent went in the sixth round:

coverbad1_thumb coverbad2_thumb coverbad5_thumb

this happened like eight times in that game

He was not particularly good at football. He badly regressed after a promising junior season. Then when he went to the Shrine Bowl he "struggled," reinforcing the opinion of scouts "already down on him." The reason for this is now obvious: he hated the transition to Rodriguez, probably hated the coach himself, and spent a year half-assing it. The responsibility for this lies with Morgan Trent, even if he was so serious about football he lived with relatives(!). Attempts to deflect it only reinforce the very criticism (possibly) leveled by Rodriguez. It had nothing to do with the quality of the team, as Trent claims elsewhere in the article. A guy from Hillsdale went in the third round this year. The Bengals hadn't even talked to Rodriguez and still waited and waited and waited to take him.

During the very moments when Trent was doing whatever it was that made him a team cancer, Brandon Graham was turning himself into a first-round pick. We have not had any reports on what Rodriguez told NFL scouts about Brandon Graham, but dollars to donuts they were along the lines of "draft this man first overall and ask if he will adopt your kids." The reason Rich Rodriguez would say this is because of the things Brandon Graham did. You see, Rudy?

Now, there are a disturbing number of people who look at the Rich Rodriguez inkblot and see big pointy teeth. One major reason for this is that Rodriguez appears to be much harder on his players than Lloyd Carr. It's the very tippy top of the peak of hypocrisy for any Bo-venerating Michigan fan to look down on Rodriguez for this (his failure to resemble Bo in the win column is another matter). Part of that veneration is accepting the idea that being a coach often involves being very harsh to people who aren't living up to your expectations.

I wish that Rodriguez had managed to enter more smoothly but don't really blame him for the massive culture clash no one from fans to players to athletic director anticipated. He has a track record.

To be perfectly blunt and enraging to the denizens of the comments who get enraged when people pop on here and say dumb MLive-type things about departed players, I do blame Trent. Michigan is not going to be in good shape if Rich Rodriguez leaves after this year, and Trent would clearly like to see that happen and is operating either without a care as to how his inability to suck it up affects the program or with the express intent of getting rid of Rodriguez. Loyalty to the institution does not occur to him. It appears that correcting the record is so important to him that he's willing to sell out his alma mater to refute allegations that may not have actually happened and no one knew about. In doing so he's convinced me that the potentially fictional and definitely obscure allegations are true.

So… congratulations Morgan. You've invented a variant on the Streisand Effect.

As for Carr, he gave explicit permission to Trent to sell Rodriguez out in this book:

But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez. “I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.”

No, just Rodriguez. Any question as so whether or not there is a major rift between the two coaches is now gone. If there wasn't, Carr would have talked to Rodriguez about it. He would have gotten some clarification or a denial or something, and he wouldn't have presented it to Trent in the fashion he did. If he didn't do that, he would have told Trent to shut up when given the opportunity.

If there is really a New Era of Accountability in the athletic department, Carr and David Brandon should have a come-to-Jesus meeting in which Brandon does a lot of screaming. Trent is a pissed-off kid who was working for a scholarship. Carr is supposedly a program icon and an athletic department employee. Michigan shouldn't be paying someone who is actively working against the interests of the athletic department. It's obvious that Carr could have helped smooth things over with any number of players but chose not to, chose to exacerbate things in certain situations. He could have been of help during the transition; he was the opposite.

Through it all, Rodriguez just grits his teeth and asks if you've heard his Lion King joke. I shudder at the tell-all book that will inevitably follow a Rodriguez canning.

*(meta: I had to link to a mgoboard message board post instead of the News because the News shoved their story behind a paywall a month after they posted it. No one is ever going to pay for that article. Go newspapers.)

Comments

MGoShoe

May 10th, 2010 at 12:36 PM ^

...and Lloyd Carr's response to it may suprisingly become the acid test for his continued official association with the Athletic Department.

clarkiefromcanada

May 10th, 2010 at 12:45 PM ^

Attributed material to Lloyd Carr full of innuendo and supposition is not necessarily fact. Lloyd Carr is a good man who may or may not have issues with Rich Rodriguez; neither of them deserve their reputations sullied by this sort of pseudo journalism.

Lloyd Carr is a class act who has represented the University of Michigan admirably. There is nothing in the material presented that would impact his role in the AD.

Man, the offseason sucks.

Clarence Beeks

May 10th, 2010 at 12:39 PM ^

Great post as usual, Brian.  I'm glad to see that the "Carr may be part of the problem" idea is no longer something held in the same regard as conspiracy theories and automatic mountains of "negs".  It's obvious there is a huge disconnect there still with Carr and the current direction of the athletic department and the sooner that they address it, the better.

Six Zero

May 10th, 2010 at 1:15 PM ^

Carr's stance, not surprising given his personality in the past, is that this is now Rich's team and he doesn't want to hover over him and step on anyone's toes.

That sounded good about 10 months ago.  Truth is now, toes have been broken, and it's time to open your mouth Lloyd.  You're either with the team, or you're against it.

So which is it???  Silence certainly doesn't imply ambivalence in this case.

Naturally, I feel compelled to say that I've always been a fan of Coach Carr, his sense of integrity and fairness, and his George Washington-esque quality to run the ship the right way.  He may very well feel that Rich's regime is compromising the ideals of Bo's, no, of Fielding Yost's Michigan, and he may not even be entirely wrong... but at this point you're either part of the problem or part of the solution.  This is currently Michigan, and if he can't stand behind that it is his responsibility to step down.  Wow, I can't believe I just said that.

MGoBender

May 10th, 2010 at 3:33 PM ^

"what's clear is that carr believes that saying nothing is the same as being neutral.  it isn't."

I wouldn't say that.  If Carr believes RR should be fired (it's his right to have that opinion), then the best thing he can do for the program is keep his mouth shut.

I think we can agree Lloyd is not going to lie to everyone just to keep everything all roses.  So, he either comes out against RR and all hell breaks loose, or he keeps his mouth shut.

However, what he shouldn't be doing is advising players to degregate the program.  Now the line has been crossed and as Brian mentioned it, Brandon needs to get people in the AD all on the same page regardless of their personal opinions.  If you don't like RR fine.  But you do nothing that hurts the program or the University.  That simple.

BlueintheLou

May 10th, 2010 at 12:43 PM ^

Props on intertwining the Michigan Athletic Department, Morgan Trent, and the Stonecutters all in one swoop.

Serious question though, would there have been any blowback from Rodriguez simply stating that he did say those things, because he did have a bad work ethic and did have a poor attitude? I mean, honestly, all these kids should know, as do all college kids, that your work reflects on you. That's the point of letters of recommendation. You bear the fruits of your labor. Could Rodriguez have gotten in trouble for truthfully "bad-mouthing" a former player that likely deserved it?

Hell, if I was Rodriguez, and I didn't say it, I might have still said that I said those things.

wooderson

May 10th, 2010 at 12:58 PM ^

Yes, think about recruiting.  It doesn't matter how good your reasons are, you can't sell your guy out.  The #1 thing blue-chip recruits are looking at in a school is how that program can prepare them for the next level.  If they think a coach might - for any reason, justified or not - speak negatively of them to NFL teams, then they WILL NOT attend that school.  Michigan's recruiting will fall off the cliff it's already hanging over if Rodriguez gets the reputation as a coach who would be willing to do that.

Rodriguez should deny this to the death and pray the Bengals or another NFL team doesn't confirm Trent's story.

bronxblue

May 10th, 2010 at 1:01 PM ^

I think the problem with such a statement is that it would be public and I do not think RR is the type of guy who would put something like that out there, knowing it would probably haunt the kid for years.  That's kind of the unfairness with this whole situation - only Trent and co. are allowed to say what is on their collective minds because nobody will take them to task for "speaking to power."  But if RR stepped up the mic and said "Trent had a bad attitude and didn't buy into what we were doing.  I'm not saying that our struggles my first year were due to him, but he certainly didn't help matters," he would be vilified because he is the head coach at Michigan and he is personally "attacking" one of his former players.  It's not fair, but I guess that is one of the shakes with being a head coach.

Blue in Seattle

May 10th, 2010 at 2:50 PM ^

Rich Rod does understand it, and Lloyd never really wanted to.

In today's new environment you have to provide a yes or no answer.  And I believe that Rich Rodriguez completely did NOT say what is in that quote.  I believe his response completely.

"“The comments attributed to me are inaccurate and absolutely ridiculous,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I said just the opposite about Morgan Trent to NFL scouts and wish him well with the Bengals.”"

because this is what he supposedly said, "Rodriguez claimed that Morgan was lazy, he had an attitude problem and he was a big reason the Wolverines finished with a 3-9 record…"

Now, does anyone think any NFL scout would really accept the last part of the statement, even if a coach were irrational/crazed enough to state it? "this person was a big reason for the results of our season?" No way, and I don't think RR is dumb enough to believe that an NFL scout would want to hear that, so if I were RR, and was taking a beating in the press even when I don't give them something, there is no way I say anything but "that's crazy I said nothing of the sort,"

Now, from my experience in interviewing people to work for me, recommending people to work for others, and my own hiring at several companies, do I believe that RR was asked by NFL Scouts to list Morgan Trent's weaknesses, or things to work on?  And maybe RR said something like, "he could have put more effort on his technique this last year in preparing for the combines..." Or how about in the context of RR saying only good things, and then an NFL Scout bringing up some of the weaknesses exposed in film from Senior year?  If I were in RR's shoes and asked to provide my professional opinion of a player to another talent expert who asked a legitimate question I'd give it the best spin I could, but I wouldn't completely ignore the facts because then my own credibility comes into question, thus in the most positive I imagine the response as, "hey he had great years before I got here, and this transition was rough on him as a senior, so what you saw in lack of effort was caused by that, but he's a great kid and has the skills and is ready for the next level.

Now, could that easily filter back through many tellings to Lloyd Carr, and become the statements that are being put into a book?

Hell yes, I've experienced far worse contortions of things I've said, and had to recharacterize them.  But I've never had to do it in the environment that football coaches live in, or really anyone else in a national spotlight.

There's only time for yes or no answers in today's media environment, and even with that, people still believe what they want to believe, and will google up the "facts" that make them feel better.

 

ish

May 10th, 2010 at 12:43 PM ^

just to be clear regarding trent's loyalty:

loyalty doesn't necessarily require that you side with the current regime.  it requires that you do what's best for the institution.  however, in this case, both outcomes are the same - what's best for the institution is that RR succeed and so loyalty requires trent to STFU and refrain from criticizing RR.

bigstick

May 10th, 2010 at 12:48 PM ^

Hypothetical Summary

1.  NFL Scout to RR:  "What about Trent?"    (A reasonable question)

2.  RR to Scout:  "Some talent, didn't buy in, didn't work hard."  (A reasonable answer)

3.  Scout to LC:  "What about Trent?"  (A reasonable question)

4.  LC to Scout:  "He worked hard for me."  (Again, a reasonable answer).

5.  LC to Trent:  "RR sold you out."    (WTF??!!??)

If this is true - and I stress "IF" - it seems that Brandon should run LC out of town on a rail.  I can't find any excuse or reason at all for LC (a current UM employee) to have contacted Trent to have that discussion.  None at all.   

 

 

ShockFX

May 10th, 2010 at 12:49 PM ^

If there is really a New Era of Accountability in the athletic department, Carr and David Brandon should have a come-to-Jesus meeting in which Brandon does a lot of screaming. Trent is a pissed-off kid who was working for a scholarship. Carr is supposedly a program icon and an athletic department employee. Michigan shouldn't be paying someone who is actively working against the interests of the athletic department. It's obvious that Carr could have helped smooth things over with any number of players but chose not to, chose to exacerbate things in certain situations. He could have been of help during the transition; he was the opposite.

This sounds productive.  I'm pretty sure Carr isn't actively working against the AD.

blueheron

May 10th, 2010 at 1:28 PM ^

I'm not going to neg you or anything, but it seems brutally obvious to me that there has been a civil war raging among the Michigan fans (of all levels of importance) since it became clear that Lloyd would be leaving.

Along those lines, I'm not at all sure that Lloyd isn't currently opposed to Brandon.

MaizeSombrero

May 10th, 2010 at 2:05 PM ^

The mind boggling thing is, how many of the fans that hate Rodriguez were the ones yelling for Carr to be fired/retired? A LOT! It just doesn't make sense. Sometimes I just wish people would stop being a fan of my team.

wolverine1987

May 10th, 2010 at 2:17 PM ^

I think Brian's condemnation of Trent as "a lazy ass" and "cancer" is BS.  One question: where is the evidence for that?  What quote have we heard from a player that this was true?  Until there is evidence for that view, I think it's BS to say that.   Now there IS evidence that he played badly that year, and there is evidence that he is ignoring the good of the program by making his comments.  So therefore it's open season in IME to attack both those aspects. I completely condemn Trent for letting this out in public--but that's no reason in my view to go beyond that unless we get evidence.

blueloosh

May 10th, 2010 at 12:53 PM ^

Let us not overlook the fact that this episode also provided us with what may very well be the worst sentence Mark Snyder ever put together:

But his path to getting there was a bit more challenging than he anticipated, according to a book released a few months ago by Rivals.com writer Bobby Deren, as it identified Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez as a factor in Trent slipping down the draft board, getting picks [sic] No. 179 overall, in the sixth round.

You can accuse Mark Snyder of many things, but don't say the man is afraid to insert a clause into a sentence.  He is unafraid.

But seriously--I challenge anyone to find and post a more poorly crafted sentence from a professional writer in 2010.  It may never be topped. 

mtzlblk

May 10th, 2010 at 2:37 PM ^

that sometimes players can have an axe to grind with a coach and can leave the program embittered and that this occurs under any coach with any group of 100+, Carr included.

Carr and Law had their differences and it obviously still lingers with Law.

Law just never came right out an made any public accusations or disparaging comments about Carr and no one called Law to feed him any negative comments that Carr may or may not have made about him.

Tater

May 10th, 2010 at 12:58 PM ^

Lloyd Carr needs to publicly clarify what he said.  And if he did say what is in the article, he should be "asked to retire" again, this time from any athletic department position.  AFAIC, Carr needs to prove that he is still a Michigan Man, and that the program is more important to him than any petty personal agenda.

The time for evasiveness is over.  Carr needs to stand up now.  If he doesn't, his silence will speak volumes concerning where his "loyalties" lie.

Space Coyote

May 10th, 2010 at 1:32 PM ^

I do think Carr needs to at least say something.  Not like a press conference or anything but at least write a letter or have an interview with someone clarifying his position.

 

I don't think Carr needs to do anything however to prove himself as a "Michigan Man."  He didn't just deeply care about his University and players and then say "Fuck 'em".  Either way, he needs to clarify his position, but never needs to prove himself a Michigan Man.

 

IME, I think a lot was taken out of context.  I'm guessing Carr said something to Trent that maybe Trent took as "RR sold me out."  I'm guessing Carr said something about not knowing why Trent slipped in the draft, "Maybe RR and I had conflicting points of views."  If Carr said anything negative about RR, which indeed he may have (though I'm not so quick to believe it in this context), I'm almost certain it was meant to be kept off the record.  A lot of us say things about co-workers, bosses, ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend's, so on and so forth, that we don't expect to get out and a bunch of people to hear.  I hope that's not the case, but if Carr feels that sort of way against RR, I understand him maybe saying something to Trent along the lines of "He wasn't my pick for the new head coach" (though maybe with a bit more color), and believing Trent wouldn't rat out the coach he "loved"

Robbie Moore

May 10th, 2010 at 1:38 PM ^

I literally got negged off this board a year ago for making precisely the same points.  I've been pissed at Lloyd from the get go on the RichRod hiring.  I realize Carr wanted someone else. Well, someone else wasn't hired, Rodriguez was.  And as someone who received great opportunities at Michigan, who got to be mentored by a coach like Bo, who got the top slot and all the money and status associated with arguably the best job in collegiate football, Carr's failure to support his successor is reprehensible. I thought he was a good man and he likely remains one.  But this will forever be a stain on his reputation.

1M1Ucla

May 10th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

who was prepared to become head coach when he retired.  After, what, 15 years he had no one ready to take over.  Poor.

Only one guy from his staff is now a head coach, Ron English at EMU, and he was at Michigan for only a couple years as an outside hire.  Everyone else has failed and moved on -- I think that list would only include Debord and Cameron.

Bo sent Jim Young, Gary Moeller, Larry Smith, Jack Harbaugh, Don Nehlen, Chuck Stobart and Bill McCartney on to good performances as head coaches at major programs.

That is the biggest indictment of Lloyd, ahead of leaving the cupboard bare and ahead of being, at best, a tepid supporter of his successor.

He hasn't earned a job at Michigan on that performance.

1M1Ucla

May 10th, 2010 at 2:53 PM ^

the irony.

Stan Parrish:

Career record as head coach: 59-52-3, including 4-41-1 in his last 5 seasons as a head coach.  Woo.

 

Brad Hoke:

Career record as head coach: 38-46, with two years in seven above .500. Woo.

 

Great Lloyd legacies -- thanks for reminder and the terrific irony!

VectorVictor05

May 10th, 2010 at 4:11 PM ^

Yeah and the Bo legacies you named were absolute world beaters...

Larry Smith:  143–126–7 (.532)

Jack Harbough:  117-94-3 (.555)

Chuch Stobart:  70-83-3 (.456)

Bill McCartney:  93-55-5 (.628)

Don Nehlen:  202-128-8 (.612)

And you can hardly call Nehlen a Bo "legacy"...the guy had already been a head coach at Bowling Green and made a stop at UofM before taking the WVU job.  Not exactly a pupil of Bo.

Also, it's only irony if I'm using Parrish and Hoke as a counter-point to your argument, which I am not.

VectorVictor05

May 10th, 2010 at 4:28 PM ^

Agreed, that wasn't my intent.

I'm just saying that by looking at the list provided, it's tough to say Bo was kicking out top notch college football head coaches.  The guys that ended up at UofM obviously were great (Moeller and Carr), but otherwise....meh.

I'm not gonna rag too hard on Lloyd for not developing head coaches, that wasn't his job.  His job is to bring in the best assistants for UofM, and being a good assistant does not guarantee future head coaching success.  The only problem I have w/ Lloyd in this regard, is him being upset that one of "his guys" was not given the reigns when he retired.  If they aren't qualified, they aren't qualified...simple as that.