Reaction in two parts

Submitted by Brian on February 24th, 2010 at 3:00 PM

Player-TrackerVia the Hoover Street Rag 

There's a notable difference between third-party blog reaction and that from newspapers. Blogs first, with a focus on people who don't love or hate Michigan because of their team affiliations. Doctor Saturday:

Stare into the face of bureaucracy, Michigan, and quiver at its awesome power.

Know also that every program in the country -- and I'm pretty confident when I say every program -- would run afoul of at least one of those infractions (or similar ones; it's a big manual) on a somewhat regular basis, as the minimum cost of employing fallible human being while continuing to dead-lift with the Joneses. Other programs, however, weren't the target of an investigation by a major metropolitan newspaper that left no stone unturned in its efforts to make a splash against a high-profile program. Michigan was, which is why it was Michigan's coach, president and new athletic director (not even officially on the job for two more weeks) in front of the cameras today feigning contrition over barely spilt milk.

Team Speed Kills, which from its name you can probably deduct is an SEC blog:

That's it?
If this is all the NCAA could find after having a newspaper article for a road map, it leads to the conclusion that either (a) the Detroit Free-Press blew this way out of proportion or (b) the Association is even more incompetent than I thought. Since I'm not sure (b) is possible, we'll go with (a).

Get The Picture:

…when you look at what the NCAA is accusing Michigan of, there isn’t that much there.  So, yeah, the school is likely the victim of some journalistic hyperventilating by the Detroit Free-Press.

The Big Lead's Ty Duffy has a somewhat more negative take; he is a Michigan fan in the "kill him now" camp and not a neutral third party. I've scoured the RSS for other opinions, but the charges pass without notice most places. More locally, Black Shoe Diaries takes issue with DocSat's assertion that similar violations would be turned up everywhere:

We don't have any idea what's going on anywhere, I think that's the news.

Neither Yahoo blogger nor beat reporter and maybe not even football coach really are certain of anything; the rules are complex, all the source material is totally unattainable for most of us and we don't have an enforcement agency with the power to comfortably investigate.

Of course, like critics of the tax code often say, it's probably the complexity of the rules that make enforcement impossible and hopelessly selective. 

Other prominent Big Ten blogs like Black Heart Gold Pants and The Only Colors haven't even mentioned it. Eleven Warriors is fairly neutral:

…the allegations fall somewhere in between the minor and serious realms. The quality control staff is in position to take the blunt of the heat with Brandon reiterating Rodriquez’s job was not in imminent danger as a result of the findings — which I don’t think any of us ever doubted.

The yawning is everywhere.

Newspaper folk, on the other hand, tend towards the hysterical. The Wizard of Odds, which is a blog but is a blog written by a LAT refugee, demonstrates the overall tone:

Rich Rod Era at Michigan Reaches a New Low

Indeed. This guy in the "Niles Star" is about to get more hits than he's ever gotten in his life:

It’s time that the University of Michigan cuts its ties with coach Rich Rodriguez.
Tuesday was one of the lowest days in Michigan football history as the NCAA delivered its notice of allegations against the program.

I don't think this counts as a disinterested party, but the Orlando Sentinel's Andrea Adelson:

It is hard to figure out how Rich Rodriguez is going to survive this — no matter what incoming athletic director David Brandon says.'s Pete Bigelow unearths things like the Jonas Mouton Suspension Fiasco and the completely reasonable decision to negotiate the buyout in yet another This Hick Spit In Michigan's Vase (and that's "vaaahse,: not "vace") column:

At the time, Rodriguez dismissed the allegations as “unnecessary drama.”

Concerns can no longer be brushed aside. Not about the NCAA charges in particular nor the way Rodriguez conducts his program in general.

In too many instances, some large and some small, Rodriguez has written his own reality to the detriment of his program and the university.

Wojo's his usual reasonable self but even his column is a far cry from the "meh" you see above:

The NCAA didn't accuse Rodriguez's program of breaking the biggest rules, and Michigan said the violations weren't done in a malicious way. And Rodriguez won't lose his job over this, not now.

But for Michigan football, previously untainted by the NCAA, any violation is big. For Rodriguez, it doesn't help his cause, but it doesn't really change much either.



February 24th, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

At this point, most level-headed readers and followers of UM agree that this is a black mark on the RR era, but calls to can him over what are admittedly pretty minor violations is foolish and unnecessary. As the Bylaw Blog post noted, these probably wouldn't have even seen the light of day without a newspaper with an axe to grind and a 24-hour news cycle. Let's focus on the upcoming Spring game and the 2010 season, and these infractions will be dealt with dealt with appropriately.

As an aside, Ty Duffy at the Big Lead has written some of the least-informed blog posts I have read concerning UM and, specifically RR, over the past few years. For a kid who apparently graduated from UM and supposedly is a sports "guy," most of his posts devolve to the lowest-common-denominator rhetoric against whatever topic is relevant to the national discussion, even when facts and popular sentiment show that a more nuanced approach is necessary.

03 Blue 07

February 24th, 2010 at 4:05 PM ^

Indeed. Ty Duffy's posts on TBL the past couple years disgust me. I know he's a self-proclaimed Michigan fan and supposed alumnus, but the stuff he says is an embarassment. It would be one thing if his bullshit invective was well-reasoned or at least logical. It never seems to be. His posts about U of M make him seem, to me at least, to be a moronic and illogical excuse for a Michigan fan or alum. I'm ashamed he's associated with U of M in any way.


February 24th, 2010 at 4:49 PM ^

I agree. I don't think that he is an idiot or anything, and his take on certain sport topics is insightful. But for the past year or so, every time I see a UM post on the Big Lead I know that it will (a) by written by Duffy, and (b) include so much regurgitated and (frankly) incorrect information from a couple of news sources that I'll become incredibly angry about 3 paragraphs in. I understand that as a featured writer for a prominent site you don't want to be swayed too much by the zealots at the various team sites, but you owe it to your audience to at least be informed on the issues, and that doesn't simply mean running a Google News search every couple of days.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:14 PM ^

Anyone have a reasonable explanation for this QC stuff?

Could it be that some of the Barwis designed "football movement" workouts were misunderstood by the "nerd" patrol as football skill activities and not voluntary training??

Anyone have any idea what other teams do with QC people?? Do they all have 6 QC guys that no one knows what they do other than the coach?


February 24th, 2010 at 3:30 PM ^

First off, I have absolutely no problem saying that every team in college football goes over the 20 hours a week. My team did it and we were DII. From the time I arrived at our locker room for meetings/getting taped until the time I left after practice and visting the training room I was easily there 5 hours a day. That is not including the meetings every morning either.

As far as off season workouts. I know for a fact our Sr. QB got a list of plays/drills from the coaches everyday and was instructed on what to do. The coaches even looked on from their office windows and then would comment about progress/performance. And by the way, none of this was "voluntary". By not going = not playing is not voluntary.

Also, I know several of my teammates that were "required" to participate in morning "workouts" for missing class/bad grades/getting in trouble. And they weren't there on their own accord. Someone was there telling them what to do.

What Michigan did was not out of the ordinary, they just happened to run into a newspaper with an agenda!


February 24th, 2010 at 3:44 PM ^

Look, we broke the rules and got caught. I agree with others that it's not nearly as bad as SC and various others over the years. I also agree that it was probably not malicious (although the grad assistant lying doesn't help), and that everyone probably does something like it--although there is no way to know that for sure. But when the cop pulls you over, you say "yes sir, I won't do it again"--you don't say "why are you picking on me?" Then you pay the fine and take the points, which go on your record.

The critics of the hysterics at the Freep are right. But it's also clear that whatever the circumstances, rules were broken, and IMO it's time to stop bashing the media. I've participated in the anti-Freep chorus, and will never forget the shoddier aspects of the original report. But if the cop notices you, and you did something, at some point you stop grumbling and take it. I'm not criticizing you at all, just addressing a general mindset.


February 24th, 2010 at 4:25 PM ^

I totally agree that UM shouldn't be let off the hook here, but my complaint with this whole situation is that it should have been far less a public circus if a few reporters and talking heads had taken a step back and acted more professionally. When you get pulled over for speeding, the cops don't call over a SWAT van, erect a series of flares around your car, bring a helicopter over and put a spotlight on your vehicle, drag you out, throw you against the car, rifle through your personal belongings and read you the riot act. That would be an excessive response given the violation you are guilty of.

But look at what happened with UM so far - RR and the school has been on the defensive for almost a year because of a poorly-researched "news article" done by guys who established biases against the current coaching staff. Then the national media, which relies on such stories to spike ratings, ran with it and perpetuated some of the lies and half-truths that have been debunked. Heck, SportsCenter yesterday ran a piece basically condemning UM for "major rules violations." Those are pretty harsh words considering other "major rules violations" would include everything at SMU, Alabama some years ago, the potential USC and Tennessee sanctions, UNLV in the 90s, etc., and I'll be especially interested to see what happens to the USC's and Tennessee's of the world if the NCAA comes down harder than expected on UM.

My issue isn't that UM broke the rules; it is the overreaction by the local media and the troubles this has led to for the school and the program.


February 24th, 2010 at 7:01 PM ^

"if the cop notices you, and you did something, at some point you stop grumbling and take it."

...and if that cop notices you because some third-party weasel with a vendetta singled you out?

And that weasel singled you out simply because they don't like you, personally?

And when the cop investigates if you did indeed commit a horrible crime, as the weasel suggested, but only finds that you spit on the sidewalk?

And the cop arrests you?

And that weasel goes around telling everyone you know that you were just arrested for a "major" crime?

You'd stop grumbling and take it?


February 25th, 2010 at 11:04 AM ^

although understandable-- given the Freeps bad reporting. The fact is, we did it--nothing that you say, while some of it is true (especially the weasel part) takes that FACT away. The rest if it, IMO, is us crying about the circumstances of getting caught.

And your last point is factually incorrect--the violations (unless proved otherwise by us in the appeal process) ARE major. If the cop charges you with a felony, even though you think its wrong to classify the offense as a felony--it's still a felony.

To be extra clear on my position--I don't buy into any of the anti-RR faction, I think he should be our coach, and I believe none of this was malicious--but facts are facts--I wish people would stop arguing against them because of some crappy and unfortunate circumstances that surrounded getting caught.


February 25th, 2010 at 11:03 PM ^

... the violations are "major", not major.

Maybe that's splitting hairs, but extra practice and making sure kids attend class isn't on the same level as buying a house or a car for a player.

However, while the NCAA makes no distinction in severity between these offenses, I do. I am not a lumbering bureaucratic tool nor do I blindly adhere to arbitrary bureaucratic definitions. In other words, I am a rational human being who can read through the b.s. and see the truth.

I'm sure you do, too.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:16 PM ^

How much of your influence as a superblogger effect the opinions of those you have linked. Clearly everyone in this "blogoshpere" tends to agree, as do I, I suppose, but Brian you are a king among men with these folk. Is their opinion empathetic to yours because you're the primary source for them?


February 24th, 2010 at 3:29 PM ^

And I can't believe UM hasn't taken a stronger stance to make the Freep's access to certain UM areas less convenient. But that would just create another news story for those MFers.


If I ever see Rosenberg in public I will do my best to resist punching him in the face. Really, really hard.


February 24th, 2010 at 7:20 PM ^

Notice that since running the original story last year, Rosenberg has gotten writing work with Sports Illustrated? That's not a coincidence.

The national sports media LOVES to bash Michigan/Detroit sports. Rosenberg knows that, saw how his buddy Mitch Albom played the game by taking a "national perspective" on local stories. Now Mitch's columns are syndicated and is a best-selling author.

Rosenberg wanted to advance his career and he did it with a hatchet "investigative" piece. He knew that ANY allegation would tarnish a school's reputation this day and age. He knew that any investigation would lead to SOMETHING turning up, even if it wasn't the original allegation (which turns out to be the case). Most of all, he knew it was a story the national media would love.

I wouldn't punch him. I'm just doing my part not to support any publication he writes for. So far, so good.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:21 PM ^

Judicial application of microchip tagging procedures could have avoided all of this kerfuffle.

"Son, welcome to the University of Michigan family. Please sign your letter of intent, and drop your drawers. This may sting."


February 24th, 2010 at 3:21 PM ^


Thats really my take on all of this. It's been much ado about nothing since the start. And there's nothing that merits anything more than a slap on the wrist. It's all just rather silly.

We'll move on and be fine.


February 24th, 2010 at 5:57 PM ^

I would rather our team press the barriers of these rules (i.e., err on the side of working harder, actually making sure that kids have their butts in summer class, etc.) than be hypersensitive ninnies about rules that are horrifically vague on their face (and pretty much have to be).

How can you truly and acurately quantify "practice" time such that it has a uniform meaning across the country? You can't. That's why we are all pissed off, why the Freep had wiggle room to cry "ZOMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN!", and why the rest of the country is snickering about this and at the same time saying, crap, could have been any of us.

A God-fearing Florida QB tearfully promises to work harder than any other person in the world and gets lionized and bronzed(!). UM kids work hard, go to class and get . . . investigated and misquoted out of context.

Go Blue. Move on. Win games.


February 24th, 2010 at 6:07 PM ^

Yeah, it should be a yawn and would be almost everywhere else. It won't be, too many idiots are buying into the whole RR is evil meme, and people will continue to bitch and get even angrier. Good thing Brandon seems committed.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

That wasn't just any guy writing, that was an unsigned editorial. To give you a sense of how profound being mentioned in the Daily Star is, I got my picture published in 6th grade for winning an award. I am not an athlete.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:29 PM ^

I wish the media and assorted misinformed people would stop acting as if this is the end of the world. RIch Rod will not be fired this offseason. We will still have football this fall. It will be damn good football too. ESPN needs to stop worrying about this and start worrying about getting the right Brian Westbrook on the phone.

Crime Reporter

February 24th, 2010 at 4:26 PM ^

Controversy sells.

And the Freep has found a gold mine in Michigan football.

They will mine it for everything, no matter how ridiculous. The biased reporting will continue, unchecked, despite all the complaining.

This story, and the other hit jobs the Freep has done on RR, can not be measured in dollars. The amount of Internet clicks, people talking about it in coffee shops, blogging about it, and such gives them ample fuel to continue this witch hunt.


February 25th, 2010 at 12:09 AM ^

I am going to guess that boycotts by people on this blog for Freep content are a fraction of the bump they get out of pandering to the state's masses.

Which group is bigger:

A. Target segment
-MSU fans, both casual and rabid
-people with no intense allegiance to either school
-casual M fans that really only follow the team with respect to W's and L's and don't have any knowledge beyond that and what they see in the Detroit media
-Anti-RR old-folks that have a little too much of their identity and self-esteem wrapped up in Michigan historical dominance and are suffering a crisis of self-worth with the losing seasons, they are pissed off about losing bragging rights and want heads to roll now, no matter if it hurts the program more in the long run

B. Boycotters
-people that read MgoBlog, follow the team and the sport closely, see the big picture for the current situation and can think critically about the pap being manufactured by the Freep.

A dwarfs B in numbers, especially considering a good portion of B avoids the Free like the plague now.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:43 PM ^

and that victory will be pyrrhic.

"The armies separated; and, it is said, Freep replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Detroit backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Michigan camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war."

Section 1

February 24th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

Especially in this case. Some of you are aware of my vintage; LSA '80. You, MGoBlog participants, have no idea how poisonous has been the Freep coverage among the populace that is "old media." If you have older parents, friends, teachers, relatives, etc., you might well know this already.

They read the Freep, when they get it. They eat up every word. (A lot of them are incensed that they don't get daily home delivery.) And then, they see the Freep echoed on local tv news, on radio talk shows, etc. The message is reinforced. Nobody questions the Freep.

This is a HUGE part of this story. I seriously wonder if, in another era, Rich Rodriguez might not still be here. But for the blogosphere seriously checking the old media.

03 Blue 07

February 24th, 2010 at 3:59 PM ^

Unfortunately, you are correct. I know a lot of older alums (and by "older," I mean people who are around 40 years old) who don't read blogs such as this one, etc, and the main problem is that the AP and Freep versions of this story are what they see, and they ask me "what the hell is going on?" and come to the conclusion that RR is a shady character who should be gone because of the bad PR/what they read. Deserved or not, unfortunately, the media has much power when it comes to public opinion. In this instance, what the Freep has done is an injustice, really, in the methods they used, the framing of the issue, and the now-editorialized stance. (Editorial was in today's paper). The bad PR is, for lack of a better word, fucking RR, as he looks bad to a large portion of the Michigan consituency.


February 24th, 2010 at 11:58 PM ^

I'm 42 and read the blog, amongst many others actually, although I work in high-tech and am not what you would probably call average.

I would actually agree with the sentiment, but I would set that threshold at more like 50-55+.

Beyond just exposure to the blog, I think many of that generation long for a bygone era where 'stuff' happened and they just never had any knowledge of it and therrefore labored under the illusion that nothing bad went on. As much as it is a reaction to program change, Rich Rod, newer game philosophy, i think they want to go back to a time where pretty much everything happened on the field for them except for the off 'hero' piece in the papaer for athletes doing community service and such. There was a time when all this kind of negative stuff was easily squelched, not 24/7 for weeks at a time.

The anti-RR people call themselves realists and not homers in calling out his character, but how can they be realists when they ignore every other thing RR has done to benefit the program and all the other evidence to the contrary? You can't be a selective realist, they are mutually exclusive.


February 25th, 2010 at 11:09 AM ^

Am 42 as well and have been reading this blog almost since its inception. Most of the people I know and most of the folks I sit with at games, a good mix of age and gender, are pretty level headed and willing to give coach the benefit of the doubt. They wince at the "negative" national media attention and want a good reputation for Michigan. But for the most part they want our team to play good football and to win, especially at the end of November.

My sense of it is that much of the "Get Rid of Rogriguez" crowd is made up of the "snooty" crowd whose identity is made up of the collection of brands they display, whether it be clothes, cars, kitchen fawcets, or the education they received. It matters more that they have the right "brand" of education than that they actually got a good education. It matters more that this same "brand" remain blue blood in their minds, in all facets, including football, than that we actually play quality, elite level football. They loved coach Carr spouting poetry (don't get me wrong, I have always liked Carr, the man and the coach) and they loved their "guarenteed" nine win seasons, a New Years bowl game and the perpetuation of the brand of the "The Winningest Football Program in History." They want to be seen at games, but for many of them, they care not a whit about actual football.

The very act of bringing in some southern hick with his accent and his singular focus on winning football with his new fangled spread offence was an act of heresy in itself. How dare he change the stale blue blood culture of our football program? They cannot face that the program was already on the verge of slipping from above average to below average and that new blood was needed. A shake up was needed. That the transition was and is painful is unacceptable. They want their 9 wins and they want them now. Who cares about being the next Florida or USC or Texas? We are too patrician to care about that kind of stuff. Just give us back our brand. So. The negative press. The witch hunts. Blah, blah, Blah.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:50 PM ^

RR losing his job over a shitty local newspaper tricking unsuspecting 18 year olds into making non-compliance statements coupled with a mishandling of paperwork would be akin to Capone going to prison for tax evasion.

what a fucking joke this is......

go blue.


February 24th, 2010 at 3:57 PM ^

1. Denial - "Get the F outta here?"
2. Anger - "Holy Sh*t! You get the F outta here!"
3. Bargaining - "Ah sh*t, can we get the F outta here?"
4. Depression - "I feel like sh*t, I'm getting the F outta here"
5. Acceptance — "OK, so the sh*t hit the F outta the fan, so let's F'n deal with it."

yours truly,

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Tim Waymen

February 24th, 2010 at 3:59 PM ^

I mean, the NCAA is pissed that the coaches punished players for missing class? I understand that it was during the summer and there are limits and blah blah blah, but seriously? After the FSU cheating scandal, shouldn't Michigan be commended for this? The most appropriate response would probably be to tell the coaches to back off a bit.

I say shame on the NCAA for going along with the Freep's witch hunt. I understand that there is a certain protocol that I am probably ignoring, but this probably would have never happened if the Rosenberg and the Freep weren't out to get RR and damage UM any way it can. The whole thing is a reward for poor journalistic integrity.

Continuing with my paranoia, I also get the feeling that someone in the NCAA either has a vendetta against Michigan and/or RR, or that the NCAA hates being lied to more than anything:
"Academic cheating scandal? Nothing new, we know how to deal with it."
"We've been had? How dare they. We'll show them."


February 24th, 2010 at 4:14 PM ^

Not quite -- replace stupidity with greed.

How likely is it that the Freep's motivation here is 100% greed (more page views, papers sold, etc.)? If it's not all greed, what is their beef with Rodriguez? Is there anything to the Jim Stapleton conspiracy theories?

I realize this is a bit of a dead horse, but I'd like to hear any new speculation.