Three And Out Takes: Ensemble

Submitted by Brian on October 27th, 2011 at 12:21 PM

imageYesterday we covered the main characters in Three and Out; today some of the people who show up less frequently (or do not loom with their absence).

For people complaining about spoilers, I have bad news: they fire the guy. But we won World War II, so we've got that going for us. Unless this is an alternate history and we're all Nazis, but only Michigan State fans believe that because Michigan State fans will believe anyone is a racist if it helps exonerate Will Gholston. Denard: totally racist.

Anyway, I show up briefly. A few reporters show up more extensively, and then there are the players—addressed as a group—and the new athletic director.

This guy's opinion: boy, does that hippie with the blog need a haircut. But his logic… so dashing.

Person Who Identifies Himself As Brian

(And you guys.)

So… right. There are some scattered MGoBlog references, mostly as a reading of the fan zeitgeist. "Never Forget" is referenced because "Never Forget" is always referenced all the time; The Horror is identified as The Horror, and so forth and so on. The blog's permanence relative to most message boards (and even newspapers, which put their stories behind a paywall after a while) seems to have made it the database of record when it comes to how the average fan felt at X point in time, even if the average fan here is not the average fan elsewhere. It's around. Since that's more than anything else can say, its opinion wins by default.

A couple people have asked for more detail about the point in the book where I show up in the flesh. This is after the WMU 2009 press conference, which was the first one post-Free Press story. I've had a couple days to consider the story and have come to the conclusion that it's a misleading, unethical hack job. I am steaming. I go to the press conference to liveblog it.

Afterwards—and in retrospect I can't believe this actually transpired—I go to the front of the room, where Snyder is, and repeatedly ask him if he knows what a countable hour is in an unfriendly fashion. He refuses to answer. The pattern is: I ask, he says he won't respond because I am a "competitor," I ask, he says the same thing, I incredulously ask if he will not defend his article, etc. etc. etc. This is actually broadcast (off-camera but audible) on the MGoBlue stream, which was not turned off after the presser.

I give up on Snyder and am in the process of storming out when I happen on Rosenberg in the little vestibule between the Junge proper and outside. I ask the same thing; Rosenberg responds that he does know what a countable hour is, so I start in on why that wasn't in the article and how realistic it is that a head coach at a major program had been more than doubling the NCAA's allotted maximums for years. He starts asking me my name over and over again, which I ignore in favor of further badgering. Craig Ross, watching this with a combination of bemusement and horror, eventually tells Rosenberg my name. I think this was because he wanted Rosenberg to start saying other things, but you'd have to ask him and he doesn't remember interjecting. So that's lost to history.

I had no idea this was going to be in the book until just before the thing went to print when Bacon emailed me with Rosenberg's version of the event and asked me if I had any corrections, which I did since he remembered me as some wild-eyed nut instead of a wild-eyed nut with very specific questions.

And <poof> like that, he's gone.

Mike Rosenberg

As for my bête noir… well now. Revelations about Rosenberg from the book:

  1. Countable hours was "in the story at some point" but "there were a lot of edits."
  2. He did not attend a single practice before writing the infamous story in which he declares it "sad" that Michigan is employing a guy to belittle its students. (I found this so implausible when I read it that I double-checked with Bacon about this; he dug up the email he had gotten from Rosenberg as proof.)
  3. He told multiple Michigan employees that he "hated Bill Martin" and "was going to get him run out of his job."
  4. He got teary when Michigan fans left nasty reviews of his book on Amazon.

Rosenberg has taken to twitter to call Bacon a "fan" and claim the book is "littered with errors," complaining that Bacon made "almost no attempt to talk to anybody who would contradict his subject's point of view."

How Rosenberg knows this is unknown. Bacon states in the book that he repeatedly tried to talk to Martin, Coleman, Carr, and Brandon but never got anywhere. Certainly Brandon's response to the book—a disingenuous "what book?" issued at the same time he's pressuring the M-Den not to carry it and Bacon has been exiled to Drew Sharp Row—indicates the sort of cooperation the AD is providing the guy.

Meanwhile, the height of irony:

When I asked Rosenberg if they had made any attempt to talk to players with different views, he replied, "Did we keep calling until we got guys to say, 'Hey, it's fine?' No, we didn't."

The difference between Bacon's book—which contains a half-dozen quotes from Rosenberg as it attempts to show both sides of the story—and the Free Press piece is stark. The [REDACTED] has the balls to complain about Bacon's approach to journalism? After the NCAA called the original article exaggerated and misleading? After they took countable hours out of the story? /head explodes

That this guy still has a job is a black mark on the Free Press. That he's still allowed to show up at press conferences is inexplicable. That he has the chutzpah to criticize someone else's journalism is totally expected, because he's just that kind of guy.

Players of all varieties

The only enjoyable parts of the book are the moments when Michigan's players come into focus. I suspect that Bacon soft-pedaled some of the Tate stuff. He comes off as a fairly likeable, if pretty weird, kid. Denard and Devin and Mark Moundros and Ryan Van Bergen and Mike Martin all come off well.

At least we've got that after the last few years. Michigan's players are easy to root for. They don't put MIKE VICK on their eyeblack or fracture skulls or not pay for tattoos or give quotes about how "everybody murders" to the media. They leave all that stuff to the adults.

Dave Brandon

That feeling you got at the end of the Hoke press conference when Brandon was talking and you thought "Rodriguez was a dead man even before the bowl" is a feeling most of the players had. Bacon, too, which he made more explicit than he did in the book in an appearance on the Huge show yesterday.

Brandon's drawn-out firing process does seem like an unnecessary delay of an already-made decision. The impression Bacon got was the players thought Rodriguez was done, people around the program felt Brandon was hoping for a loss in the bowl game. So cut the cord already.

We don't get much else on the current AD.



October 27th, 2011 at 6:09 PM ^

I will say that reading Bacon methodologically destroy Rosenberg's professional integrity in a book getting national attention from serious journalistic institutions has been one of my favorite parts of the book so far.  Having to relieve the Horror in well-written prose, probably the least.


October 27th, 2011 at 11:26 PM ^

My mind was blown when I heard that Rosenberg is a Michigan grad.  I know, I know, college affiliation should not get in the way of news reporting and news is what it is - bad news has to be reported just like good news does.  But NSFMF - you would think that someone would go the extra mile to make sure all bases are covered when publishing an expose about your own school that could send shockwaves across your school's environment.  If anything, why would he not err on the side of extreme caution, just for his own personal satisfaction?  I'd love to sit down and talk to him.  I wouldn't even be rude - I'd just love to get into his brain and see what motivated him to write that expose.  A--hole.


October 27th, 2011 at 2:44 PM ^

Back in May 2010, around the time of the Morgan Trent fiasco, you wrote:

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.

Now that said Rodriguez canning has occurred and said tell-all book has been written and read, were your shudder-inducing suspicions confirmed or rebutted? In other words, what was your first immediate reaction after having finished reading the book?


October 27th, 2011 at 2:44 PM ^

I'm curious as to how you feel after seeing your name in print.  Is it exhilarating?  Nerve-wracking?  Unmoving?  I know it was a very emotional time and I'm curious as to how it feels now seeing you included in the history of it all.

 [Edit:  FrankMurphy kind of stole my thunder but maybe you'll entertain both questions?]


October 27th, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^

I haven't really thought about it. It's strange that my conversation with Rosenberg is going to be read about by a bunch of people who have no context. I hope I don't come off like too much of a weirdo to them.

I like the fact that Bacon went to the blog to get the emotional tenor of M fans, and that in doing so he didn't just quote me but also used community-generated material. That seems like something the site has done right.

J. Lichty

October 27th, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

1) I think the cord not being cut was due to the reduction in the buyout after Jan 1.  Kind of petty, but that is the only logical explanation I can come to as to why it did not happen after the OSU game -- I think most of us agree now (even those who were RR supporters) it had to be done. 

2) the only other thing about Brandon that really stood out was that he refused to meet with Denard Robinson before the firing, and then when asked after the firing if he had talked to the players, he said "I talked to players" or something to that effect. 

Brandon comes off as kind of how you would expect him to - ego and agenda driven, which if it gets results can be unpleasant, but far better than the rudderless sailor.  Brandon will control the message whether you like it or not.  That is why he hates this book.  Brandon wants this all put in the dustbin of history so he can focus on adding stripes to jerseys and rawk music to our lives -- a pleasent diverson where pocketbooks are removed.


October 27th, 2011 at 2:56 PM ^

I thought it was established that RichRod received the same buyout amount that he would have had he been fired in December ( something about a 30 day notice being required to void the higher buyout). The job-blocking argument seems to make the most sense.


October 27th, 2011 at 3:10 PM ^

I'm pretty sure that the buyout dropped from $4 million to $2.5 million on January 1, 2011. The book mentions that his original contract called for an annual $500,000 reduction in his buyout, but Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman agreed to the change after Rodriguez agreed to keep quiet about their secret deal for Michigan to contribute $2.5 million to the settlement of WVU's lawsuit.


October 27th, 2011 at 7:18 PM ^

According to Mvictors, it didn't really, because UM had to give RR 30 days written notice that they were firing him.

Article 4.01(a) defines the amount U-M must pay Rodriguez if he’s terminated without cause and note the drop in contract year four starting January 1, 2011.

However, these terms require Michigan to provide 30 days written notice of the termination:

Practically speaking if Brandon fires Rodriguez next week, Rich Rod is not going to hang around for 30 days. But it appears as though the contractual time table on the termination will stretch into January, providing another reason why the $1.5 million “savings” question doesn’t hold water.

For the clips from his contract, see


October 28th, 2011 at 10:47 AM ^

That's not how contract close outs really work.  Yes, they could say "I'm giving you 30 days notice, and you can sit in a closet and throw papers into a trash can and earn your salary"...or..."hey, you can wave the clause, take your money right now, and get on with your life"...that's how these things generally work in real life.  He could have pulled a West Virginia with Rich, and insisted on the letter of the contract. Instead, he wisely took a West Virginia with Beilein, and negotiated an easier departure.


October 27th, 2011 at 2:58 PM ^

Do you think it was partly to reduce the likelihood of transfers?  If RR is fired right after the Ohio game, he has a good opportunity to get another head coaching job and would be coaching this season.  Then Denard or others would have had an opportunity to transfer to where RR landed.  Sure they would have the redshirt year, but still two years to play for RR in Denard's case.

Rush N Attack

October 27th, 2011 at 2:45 PM ^

Rosenberg and Snyder still have complete access to the program (and have suffered no real repercussions from the university), but Mr. John U. Bacon has been banished to the Badlands?

That speaks volumes.


October 27th, 2011 at 3:55 PM ^

to me when I first read about JB's banishment. It makes no effing sense that a guy merely airing dirty laundry with no real consequences to the team gets black balled while the two ass clowns who made shit up to try and bomb the program back to the stone age continue on unscathed.  Not a DB fan in the least anymore.


October 27th, 2011 at 3:59 PM ^

Or just haven't been banned? (Much like Bacon hasn't). Or is it all about seating charts? Because I don't think the Freep gets any one on one interviews anymore, really.  Hoke's Q&A was put in the Detroit News today; nothing like that seems to appear in the Freep anymore. I think all legit access has been cut off, without looking vindictive. Which many of us wish they would do, but probably isn't a good PR move. You'd suddenly get the other media members defending the Freep guys, rather than looking their noses down at them.

Section 1

October 27th, 2011 at 6:21 PM ^

And if I can, I'll report the answer.

My head and in part my gut tells me that the MGoBlogosphere might be making a little more of this Bacon-banishment thing than is merited.

First, the press-row assignment.  Umm, there are approximately three rows in the press box.  Now I'll be happy to be corrected if I'm wrong about this, but the first row is for lots of guys who might not be working on deadline and want a good view.  They get the first row, but not a lot of elbow room.  The second row is where Angelique and Snyder sit.  And there are like one-third the number of chairs, so that they can open their laptops, but also have papers on either side.  And then there's the back row.  Which is just the back row and more of sort of the same as the first row.  Drew Sharp sits there because he is almost always the fifth wheel in Free Press coverage of Michigan sports. (The Freep already has Snyder there, and sometimes another writer like a Shawn Winsor, and perhaps even another columnist, like a Rosenberg or an Albom.)  Sharp routinely doesn't even get a press seat at all for basketball games at Crisler, and he has indicated to me that he likes it that way.  He likes to watch a little of the game from ordinary seats, and he likes to hang for a while in the tunnel.

As for the alleged Bacon-banishment-but-Rosenberg's-still-got-access!  Well, not so much.  Bacon has a press pass.  So does Rosenberg, and so does Snyder.  They all get into the Press Box.  They all get into the Junge Center for pressers.  They all get to sit and watch and listen.  But JUB is not getting any personal interviews with Brandon, and neither is Snyder or Rosenberg.  And, I think I am correct in saying that both Angelique and Larry Lage of the AP have each gotten special access, since the conclusion of Michigan's NCAA investigation.  So there is that pecking-order.  Mostly informal.

btw: For the past three years, Bacon's hardly even been in the Michigan Stadium Press Box.  For a very good reason.  He was on the sidelines with the players.  I wish I could remember when I said it; I think it was in mid-2009; that "It looks like John U. Bacon is working on a new book; he's now on the sidelines for every game..."

So that's that.  I'm certainly not calling out JUB on anything.  I just am unaware of anything other than a press row assignment that signals that Bacon is being sent to the Russian front. 

Blue in Yarmouth

October 27th, 2011 at 2:46 PM ^

but from the excerpts it is becoming clear that most of the things I had suspect but hoped (beyond hope) weren't true, actually occurred. I was of the opinion that RR had to leave after the bowl loss and am very excited about the new staff, but there are a lot of so called "michigan men" who should be damned ashamed of their actions while RR was coach. People don't deserve the treatment he received no matter who they are. All the guy did was accept a job that most people would jump at and got crucified in return.

It's clear that RR was a failed UM (in terms of record) as the head football coach, but what is far more evident to me is how UM failed both RR and this team of young men. Damn it makes me almost sick thinking about it. Thankfully this hire was better received by the ones that seem to matter and we don't seem headed down the same path again.


October 27th, 2011 at 2:48 PM ^

The reduction in buyout could not have been the main reason for prolonging Rodriguez's firing.

I personally believe it was the reason posited in the book - by the time Rodriguez was fired, there was nowhere for him to go. With him on the sidelines, it ensured Denard and most of the players who he had brought in would have nowhere to follow Rich Rod to.

It surely is plausible that if Rich Rod found himself at Pitt or Maryland or Miami or Indiana or anywhere else with a coaching opening, that anyone with 2 years plus a redshirt year that he recruited to Michigan would have followed him to that new gig. Imagine the roster that would be left behind right now.

In that sense, Brandon handled it perfectly.


October 27th, 2011 at 2:55 PM ^

I think this explanation is as good as any.  We may never know David Brandon's rationale behind it, but one thing I think we can all agree on is that there was a clear motive for the timing of the firing.  DB is one sly bastard and I don't give credence to those who think he was indecisive or procrastinating with the "process"


October 27th, 2011 at 2:56 PM ^

To me, it would show even more cynicism on Brandon's part than the buyout rationale, and that doesn't sit well with me. It's one thing to unnecessarily delay someone's firing, but another entirely to force the coach's and various players' hand by sabotaging their other options. That seems pretty dishonorable and classless to me.


October 27th, 2011 at 3:05 PM ^

Well, think about it this way:

his first interest is Michigan football. In that sense his priority is "protecting the brand."

Second, he in effect paid Rich Rod to sit out this year. Rich Rod's still getting paid and paid handsomely by Michigan.

Given what Brandon wanted to accomplish (keep the team together, and get rid of the coach and the associated negativity), I don't see a way to handle it any better.


October 27th, 2011 at 3:22 PM ^

I can reluctantly accept that that's the lay of the land for head coaches (although it still rubs me the wrong way), but it bothers me when it comes to the players. Maybe I have too strongly, uh, parental feelings for Denard. He's only got four years of eligibility, though. Rather than forcing him (as an example) to make a decision on staying in February or March, it seems fair for him to have December and January to start thinking about it. Sure, it would have been worse for Michigan football to have him decide to leave. Don't we owe him a fair shot at making the right decision for himself? Obviously he decided to stay, but I don't think it's unfair to say that his season probably hasn't played out the way he thought it would. I grant, of course, that I'm not privy to his conversations with the coaching staff and don't know about what's happening in the second half of this season and next year for his senior season.

San Diego Mick

October 28th, 2011 at 12:54 AM ^

A lot of times I get really pissed at many of you for some of the things I read but today I'm really enjoying so many takes on this matter and this seems like an awesome thread so far.


However, after reading your take Derek, well written but dude, Denard is getting an education from the University of MICHIGAN! This doesn't suck, wouldn't you say? I'm not too concerned about whether Denard might have had a chance to transfer to Miami, yeah that Miami or whatever.


He's lucky to be in the position he's in, that's all I'm saying.

Greg McMurtry

October 27th, 2011 at 11:11 PM ^

DB did exactly what he planned to do. Some may not like it, but he worked out his plan successfully. Plus, there doesn't seem to be anyone trying to sabotage the program anymore. I also think that DB is trying to avoid bad press about the program. I bought this book, I enjoy reading it, I respect Bacon, but the book itself paints the program in a bad light. DB is distancing himself from that, but I think he is correct in doing so.


October 27th, 2011 at 3:07 PM ^

I'm not sure I buy this line of thought since waiting to fire RR also disallowed us from initiating the coaching search.  And there's no evidence that we were searching for coaches before RR was let go.  Granted, Harbaugh and Miles probably wanted to wait till after their bowl games to seriously consider anything, but it's still not great to wait to start your search.

My thought is that hindsight is 20/20 and that's why people around the program are now saying "well sure, RR was as good as gone.  DB must've been up to something sneaky by waiting"  They can say that now, but did they REALLY think that before he was fired?  I don't really think there was any mischief going on.  Look at the blog in the week leading up to it - plenty of people that he would/should be retained.  The firing wasn't a given necessarily.  I'll keep my naivete and assume DB really wanted to give him one last shot. 


October 27th, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

either.  Mississippi State seemed to be very beatable, and a bowl win (news year day bowl win) to go 8-5 could have given him the "you have one more year but you better use it to not suck at defense" fourth year.  Starting from scatch was a risky proposition, especially because I don't believe that either Harbaugh or Miles had any actual interest in the job to begin with.  i think the choice from the jump was either give Rich Rod another year or hire Brady Hoke (to coach Rich Rod's players), not that easy of a choice if you consider it in that context.

Red is Blue

October 27th, 2011 at 7:55 PM ^

The report was RR and DB met for 3 hours the day he was let go.  I don't get what they could have talked about for so long.  If DB was intent on firing him, does he string him along for 2:45 and then pull the trigger.  Or does he pull the trigger and then they spend the next 3 hours ironing out the detrails.  That doesn't seem likely. 

matty blue

October 27th, 2011 at 8:44 PM ^

let's not pretend that the mississippi state bulldogs (let's repeat that again...the MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS) looked like some sort of wrecking crew. they were (and are) a profoundly mediocre outfit, and our team got flat toasted for 60 minutes. worse, they looked unprepared and uninterested.

going into the game I thought rodriguez had already earned a fourth year. I changed my mind before the fourth quarter.

El Jeffe

October 27th, 2011 at 9:56 PM ^

This is why I think Bacon's claim that DB leaked to the players that RR was gone before the
Gator Bowl holds water. I never got the sense that the team quit in all three years, but I did in that game. I think their hearts had been stomped on.

Thanks, douchebag.


October 27th, 2011 at 10:56 PM ^

Last year, Mississippi State lost to 4 ranked teams by an average of less than 2 scores, including a loss by 3 points to the eventual national champion undefeated Auburn tigers. The 4 teams they lost to were Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Arkansas.  They were actually much much better than profoundly mediocre. They were pretty fucking good. They could have probably won the B10 or come very close.

San Diego Mick

October 28th, 2011 at 1:13 AM ^

You thought a team that gave up 35pts a game was pretty good? I'm sorry but that's not pretty good, pretty sucky is more like it. So we had a cute Offense that did some things and was sorta exciting but not so much against good teams.


And If you're right about the players packing it in a little bit, then doesn't that say something about the coach at the time.


October 27th, 2011 at 3:41 PM ^

There are other possibilities, but we might want to first look at what Brandon said himself. He told everyone the reason he waited was because he felt Rodriguez and the players, after all they had been through, deserved to coach and be coached by the guy who got them there.

Brandon knew Harbaugh wasn't coming here. He said Harbaugh was probably going to coach a pro team.

Brandon knew he wanted Hoke and knew Hoke would take the job at any point. The only way you can consider what Brandon did during the coaching search as bad is if you think we should have taken someone other than Hoke. Then you could have conducted a search earlier. But since it seems clear Hoke (after Harbaugh) was Brandon's choice, there was no need to pull the trigger sooner.

And it didn't hurt recruiting. We only lost D Hart and Kris Frost (sigh, two five stars) but we likely would have lost them anyway because they were coming to play for Rodriguez.

lexus larry

October 27th, 2011 at 4:08 PM ^

If this were true (not the statement, which was uttered, but the belief): 

"He told everyone the reason he waited was because he felt Rodriguez and the players, after all they had been through, deserved to coach and be coached by the guy who got them there" 

then why no Gator Bowl rings for the coaches?