"What Happened Was A Violent Crime"

Submitted by Brian on August 14th, 2009 at 11:18 AM

I was content to drop the whole Feagin thing after that post Wednesday but two developments demand to be relayed.

What Rodriguez didn't know. Maize 'n' Brew has their own excellent take on the whole Feagin thing that's worth reading in its entirety, but its most useful bit comes when it digs up the Palm Beach Post's expose on Feagin's dastardly past:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement records showed that Feagin has received two traffic tickets in Broward County, one in Palm Beach County and was charged with a misdemeanor in Palm Beach that was later dropped. Details regarding the misdemeanor charge are unclear.

That's the extent of the public records on Feagin's malfeasance. In that article, Heritage head coach Willie Bueno reiterated his ignorance about Feagin's shady past: "I certainly wasn't aware of any arrests while he was at American Heritage."

Feagin's record consists of a dropped misdemeanor and his head coach continues to assert he knew nothing wrong; the Palm Beach Post itself thought Feagin was enough of a stand-up guy to name him their small-schools player of the year when he was a senior. What, exactly, was Rodriguez supposed to do?

Meanwhile in the land of milk and honey. AJ Sturges, the hockey player on the wrong end of some portion of Glen Winston's anatomy, has released a statement. He's not pleased with the current state of things:

Last October, I was assaulted by Glenn Winston. This was not a fight, or a disagreement. I was in bed in my room and came downstairs after hearing the commotion caused by three cars pulling up filled with screaming and violent people. I was standing in my front yard trying to figure out what was going on when Glenn Winston punched me in the head from the side. I never saw him. I did not have any chance to protect myself at all. Neither did his other victims.

That night, I received a fractured skull, five stitches inside my mouth, and a subdural hematoma, or bleeding on the brain. I was not involved in a college fight, as this story is perceived. After having nothing to do with any events that occurred earlier that night, I was attacked in my own house.

As a hockey player, I know what a fight is. What happened that night was not a fight. What happened was a violent crime. Pure and simple.

This is not a fanciful account. Sturges' story is corroborated by multiple witnesses in the police report on the matter.

Which police report, by the way, is absolutely amazing. Remember our good and great friend Andrew Conboy? Conboy, of course, was a Michigan State hockey player until he and Corey Tropp—also reinstated, by the way, what standards this university-type substance maintains—brutally assaulted Steve Kampfer late in a far gone game at Yost.

It won't surprise anyone that he was involved:

A hockey player and one of White's friends began fighting over a woman, and White got involved in the skirmish. Hockey player Andrew Conboy intervened and he and White fought in the street outside the house. Conboy "won the fight," according to witnesses, and White left the scene.

Several minutes later, three cars arrived at the party, filled with mostly football players. Witnesses told police the men were looking for Conboy but began "beating up everybody they could."

Three cars of football players randomly assault a house full of people, all of whom not named Andrew Conboy and one other anonymous hockey player did nothing. AJ Sturges ends up in the hospital with a brain injury for trying to calm things down. Winston lied to the police about his involvement and still hasn't offered even a meaningless apology. And exactly one player, a walk-on, leaves the team.

The Free Press' reaction to all this is to have Drew Sharp write a column about Detroit Lions preseason games two days after he came up with this beauty*:

There's more drama down the road at the other school, but Michigan State doesn't mind the boredom.

Rich Rodriguez dismisses a wannabe drug dealer from Michigan and immediately there are suspicions regarding the tautness of his program -- procedural questions that were once mostly asked of Michigan State head coaches.

Yet on the same day, Mark Dantonio welcomed back a running back freshly released from a four-month jail term for hospitalizing a hockey player during a campus fight last fall. Dantonio placed unspecified restrictions on the player's return, reminiscent of Lloyd Carr's private penal policy at Michigan, and the actions barely raised a public ripple.

Roles are reversing. Perceptions are changing.

I'm not even mad. I'm impressed. Here Sharp acknowledges the double standard—at his own newspaper, in his own column—and uses it to criticize Rodriguez and praise Dantonio. He sits at A, takes a good hard look at B, and then leaps to Q. I hope he donates his brain to science. Meanwhile, Rosenberg is silent. He's written five of the last six Fridays.


ooooooo. Rosenberg, this is the ghost of credibility past: if you don't take the opportunity to abashedly retract your previous column and correct the matter, I die after a long illness. ooooooooo.

And so. I don't want the argument here to be chucking stones at glass shanties. This isn't really about Michigan State. It's about an incredible double standard offered up by the Free Press. The situations here:

  1. Player deals weed and attempts to broker cocaine deal or scams someone out of 600 dollars. He is immediately dismissed. He had traffic tickets and one dropped misdemeanor in high school.
  2. Three carloads of mostly football players drop in on a house party, wreaking havoc and hospitalizing someone with brain trauma. One walk-on is booted from the team and the guy who put someone in the hospital gets out of jail early to rejoin practice.

One of these qualifies as "boredom": the chaotic melee involving a dozen or more football players. One of these is evidence that the head coach is a nefarious win-at-all-costs villain, but it's not the unprecedented lenience shown to the perpetrator of a scary, violent crime.

If a hockey player falls at a party and the other program in town is run by a West Virginian, does it make a sound?

*(Right, right, the "it just gets them hits and ad views" argument: that link goes to the "print this article" page, which has no ads, and is nofollowed to prevent the googles from caring about it.)


Foote Fetish

August 14th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

Excellent post.

Drew Sharp's article today? Basically tears into Kevin Smith for wanting to win preseason games. Any time you're interview gets a "c'mon, man" from your subject, you know you've got a winning article on your hands.

I'd link, but I don't want to give Sharp any more hits. What a jack ass.


August 14th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

I don't know a lot about these events, but is Sturges out of hockey because of that bleeding in his brain? Is Winston good enough to play or start this year? Bullshit on these "restrictions" Winston has. Maybe they'll sit him out against Montana State. What a joke Drew Sharp is. I wish someone would come out and tell it like it is because it's really starting to piss me off.

Garvie Craw

August 14th, 2009 at 1:09 PM ^

"If a hockey player falls at a party and the other program in town is run by a West Virginian, does it make a sound?"

That was beautiful, Brian. I didn't realize there was three carloads of football players involved. That gets ignored, while the parting shots of academically-ineligible malcontent Kurt Wermers make the front page.


August 14th, 2009 at 11:39 AM ^

Imagine if Rodriguez decided today to reinstate Mike Milano. I can guarantee the headline wouldn't be about how RichRod is such a gracious head coach as to give a player who made a mistake a 2nd chance.

It's almost funny (almost) how analogous the two situations are (except that Milano didn't spend time in jail). Yet the guy who handled the situation the right way is losing control of his program, and over in East Lansing the savior of football can do no wrong.


August 14th, 2009 at 12:36 PM ^

You took the words right out of my mouth... or off my fingers I should say. If this whole situation had been flipped around where RR let a ruthless thug back on the team and "The Savior" kicked someone off for a drug deal that almost happened, imagaine the uproar we'd be hearing - not only out of East Lansing, but on every message board, blog, newspaper and sports show across the country.

People have been waiting a long time to take their shots at Michigan, and in their eyes they now have their chance. Desperation at its best.

Garvie Craw

August 14th, 2009 at 7:36 PM ^

A.J Sturges disagrees with you. The difference is one kid was dismissed by the "lenient," win-at-all-costs" coach, while the other is reinstated by the "no-nonsense," "high-integrity" coach. And the local media doesn't only fall for it but continues to perpetuaute the myth.


August 14th, 2009 at 11:38 AM ^

is that ghost photo a chipped tooth?

some people have taken the position that the reinstatement of winston is not "news" because, according to msu policy, only those convicted of felonies (not misdemeanors) are ineligible for reinstatement. msu is merely follow its policy these people state.

that argument is nonsense either way you slice it. it is either news that msu has some arcane policy that apparently constrains it to reinstate all former jailbirds convicted only of misdemeanors or it is news that, notwithstanding its policy, msu believes it is appropriate to again bestow the privilege of an athletic scholarship on this violent and unrepentant man.

i'm all for second chances. but there is a threshold that must be passed before consideration for a second chance is an option. among the components of that threshold are a sincere apology, an adequate display of reformation and some sort of penalty beyond what is given to all people - afterall this particular person benefits from a scholarship not given to everyone.

this isn't merely news because it happened at msu. had this happened anywhere, it'd be deserving of criticism and loud criticism. that it happened at msu just means we voice that criticism here because for better or worse, the programs are in the same state and therefore compared.


August 14th, 2009 at 11:40 AM ^

Rosenberg did "a lot" of work sending a FOIA letter and got a national story out of the Feagin situation. He must have been happy.

It was later pointed out that he missed the point and there was nothing scandalous happening. (Neither Michigan nor RR knew and kicked him off the team when finding out.)

So Rosenberg tried to save face and restore the "newsworthiness" of his original story by claiming RR should have known because of the Lazear incident. He tried to manufacture a higher duty on RR.

Everyone could tell it was a just flimsy attempt to justify his first article.

In the end, Rosenberg is only concerned with his own reputation, but he doesn't seem to think his readers are smart enough to judge him on the true merits of his reporting.

Sorry to say this, but I can't believe Michigan gave him a degree if he can't see that.


August 14th, 2009 at 12:03 PM ^

I think you've got it. Members of the local media are trying to get national attention and since Michigan isn't winning, they have to take shock angles to get bumped up. The simplest story always wins.

los barcos

August 14th, 2009 at 11:40 AM ^

the hipocrisy is awfully disgusting and one has to feel terrible for sturges. howeva the only way to shut up state is to win, which I hope to god we do. whatever you want to say about dantonio, he sure his livened up this rivalry.


August 14th, 2009 at 11:45 AM ^

Drew Sharp is a Michigan grad. Does anyone from that era know of anything that happened to him at school that made him such a enemy of all things Wolverine? I assume he wrote for the Daily. Was someone mean to him there, or was there a professor who gave him a bad grade?

Nearly all Michigan grads I have talked to, and I have met them around the world, are proud for the school and it's accomplishments. So why is Drew Sharp different? Is it just for the money, or is there some other reason?

J. Lichty

August 14th, 2009 at 12:14 PM ^

started almost on day 1. he was more accessible and honest with the media than lloyd. He had run a clean successful program at WVU. I get why Dantonio and the spartan boosters in the media would go after RR out of self interest, but dont understand this rank and file abjection from the detroit and national media against him -- which started long before 3-9.

I have long thought that winning will make all of this nonsense go away, but I now think it will not. When (and I mean when) RR starts winning, the new meme will be that he is not doing it the right way.

Watts Club Moz…

August 14th, 2009 at 3:28 PM ^

I think the real problem is that the media, which gets hard off being negative, could never take take shots at the program while Bo and Lloyd were in charge. Now they see a chance to do so, and they're going after every little thing. Negative stories about UM generate page views and comments, so they keep the train rolling. Stop reading it, stop commenting on it and they'll stop writing it.

matty blue

August 14th, 2009 at 11:45 AM ^

...that said, i'm still not convinced that the "yeah but what about state" is the best approach when this stuff (inevitably) happens.

i'd rather address our own issues than talk about someone else's. let's just talk about us.

i hasten to add that i agree that the feagin incident has been vastly, incredibly overblown, that i have no problems with how rodriguez has handled this, either during feagin's recruitment or after his arrival.

Yinka Double Dare

August 14th, 2009 at 11:53 AM ^

Unfortunately, perception matters, and this kind of double standard has to be pointed out and hopefully stopped or it can actually hurt the team's recruiting, unfortunately.

Plus, this incident really puts the lie to the meme of Dantonio cleaning up the program and being some sort of tough coach. The incident has been downplayed in the media (who portrayed it as just your typical college fight) the first time, and now downplayed or outright ignored when they reinstate the offender.


August 14th, 2009 at 11:51 AM ^

The media narrative seems pretty much set. Samuelson's 8/12 blog at the Freep supposedly defending RR and analyzing the role reversal issue includes these statements which really struck me as trying to stoke that same fire. I give the subtext after.

"Did Rich Rodriguez know about Justin Feagin’s activities prior to his dismissal? He says no." -- He "says" no but WE know otherwise. He's sooooo a liar. I can just tell.

"...there’s nothing in this particular case that indicates that Rodriguez is lying." -- We just haven't found out what he's lying about yet, but it's got to be something! And if not this case then surely he's lying about something else.

"The coach claims he dismissed Feagin “that instant” he found out about the drug charges." -- He "claims" to have, but can we at the Freep really believe a guy who would recruit a kid like this?

"The larger question though is another point Rosenberg touched upon. And that is, when you accept players of questionable character, you run the risk of getting burned — badly." -- Clearly Feagin was of questionable character. I mean who couldn't have known that with hindsight. RR is a conniving win-at-all costs coach.

"The lesson here is that when you do roll the dice, you better make sure you keep tabs on those players." Because RR didn't and he's a scum and is willing to ruin the reputation of Michigan.


August 14th, 2009 at 12:03 PM ^

The whole situation up at state is absurd. I keep waiting to hear that none of it really happened because I am in such disbelief that Winston is allowed on that campus. Disgusting.


August 14th, 2009 at 12:13 PM ^

The sad part of this whole ordeal is that a student that this happened to is having to ask these questions at all. Winston and any other player that can be proven to have commited a VIOLENT crime should be gone. Is there any way that the Big 10 or NCAA would step in on a situation like this of is it totally up to the insitution? If the university wants to keep him enrolled, fine but people like this should never recieve a free education no matter what type of athlete they are! RANT COMPLETE!


August 14th, 2009 at 12:30 PM ^

if marlin jackson's punch had landed on that dude's face in 2003 a little differently, causing more significant damage than it did, would he have been one of the "people like this" that "should never receive a free education no matter what type of athlete they are"?

let's not be too aghast at the hypocrisy of the free press yet pretend like UM doesn't have to deal with the exact same stuff.


August 14th, 2009 at 12:40 PM ^

If Jackson did this kind of damage, spent signifigant time in Jail, he should be gone. When you are an athlete representing a school that is what you do and the school should uphold those standards set in place. I understand people get in fights and stuff happens but there has to be limits and I believe that this situation is beyond that limit IMO.


August 14th, 2009 at 12:53 PM ^

the difference here is a conviction and jail time. obviously different levels of crimes.

i have just felt a general grumbling in response to the whole winston thing that MSU has lower standards and this kind of thing would never happen at UM etc. usually, mgoblog folks are reasonably impartial, but i was getting some traces of maize and blue colored glasses from some of the posts. so i had to post something at some point. i think you and i are actually on the same page on this though.

Tim Waymen

August 14th, 2009 at 1:00 PM ^

The details are wrong anyways. Shahin Farokhrany accused Marlin Jackson of hitting him in the eye with a bottle, causing injuries that required long-term medical care. Jackson plead guilty so he could just be done with the case and return to the field, but apparently NFL scouts brought this incident up.

Earlier this year, however, Jackson successfully countersued Farokhrany $225,000 for defamation. The jury in the civil suit rejected the claim that Jackson attacked SF with a bottle and upheld Jackson's claim that he only punched Farokhrany in self-defense when a drunken SF assaulted him at a party. SF was found guilty of defamation and malicious prosecution.

I get what you're saying, but is there a more suitable example?


August 14th, 2009 at 1:21 PM ^

i guess my point was not to try and create an apples to apples comparison, but rather to say that the damage done in an altercation (regardless of intent) seems to be the difference between a guy being okay and a guy being "disgusting". i'm just saying, if marlin's punch had caused this guy's brain to bleed, or bleeding on his brain, or the words "brain" and "bleed" to be used in the same sentence, i think the incident would have been viewed differently (particularly by outsiders).


August 14th, 2009 at 2:14 PM ^

The damage done creates disgust in the minds of decent people because of the context it's in. Let's say the damage done was equal in both situations:

Hitting someone in the head hard enough to make their brain bleed in a face-to-face fight is bad, you know, but shit happens. Don't start fights with Marlin Jackson.

Hitting someone in the head who isn't provoking you, looking at you, in any way interacting with you, or even aware of you so hard that his brain bleeds is 100% reprehensible and indicative of some severe emotional or psychological issues.

That's the point. Did you get it this time?


August 14th, 2009 at 2:23 PM ^

no, i agree with that point...

it just seems like some people's disgust has been a product of the fact that the kid went to jail, and not that it was a sucker punch, from the use of the words "jailbird" and "ruthless thug" to describe him. it's just very easy to pretend that we're not extra critical of the situation b/c it's msu.


August 14th, 2009 at 3:22 PM ^

"Hitting someone in the head who isn't provoking you, looking at you, in any way interacting with you, or even aware of you so hard that his brain bleeds is 100% reprehensible and indicative of some severe emotional or psychological issues."

That's not what happened.


August 14th, 2009 at 1:14 PM ^

tru dat. i think my objection was to the phrase "people like this" as if where a punch lands determines the content of your character. it was a little too judge-y for me. winston is a piece of garbage, but marlin was sweet awesomeness.

but again, i guess in your example one guy got in a fight and the other guy is a "murderer"...