I think it is important to take a step back from all that is going on in the media, and really take a look at the big picture.
First, I visit mgoblog 965.44 times a day, and consider myself to be fairly looped in to what’s going on at Michigan athletics (props to the mgoblog community.) While I don’t have any inside information, I think it is fair to say that this year’s team is very different from last year’s team. Watching daily videos and reading interviews from mgoblue.com, it’s obvious the players are working hard, having fun, and are having an impact on the community.
When I saw the reports on a potential NCAA violation, I was pretty baffled and confused. Again, I don’t go to practice, I’m not on the team, so I can’t speak on whether or not these allegations are true. What I do want to highlight is how the media have greeted the new Rodriguez era at Michigan.
The media notoriously sensationalize news. Politics (Howard Dean’s Rick Flair moment), health (“Africanized” Bees, swine flu), are excellent examples of times where the media focused all too much attention on minor stories, and exchanged journalistic integrity and responsibility for higher ratings.
The topic of athletics is no different. The media (often prematurely) release stories that will rile up a fan base. Once the fan base is riled up, they then report on the discontent of the fan base. In cases where the stories prove false, or not as severe as initially thought, the media follow up with “maybe everyone’s looking at this topic in the wrong light after all. The person or team in question isn’t an evil wrong-doer, despite ‘public perception’.”
For example, the media took Rich Rodriguez’ comments on the QB situation and ran with it, concluding we will certainly have three QBs, and a few analysts even added that we are doomed.
They also questioned Michigan’s culture and character:
- Feagin situation gets viewed as a Rich Rodriguez error in judgment.
- Players are transferring because RR is pushing them out.
- Most recent allegations of violating NCAA’s practice policies.
The media then report on how upset the fan base is, how things aren’t going so well at Michigan. Personally, Rich Rodriguez hasn’t given me a reason to question the direction of Michigan football. In fact, it’s quite the contrary. I’m very happy with the direction. GPAs are higher than they were before he got here, the kids looks happy, and they’re doing great work in the community.
Winning? Last year was difficult, but I saw glimpses of what will be. I look forward to improvement this season. And I especially look forward to the years of dominance to come. One thing that has never changed, is the integrity of the Michigan football program. I trust and believe in Rich Rodriguez, and he has done nothing yet to lose my trust.
Again, while I don’t have insider exposure to the program, I have learned a lot more about the program from places like mgoblog. Unfortunately, the average Michigan fan doesn’t spend as much time reading about Michigan athletics outside of the confines of ESPN, SI, CBS Sports, etc. They don’t see the more complete portrait of Michigan football.
One thing I’m almost certain of, is when Michigan is cleared from all this, and Michigan is playing respectable football, with a solid record (somewhere in the mid-season) ESPN will have a segment on RR and how he managed to keep his team focused despite all the “negative attention” Michigan’s received. ESPN will then prove to be the hero that helps clear Michigan’s perception and Rich Rodriguez’ image. Whew, thanks College Game Day!