August 30th, 2009 at 12:25 AM ^

Yeah, but let's assume for a sec that RR really is the nasty, evil athlete-torturer the Free Press describes. Say he does all this stuff on purpose knowing exactly what the rules are and what he's breaking. Would they really go over that part of the rule book in excruciating detail? I've got no inside knowledge at all here, but I imagine that sit-down deals primarily with the kind of trouble the players can get in when the coaches aren't looking - boosters, cheating, what have you. Not so much the stuff that covers what the coaches can do; I mean, they wouldn't bother going over recruiting rules that cover contact with coaches, would they?


August 30th, 2009 at 12:17 AM ^

Regardless of how true or how big of a deal the story seems to us, it already is the top story on ESPN and will be all we hear about this week. Fair or not, it is a national story already and isn't going away anytime soon. I hate to say this, but I only envision it getting worse. The negative PR for this specific story is only starting.


August 30th, 2009 at 12:26 AM ^

let's see

Boren's b%#@! A$$
O' Neill?
Zion Babb?
Artis Chambers?

I don't believe Marrell Evans would be one of them based on his words after he left, but you never know


August 30th, 2009 at 1:35 AM ^

To Kurt Wermers: You are a pussy. Not for transferring, not for having trouble meeting TEAM requirements, but for talking shit about the coaches and team on the way out.

I doubt it was O'Neill.

I will now resume with my midnight saturday night wack off session.....


August 30th, 2009 at 12:34 AM ^

- No ability / space given to U of M to comment. Only one quote from Coach Rod. I realize this is investigative journalism and you don't want to give too much opportunity to U of M to spoil your thunder, but you need to present the other side of the story better.

- As noted, numerous anonymous sources.

- Rosenberg "playing dumb." Try to imagine what his interview with Stokes was like. Q: So you worked really, really hard in the offseason right? Q: So you spent like, a zillion hours working out, right? etc.... (obviously, Stokes was trying to play along with the media and give somewhat exaggerated estimates of how much he worked)

- The answers we didn't see. Don't you think Rosenberg asked Stokes, "So, were you required to work all those offseason hours, or was it voluntary?" It would have been a natural follow-up question, right? Stokes must have responded that it was "voluntary," but Rosenberg left that out of the article.

Because that wouldn't have made as good of a story.


August 30th, 2009 at 12:35 AM ^

It took this story to finally convince me to register for MGoBoard.

I'm a working journalist - albeit, thankfully, not in sports journalism. I'm willing to go further than most, I think, on sports blogs to defend the MSM (though I'll never defend Drew Sharp).

The Freep story isn't bad for using anonymous sources, per se - that's just part of the business sometimes, unfortunately. I think they've adequately sourced the fact that the practice schedule for players has been rigorous and, most likely, exceeds the legal amount for players under NCAA rules. (Whether or not those rules are fair and/or applied consistently is a different issue.)

What's journalistically wrong with the story is the inference it makes: that by virtue of the players' participation in practices beyond the allowed amount, it was compelled by coaches. This, as far as I can tell, they have no sourcing for in the story. The fact that there is pressure on players - be it a desire for playing time, or whatever - does not mean the coaches transformed "voluntary" to "mandatory."

They have point A (players practice beyond normal, allowed amounts). And they have point C (that would constitute an NCAA violation, if directed by the coaches). But they haven't at all sourced point B (that the coaches made them mandatory.)

In short, I don't think it's bad that the Freep ran the story; if there's an actual violation, I hope they report it. But I don't think they have the story here. And beyond not having the story, they use some slanted, insinuating language in the story that leads a reader to draw very specific conclusions - the story is short of objective.

I don't question their reporting ability. But their editor should have made them get more fact before they published this.

And that's my first MGoPost.


August 30th, 2009 at 12:44 AM ^

Question, and sorry if this has already been mentioned in the multitudinous other pages in the thread:

Does it bother anyone else that the Free Press obviously spent copious amounts of time on this and then got the other side of the story less than two days ago? This has clearly been in the works for two, maybe three weeks. Maybe longer. They went out of their way to interview "10 current or former players and the parents of four others." This had to take a long time.

Yet when it comes to getting the story from the administration, they hit them with it less than 48 hours before the story is to run and "request a response" to their "outlined" allegations. There is no interview, and no indication of how specfic they were when they "outlined" the allegations. More than likely they were extremely general. There's no two sides to the story as far as the Free Press is concerned. They purposely gave U-M just enough room to issue a statement and nothing else. No coaches, graduate assistants, Q-C folks, or school officials were contacted for this other than to "request a response." That's bullshit.


August 30th, 2009 at 12:59 AM ^

If you're working up a big long job of exposing a person in a way that will earn you potentially a good chunk of money, do you tell them a few weeks in advance so he might go turn himself in first? By waiting to the last minute, it is supposed to make the reporters look better.

I'll admit I probably am not explaining this very clearly. I'm tired.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:30 AM ^

No, I get what you're saying, I just think, you might give them the courtesy of asking a few questions rather than "requesting a response." Who knows how detailed their "outline" was? It sounds to me as if it was purposely designed to elicit nothing more than the terse statements they got, which of course make the school officials look just as bad as if there was no comment, because they now appear to be ignoring the scope of the thing.

Besides, I just don't think the university would scoop the story like that. The Freep thinks U-M is guilty of major violations, and one of three things would happen if they gave too much advance notice:

- University thinks there are no violations and doesn't report. Story not scooped.

- University thinks there are minor violations and reports. Story not scooped, as sensationalistic bombshell aspect remains.

- University thinks there are major violations and reports. Free Press has whole story before anyone else anyway because they already have the interviews.

Of course, I certainly concede that the Freep might be thinking along the same lines as you are, in which case (no offense to you) shame on them for putting "the scoop" ahead of the basic journalistic integrity of finding two or more sides to a story.


August 30th, 2009 at 12:54 AM ^

"RR bringing in "his kind of player" that takes nothing but cupcake classes"

You're apparently forgetting that in 2008 three-quarters of the team were Lloyd Carr's recruits, and of the freshmen signed by Rodriguez several were Carr recruits to begin with. So players brought in by RR would have had a small impact on the GPA.

The fact that you can indulge in speculation about the nature of the academic performance highlights what I maintain is a near-criminal failure of the athletic department to publicize the GPA of last year's team. The only discussion of it by anybody was by Bill Martin at a non-public event, mention of which was hidden behind the paywall on Rivals. There has been absolutely no article about this on MGoBlue, and considering the constant allegations about Rodriguez's character and football ethics since he got here it's bizarre to me that the athletic department is choosing to bury the story in an official capacity. The absence of official information enables people like kmd to speculate about whether the academic performance was in fact genuine.

The question remains: how was the team able to compile this allegedly outstanding GPA when being forced to spend these allegedly hugely rule-breaking amounts of time at practice? Something isn't adding up.


August 30th, 2009 at 12:54 AM ^

I feel awful for Brandin and Je'Ron. Even though the Freep points out that they weren't complaining or aware of the rules, to use those innocent comments from excited freshmen who were more than likely exaggerating at least to some extent is bush league. Not only does it make it appear like they're supporting the Freep's claims, but it could also hurt them in the locker room.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:20 AM ^

I agree. This makes Carr's policy of extremely limited media availabiliy for underclassmen seem very intelligent. I am sure Rodriguez will put in a similar policy immediately. It sucks for us, I was really enjoying hearing from all of the players.

The only way I see them doing any more interviews will be in controlled environments on or for Inside Michigan Football.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:18 AM ^

can we just get this season started and sort this out later? Please? I think withdrawal has set in and directed everyones attention elsewhere.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:22 AM ^

a simple metaphor for this situation:

On Sundays (I call them TORTURE SUNDAYS, btw) I have to get up early to help my dad set up his security system at his business. It takes a while, and even though he never said I have to do it, I feel like I have to or else he'll be mad at me (and job security doesn't exactly rise from blowing it off). Then I have to work my scheduled hours right after that.

So I'm going to go to the local newspaper and say that he's making minors work over the legal number of hours (not really, but I'm trying to keep the metaphor going here, obviously). Who do you think wins this case?

Obviously, him, although he'll look bad at first. I have no evidence of his "illegal activity" because it wasn't truly illegal. End Game. Even though if you added the hours I did the camera work to my total work hours, it would be over the limit, you can't really do that.

Hopefully this helps a little bit, even though it's a once-a-week example, it's the same concept (apple slices to apples, it's still damn apple).


August 30th, 2009 at 2:33 AM ^

How is it at all obvious that he'd win that case? You can just argue that you're being paid under the table in the form of additional wages for your time spent beyond the legal limit. It's pretty naive to think getting minors to work more than the legal maximum number of hours is as simple as implying it's mandatory and only logging the maximum number of hour as long as you don't verbalize it.…


August 30th, 2009 at 2:38 PM ^

The post was never really meant to get into technical points and rules, it just seemed like an interesting metaphor that was worth presenting. Wouldn't there have to be some sort of concrete evidence that (hypothetically, at least) the minor was paid under the table?

I wonder if courts could legally look at how much you make, compare it to your wages/hours worked, and figure that you were/weren't paid under the table. (the NCAA can probably check hours easily, but that doesn't mean the accounts are accurate) I still think the players complaining might be screwed here because they signed a compliance form stating that they didn't practice over hours, and saying "they made me do it" seems a bit too vague to be used as solid evidence against the university.

That said, the metaphor doesn't cover the coaches allegedly watching 7v7s, either.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:21 AM ^

Always good to have a high team GPA, but when your accused of overworking the kids, it could be a life saver.

Really, these allegations are a boat without a paddle. What is voluntary and what is mandatory? Kind of subjective, no? Even in the NFL guys catch hell for missing (mandatory) voluntary workouts. What if a practice starts mandatory but half way through it becomes voluntary and no one leaves? It might feel mandatory, yet still be voluntary. I hope the NCAA's actually cares to find the difference, and doesn't let the dirt of gossip bury our team.

As for next week, RR should give the team a little "Players! Rosenberg and the Free Press have formally declared that Rich "Coach Rod" Rodriguez is an enemy of the NCAA. They have declared that I am a cheater. They have declared, in effect, that all of you *also* are cheaters... We have made mighty teams kneel. We have unhorsed a hundred kings and made them our slaves for the glory of Michigan. And these are crimes?"


August 30th, 2009 at 2:20 AM ^

Just because mandatory vs voluntary is subjective doesn't mean it's a loophole you should be allowed to abuse. It's one thing if your teammates are peer pressuring you into going, but it's an entirely different thing if the coaching staff is taking attendance and punishing players by making them run and cutting playing time if they don't show up. It's kind of like sexual harassment, where it's in the eye of the beholder. If you're made to feel like attendance is mandatory, then it should be classified as mandatory.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:38 AM ^

Honestly, if I were Rodriguez, there would definitely be a part of me right now wishing I had stayed in West Virginia. He's been shit on almost since day one by the local media. The guy has not had chance since he's been here, and not just with the papers, but on the radio as well (Valenti and Foster have been unbearable when they discuss him).

I just hope all this negativity doesn't start to impact recruiting. It's just that this kind of stuff doesn't seem like it's ever going to let up, even if they start winning. And if it continues, who knows, maybe a few kids will think the drama isn't worth it? Especially if this turns out to be another rough year, more "allegations" surface, and Rodriguez's job security is put in serious jeoprady (I trust that Martin and Coleman are more rational than d-bags like Rosenberg and other media-types, though).


August 30th, 2009 at 1:42 AM ^

How will this effect the Freep's access to the program? What about Rosenberg, is he still able to cover Michigan as normal or does he get shut out. Very interested to see how this pans out.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:12 AM ^

Rosenberg's version of normal coverage of Michigan is to write opinion columns decrying some new evil that Rodriguez has perpetrated in his quest to destroy the University. So yes, Rosenberg is still able to cover Michigan as he normally would.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:45 AM ^

I have a hard time believing that RR would knowingly violate clear NCAA rules right out in the open. That is pretty much what the FP story says (or strongly implies). I mean, it says he regularly required players to put in 10-11 hours on Sundays when the NCAA limit is 4 hours. He would be an idiot to do that and think no one would find out. That would be like writing checks to the players. Even schools that allegedly funnel money and other improper benefits to players do so in a way intended to make it hard to discover and prove. Lets wait until all of the facts come out before we assume RR is a total moron. RR is pushing these kids to work harder than many of them have ever worked before, but it seems far more likely to me that this situation is a question of what qualifies as "mandatory" rather than "voluntary" under NCAA rules.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:46 AM ^

This is all part of the transition from Country Club Carr to a Coach driving his players to a higher level. nothing more, nothing less. To think that an experienced HC would make a mistake this grand is just silly.

About the 12 hour Sunday, the ESPN piece doesn't mention anything for dinner (probably an hour), study table (probably 2-3 hours), lifting is probably in there (that is likely on a different set of limitations from team meetings/practice.

And look at the Carr regime. He really believed that summer workout were optional. Henne regularly went home during the summer instead of spending time with his teammates. (I think that I read an article around this with regards to his not being a captain, even though he was a senior QB who started for 4 years.)

The regime and the expectations have changed. and this is all for the better.