August 30th, 2009 at 1:48 AM ^

Here are some relevant NCAA material related to the article.

I used to be a student-athlete tutor, and trust me, athletes misinterpret the rules all the time. A coach can say "I'd like to see all of you here for 10 hours tomorrow doing your voluntary workouts" but the athletes will take that as "I am required to be here tomorrow for 10 hours." Trust me, every athlete will tell you they feel pressured to do all the voluntary stuff, and it becomes so ingrained that they actually think it is mandatory.

Do you think the athletes know what the exceptions to the rules are?………


August 30th, 2009 at 2:24 AM ^

This is exactly the problem with the FP story. They should have done a much better job pointing out that this is not a simple calculation and that there are many exceptions. The story leads the reader (incorrectly) to assume that the players themselves fully understand all the rules and are capable of making all of the necessary calculations to conclude that rules are being violated. I do not know what the FP's motives behind the story are, but at a minimum this is very lazy journalism.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:45 AM ^

On the other hand, many people here seem to be assuming that the players fully understand how to contact the compliance office (or that a compliance office exists) and make a formal complaint without anybody related to the team or athletic department finding out for fear of punishment, and have faith that the internal compliance system will actually take action and not accidentally leak their identity.

Also, if so much of this time that player's are complaining about is truly voluntary, wouldn't they just not go? This seems to suggest that either they don't feel certain things are actually voluntary, or it's not being made clear to them.


August 30th, 2009 at 3:28 AM ^

Clearly, unless FP totally fabricated this (which I do not believe), some players are unhappy with the amount of work they are being required to do. But that does not constitute an NCAA violation. The question is whether RR is requiring players to put in more "mandatory" time than NCAA rules allow. I have no idea whether he is or is not. The problem with the FP article is not that it points out that players are raising questions. It is not that it uses anonymous sources. It also would not be a problem if they were simply calling for an NCAA investigation. The problem with the FP story is it makes it seem as if this is a very clear case of violations when I do not believe FP knows whether rules have been violated or not. Some (many?) readers who read the story will immediately jump to the conclusion that RR violated rules because FP was lazy and/or sloppy (or, possibly, had an agenda). That is unfortunate.


August 30th, 2009 at 5:34 AM ^

I looked at them too and the only conclusion I came to is that this is a much more complicated question than the FP article makes it seem. But if you are right, then RR is an idiot and should be immediately fired not just for cheating but also for being a moron. The proof is the fact that he only made it through one season before getting caught. That is why I don't think it is as simple as you think. No sane person would believe they could make 100+ players spend 10+ hours every Sunday doing mandatory football workouts if the NCAA rule is 4 hours without getting caught. It makes absolutely no sense. At worst, I think we will find RR is being more aggressive than past coaches in deciding what does not count toward the 4 hours and what staff members may be present at "voluntary" activities. The idea that RR intentionally violated the rules right out in the open in the manner the FP article implies is so stupid it just cannot be what happened.


August 30th, 2009 at 10:16 AM ^

From my experience talking to players, MANY sports have "inhumane" voluntary workouts and they are all on Sundays. You could probably ask any member of any sports team on any college what their Sundays are like. Now, the players may say they spend 8-10 hours doing stuff, even after coming home late from a game the day before.

The Freep simply does not understand college athletics culture, and how many hours a week athletes put in, voluntarily and mandatory. Yes, reasonable adults who are not exposed will be shocked, but it is the norm and well within the rules. Compliance officers are always present to check off on practice times etc. Lawyers for each college have looked over everything and they will talk with NCAA to make sure this or that is acceptable.

NCAA is never going to find a single athlete that sticks to only the 20/4 rule and never do any voluntary workouts. The players who chose to remain anonymous are just being lazy and resents all the hours they put in.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:49 AM ^

“Workouts aren’t mandatory, but neither is playing time.”

Why does the Freep insinuate that there is something wrong here. First of all, the idea here is completely fair. Football players are allowed to remain on the team as long as they fulfill the obligations to the team as specified by their scholarship. They don't lose their scholarship just for skipping workouts. Therefore, the workouts are not mandatory for staying on the team. This being the case, is it not fair for the players who attend the workouts (i.e. work harder than those that don't) with playing time. In fact, it is not only fair, it is sensible, as the players who attend workouts will also be better than those that don't and thus deserve a higher spot on the depth charts.

This leads me to my second major problem with the Freep article, namely the lack of specifics as to what they defined as a mandatory workout and what the punishments were for missing "mandatory workouts". To me, it appears that players were yelled at for not being as conditioned as the rest of the team because they chose not to do extra work. Then, they didn't play because they weren't as conditioned as the rest of the team.

My final problem is with the Freep's assertion that academics were neglected by the football team. First of all, they set a football-team class record GPA. Second of all, a theoretical player who chose to spend his time studying instead of attending extra workouts and subsequently spends all of his time on the bench still graduates with a degree form an elite university. Instead of paying tuition, he sat on the bench in the fall and had to practice football a lot. This seems fair.


August 30th, 2009 at 1:50 AM ^

I think what it boils down to is even if you think Rich Rod is some sort of evil bastard hell bent on destroying the Michigan football program, at the end of the day its still the same athletic department that's been here for ages. To assume that since the arrival of Rodriguez the AD has suddenly decided to no longer report offenses or ignore them all together is just silly. This is the same AD that existed under Carr, and Moe before him, and Bo before him. To think that they have suddenly gone rogue as a result of hiring Rich Rod is stupidity at the highest level.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:04 AM ^

This couldn't be worse. If you read other places, you can tell that there are a lot of people against RR. This will only add fuel to the fire.

My favorite part of the article was "They said that Michigan coaches have a saying: “Workouts aren’t mandatory, but neither is playing time.”"

How many times in your sporting life have you heard this? It's true. You reward those who put the time and effort in. What I don't get is, why are these players not going anonymously to the compliance department to complain instead of the freep?

Edit: I also love the...
"The NCAA also limits teams to 20 hours a week, and Rodriguez apparently exceeded that limit as well...

With three hours on Saturday and a full day on Sunday, players tallied about 12 hours on those two days. They were off Monday. Players said they would spend an additional three to four hours with the team on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons, bringing the weekly total to 21-24 hours."

If we're bitching about 1-3 hours over during the season...jesus. Those times are estimates too. When you're upset about it, you're going to think it was longer than it was...and STILL only 1-3 hours more?!?!


August 30th, 2009 at 3:57 AM ^

My favorite part of the article was "They said that Michigan coaches have a saying: “Workouts aren’t mandatory, but neither is playing time.”"

"The student-athlete's attendance and participation in the activity (or lack thereof) may not be recorded for the purposes of reporting such information to coaching staff members or other student-athletes."

"The student-athlete may not be subjected to penalty if he or she elects not to participate in the activity. In addition, neither the institution nor any athletics department staff member may provide recognition or incentives (e.g., awards) to a student-athlete based on his or her attendance or performance in the activity."

You may say it's part of sports, but that doesn't make what they've done any less of an blatant rules violation.

Also, I don't think the players were especially complaining about the 21-24 hours with 20 hours maximum (the actual time commitment is more, because games are counted as 3 hours even though they actually take up at least 6-7). There is the 9 hour meetings on Sunday when the NCAA maximum for a single mandatory event is 4 hours. There was also the off-season training schedule which ran 15-21 hours per week when the NCAA limit is 8 hours. Saying that what's at worst the third most serious offense isn't that bad isn't a very convincing argument.

Maximinus Thrax

August 30th, 2009 at 1:56 AM ^

What are the fucking repercussions of this? I mean the real repercussions in terms of possible NCAA sanctions or what not? Who gives a fuck about the PR. I mean, maybe Dantonio can pick up another lazy Saline fuck but who cares?


August 30th, 2009 at 12:00 PM ^

The repercussions of this are likely to be found, not in sanctions, but in recruiting. While it is not very likely that the actual players (particularly those we actually want) will be affected by this report, it will cause qualms among at least some parents.

OSUMC Wolverine

August 30th, 2009 at 2:10 AM ^

The NCAA will not respond to this with anything beyond typical monitoring. Football requires work and dedication, the only people that feel this is inappropiate are those who never played football. An average high school football player probably spends 10-20 hours a week working on improving beyond organized activities with the team, a great majority of this being strength training. Why would one be shocked if this was the case in college?? Did anyone here about the new allegations that we have violated the maximum allowable hours of voluntary study table time? It was deemed to be unfair to the rest of the student body...


August 30th, 2009 at 2:16 AM ^

I really really really wish I hadn't opened up mgoblog tonight. Whether this is true or not or whatever, I'm not sure how to react right now.

I'll just say I'm very disappointed if this turns out to be true. I'm just so tired of having our University shown in such a negative light throughout the local and national media.

Leaders and Best and Go Blue everyone.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:22 AM ^

I don't doubt the coaches were tough last year, either forcing or requiring additional workouts and training. Don't forget they had 30+ turnovers last year, 27% conversion of 3rd downs (last in cfb), gave up the most total points on defense in UM history, gave up the most yards ever in the big house (vs. ILL), had lowest time of possession in last 10+ yrs, and finally had the worse record in UM history. There was some proverbial and literal ass kicking going on because of the conditioning RR required and because of the poor performance on the field. All workouts are 'voluntary' for the most part, those who wanted to play, stay or improve in his paradigm did and the others left. I think the article stretches to claim it causes kids to fall asleep in class or otherwise not perform in school or that it is a violation when it cites former players that clearly have an axe to grind.


August 30th, 2009 at 3:12 AM ^

What's the point of having any mandatory practice at all, then? Other than to have a time to punish people that don't show up to the optional practice, I suppose. Optional practice, 12 hours everyday, whoever shows up the most gets to play. I find it hard believe that things are how people claim, where the only difference between the NCAA definitions of mandatory and optional practice is that you can't revoke a player's scholarship/kick them off the team for not attending optional practice.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:35 AM ^

truthfully, i'm more concerned about getting more negative media for the program than i am with the possible reprocussions. since michigan has apparently never had a major violation, even if everything is 100% as bad as it might be, i still think we'll probably get a glorified slap on the wrist. OTOH, we will have to hear from our rivals about dickrod cheating for...well until he retires. seriously, i already know several spartys who have facebooked "[friend] says dickrod cheated and still didn't make a bowl game. HAHA"


August 30th, 2009 at 2:39 AM ^

If I was RR, I would get the hell out of AA as soon as possible. It seems like everyone is out to get him and nobody has a nice thing to say about the guy. How much of this can he take? hell even when he talks about his QB choice, people write articles like he's crazy.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:48 AM ^

After starting Sheridan last year, seeing the results, and then saying that Sheridan is still in the running this year can be justifiably considered crazy. I don't care if he looks decent in practice, because apparently that was the case last year and he still sucked in games.


August 30th, 2009 at 3:35 AM ^

I don't know enough about how things were run back then to comment about that. My understanding is that things were a lot more loose back then, and I could see that happening. Nowadays, coaches aren't allowed to have information about what classes the players are taking or their grades or anything like that.

I think now it's usually more of a mutual agreement between the player and the academic staff. I think it's hard to make a distinction between pushing somebody to an area so they can get good grades/stay eligible, and making sure a player doesn't enter a situation where they are likely to fail. When issues due arise and players say they're pushed towards easier things, I tend to blame it on players not knowing their own limitations. I think a lot of players come in now having a good idea of what they are and are not capable of, and sometimes they happen to be overconfident.


August 30th, 2009 at 5:09 PM ^

Nowadays, coaches aren't allowed to have information about what classes the players are taking or their grades or anything like that.

This is not correct.

I don't know enough about how things were run back then to comment about that.

I don't think you know enough about it now either.


August 30th, 2009 at 2:36 AM ^

I was at the bar tonight and saw ESPN running a story with the stereotypical Rodriguez and M behind it, denoting the obvious "Oh God, Michigan is in trouble take."

Now my table was by no means a group of college football experts, but I attempted to explain the situation as best (and without bias) I could, as the sound on the TV was off. I said, the Freep is accusing Michigan of requiring the players to attend more practices than normal and basically do things outside of what the overall league considers okay.

I got a shrug. Everyone went back to watching baseball.

I think the Freep has successfully found an issue that pisses all of us off, but means less than Burundi's social policies to the rest of the world.


August 30th, 2009 at 3:40 AM ^

if this is true, i'm kinda disappointed at RR for violating rules. if it isn't, fuck the media for bringing up bullshit the week before the first game.

i know absolutely no program is 100% clean, but if we're going to get caught for a violation, might as well be for working out too much i guess.

more upset that players would bitch to the media about it though. i mean really? complaining about working out more than the ncaa allows you to do? and a week before the first game? cmon! why would you rat out your own team for this kind of thing?


August 30th, 2009 at 4:17 AM ^

If you were coach, would you want someone who doesn't work his ass off to be your team leader? Would you want to start him? What does that say about your standards, your leadership? Does that embody the "All in for Michigan" mantra?

From the player's perspective, do you want to work hard to earn your spot, or have it handed to you like it is your birthright? Do you want to have teammates that don't work hard? Are you playing for the team or for yourself? Again, are you "all in for Michigan?"

The key is this: that if you don't work hard, you probably won't get the position. If you don't show up to voluntary practices, you probably will not impress the coaching staff enough to make it. If your conditioning is poor, why would the coaching staff put you in the game? Players need to work hard. It is part of sports that to win, you must work hard. Practices may be voluntary in that they are not required, but the attendance of the player is indicative of his work ethic, and thus his team mentality.

I am not going to get worked up about this. I am going to let this get vetted by the powers that be. I will just be glad when it's next week and we're celebrating with Muppets Temptation and Hawaiian War Chant.


August 30th, 2009 at 5:56 AM ^

FWIW, we did manage to win a national championship and have some pretty good seasons without 9 hour meetings on Sundays and excessive amounts of forced "optional" practice. Obviously there was room for improvement with the conditioning program, but the issues people had were with the ancient training methods and cheeseburger milkshakes, not the fact that we weren't breaking rules like all the other schools apparently do (which totally makes it ok). People are defending the coach's right to run a program this way as if we'd be terrible without it, even though things worked out pretty well in the past and the new way has yet to have any tangible dividends.

The Other Brian

August 30th, 2009 at 6:12 AM ^

1. Neither you, nor I, nor anyone else has any solid clue how things operated under Carr. There's a reason the premium message board for Michigan's Rivals site is called The Fort - that's the nickname Schembechler Hall had when Bo, Mo and Lloyd ran the show. No information came out of it unless the head coach authorized it. Precious little info was slipped out from insiders who worked there or had friends in high places.

2. With that said..."voluntary" workouts during the offseason have been around for a very long time. The problem with old Michigan is that they actually WERE voluntary - considering the gradual decay in physical fitness and strength/conditioning in the latter years of the Carr era and the bit and pieces of info about said years that have slipped out as time passed by, it's pretty safe to assume that the "voluntary" workouts were actually voluntary (no quotes to signal sarcasm), and it would have taken some egregious laziness to wind up in the doghouse (see: Watson, Gabe).


August 30th, 2009 at 1:58 PM ^

At how fast the original espn article came out after the FreeP one it doesn't seem like they just went and called 6 players and using just one player's quotes.

It would make since they wanted verification of what was written in the Freep article before running the story themselves. Maybe they're just as skeptical of Rosenberg as the rest of this board.


August 30th, 2009 at 9:00 AM ^

“We know the practice and off-season rules, and we stay within the guidelines,” Rodriguez said in a statement issued Friday to the Free Press. “We follow the rules and have always been completely committed to being compliant with all NCAA rules.”

I could be totally wrong here, but I'd trust what RR says at this point over what "unnamed" players say. This smells of frustrated players who aren't getting PT. Which, like, ok it's not ideal if you don't feel good enough to bring this up to at least your position coach, but give RR a friggin break. The man takes do much crap for what's amounted to nothing to date. (Just to be clear, if we did break the rules, we should be punished as that's fair, but I don't buy it.)

What's more, if USC can get by without a scratch with Reggie Bush's fiasco, this should dissipate. Agree totally that they couldn't have picked a worse time to publish this though. Rosenberg is a douche.


August 30th, 2009 at 9:28 AM ^

There are a number of problems with this article that make me believe it is a personal attack on the regime from a vocal critic (Rosenberg), whose reputation is about to take a serious hit if the program achieves success. Let's take a look at each of these problems as objectively as possible.

1. First, you can't just say 10 former or current players because that is too vague. Anonymity aside, who are these players? Are they recruited players? Walk-ons? How many of them transferred? Are they playing this year? Are they likely starters? Are they upperclassmen or underclassmen? All of these questions must be asked because the credibility of the player matters as well. For all we know, these 5 players could be Boren, O'Neill, Wemers, Butler and one other player. Also, 10 players is just far too low. There are a lot of walk ons who never play. Who are these players? Far more information must be provided for these accounts to have any sliver of credibility.

2. Second, the timing of the story is obviously suspicious. A week before the season, the story gets released, either for agenda purposes, shock value or both. When were these interviews conducted? I would be very curious to know the times for each player.

3. Third, a bulk of the story is meaningless because the word "mandatory" or "required" simply can mean floors and not ceilings and I'm sure most college coaches view the words that way. In other words, minimums are set, but if players want to play, they must practice extra on their own accord. For weak players, that floor may be a ceiling, but that's actually incorrect.

4. Fourth, the only issue then is whether or not the players exceeded weekly limits on football activities (20 hours) and the daily limit of 4 mandatory hours during the season. There's also the "quality control" issue but if Barwis is the "trainer" it's totally a non-issue. The "mandatory" 4 hours is the same as 3. You are given an opportunity to leave, but if you do, your playing time will be adversely affected, so no one left (maybe the walk ons did). Therefore, the only issue is the 20 hour/week limit during the season. The story paints a sorry circumstantial picture of that "violation." The best they could do was "21-24," with little verifiable information other than anecdotal.

The whole "mandatory" time is not really an issue. Players are expected here and elsewhere to commit above and beyond the requirements. I mean, I'm sure of that. The situation is worse when the player is not guaranteed a scholarship, which occurs at SEC school that oversign. Then, they are fighting for that scholarship so I guess you can then say there is a mandatory element to the off-season workouts. But that is not a problems here. I think what the story is peeved about is how you can bring in a trainer to oversee the workouts. That trainer, however, can be under Barwis, so he's going to keep track of who shows up and monitor their performance. The use of S&C, then, is a way around the voluntary rules. Make the trainer an integral part of the process and all the sudden players are being monitored. The idea is quite innovative and not disallowed.

Ultimately, the lack of information on the players involved, paucity of players used, use of very circumstantial evidence and just wrong descriptions make the story a rat. The timing also is an issue. There is obviously an agenda here. I just hope Rosenberg didn't have help from the inside.


August 30th, 2009 at 10:55 AM ^

This isn't an undercover story about Mexican drug cartels. If the Freep is so sure of its sources, let's hear who they are. I bet that most of those who squealed are "sour-grape" kids who weren't going to get much playing time. Wait until you start working for a real employer. I've got some bad news for you. Sorry, but life isn't fair.

Also, Mike Rosenberg has had it out for RR since he arrived 20 months ago.