M football team GPA/winning/Freep

Submitted by bjk on January 12th, 2010 at 3:39 AM

Section 1's recent Diary Post, "Factions," David Brandon and the Free Press (1-10-10) elicits, at one point, the response that comes up whenever the Freep or other program haters are mentioned, to the tune of "When we start winning, the haters will go away." Usually, that ends the discussion, but this time, Section1 comments as follows, here:

And yet, what is that message, for the coaches, players and administrators in college sports? The response is, just win. Just win, baby, and everything will be okay. "Just win" was formerly the philosophy I associated with those paragons of college football; Al Davis, Barry Switzer, Jimmy Johnson, Mike White...

You get the idea.

The same diary also elicits this comment from jlvanals:

I would rather lose every football game from now until infinity than lower our standards just because USC, Ohio State and the vast majority of the SEC view many of the NCAA rules as recommendations (as opposed to, you know, rules?). A huge part of my love for Michigan is that we, as a fan base, are not willing to compromise academic and social success for cheap wins. This is why I loved Lloyd Carr. This is also why I think it is crazy to throw out Rich Rodriguez.

jlvanals' comment turned my mind to a recurring thought, that UM's football-team GPA is one of the under-reported stories of the RR era. When I saw Section 1's comment above, I decided to elevate one of my own comments to a Forum Topic:

During the [Carr-RR] transition, one of my fears was that RR, as being portrayed in the boulevard press, would be soft on the dimension of being a Michigan Man that has to do with high ethics and impeccable standards associated with M. Finding out to the contrary has been a pleasant surprise to me. My problem is that these positive stories don't really seem to get the attention I think they deserve.

For instance, a blog search turns up this post by msoccer10 on 7-16-09, with excerpts from a story behind a Rivals paywall:

I know that Rich's football team made really significant strides in their team GPA," noted U-M Athletic Director Bill Martin. "It either is, or is very close to, the highest GPA in the recorded history of the football team. I'm very proud of that."

. . . The article states that the new staff are putting more emphasis on grades than the previous one.

[Emphasis mine]

In other words, RR is putting more emphasis on GPA than Lloyd did.

Other than this, I haven't found very much about this. To me, this is a huge story that blows a very large hole in one of the most pernicious anti-RR myths, and yet, the details (such as what that [2008-9] GPA actually was) are not to be found and the story gets buried under another Freep-faux-scandal about misplaced records concerning GPA, and so on.

Does anyone know a free source to acquire more information about UM football's team GPA, follow-ups for the current year, and so on? And can someone tell me why this isn't treated as a much, much bigger story, at least not here at Mgoblog? After all, one of CF's most ethical and respected programs is becoming even more so, and no-one is hearing about it.

In closing, I'd like to share an idea: When the NCAA exonerates UM of any suspicion caused by the Freep practice-hours story, wouldn't that be a good time for the Freep to atone for itself by running a detailed series on how RR's elves are maintaining and improving the high scholastic standards of one of the most ethically immaculate programs in college football? RR and M are setting an example; the rest of the world needs to see it.


Maize and Blue…

January 12th, 2010 at 7:21 AM ^

they have to be taken as truth as student grades are not accessible information to anyone outside the university. There was also a question as to how far back the university had tracked team GPA. I have no doubt that Martin wasn't lying about this, but because of the way it came out the F*@#p jumped all over RR and made him retract the statement because he couldn't provide proof and the person who reported the GPA wasn't definite enough for them (maybe they should look at their own reporting).
It's a shame that a real positive like that got sweep into themanure pile of F%!#p writing as the players must have worked their butts off given all the extra practice time (haha) they were forced to do. Maybe the univerity has found a successful way to clone football players so they can be two places at once. Unfortunately, some of the student clones instead of athletes showed up on Saturdays by mistake the last two years.


January 12th, 2010 at 7:55 AM ^

rule out some kind of aggregate statistic? What kinds of metrics does the NCAA look at for compliance -- perhaps graduation only?

Don's comment to the original GPA post calls the relative obscurity of this story a "PR fail." It's frustrating to have to watch the Freep poop all over RR when he tries to point their attention to something like this.

Blue in Yarmouth

January 12th, 2010 at 9:07 AM ^

but the grades of a football team shouldn't be confidential unless you are attaching names to the grades.

The teams GPA is most likely not confidential. It is likely that a list of all players marks without their names attached isn't confidential either.

Those things wouldn't be in Canada anyway. I can't imagine it is that much different in the USA.


January 12th, 2010 at 7:37 AM ^

So the university can only speak of things like the team GPA, and I'm not even sure they can do that with any specificity. That could be why all we know is that last year's team had one of the best GPAs ever. To go into any detail at all is to step onto problematic legal ground.

Just speculating -- I don't actually know what the university can and cannot do.


January 12th, 2010 at 7:57 AM ^

I think there has to be a way to track team GPA without assigining specific grades to students. I can recall being at football games recently where they announced the womens swimming or cross country team as being the team with the highest GPA of all sports teams at the University.
If the University can't track grades, the grades must be voluntarily reported by the students. There could be no verification by requiring students to actually provide transcripts or a copy of their grades.


January 12th, 2010 at 8:50 AM ^

they may not be able to announce it to the public. So all they can give is general, relative statements like those we've heard. There are plenty of people with access to a given student's grades within the university. But they're not allowed to talk about them outside of the context of that access. The rules are very strict about this -- you can get fired for it. It would seem that same principle applies to a given team's GPA. They can't give specifics.


January 12th, 2010 at 8:07 AM ^

I think it's a very positive telling comment for Martin to suggest that the current coaching staff is putting more emphasis on grades than the previous one when Lloyd's still floating around in some official capacity, last I heard. Not meant as a jab at Carr, but rather, for Martin to allow or volunteer the comparison, he must feel pretty strongly about the current staff's efforts to emphasize academics.

As an aside, posts like this are some of the reasons I come to this site. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best unofficial site for all things Michigan sports. But this season especially, the constant criticism of the new coaches, old coaches, players and even recruits has kept me from visiting as much as I used to.

No doubt no one is above criticism, but don't you get tired of it? When a player is citing a coach's job uncertainty as a reason not to come here, wouldn't you rather see this site, and your part in it, as positive reinforcement to balance the negative recruiting? Or is it far more important to see your own criticisms validated by a bunch of e-pinion?


January 12th, 2010 at 8:21 AM ^

I read somewhere that Rich has set goals in the class room just liie goals in the weight room (or for that matter your typical sales stretch goal in the real world). I believe there are indvidual player goals, group goals and team goals.

I don't know what Lloyd did, but the stretch challenge aspect is what comes across as new.

Personally, I think this is a good thing, and I think the PR department could have done a better job of simplifying the message and getting it out.


January 12th, 2010 at 9:12 AM ^

I personally feel like Rich Rod is running a very Michigan-type program-do the right thing, keep the grades up, work hard, don't play dirty. If you look up his pregame speech videos (there are some on youtube) he always talks about playing good, physical football, with nothing cheap. Don't let the Freep convince you otherwise.


January 12th, 2010 at 10:02 AM ^

I apologize for the vagueness - and hopefully one of you with a better memory than mine can fill in the details - but I recall a story of one of the incoming freshmen last year missing or skipping a class. At the next class, when he walked in, RR and the assistant coaches were in the back of the room to show him how important academics are to the team. That's the kind of story I'd love to see instead of the crap the [email protected]#$ is reporting..

Section 1

January 12th, 2010 at 11:42 AM ^

And I don't know how team-GPA's might be compiled, if at all.

The way to get public information, if it exists, is to e-mail Patricia Sellinger who is one of the University of Michigan's Information (FOIA) officers. Send a FOIA to her.

[email protected]

When you do, she will appreciate it if you invite her to take as much time as she needs, rather than the statutorily-mandated time to repsond.


January 12th, 2010 at 11:42 AM ^

that the story and other great things the Michigan program does deserves more time in the spotlight. Sadly, controversy sells. The team GPA isn't (or wasn't) tracked specifically. Rodriguez asked some people who worked with the team on academics to compare current grades to previous ones, and they told him the current team had the highest GPA ever, but I don't think they actually had statistics and may have been going on memory alone. That is why the Freep busted his balls for saying they had the highest GPA in years. They, of course, missed the obvious story that Rodriguez is stressing academics.


January 12th, 2010 at 12:56 PM ^

touchdown celebrations was a small, detailed thing, but it stuck with and impressed me.

When he first came to Michigan one of the first things he wanted to see was Michigan players handing the ball to the official to get it spotted immediately after each an every play (offense or defense). After touchdowns or big plays he wanted celebrations to be brief and very controlled and only after first handing the ball to an official.

It might be a very small thing, but combined with the conditioning program and the repeated references to the importance of "earning your spot" and competition every week at every position in practice - I like that these kids are learning such philosophies because they do apply well in real life and to work life as well.