Ski Masks, Dantonio and the Double Standard

Submitted by Raback Omaba on November 25th, 2009 at 7:20 AM

As a true blue Michigan Man in a family full of Spartans, I have had to deal with a lot over the past two years. Win & Loss record aside - the healthy doses of Schadenfreude that my Spartan family members have been feasting on, whether warranted or not, have been absolutely served on a silver platter by the national and local Detroit media.

I'm not the type to play the media blame game - because let's face it, RichRod hasn't exactly flown under the radar with a lot of the off field incidents - but I truly do feel, as many of you, that the media has an agenda towards the Rodriguez program and an agenda to "prop up" the Dantonio program.

I'm not gonna make a ruling just yet, but this whole incident at MSU should garner a tremendous amount of attention and criticism in the local media (that's you, Freep.) If this incident happens in West Quad, Rich Rodriguez's face is all over ESPN and the Freep. Terry Foster, Valenti and every Detroit media lackey is calling for his job. Fact is, he'd probably lose it.

The MSU Spartan football players are involved in a mass, pre-meditated gang beatdown for the second year in a row. Although it hasn't been explicitly said, Glenn Winston, one of the original perps, is responsible again. Hindsight is always 20/20, but looking back, Dantonio's decision to keep him on the team was the wrong one - and he should bear the criticism and blame for this huge mistake.

Several years ago I witnessed a physical altercation (choking) in my workplace. This was an isolated incident, the perp was a friend and co-worker of all of ours, but my boss obviously had no choice but to dismiss the assailant. Because there was a previous incident, isolated or not, meant that he couldn't take a second chance, especially with physical violence involved. The legal implications were two great.

Every person reading this post knows that, if they or a co-worker were convicted of an assault and spent time in jail,the would spend exactly 0.00 seconds at their current job when they got back, They would definitely lose their job.

I'm not saying that Dantonio or the MSU administration are directly responsible for the beatdown of a few frat boy engineering students, but they do and must shoulder the blame. My hypothesis is that the reason Winston and Jenerette haven't been explicitly tied to the incident yet is that the MSU admin is buying time in order to cover their legal bases.

A "Yeah, we fucked up and let Winston back on Campus" admission would definitely bring tremendous heat onto the admin and Dantonio from a legal standpoint (I know this is a far stretch, but am I wrong??)

So, in closing, let's all make sure to keep an eye on the Detroit media and see what their reaction is to this incident. Anything short of "Dantonio made a big mistake and should receive much criticism" is unacceptable.

I doubt we'll see anything too extreme - c'mon, this is MSU - but the criticism must be levied and it must be drawn along...

Dantonio should have known about these kids when he recruited them!

Here's to a healthy serving of Sparty Schadenfruede for a Thanksgiving appetizer!


Gerald R. Ford

November 25th, 2009 at 7:29 AM ^

I was back in town for several days for the Purdue weekend. I have been out of Michigan for many years now. I forgot how much attention MSU gets in the Detroit area. By this, I mean generally positive attention. It is almost over-compensation to counter the MSU inferiority complex. I don't know if the other posters who live out of state agree, but I never hear anything about State anymore, positive or negative. Nobody cares about them outside of Michigan. So, while I really like Omaba's post above (and agree with it), I would not guage the likely lack of national attention on this issue as favoritism toward Sparty. The fact is, most people don't know or care about them elsewhere.


November 25th, 2009 at 7:59 AM ^

I heard a caller to a local talk show ask the host after two hours of constant RichRod rants when MSU would be discussed. The host, a MSU alum, stated that they don't discuss MSU football because no one calls or seems interested. What a sad commentary on a mediocre program.

Last Friday's Detroit Free Press shows how little MSU football matters even in SE Michigan. There were 8 full-length pages of sports coverage, several articles on the pending OSU-UM game, a long feature on Brandon Graham, stories on MSU and UM basketball, games summaries of the womens' teams -- but not a syllable on the MSU-PSU game the following day other than listings in the TV and radio broadcasts for the weekend.

MSU callers on local sports talk radio typically obsess with UM, at when discussing football. They are content with 6-6 (in a year they didn't play OSU) and "moving in the right direction" with D'Antonio.


November 25th, 2009 at 8:19 AM ^

I was listening to the radio (Bakita and Grey) this morning and I caught the tail end end of a call from an MSU fan. They were discussing the Winston dismissal and how it was likely tied to this second incident. The caller was commending Dantonio for giving Winston a second chance because "everyone deserves one" and basically arguing that Dantonio can't be responsible because he can't babysit 100 kids. Ridiculous.

This is not going to end well for MSU, regardless of the reaction of the media. The administration should not have let Winston back on campus.

Blue in Yarmouth

November 25th, 2009 at 8:43 AM ^

and likely wouldn't have heard about this if I didn't frequent this blog. It is likely a fair comment that the rest of the nation has very little interest in what goes on at MSU.

Having said that, I agree with Omaba that the Michigan area should definitely hear about this. It has sickened me to see the extent to which the local media goes to attempt to discredit RR and make him look bad.

In my e-pinion RR has been a great example to all coaches when it comes to the discipline of his team and treating all players equally when rules are broken.

People might say that Feagan was an easy target and dismissing him was no big deal since he never played. The Cissoko dismissal shows that RR takes rule violation very seriously and will stick to those rules regardless of who it is that is breaking them.

Dantonio lets a guy who just gets released from jail come back and play on his team without any questions. Now he has another group of guys running around in ski masks assaulting innocent students. If the local media doesn't jump all over this and start giving the type of critcism to Dantonio that they did RR it will show how blatant their bias is IME.


November 25th, 2009 at 9:17 AM ^

Mighigan gets held to a higher standard than MSU because Michigan is an elite program and MSU is not.

But Saint Dantonio's exemption from media criticism should be immediately revoked. It's almost like the study last week that found that referees call more fouls on the team that is ahead, as if they want to make it a closer game. Michigan is ahead as a program, and the media seems to desperately want MSU to catch up so that there are two elite programs in the state. So, they give Saint Dantonio carte blanche to do whatever he wants while they hammer RR to sell papers and generate clicks.


December 1st, 2009 at 1:49 PM ^

Maybe a team that's ahead becomes too confident and plays sloppy, committing more fouls--correlation does not prove causation.
I haven't heard of this study and would be interested in reading it and seeing exactly what they found.


December 1st, 2009 at 3:49 PM ^

Here's something that does not happen:

An editor gathers his columnists and beat writers -- anyone responsible for writing on a certain topic. He says to them "guys, we need to take X angle in order to sell the most newspapers." The writers then go out and find whatever they can in order to make people believe X.

It doesn't happen.

What does happen is that individual writers who get more attention from the readership get promoted. Their name is put out there more often. They get the bigger assignments.

Detroit has a ton of Sparty fans. These fans react to negative Michigan news. They tune out negative Spartan news.

Detroit also has a ton of Michigan fans. These fans devour any Michigan news. They tune out most or all Spartan news.

And Rich Rod has gone 3-9 and 5-7 since coming here, which has created a sub-set of Michigan fans who devour negative Michigan news.

It seems to me that talking shit about Michigan gets you a lot of attention in this market. It follows, then, that without a section editor explicitly stepping in (as he's supposed to) and stopping a bias from appearing in his section, the total "message" from that section ends up shitting on Michigan more than is due.

This idea that "the media is trying to make MSU look good and Michigan look bad" is ludicrous when you consider how this material gets to print. The perceived bias comes from long-term market effects, and bad oversight (which itself could be an effect of the market effects).

Rosenberg is a known quantity -- he's a Sparty homer. You can get mad at him as much as you can get mad at Sean Hannity for not being fair to Democrats. He intersects Michigan as a columnist, printing opinion. The point is, he's not writing for the fanbase that comes to MGoBlog -- he's writing for Michigan State fans. When he does write about Michigan, it's from a "Bo was God" standpoint. He hasn't written about the Wolverine football team since his twin August attacks.

Drew Sharp is a known quantity. He's an ass hat. The people he's writing for are the asshat contingent who think Mike Valenti is too intellectual for them. This is a big market. If you're here, it probably doesn't include you.

Mitch Albom is a known quantity -- he's the resident humanizer. That's his shtick. He tends to be the last guy to pass judgements.

Those are your columnists.

Mark Snyder covers Michigan for the Free Press. He was involved in the Rosenberg story. He used to write for the Michigan Daily. 99 percent of his stuff is just good news. The last time he drew the ire of Michigan partisans was when he published Mike Gillette's comments, but, um, that's on Gillette -- Snyder didn't editorialize. Mostly, Snyder interviews and posts the results of his interviews. I think the general consensus on Snyder has been that his involvement in the Rosenberg story was fact-finding, and that the tenor of the article (you can tell by his writing) was distinctly Rosenbergian.

The MSU equivalent of Snyder (i.e. beat writer) is Shannon Shelton. She has posted just one blog entry (where opinion might be more likely to come out) since Nov. 22, and that was just speculation on the Youngstown head coaching opening, and whether any of Dantonio's staff might get the gig. She covered the attacks by interviewing a lawyer for one of the players involved, and another speculating on no info except that the two players who were dismissed were probably there. Any editorializing would be left up to Rosenberg, whose column I'm sure you've read.

What you should be concerned about at the Free Press is "Free Press Staff" -- the unsigned editorials. Whenever something is written by this group, it's almost always "Rich Rod is sooo fired," with a mention of the practice "scandal" and a quote from Adam Rittenberg thrown in. This is the work of an underling, likely after an ill-attended board discussion.

None of this explains the OP's question of why there has been so little coverage of MSU football players and their violent raid. If you're looking for evidence of editor involvement, note that Michael Rosenberg has very likely been removed from commenting on Michigan in his columns, but that the overall tenor of the Freep's sports section is still being dictated by those who play to a Michigan and RR-hating market. Opinion pieces have been coming primarily from Albom, who has been his usual fair and sappy self. News is coming from Snyder, who from the questions he has asked and his involvement in the practice story, is probably a Bo-and-Lloyd Wolverine fan at heart, who does his best to keep those biases out of his writing, but has been at times unsuccessful.

From a journalist's perspective, I would say that the MSU coverage, except for Rosenberg's a little excessively nice column, has been pretty fair considering we still don't know very much. The beat writer has apparently been at the lawyers for the players and the attacked, but they're not giving much just yet. I'd wait for another shoe to drop before coverage comes down.

On their Michigan coverage, if I was the section editor I would agree with suspending Rosenberg's Michigan pontification indefinitely. (I also wouldn't have let that article to go print in the first place. I'd also have canned Drew Sharp years ago. Then again, I probably wouldn't make as much money for the newspaper as he does.) Anyway, I think at this point they really need another columnist to replace Rosenberg entirely, since his credibility at covering Michigan is so shot he can't even write about the Wolverines anymore this year, and that means you don't have anyone filling the intellectual market for Wolverines opinion, which is the market he's supposed to fill.

As for the rest of the columnists, if you're a considered Wolverine fan, then you are not the demographic any of them are going for.


December 1st, 2009 at 5:06 PM ^

...I think we forget is that MSU's football program has a long history of mediocrity and less than civil behavior. The fact that UM and MSU are now more or less evenly paired (God help us) doesn't change the fact that our program has always performed and behaved at a higher standard. Michigan Football is now being scrutinized in the media because some people (not me) don't think that the legacy of Michigan football is being respected.

I personally don't think that we would see these issues treated differently if we were in a different media market - I mean, would a scandal at Baylor get the same attention as one at Texas?