(HT: mgoblog boardist cltjr)


Vice President Joe Biden presided over the memorial service for the 29 miners killed in the April 5th explosion at the West Virginia Upper Big Branch Mine.  A couple minutes into his seven minute speech, the VP talked about the lives of the men outside of work, here’s the audio from a couple minutes into the speech:


“And though this work defined them, it did not describe them.  As Nick Rahall said they were fathers, grandfathers, sons, nephews, husbands and fiancés.   They loved hunting, fishing, riding horses and four wheelers.  They hated the way coach Rodriguez left West Virginia for Michigan [applause/cheers/whistles]..”

I read some of the comments ripping on Biden on mgoblog but I think they either missed the full quote or the point here.  The fact is that he was describing the passion of these men and Mountaineer football was a big part of that.  Do any of you doubt that they did hate the way Rodriguez left?

If Biden talked to the wives and family of these fallen men I’m guessing more than one brought it up & note the WV sticker on the helmet in the photo above.   Certainly in the audience were (primarily) friends and family and you heard how they reacted to the Rodriguez comment.

I don’t have any problem with Biden mentioning this.   If I croak tomorrow I hope someone mentions U-M football in some form or another at my funeral services (to be held at the Big House).   If you’ve read these pages you know that U-M athletics, particularly Michigan football, is deeply woven into our lives and our society.  It’s not just about a few Saturday afternoons each fall.  Seriously, don’t you know a few people that have had their ashes spread inside Michigan Stadium or intend to when they pass?   I do.


  • I was a Political Science major* at U-M and I know a little about politics and politicians.  I ended up on Capitol Hill for a spell, working for a Senator (D-MI) and after graduation, a Congressman (R-MI).
  • Post-post script, now this is funny.  Here’s how the LA Times mentioned the Rodriguez reference (a screen print before someone edits it):



* I Minored in cruising chicks with an emphasis on sucking face.


  1. Greg, very good points as always. I think that there’s a layer here which we’re missing as Michigan fans. It’s not a cheap scoring of points, it’s a reality and it speaks to the particular situation from the other side of it than where we sit. So, nicely done Greg.

  2. Biden is an idiot………..
    Garbage ina da moutn and garbage outta da mouth.

  3. The thing that bothers me is I’ve been to that area before and a lot of people around there are Marshall fans and don’t particularly care for UWV. So yes some probably many of the miners were big fans of UWV but unless all of them were and unless all of them were diehard enough to be ok with the mention of it, it’s not appropriate. Really the bigger thing that made me angry was the people cheering in agreement. That just struck me as an inappropriate gesture as it was neither the time or place.

  4. On one hand, I don’t disagree with Greg’s assessment. I’ve also come to realize that Michigan Men and Women have to have thick skin these days.

    HOWEVER, Biden is clearly pandering to his audience here. Anyone who doesn’t think politicians aren’t ALWAYS campaigning is naive at best and clearly an idiot at worst. Politicians NEVER turn it off and this is just another example of one wanting people to say, “I saw Biden in person once and I’ll vote for him because he’s a regular guy.”

    I’m on the fence about RR but given how WVU nation has been carrying on for 3 years now, I can understand why Nehlen told RR to take the job.

  5. @Chris
    I agree that politicians are always campaigning even during a memorial service. I read Game Change and I worked for these type of people. But given this was a memorial service – playing to and relating to the passions of the dead and the grieving is far from a sin. I helped write the obit for a member of my extended family and part of the process is understanding who these people were at work, with family, and beyond. Now, could he have Biden simply said, “And they loved Mountaineer football,” and left it at that? Perhaps. But the seminal moments in recent WVU football tie to Rodriguez: the rise of the program and yes, his difficult departure.

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