Continuing the interview with former News columnist Jim Carty. In Part I we talked about his decision to leave the News, on his new blog, the day Lloyd Carr canceled his subscription and his feud with Bill ‘Huge’ Simonson.
In Part II we talked about some of his critics, access at the Capital One Bowl, on the accusations the News misled some student athletes during the athademics series, and on when he called Bill Martin ‘Barnacle Bill’ during the coaching search.
In the last installment, We discuss radio, the good vs. evil in the world of sports journalism, bloggers and their place in the media and finally, we wrap up with my plea to make Bruce Springsteen shut his yap and just sing.
MVictors: I see you’re still doing the WTKA Bud Light Victors Lounge, are you able to “enjoy” the lounge now that you don’t have to run over to cover the games now?
Jim Carty: I’m trying to do them all, sometimes law school prevents that. There’s a WTKA staff rule, no booze for the talent [laughs].
MVictors: Are you on the payroll for those gigs?
Jim Carty: For the Monday appearance and for the Saturday appearance I’m paid a grand total of $100 [laughs].
MVictors: You do a great job on the radio, you seem very comfortable. Most of your former colleagues do radio in some form another, any thoughts on doing more radio down the road?
Jim Carty: I love doing radio, it’s fun. It’s completely different from writing. A big part of my move to law school is because I want to something different with the rest of my life. A lot of people have asked me, ‘Do you think if you go into sports law?’ I would just be stunned if I go into anything having to do with sports. At least part of it is because when sports is your job, it’s less enjoyable, it just becomes your job. I would like to get back to where sports is something I enjoy on a different level. Would I never say never? I would never say never. Maybe Bill Simonson and I could do a show together. [laughing]. There’d be conflict.
MVictors: You joked on your blog that Rosenberg’s kind of moved into perceived group of program critics with you and Drew Sharp. Do you think we’ll ever see an evil incarnation of Wojo?
Jim Carty: No, I don’t think so. If this were a pro wrestling outfit, that would be a tremendous turn of events. Like, Wojo to turn heel, or Angelique to turn heel! Managed by Lloyd Carr. That would get big WWE ratings but I don’t think we’ll see it.
Although I will say this. Wojo holds the positions he holds very honestly. There are some people who are homers just because they love the school. I think Wojo tends to be positive because he’s a positive person. But one the other hand, if he truly believes someone was a bad guy or doing the wrong thing, I don’t think he’d hesitate to say it. If the moment ever comes where Wojo says, ‘This guy’s a bad guy that needs to be fired.’ Then this guy’s a bad guy that needs to be fired. There’s no doubt about that! [laughs]
On Mike, it’s very interesting. I think one of the best things a columnist can do is stake out his territory and say this is where I stand, whether you like it or not. Mike has staked out a big square and said, ‘I’m very skeptical of how Rich is doing things. Not that I think he’s the devil. Not that I think he should be fired. But that I’m very skeptical.’ That’s a very good thing for a columnist to do. He’s not weasling; he’s not giving himself any gray area. He’s staking out his turf and he’s saying ‘this is a how I stand and let’s see how it turns out.’ And it’s going to be very interesting to watch.
MVictors: Have you considered writing a book?
Jim Carty: Too much work. I’m going to law school, I want to work Monday through Friday [laughing]. Even if I have to work 12 hours a day.
There’s a tremendous book in the whole academics story, I’d say about a quarter of the story got into the paper. That doesn’t mean there’s a bunch of allegations out there. Just a quarter of the story got in there. I just don’t have the time. And it’s not going to make anybody rich, nobody’s getting rich off of academics and athletics books. And right now my attention is law school.
MVictors: Does Mitch Albom have a Barry Bonds-esque special chair and his own special section of the press box?
Jim Carty: Mitch is very quiet, very private person. He comes to the press box, he sits with everybody else, pretty much keeps to himself.
MVictors: Are you guys allowed to talk to him?
Jim Carty: Ahhh…I guess? You know, Mitch has been around a long time, there are a lot of people that know him very well. Those are the people he sticks with. I sort of understand that. He’s been around a long time, he has a lot things going on. I will say he’s never acted aloof or acted like a dick to me [laughs]. That’s more than I can say for Mike Lupica. [laughing]
MVictors: Whoa. Let’s go there. Your roots are out east…
Jim Carty: Lupica’s a guy I grew up reading, I loved that guy. Two or three times when I was a very young reporter I got to interact with him and he was pretty much a dick to me.
Bucky Dent was my hero growing up. I got to cover him when he was a Triple-A manager. He was a dick to me, too. [laughs]
MVictors: You’re from out East, you covered Rutgers. You called the Rodriguez hire a ‘home run’ in the News. I want to know, what was the line on Rodriguez before he came to Michigan, from your experience and your Big East contacts and counterparts?
Jim Carty: Rich has always been viewed as a guy who put football talent ahead of everything else, like grades and character and things like that. Part of that is probably sour grapes by the people that coached against him, people who that perhaps couldn’t get into their schools some of those kids Rich could get into West Virginia. Part of it is a product of the fact that it is difficult to coach at West Virginia. The state produces a minimum of Division I players, and minimum of Division I basketball players. And let’s be honest, it’s a school that offers opportunities to many, many people regardless of their academic background, whether they’re in athletics or not, they’ll give anybody a chance. He probably used that to his advantage. Now – he took some kids with criminal brushes that I don’t think he could take here. And that’s why I think many people viewed as not a perfect character fit. But he’s here now and he hasn’t recruited any axe murderers to Michigan yet. Now, if he brings in a convicted felon you have to wonder if that’s what he’s about. But so far we see no sign of that.
MVictors: I know you can’t paint bloggers with a broad brush–anyone can start blog, but it general, what’s the view of sports bloggers from the guys in the newsroom?
Jim Carty: It’s fascinating. It really is fascinating. I have worked with two reporters, both of whom are excellent reporters. One of whom from very, very early—years ago—was a huge fan of mgoblog he said, “This guy is tremendously talented. You need to hire him at MLive. Go to him right now and offer him whatever it takes to bring that blog to MLive.”
I worked with another reporter who thinks that Brian is just an irresponsible clown. That’s not my opinion in any way.
MVictors: He could crush you.
Jim Carty: This guy is a very traditional journalist’s journalist, who think there’s a bright line between the public and journalism, and that Brian is a clown, pretending to play journalist. And it’s fascinating to see the diversity right there in the newsroom right in front of me. I’m a big fan of Brian, if I haven’t made that clear I tried to say that when I was with the News. He’s so different anyone else covering Michigan right now. And he is covering Michigan whether people want to acknowledge it or not, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not. He covering Michigan. He’s a factor. He’s a player. Watching him exploding into that role has been fascinating. I don’t know where goes, I think it goes wherever he wants it to go.
But I also think it’s the sort of thing where the more attention you get, the higher the stakes are. You know? Some of the things he’s done in the past I don’t know if he would do now. Maybe he would. I’m just saying he carries a little bit a different imprimatur of legitimacy right now. If your buying stock in your traditional columnist or your buying stock in Brian Cook—I’d buy stock in Brian Cook. [Ed: I’d buy GE – great yield!]
MVictors: I assume you had some good friendships at the News, other than the people, what’ll you miss most about the job?
Jim Carty: The paper, as a whole, has a commitment to journalism that not all papers that size have. They poured tremendous resources into the academics and athletics project. People may not believe this but they did the project because of a genuine belief that they want student athletes to have the best academic experience at Michigan that they can have. I believe that’s the organization’s true position. Ed Petykiewicz, our editor, and Bill Martin before the series, I believe they were personal friends. And it’s difficult to put a personal friendship at risk for the idea that these kids should be treated better. It’s difficult, it costs people things. I think it was done because the paper believes it’s a newspaper’s role to drive examination of issues, not conclusions, but to drive examinations of important issues. I will miss working for a place that believes in doing more than just covering the game, or just covering the city council meeting. And I worry well they can do that in the future in this really rough newspaper environment.
MVictors: I know you recently attended the Vote for Change concert where Springsteen performed and you’re a fan like me. Sometimes don’t you wish Bruce would just shut up, stop telling us how to vote and just sing about cars?
Jim Carty: Ahh, that’s an interesting question. It sort of intersects a little bit with being a columnist or being an editorial page writer. Do you have a responsibility in that position to try to influence people? I think there are a lot of people and a lot of artists who would say, ‘No, the two things are separate.’ There are others who would say, ‘This is who I am, and I’m going to tell you what I believe, and if you come along with me that great. If you don’t, that’s ok too.’ Bruce has never said, ‘Get out of here unless you’re going to vote for Obama.’
I don’t know. I guess I’m obviously more with him than not, because I told people to vote for Chris Easthope on my blog [laughing]. Whether Bruce or I moves anyone is very, very questionable. Afterward Chris emailed me, I emailed him back I said, “Dude, I hope I didn’t move more people against you than for you!”. [laughs]