Here’s the piece.  Abstract:

Michigan football consistently has violated NCAA rules governing off-season workouts, in-season demands on players and mandatory summer activities under coach Rich Rodriguez, numerous players told the Free Press.

We learned that many, probably most, of Michigan fans can tolerate a little losing.  If the allegations are true, I’m sure they won’t be as tolerant toward rules violations. 

The issue I see with the report is that the alleged ‘voluntary’ participation may be tough to define and interpret and therefore these allegations will probably be viewed by most fans as a another attempt by the Freep to discredit Rodriguez.  The Freep stresses that the players interviewed said they faced punishment if they didn’t come to workouts; maybe that’s where the NCAA will have grounds to take a look.

One other item – the names of all the players interviewed weren’t released but if the NCAA takes a look, I assume they’ll come out.   There are clearly guys who have left the program with agendas, so I think it’s important to sort out who said what. 

More later but would love to get your initial reaction in the comments.

Ed. 8/30:  A couple more thoughts this morning. 

  • Looking it over, the NCAA might narrow down on the post-game Sunday workouts that the Freep (and ESPN) alleges far exceeded an NCAA defined four hour limit.  That seems to be the most specific, definable allegation here.  
  • I thought this little jab at the end of the piece was at best unnecessary and at worst bush league, as if a few months of conditioning under Barwis and the second half struggles last season are directly correlated:

Rodriguez has posted a big sign above the entrance to the team’s weight room that says, “Through these doors walks the best conditioned, most disciplined, and hardest working football team in America.”

If that’s true, it did not show on the field last fall. For the season, the Wolverines were outscored, 166-157, in the first half — and 181-86 in the second half, when conditioning is crucial.

  • When I read it, thought it was funny that the Freep referred to GoBlueWolverine as a fan site, but I guess that’s what they are.  Assume there will be little mention of the allegations on scout or rivals.
  • I don’t want to turn this into a game of interpreting gray areas of NCAA rules.  This is how tightly I want the rules enforced, here’s Mark Messner talking about circa mid-1980s standards:

I remember one day I took the socks from practice because I need some socks [laughs].  The next day I was getting dressed  for practice and I had no socks. I practiced without socks. [Equipment manager] Jon Falk told me, “Listen son, that’s an NCAA violation. I can not let you have them. I can’t replace them. If you bring me an old pair of socks I’ll give you a new pair but you’re not leaving this building with our t-shirts, shorts or socks.”

I had to bring the damn socks back so I could have socks for practice. That’s how strict they were. I’m proud of that.

Related:
* Former AA News columnist Jim Carty shares a few takes on this including his take on where this might end up. 

7 Comments

  1. I sincerely hope this is not true, but if it is I think we all need to step back and take another look at Coach Rodriguez. I realize that all football coaches at major schools possess gigantic egos, but Rodriguez’ blatant violation of rules when he knows he is under a major microscope is really troubling to me.

    I hate the constant negative attention that our football program is getting. I wonder how much is enough?

  2. Greg, a fair assessment, but I was wondering if punishment is also a tough thing to define. Is the punishment an actual thing, or is it a “well, we don’t look favorably upon your lack of commitment to the team” sort of thing. If you read Elwood Reid’s “If I Don’t Six”, a novel based on his life as a college football at Michigan, it’s the same thing, you’re committing yourself to your program, your team, and your coaches, and the distinctions between voluntary and involuntary, between punishment and praise are razor thin at best.

    I want this to be untrue, and I hope that it’s just a blip, but somehow, like everything with Michigan football lately, seems to be unable to just go away.

  3. Charles In Charge

    I remember Rich Rod telling people on tape, that he encouraged the players to do voluntary workouts by saying playing time is voluntary too. I have a friend who’s an equipment manager, I’ll ask him about this.

  4. The articles describe how ‘voluntary’ is defined by the NCAA and name at least two players.

  5. Your headline and analysis is far too narrow. There are additional allegations beyond the “voluntary” nature of off-season workout, including too many hours on Sunday and coaches illegally observing off-season workouts.

  6. The article doesn’t bother me too much, unless it comes out that they are preventing players from going to class. They implied that but had no evidence back it up.
    If I’m upset about anything, it’s that this is pretty clear evidence that someone at the Free Press is out to paint Michigan in as negative a light as possible.

  7. Greg (MVictors)

    @Penn State Clips
    PSC – I wouldn’t call this post my “analysis”. Just got something out there at 1am

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