A common theme in the national media response to the Free Press report is that the biggest concern for Rodriguez is not the potential NCAA violations (consensus seems to be they will be minor if anything), but the exposure of a rift in the team. The argument goes that if Michigan gets off to a tough start Rodriguez could lose more guys, perhaps led by the group that is unhappy about the off-season workouts.
There’s still some confusion as to whether there are guys on the current team (the one that is practicing today) that stuffed the complaint box. Someone who only identifies himself as “Brian” at site called mgoblog discussed this week:
Ten "former or current players," of whom five or six are responsible for the quotes in the story and the description of the Rodriguez program. One of them is Toney Clemons. The other four or five… well, I’m sure anyone who’s followed Michigan football over the last year and a half can mentally insert candidates for the other spots. Why not tell us that the core of the story included current players, and how many? It’s not like asserting any specific number of current players is going to endanger the anonymous whistle-blowers.
The Free Press chose not to provide this information, instead choosing to leave this vague, and spurring question after question about team unity, or the lack thereof.
The questioning is happening, at least with what I hear on the national talk shows (Dan Patrick, Cowherd, Rome). That’s fine, as these guys do drive-by assessments/reads on stories like this and move on.
Joe Schad’s a report that’s attributed to “ESPN news services” (and at the bottom credits Joe Schad and the AP) seems to pinpoint a player indeed on the current team:
A current member of the Michigan football team, who has started, also told ESPN his in-season Sundays at the football facility lasted from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., although he acknowledged the first two hours were spent in treatment, which is not counted against the restricted hours.
The player said this season players will be off on Sundays, practicing on Mondays.
The player said he worked out about twice as many hours as the allotted eight per week in the offseason. He asked strength coaches why the workouts seemed excessive and was told that some parts of the exercises, such as core work and injury prevention, were not counted as required.
So this seems pretty clear that the ESPN piece was talking about guy currently in the locker room, and said player apparently spoke to folks after the Free Press report came out. Read this how you want, but if he was talking to Schad anonymously after the Free Press report and described the workouts as excessive, you can call that a complaint. Not necessarily an exposure of NCAA violations but it is a guy bitching about the coaches.
My read: I don’t think it matters. Larry Foote chimed in saying, “Everybody complains.” There’s 120 guys on the team, most of whom didn’t come here to play for Michigan or any of the current coaching staff. It’s not a surprise that a few guys are unhappy. We also don’t know exactly how these guys were approached: did they ask current players to back up the statements made by their buddies, the former players (like Clemons?). While I’m concerned that at least one guy spoke to ESPN (and I guess the Free Press?), I just don’t see any kind of risk of some kind of internal mutiny against Rodriguez.
From the ground, the reality I see is a bunch of guys that love to play in this system. Practices are fast paced and intense. They blast music. The players are serious yet seem thrilled to be out there and even drop the more-than-occasional smile. No, that’s not even close enough to gauge how the players really feel about Rodriguez but everything we’ve read, seen and heard is that these guys are <gulp> All In.
Clemons: As an aside, I never thought I’d mention this video in a semi-serious light, but remember that classic video of option four quarterback David Cone, dropping lyrical bombs on everyone? Remember, the producer of the video was Toney Clemons, apparently who had enough spare time between the ridiculous work-outs to pimp out his house with a recording studio complete with a mighty selection of beats. Would be interesting to hear Cone’s take on the Clemons comments. Meanwhile, Mr. Dave, take it away, while an overworked Clemons mans the boards, weeee: