Upon further review, West Virginia is just completely full of it. I said a few days ago that I would let this whole situation regarding Rich Rodriguez allegedly shredding important WVU documents play itself out before rushing to judgment, but it is now pretty obvious what’s going on. After having the story go national, Rodriguez was portrayed as being a scumbag by most, which hurts his character and the Michigan football program. Considering that, he decided to respond to the allegations yesterday via a teleconference, an interview with the Toledo Blade, and by being a guest on the Huge Show.
After hearing Rodriguez’s side of the story and gathering evidence from all the various articles out there, there’s no doubt in my mind that this whole thing about him shredding documents is just a tactic by West Virginia. The story itself seemed to be “out there” to begin with, but now that more has come out on it, WVU basically is orchestrating a smear campaign of Rodriguez in the media. The agenda behind this whole situation is likely in existence because of the hard feelings over RR leaving, but at the same time I think it is to help WVU’s lawsuit over his buyout. If the truth does come out, then this plan of theirs should backfire.
To recap what has gone down over the last few days, let’s first look back at how the paper shredding story got started. The Charleston Gazette reported back on Tuesday that West Virginia was missing files related to the football program, and Rich Rodriguez was responsible, according to an unnamed source.
West Virginia officials are wondering if assistant coaches aren’t all that Rich Rodriguez took with him to Michigan. They believe he may also have destroyed all or most of the paperwork files relating to every player on the current Mountaineer roster and virtually all of the activities conducted by the program over the past seven years.
Soon after returning to work after the Fiesta Bowl a little more than a week ago, the staff at the Puskar Center found that most of the files — including all of the player files — that had been stored in Rodriguez’s private office were missing. In addition, all of the players’ strength and conditioning files in the weight room were gone.
“It’s unbelievable. Everything is gone, like it never existed,’’ said a source within the athletic department, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Good, bad or indifferent, we don’t have a record of anything that has happened.’’
The quote above is really only the tip of the iceberg as the article continues to go on and on to bash Rodriguez and accuse him of many wrongdoings. From a drama standpoint, the article certainly got some started considering it made Rodriguez sound like he sneaked into his office, took every single piece of paper in the office, and then proceeded to spend an entire day shredding everything.
Once this story got out and started to spread around the Internet, it eventually became a national story and was talked about everywhere. Obviously, that wasn’t good for Rodriguez as everyone in the national media went on the story and the story only. They didn’t consider anything except what was written in the article, and that, to me at least, is exactly what West Virginia wanted.
Fast forward to a day later (Wednesday), and the story is still a hot topic. Rodriguez’s agent responded and basically denied that Coach Rod shredded every single file there was for the football program, yet that didn’t seem to change the minds of the media. At the same time, an AP article came out that left me laughing. It was obvious after reading it that this whole thing was a scam, as West Virginia suddenly found some of the so-called “missing” files. Weird, right?
University spokeswoman Amy Neil said the WVU Office of Admissions and Records maintains grade and attendance records in a separate location, so no student-athlete’s academic career is at risk.
“We’re not sure what records are missing, but all student records, including those of the football team, are kept within the Office of Admissions and Records,” she said. “Those records are secure.”
Was it too much to ask for the person that originally broke this story to get a comment like this? Good lord. So unnamed sources say Rodriguez destroyed all files that relate to the WVU football program and that becomes a national story. Yet a day later it comes out that academic records are perfectly fine. Rodriguez didn’t destroy the only copies of those files, meaning that already the original report is proven to be incorrect.
Moving on to yesterday, this story still showed no signs of letting up, so Rich Rodriguez rightfully decided that enough was enough. He couldn’t let this go on any longer without responding to the numerous accusations, so he came back firing at everything in an interview with the Toledo Blade.
“The things they are saying are not true,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a lie. How can you put out lies and think it’s OK? They don’t care what the truth is, they just want to smear Rich Rodriguez.”
“It’s very frustrating,” Rodriguez said. “I knew there’d be some emotions involved when I left, but I wanted to take the high road. I’ve chosen to move on, but it’s almost like it’s something new every day, and it’s totally ridiculous.”
“The implication to me is slanderous,” Rodriguez said. “What they are implying, to me, attacks my integrity, and that’s why I’m so upset. This has gone too far.
“It’s bad enough that they throw things out there, and my family gets harassed, my relatives get threatened, and they try and attack my credibility right in the middle of recruiting. And then to throw something out like this, with anonymous sources …
“And how it becomes a story, and why it’s become big news, to me, is just baffling.”
Rodriguez continued, and talked about when this paper shredding even took place. Rather than sneaking around and trying to do this secretly like the Charleston Gazette article made it sound, RR says that plenty of people were around that day.
“The day that’s in question, when they said I was doing all this stuff in the office, I probably had 25 or 30 players that came over and wished me well,” Rodriguez said. “We talked and we hugged – obviously they wanted us to stay – but they understood and they were great about it.”
He said the files and documents he removed were his records and personal papers, and any attempt to make it seem like it was anything but a normal exercise for an employee moving from one job to another was not accurate.
“They are making up half truths and lies, because this was done on a regular work day, with people all around, and those were all files that were in my office,” Rodriguez said. “It was information that was in a closet with no lock on it, and some of it had been in there for years.”
Finally, Rodriguez talked about the idea that he was the only one with the football players’ files, which was a ridiculous accusation to begin with.
“Every coach got a file when a kid missed a class. The academic people got it, and the athletic director got it. All this stuff about not having contact information or academic information on the kids, it’s a lie, it’s all a lie,” Rodriguez said.
“They’re painting a picture like I’m the only one that had those files, and I threw them all away. That’s not the truth. They’re painting a picture like I erased all the kids’ files, and that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. And anyone with any common sense that’s in a Division I athletic department or football program knows the same thing.”
So let’s see here. Unnamed sources, likely coming from someone at West Virginia, decide that it’s time to start publicly degrading Rich Rodriguez with the lawsuit being on the table and of course, because of all the hard feelings. To get this “story” out there, a local paper reports it and in no time the entire country is talking about it. Rodriguez gets portrayed as being someone that was out to hurt the WVU program, when in reality he was only getting rid of his own things and cleaning out his office. People were around when this was happening, and despite what the article said, Rodriguez shockingly didn’t have the only copies of all these files relating to the players’ academics and other things of that sort.
Now that the other side of this story has been told, I think you can judge for yourself who is lying in this situation. It is clear that the entire story was complete B.S. And considering that, it’s now time to move on for WVU. And by move on, they are now trying to make RR look bad again, this time by digging up cell phone records.
In the hours after telling his team he was leaving for the University of Michigan, former West Virginia football Coach Rich Rodriguez called at least two Wolverine recruits from his WVU cell phone, according to records obtained by the Daily Mail through the Freedom of Information Act.
In the request for a declaratory judgment filed by WVU’s Board of Governors last month, the board asked that Rodriguez submit “full and complete copies of all cell phone records, text message records, phone records, and e-mails for the time period between December 1, 2007, up to and including December 18, 2007.”
The university suspects Rodriguez contacted recruits for Michigan while still employed at WVU. The NCAA recruiting calendar was also in a quiet and dead period when WVU believes some contact was made.
The new accusations are that Rodriguez was in contact with two Michigan recruits while still working for WVU, and at the same time, that the contact was made during the dead and quiet period. Of course, the mention of that period of recruiting was intended to only get people thinking that RR committed a violation, but the dead and quiet period just means that a coach can’t have face-to-face contact with recruits. A phone call is acceptable, just in case the writer of the article didn’t know that.
After going through and mentioning the order of calls that were placed by Rodriguez to Michigan recruits and speculating on some other calls, the story gets better.
On Dec. 15, Rodriguez made seven calls to Peterstown, Monroe County, a place he called 112 times during November and December, often in succession, and also made calls to Boston, Toledo and Phoenix, where his agent works. On Dec. 16, he repeated the cycle with calls to each location. This time, the call to Phoenix lasted 29 minutes.
Calling someone in a small town like that 112 times obviously raises a red flag, and WVU fans in particular have thrown out all kinds of reasons for why Rodriguez did so. The reasons were completely ridiculous and I won’t even mention them because some were so dumb, but one poster on a WVU message board did figure out why the calls happened.
In case you missed this in the 112 calls thread:
I think this mystery is solved. It does appear that the voice mail number for Cellular One (which was the carrier for at least one of Rod’s phones) uses the Peterstown exchange
Type: Cell Phone
Provider: American Cellular Corporation
Location: Peterstown, WV
I’m a cell one customer and 994-0001 is definitely the voice mail #.
Sorry to bust any bubbles…
Let’s Go Mountaineers!
A quick check on WhitePages.com confirmed the posters findings, which means that a person on a message board was able to do more research than the supposed journalist that wrote the article about RR’s cell phone records. Another job well done, West Virginia journalists!
I’m sure this won’t be the last attempt to accuse Rich Rodriguez of wrongdoings and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we hear about Rich Rodriguez vs. West Virginia. The lawsuit against RR has been moved to federal court, which hopefully will help him out in his quest to get rid of the $4 million buyout hanging over his head.
For more on Rich Rodriguez’s response to all of the garbage out there, check out MVictors for audio of his interview on the Huge Show and check out this post from Jim Carty for audio of the teleconference held yesterday.