- Carlos Brown, Brandon Minor, and David Molk are all listed as probable on this week’s injury report. Zac Johnson is once again listed as out.
- This week’s captains are Carlos Brown, David Moosman, Stevie Brown, and Zoltan Mesko.
- Although he won’t be returning to the starting lineup, there is a chance that Boubacar Cissoko could play tomorrow.
- F-18 Super Hornets are going to fly over Michigan Stadium before tomorrow’s game.
- Rich Rodriguez had lunch with Lloyd Carr and Bill Martin yesterday to talk about Penn State and most likely to discuss Martin’s retirement.
“We got to talk a little football, and Lloyd had great success against Penn State, so we talked about some things there,” Rodriguez said.
I’m surprised Carr had time for lunch considering he is so busy undermining Rodriguez. He probably just fed him bad information anyway. Right, conspiracy theorists?
- The coverage map for tomorrow’s game has been released.
- I am now tied for third-place in Big Ten Bloggers Pick’em.
- Michigan’s first home hockey game of the regular season was last night, and the Wolverines beat Niagara 3-2. The game was much closer than anybody expected, because it started out 3-0 after one period. Michigan scored with such ease at the start of the game that it looked like Niagara was going be down by as many as 5 goals after 20 minutes of play. I expected it to be an easy blowout, and the team must have as well, because things got very sloppy after the third goal was scored. Michigan just didn’t seem to be playing with very much intensity, allowing Niagara to get back in the game. Niagara’s goalie deserves a lot of credit for shaking off the 3-goal first period, because he really kept his team in the game by making some amazing saves. Michigan had quite a few great scoring chances but couldn’t put the puck in the back of the net. Thankfully neither could Niagara in the closing seconds of the game, though it was close to doing just that. In the end, though, Michigan held on for a 3-2 victory.
- Michigan will play at Boston University tomorrow, which will be a very tough matchup. Boston is the defending national champion, and Michigan lost to the Terriers by a score of 7-2 last season. Michigan will play at Lake Superior State next Friday and Saturday, and the Wolverines will then return home the following Friday and Saturday to play Miami, the team Boston beat to win the national championship last season.
- When thinking about potential candidates to replace Bill Martin, one name that many people immediately thought of was Lloyd Carr. I’m not a fan of the idea of Carr becoming AD, but that is a non-issue, because Carr doesn’t have any interest in the job.
“I am not a candidate,” Carr said.
Brian of mgoblog put together the best list of potential candidates I’ve seen so far. Based on his research, it seems like Oregon State’s Bob De Carolis is the most qualified person for the job.
- Jonathan Chait gave his take on what the most important quality should be in Michigan’s new AD, and he said that keeping Rich Rodriguez happy is really the only important one. His point is that whomever is hired to be the new AD, that person must be all in for Rodriguez. I can’t disagree with that, because the last thing Michigan needs is an athletic director who is not 100% behind Rodriguez.
- AnnArbor.com has a timeline breaking down Bill Martin’s tenure at Michigan.
- David Molk is going to return to the starting lineup on Saturday.
- Saturday’s game is designated as a Maize Out, but considering there is a chance of rain and temperatures are supposed to be in the 40s, I doubt it will be a very successful one.
- This week’s BlogPoll is out, and I was Mr. Numb Existence. I also finished 5th in the Mr. Manic-Depressive category, which measures how much your poll changes from week to week.
- All Michigan fans have to be enjoying what has been transpiring in Columbus in the past week. Not only did Ohio State lose to Purdue, but ever since then quite a few people have been criticizing Terrelle Pryor, who has been struggling in OSU’s offense. One person who has come to Pryor’s defense is his high school coach, who basically said the problem is Jim Tressel and the offense the Buckeyes are running. Even better, Pryor’s coach went on to say this:
“There is no question that Rich Rodriguez’s offense, for example, would be more apt to suit Terrelle’s skills,” Reitz said. “But Ohio State sold him on the idea that they would prepare him for the NFL and that they don’t run ‘zone-read’ in the NFL. Jim Tressel is a great coach. But I can tell you there is more to Terrelle Pryor than what we’ve been seeing.”
Rich Rodriguez should show that quote to every mobile quarterback that is ever recruited by both Michigan and Ohio State (assuming Jim Tressel is still there). I remember that one of the reasons Pryor originally picked OSU was because he thought Tressel’s offense would better prepare him for the NFL, but if he can’t even use all of his athleticism in the Buckeyes’ offense, what’s the point? I’ve heard so much about how Tressel adapts his offense to his quarterback, but I certainly haven’t seen that with Pryor.
- The Grady brothers were interviewed by the Big Ten Network.
- There will be an open basketball practice at Crisler Arena from noon to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday. If you want to kill some time before the football game, this would be a good way to do it.
- The SEC has suspended the officials who worked last week’s Florida-Arkansas game. It’s good to see that the conference actually did something, because the officials made a couple of awful calls that benefited Florida.
Michigan athletic director Bill Martin has announced that he is going to retire in less than a year. His retirement will become official on September 4, 2010, which is the same day as next year’s football season-opener. My guess is that he chose to retire on that specific day so his last few hours on the job could be spent watching the first football game at the post-renovated Big House, which is the biggest project he has overseen during his tenure at Michigan.
Fair or not, Bill Martin’s legacy will likely ultimately come down to whether or not Rich Rodriguez wins at Michigan. In reality, though, his legacy should probably be about the athletic department turning a profit for so many consecutive years and all of the renovations that have happened on his watch. Even after he retires there will still be projects going on that started while Martin was the AD, such as the basketball practice facility. I always thought a full renovation of Crisler Arena would happen before he retired, and although there is still time to put the project together (it has been in talks for years), that would really be one of the few athletic facilities that didn’t undergo an extensive renovation under Martin. There have been minor improvements made to Crisler, though, which makes me wonder how many athletic facilities were improved in some form since Martin became the AD in 2000.
Aside from talk about his legacy, the biggest thing on everyone’s mind is who the next athletic director will be. Here is what Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman had to say about the impending search for a new AD:
I will personally oversee the search for the next Athletic Director with the help of a small advisory group. We expect this process will take a number of months. With this advance notice, we have the opportunity to make a thoughtful and deliberate choice and to manage a smooth transition.
As evidenced by the hiring of Martin, it is important to have an athletic director who is very business-minded. At the same time, any candidate has to know the sports programs inside and out. The ideal candidate for me is someone who is both business-minded and knowledgeable about college sports. I have no idea who that ideal candidate is, but I hope someone with those qualities comes to Michigan to take over for Martin.
An article from the Detroit News about how many Michigan coaches, including Rich Rodriguez and John Beilein, have received mortgages and lines of credit from Bill Martin’s bank popped up late last night. I’m sure your first reaction was similar to mine — uh, that’s great; who cares.
The author of the article, Mike Wilkinson, made it sound like this was some huge conflict of interest and even threw in this cheap shot at Rich Rodriguez: “Martin might have to make a decision on Rodriguez and the football program soon.” The context of that sentence is that Wilkinson went on to say that a decision may have to be made because of what is found by “investigators from the NCAA.” Aside from the fact that the NCAA isn’t doing any investigating yet (it’s strictly Michigan and the Big Ten right now), it’s an enormous reach to say that a decision on Rodriguez’s job (i.e. he could be fired) may have to be made based on the Free Press’ allegations. Even if NCAA violations are found based on the allegations — which is unlikely — they are not major enough to be reason to fire Rodriguez, especially if Michigan continues to play as well as they did against Notre Dame for the rest of this season.
Getting back to the article, someone who is an expert on conflicts of interest was quoted in the piece as saying that this is nothing major. While I appreciate that Wilkinson did that much research before publishing the article, the whole tone of the piece came off as trying to manufacture controversy. In that regard the piece has served its purpose, as it is currently the most read article on the Detroit News’ website. That’s not surprising considering how the article paints this as a big deal, but the actual meat and bones of the piece reveals that this is nothing to lose sleep over. Bill Martin didn’t even know about the mortgages in the first place, and although he seems to think this is a serious matter now that he is aware of them, it turns out only John Beilein’s mortgage is still held by the bank anyway. That will now be sold off to investors like the other mortgages, and only the lines of credit will likely remain with the bank.
I get that newspapers are hurting and in this case the Detroit News saw a golden opportunity to garner attention (especially since Rich Rodriguez is involved), but this wasn’t even making a mountain out of a mole hill, because no mole hill really exists.
This undoubtedly won’t be the last post on practicegate considering there is an investigation that has to be done, but I hope it is the last time I have to mention it this week. After all, Michigan opens the season against Western Michigan in only four days, and I do want to talk some football before then. This is supposed to be a time of great excitement for the impending season to start, and that has certainly taken a backseat the last few days. I promise, football talk is on the way. Before we do move on to football-related things, however, I first want wrap up practicegate, as there is still plenty of stuff out there worth mentioning.
First things first is what will happen with the aforementioned investigation. Apparently an outside firm may be brought in to investigate the allegations. That is “to be determined,” according to Bill Martin. The main reason to bring in an outside firm is to ensure there are no conflicts of interest during the investigation and no chance that something could be covered up or swept under the rug. On top of that, if the investigation concludes and no wrongdoing is found by an outside firm, the results will look more credible. That’s not to say that Michigan couldn’t do its own credible investigation; the perception simply would be, “Of course Michigan didn’t find anything. They were the ones investigating.”
Many people have come to Michigan’s defense in light of this situation. Former players, current players, parents of players, and others have spoke out against the allegations. The latest former player to defend Michigan surprised me greatly, as he was one of the last people I expected to be on Michigan’s side in this situation.
“It was just a different structure,” Butler said.
Butler said it didn’t seem as if the players were forced to spend excessive time training and practicing.
“I don’t know all of the exact rules, but I don’t remember anything that seemed like it was too much,” Butler said. “If the weight room was open, you went. If there was a run, you went. It’s just what you do to be a better football player.”
The reason this is so surprising is because Butler landed himself in Rodriguez’s doghouse early in the season and ended up going pro with a year of eligibility left. Getting ejected from the Notre Dame game for punching an opposing player is what put him in the doghouse, eventually leading to him changing positions to defensive end. Not wanting to stay at DE or transfer, Butler decided to enter the NFL and is currently fighting (no pun intended) for a spot on the Lions’ 53-man roster.
A few players’ parents have defended Michigan, and the latest is Je’Ron Stokes’ father. Stokes, as you might remember, was one of the two freshman who were mentioned in the Free Press’ article. They were unaware that their quotes were going to be presented as evidence of Michigan’s supposed wrongdoing and were simply excited to talk about all the hard work they had done during the summer. I think Stokes’ father said it best when he characterized his son as a “victim of a reporter with an agenda.” Here is more of what he said to The Wolverine.
“My wife [Juanita] and I talk to Je’Ron every day. We follow him through the internet, by phone, and we’ve been up there on a couple of occasions,” he said. “We spent an entire Thursday through Monday up there, and I’d see guys voluntarily go into that weight room on Sunday and Saturday and put in extra work.
“I know [the allegations] are not true, because I know how [strength coach] Mike Barwis cares for these kids. He’s taken my son to bible study and to church. These are the kinds of things that impress us about the program and Rich Rod and his staff. They are good people, and I hate the fact that every negative thing put out there brings the wrong perception to the Michigan program.
“We wanted to follow everything closely. He hit the school in June and from that point on we would always ask him, ‘what are you doing, what time have you got to be there, what time are you doing this, where are you going after that?’ We closely monitored what his experience was going to be coming in, knowing we were told if he comes in and competes, there’s a chance he could possibly contribute his freshman year.”
Stokes’ father went on to talk about how his son’s quotes were so badly taken out of context.
“They took and twisted and misconstrued [his quote], when Ronnie was just simply saying he’s doing the regulated hours required by the coaches within the rules. There are two sessions, and he might have been part of the morning group, like 8:30 to 11. The second group might be 1-3. The voluntary workout would be like 3-5 or 5:30 with the quarterbacks or other players. He might go to rehab, take a shower or take the initiative to go up and look at some film, might not leave Schembechler Hall until 6:00 or 7:30. But that was taken out of context.”
More defense of Michigan and its coaches came from Rick Leach on WTKA and the parent of someone who attended a Michigan football camp earlier this summer. Dave Shand also talked about the allegations and his experiences with the hockey program on WTKA, and John U. Bacon went on NPR to explain the situation.
There are a few more links I am going to post, but one I want to especially draw attention to is mgoblog’s write-up on yesterday’s press conference. Brian was in attendance, and after the actual presser was done he talked to Michael Rosenberg and Mark Snyder, the two people behind the Free Press article, and challenged them on what a countable hour actually is to the NCAA. It is a must read, as it shows just how little credibility the authors of these allegations really have.
Another must read comes from Jonathan Chait, the editor of The New Republic. He wrote an piece for The Wolverine that tore apart the Free Press’ article, calling Rosenberg’s work “journalism malpractice.” At RealFootball365.com, Bart Doan explained, “Someone needs to learn the rules, and it’s not Rich Rodriguez.”
Finally, on a much lighter note, the great LSUfreek gave his take on practicegate in a way only he can:
Athletic director Bill Martin has released a statement on the allegations that Michigan violated NCAA rules.
We are committed to following both the letter and the intent of the NCAA rules and we take any allegations of violations seriously.
We believe we have been compliant with NCAA rules but nonetheless we have launched a full investigation of the allegations in today’s newspaper.
We have already reached out to both the Big Ten and the NCAA and we will have more to say on this as soon as we have completed our assessment.
Angelique Chengelis reports that a couple things have to happen before the NCAA launches an investigation. The first thing is that Michigan has to investigate the allegations, which it is going to do. Michigan will then take its findings to the Big Ten, and it is from there that it will be determined if the NCAA has to intervene.
Chengelis also got comments from some former players who chose to not be identified.
“It doesn’t surprise me by any means,” a former player, who asked not to be identified, said Sunday regarding the allegations. “It always seemed that way. It did get worse when Rich Rod was there. None of the players really counted the hours.
“I was a senior, and I really thought, ‘Maybe this is how it’s supposed to be — maybe this is what it takes to win.’ So I didn’t complain. I just think they came in last year with the attitude that we had to be tough. I actually heard it got a little easier this year.”
He went on to say that this happens at every school, as did another player Chengelis talked to.
“Every team does that, more or less,” said another former Michigan player. “Everyone knows voluntary workouts you don’t have to be there, but you have to be there. A lot of guys don’t even know about the rule, but everybody signed the sheets (indicating you kept to the 20-hour rule). It was never a big deal. Those sheets were signed, and that’s the only paper trail there is.”
I will stress that just because every school bends the rules doesn’t make it right. The problem for Michigan is that, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, current and former players were willing to tell the media about how they went over the limit. That still is more troubling to me than the actual allegations.
- Quarterbacks are going to be fair game when the pads go on in a few days. That doesn’t necessarily mean defenders will be able to go after a QB and hit him as hard as they want, as Rich Rodriguez doesn’t want any injuries to happen, but it does sound like they will be taking some hits just like the rest of their offensive teammates.
- Even if J.T. Turner and Adrian Witty are made eligible, if they don’t have at least two weeks of practice, their chances of contributing in the secondary for the season opener are slim, according to Rodriguez.
- Bill Martin thinks the whole Justin Feagin situation is a good learning opportunity.
- David Merritt launched his new apparel company with a video that features cameos by John Beilein and Steve Breaston.
- Lloyd Carr went to a Browns practice this morning. That should be the main focus of the article, but I couldn’t get past the fact that this line was in the third paragraph: “Carr was forced out as coach of the Wolverines after the 2007 season.” That’s some excellent journalism right there. I guess the writer of this article felt like it was common knowledge that Carr was “forced out,” as he basically mentioned it in passing. My Internet must not have been working the day that news originally broke, because I certainly don’t remember ever hearing about Carr being forced out.
- Dave Birkett has video of an interview with equipment manager Jon Falk, who talked about the evolution of Michigan’s facilities.
- WolverineHistorian uploaded highlights of the 1997 Ohio State game in two parts.
- Surprisingly, Alabama-Huntsville’s bid to join the CCHA has been rejected. That means the CCHA is going to have 11 teams when the 2010-11 season gets underway unless something changes from now until then.
The first game in the renovated Michigan Stadium will feature Michigan and Connecticut. It doesn’t appear to be official just yet, but UConn’s Rivals site is reporting that the two schools have come to an agreement on a home-and-home series that will bring Connecticut to Ann Arbor in 2010 and Michigan to East Hartford in 2013.
While I will take Connecticut over a MAC or FCS school any day, I have to say, hearing this news was a bit of a letdown. When news broke earlier this week that Michigan was going to line up a home-and-home series in order to bring a big name team to the Big House in 2010, I certainly didn’t expect that team to be UConn, especially since Rentschler Field, where Michigan will play at in 2013, only holds 40,000 people. Don’t get me wrong, UConn has built a very good program considering they only became an FBS team in 2000, but I guess I just expected this to be a headline-grabbing matchup. I wasn’t thinking it would be like Ohio State’s recent home-and-home series with Texas and USC, but I thought it would be a bit more exciting than UConn. This isn’t going to be the type of series that creates a huge buzz outside of Michigan and Connecticut.
More than anything, I’m surprised that Bill Martin sacrificed a home game in 2013 to play at UConn. That was necessary for the 2010 opener to feature a BCS team I guess, but considering how hell bent he has been on scheduling as many home games as possible in the past, I really didn’t think he would give up one to go play in a 40,000-seat stadium. I figured if another home-and-home series was ever going to be scheduled, Michigan would go all out in trying to make it as big of a matchup as possible, similar to what Ohio State has done recently and is continuing to do in the future. I wanted Michigan to matchup with a program like Texas or Georgia. And if it wasn’t going to be a top-tier team, at least schedule a school like Oklahoma State or Cal. Connecticut, though, is just pretty boring to me. “Meh” is probably the most appropriate reaction.
In addition to the football series now scheduled, UConn is actually completing a home-and-home in basketball with Michigan in January. I imagine the fact that Bill Martin has dealt with their athletic department before helped make this football series happen.
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