Daily Practicegate Update

By · Thursday, September 3, 2009 · 12:08 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Gene Marsh, a former chairman of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions, has been hired by Michigan to help investigate the allegations that there were violations committed.  Marsh currently works for a law firm in Alabama and is a professor at the University of Alabama.
  • Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman released a statement that addressed the allegations.

    “At the University of Michigan, we place the highest importance on the welfare of our student-athletes and the integrity of our intercollegiate athletics program. Our university is widely recognized for academic and athletic excellence, and it’s something we work to achieve every day. I am proud of our unwavering commitment to that standard.

    “As soon as the allegations surfaced about our athletic program, I launched an investigation. Our Board of Regents is fully informed on the matter. With the help of outside counsel, we are working in cooperation with the NCAA to discover and assess the facts of the situation.

    “It is critical that a thorough and objective investigation is completed before any conclusions are drawn. We will then determine what – if any – actions need to occur to ensure full compliance with NCAA rules and our own rules of conduct.”

  • Lloyd Carr, who is now president of the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl board of directors, declined to comment on the whole practicegate situation.
  • Rivals’ Tom Dienhart, like Kirk Herbstreit, called this a witch hunt.
  • Sam McGuffie, who left after playing under Rich Rodriguez for one season, said this about the allegations:

    “It’s going to be hard for some people, especially the people that were recruited by (former Michigan coach) Lloyd Carr,” McGuffie said. “They were used to a certain way of how Lloyd Carr went about things and running Michigan. I believe Rich Rodriguez has a different approach to how he wants Michigan to be known.”

    “They’re going to get things worked out,” he said. “After last year, going 3-9, people are going to try to take shots in any way they can to get Rich-Rod and Co. either out of there or just try to keep them down. Anybody who knows anything about Michigan knows they won’t be down long.

    “They’ll find a way to put Michigan back on top.”

    When McGuffie becomes eligible to play next year, I will be rooting for him.  McGuffie still seems like a fan of Michigan, which makes sense considering his transfer was more about being homesick than anything else.

  • Carson Butler, who already spoke out against the allegations, discussed them further yesterday.  Jeff Backus and Jon Jansen also talked about them and reflected on their time at Michigan playing for Lloyd Carr.

(Hopefully) Wrapping Up Practicegate

By · Tuesday, September 1, 2009 · 1:22 PM |  Share | 3 Comments 

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.

Detroit Lions rookie Carson Butler, who played at Michigan, said he didn’t think players had to do a lot more work for Rodriguez last year when compared with previous seasons under Lloyd Carr.

“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:

Saturday Quick Hits: Bill Davidson Passes Away

By · Saturday, March 14, 2009 · 9:55 AM |  Share | 1 Comment 
  • Bill Davidson, a University of Michigan graduate and owner of the Pistons and Shock, passed away at the age of 86 on Friday.
  • Michigan beat Western Michigan last night to take a 1-0 series lead. The Wolverines led 3-0 after the first period and proceeded to let WMU make it 3-2 in the second. In the third, though, Michigan put the clamps down and took a 4-2 lead after finally coming out on the good side of a goal review. Carl Hagelin put in an empty netter with around a minute left in the game to give Michigan a 5-2 victory. Game two of the series is tonight at 7:05 p.m. and can be seen on FSN Detroit.
  • Michigan’s spring football roster is out, as practice begins today.
  • The second annual Night of Champions took place yesterday. It is basically a team-wide competition consisting of nine events, and the team that won was coached by Bruce Tall and consisted of Tate Forcier, Kevin Grady, Will Heininger, Elias Kos, Zoltan Mesko, David Moosman, Renaldo Sagesse, Vincent Smith, Ben Sutton and Mike Williams.
  • MGoBlue has a recap of Michigan’s pro day, which went very well. Will Johnson had 47 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, breaking Jake Long’s NFL combine record of 42 reps. Also, Carson Butler ran an impressive 4.5 40-yard dash. Many players did well in the 40.
  • In the pro day photo gallery, it appears that Mike Hart and Lloyd Carr were at the event.
  • Rich Rodriguez supposedly is now on Twitter. It seems pretty authentic, but I will be skeptical until it is confirmed to be him.
  • Andre Criswell, who would have been a fifth-year senior in 2009, is now working as a student assistant and is on a medical scholarship.
  • A fan received three tickets to the Iowa game on Thursday from Anthony Wright thanks to Facebook.
  • UM Hoops has a guide to which teams we should root for today.
  • Mike Bellotti resigned as head coach of Oregon to take the athletic director job. Chip Kelly, the offensive coordinator and coach-in-waiting, takes over for Bellotti.

Tuesday Quick Hits: Butler Officially Goes Pro

By · Tuesday, January 20, 2009 · 3:05 AM |  Share | Leave a Comment 
  • Carson Butler has officially entered the 2009 NFL Draft.
  • Gus Johnson is going to be the play-by-play announcer for Michigan’s game at Penn State tonight (starts at 9 p.m. ET and is on the BTN).
  • An official release from the athletic department on the basketball practice facility has been posted on MGoBlue.
  • The practice facility will be voted on by U-M Regents on Thursday. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be approved since it will be paid for by athletic department resources and gifts. Plus U-M has already put out a release on it, so the assumption obviously is that it will be approved.
  • Braylon Edwards apparently blocked a Dana Jacobsen shot at Curtis Granderson’s Celebrity Shootout. Braylon was also throwing it down quite a bit. He and a few other former Michigan football players attended the event, including David Terrell, Drew Henson, and Desmond Howard. Lloyd Carr served as a coach for one of the teams, and former Michigan swimmer Peter Vanderkaay also was at the event.
  • Arkansas hired John L. Smith to be its special teams coordinator. Did they not watch the 2005 Michigan State-Ohio State game?

Wednesday Quick Hits: Catching Up on Everything

By · Wednesday, December 10, 2008 · 4:48 AM |  Share | 6 Comments 
  • With my exams out of the way and the semester over (for me, anyways), I plan on working on some site-related things in the next few weeks. I don’t think there will be any major changes to the design of the site, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Also, even though Michigan isn’t in a bowl game, I still planning on doing predictions and things like that for all 34 games. I will also probably post a bowl schedule like I did last year in the coming days.
  • According to Rich Rodriguez, Carson Butler is probably going to enter into the NFL Draft, Avery Horn may transfer, and Sam McGuffie’s future is still uncertain. Rodriguez also expects Brandon Graham to return, which makes sense considering Graham was recruiting Will Campbell at the basketball game and rushed the court with the recruits.
  • Despite the win over Duke, Michigan is not ranked in either of the major college basketball polls. Michigan is 28th in the AP Poll and 31st in the ESPN/USA Today Poll.
  • When I rushed the court after the Duke game there were two not-so-great moments that I was nearly involved in. A Duke student manager or assistant of some sort was actually physically grabbing and pushing fans out of the way so Mike Krzyzewski had a clear path to leave the court. I understand why they wanted Krzyzewski out of there, but I felt it was unnecessary to physically move students out of the way like the Duke person did.

    Also, as I made my way onto the court, a couple people in front of me actually fell. A police officer thankfully made his way over to help them up, but I was worried they were going to get trampled. Now I see why rushing the court can be dangerous.

  • Speaking of rushing the court, a few different videos of the aftermath of the Duke game are on YouTube.
  • UM Hoops has a video of John Beilein’s speech before the Duke game.
  • C.J. Lee’s reaction to the Duke game has been posted on MGoBlue.
  • Whether or not freshman center Ben Cronin will redshirt is likely going to be decided this week. My guess is that he will redshirt, as it still looks like he is still being bothered by a hip injury.
  • As mentioned in the recap of the Duke game, Rich Rodriguez, his wife and son, William Campbell, William Gholston, and Brandon Graham were all in attendance. The three players (as well as other recruits) rushed the court after the game. Some of the other recruits for both basketball and football at Crisler on Saturday were Tim Hardaway’s son, Matt Poches, Brandan Kearney (basketball recruits), all three of Michigan’s football commits from Ohio, and commits Thomas Gordon and Teric Jones from Cass Tech.
  • Basketball commit Jordan Morgan was ejected from his first game of the season for getting two technical fouls.
  • Laval Lucas-Perry was wearing a kick ass suit on Saturday. If he plays half as well as he dresses, Michigan will be in good shape at the point guard position.
  • Freshman David Wohlberg was named the CCHA Player of the Week.
  • Nearly 1300 teddy bears were tossed on the ice during the first intermission of the Michigan-Michigan State hockey game. The teddy bears will be given to kids at Mott Hospital.
  • “Ann Arbor’s Big Show” will debut today on WTKA from 3-6 p.m. The show will be hosted by Jeff DeFran and Ben Holden. John Bacon will join the show in the New Year. I guess that explains why none of Bacon’s classes at the University of Michigan were offered for the upcoming semester. I was disappointed, as I wanted to take one or more of them, but a radio show definitely would conflict with them.
  • Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who may win the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, committed to OU just days after Lloyd Carr was unable to call him to offer a scholarship due to the birth of a grandchild.
  • Kicker Brendan Gibbons, a Michigan commit, was selected to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl that will be played on January 3.
  • Football commit Craig Roh is Arizona’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year.
  • The Spawn of MZone put Ohio State players into the ElfYourself website. The video that was produced is hilarious.
  • Eastern Michigan’s basketball coach was suspended for three days due to an altercation with a student. The coach will be back on Thursday, so he will be on the bench for Saturday’s game at Michigan.
  • USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is Washington’s new football coach.
  • Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who is a great assistant and even better recruiter, is New Mexico’s new head coach.
  • Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is going to return for his senior season.

McGuffie, Butler, and Horn Not at Football Bust

By · Thursday, December 4, 2008 · 9:09 PM |  Share | 1 Comment 

According to John Heuser, Sam McGuffie, Carson Butler, and Avery Horn were not at the football bust earlier tonight. Rumors about McGuffie leaving Michigan have been circulating for some time now, but recently it sounded like he was going to stay. Just because he wasn’t at the football bust doesn’t mean he will leave for sure, but it certainly isn’t a good sign.

The same goes for tight end turned defensive end Carson Butler. Butler was expected to leave the team after this season before he switched to defensive end. Once he started playing DE, there was some speculation that he would return to Michigan for his final year of eligibility. His absence from the bust basically confirms that he was the player that skipped the team meeting that took place the day after the Ohio State game. Rich Rodriguez said in his final weekly press conference that a player with one year of eligibility left didn’t attend the meeting, so my guess is that Butler was that player.

Running back Avery Horn’s absence from the football bust isn’t a big surprise, either. Although there haven’t been any direct rumors about Horn’s future, the assumption was that he would transfer due to a lack of playing time. I imagine that is what will happen, although I’m only speculating at this point.

It sucks when any player leaves, but really the only notable one of these three would be McGuffie. Butler was seen as someone on his way out early on in the season, and Horn didn’t get any playing time other than a couple kick returns. Obviously it would be nice if McGuffie stayed, but his future as a running back certainly has to come into question considering he suffered three concussions in the last two months of the season.

My guess is that we’ll get confirmation of which players have left sometime soon. Final exams start for Michigan next week, and I would bet on hearing something after the semester ends.

Monday Presser Notes (Week 11)

By · Monday, November 3, 2008 · 8:33 PM |  Share | Leave a Comment 

Rich Rodriguez:

  • Steven Threet took a helmet to helmet hit in the fourth quarter, but he should be able to practice later this week. “We anticipate no problems.”
  • Practice yesterday was more of correcting things rather than a usual practice.
  • Getting a win and making progress fundamentally are two things that hopefully will happen the rest of the season.
  • “We’re playing for the Brown Jug in this game.” (In reference to Saturday’s game against Minnesota)
  • The 3-3-5 was implemented against Purdue to help the secondary and was not a permanent switch. The strategy changes on a game-by-game basis.
  • “We all talked about it as a staff.” (In reference to the switch to a 3-3-5)
  • Mike Williams, Sam McGuffie, and Troy Woolfolk (he sprained his ankle in the first quarter against Purdue) should all play against Minnesota.
  • Carson Butler will probably stay at defense end. He played around 23 or 24 snaps against Purdue. He’s still learning the position but showed some things there.
  • “Donovan Warren will play both safety and corner.”
  • Justin Feagin is going to play at the slot receiver position. He played on two special teams situations against Purdue and will get in more this coming Saturday.
  • “Schemes don’t cause you to miss 21 tackles.”
  • He was asked a question about whether or not he thinks Scott Shafer is doing a good job this year and quickly said he’s never going to point the finger at one player or one coach.
  • “I know we can build this program to be one of the best in the country.”
  • “There’s not a guy on our staff that feels good right now.”
  • The coaches will be watching everybody very closely the next three weeks.
  • “Every time there is something said everybody wants to make a big deal out of something.”
  • The key for Minnesota’s success this year is a better defense and their quarterback.
  • Playing indoors is a little bit different.
  • Some portions of practice this week will be inside to get ready to play in the Metrodome.
  • The progress made inside the program isn’t showing up on Saturday, but it is happening Sunday through Friday.
  • Minnesota has done a really good job of taking the ball away this year.

Zoltan Mesko:

  • It’s an honor to be a semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award.
  • “It’s alright to do individual things, but I’d rather trade everything that I’ve done for a team effort.”
  • “I’ve worked with a couple NFL guys to fine tune my mechanics.”
  • Michigan’s long snapper, Sean Griffin, noticed that Purdue’s center put his head down on the fake punt. On every other punt he looked forward.

Tim Jamison:

  • The team got together on Sunday and said that they are going to finish off this season strong.
  • The team does tackling drills during every practice. They just have to execute during games.
  • Minnesota is a much improved team compared to last year.

Brandon Minor:

  • The offense played well on Saturday because everyone was clicking at the same time.
  • His wrist is good. (It was re-injured against Purdue.)

John Ferrara:

  • The switch to offensive line wasn’t that tough mentally. All it is now is getting the fundamentals and technique taken care of.
  • He played a little bit of tight end in high school but never played on the o-line.
  • The toughest thing for him is pass protection. Your technique has to be really sound.
  • Nick Sheridan’s dad recruited Ferrara to Michigan before Steve Stripling did.
  • He is roommates with Perry Dorrestein.

David Molk:

  • It’s tough to switch from the d-line to the o-line. (He was asked about Ferrara.)
  • The offensive line gels more with every practice the team has.
  • Losing is tough.
  • At first he didn’t think the transition would be this radical for the offensive line.
  • Pass blocking is a little more difficult than run blocking.

Monday Presser Notes (Week 10)

By · Monday, October 27, 2008 · 8:15 PM |  Share | 1 Comment 

Rich Rodriguez:

  • Mike Williams and Sam McGuffie got slight concussions against Michigan State and are day-to-day. Neither practiced on Sunday.
  • Jonas Mouton has a slight hamstring injury but should be okay.
  • Ditto for Perry Dorrestein, who has a slight knee sprain.
  • Mike Williams played in the first quarter and was going to get more involved if he hadn’t been injured.
  • Having the lead at one time or another in all of the last four losses has been frustrating.
  • The biggest gap for some freshmen is all mental.
  • Justin Feagin is not even close to being ready at quarterback. He’s closer to playing at slot receiver than he ever was at QB.
  • Mike Martin is beyond his years physically.
  • “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a true freshman defensive lineman as Division I-ready as Mike Martin has been.”
  • Feagin probably won’t burn his redshirt unless he is going to get extensive playing time.
  • The program has been “turned around,” even though it isn’t showing on Saturdays.
  • You can’t let big plays on third down happen.
  • All of the problems that have prevented Michigan from winning have been identified.
  • College coaches have two main jobs: recruit quality student-athletes and develop them both on and off the field.
  • He met with the whole defense and watched film with them on Sunday.
  • Jonas Mouton’s athleticism and John Thompson’s intensity are great to have on defense.
  • Mike Shaw is probably going to play more this weekend.
  • “We’ve gotta get more athletic on defense.”
  • “We’re playing the best guys that give us the best chance of winning.”
  • Carson Butler is closer to playing on defense this season. It’s only been two weeks since he switched, but he is getting closer to playing.
  • Rodriguez and Joe Tiller have been friends for the last six or so years. The two had a “chuckle” over the snake oil comment at the Big Ten meetings.
  • “Recruiting is going well. We’re very excited about recruiting.”
  • “Everybody has to earn their job each and every day.” (In reference to the players)
  • “The sense of entitlement is no longer… I don’t want to say it was here before, but our guys understand that they have to earn their thing every day.”
  • Regarding the incorrect call on Brandon Minor’s touchdown: “It’s too late now.” He later said it doesn’t matter since Michigan still lost.

Donovan Warren:

  • “The morale of the team is not down at all.”
  • “We’re not getting it done this year.”
  • “You can’t put the blame on the coaches.”
  • “I haven’t lost 6 games in my whole high school career.”
  • “I should’ve let the blocked field goal go.”

Jonas Mouton:

  • “I don’t really feel like we’re adjusting to losing.”
  • “It is what it is right now.”
  • The outside linebacker is more like a safety in this year’s scheme.

David Moosman:

  • “Tiny details are going to have to click.”
  • “More and more of these details are coming together.”
  • The process of improving on offense is evolutionary.
  • Purdue has a hard-nosed defense.

Mike Martin:

  • “My body has changed drastically [since coming to Michigan].”
  • The running the team did in the summer got him lean.
  • The defensive line is probably the most experienced group on the team.
  • Early on, the difference in speed from high school to college was an adjustment, but he is used to it now.
  • “I look up to Terrance [Taylor] a lot.”

Brandon Minor:

  • “I’ll take it.” (In reference to his touchdown that wasn’t really a touchdown)
  • Not losing focus is important in close games.
  • “We’ve gotta get used to holding a lead.”
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