Michigan’s press conference at 11 would normally be to talk about the game coming up on Saturday, but I’d be shocked if that was mentioned at all. The national media are flying in for this, and ESPN is going to carry it live. You know what the subject of the presser is going to be, and I just hope Rich Rodriguez comes out of it okay. The questions will be relentless, but Rodriguez’s answers will give us an idea of where this is going. I’m assuming he will make a statement similar to the written one he released in response to the Free Press’ story, but beyond that it’s left to be seen.
In the mean time, more people are speaking out about these allegations.
Toney Clemons already has spoke to ESPN’s Joe Schad, and now he has talked with the Free Press as well. Aside from saying he’s honest and reiterating that he will tell the truth if the NCAA calls him asking questions, Clemons compared the three coaches he has played for.
“I’ve played for three coaches, I’ve seen three different systems, three different personalities of programs,” said Clemons, from New Kensington, Pa. “Not every coach does that. With Coach Carr coming in as freshmen, we understood the rules early in the summertime. We never had anybody come out and monitor anything that they weren’t allowed to be there for. And compliance at the University of Colorado is real in tune. They make sure that we know the rules.”
Clemons said most players were willing to work beyond the required hours, and that at Colorado “it becomes mandatory through your teammates. It’s not forced upon you by the coaching staff.”
He added: “The difference that came with it, and what really bothered the people, was that if they missed it, the things they had to do for missing it. It became a problem whenever people would miss a workout and had to be punished or reprimanded for missing one.”
Former Michigan long snapper Sean Griffin, who played for both Lloyd Carr and Rich Rodriguez, talked with Angelique Chengelis and shared his thoughts on the situation.
Sean Griffin, long snapper for Michigan last season, said he assumes most of the allegations are from “disgruntled ex-players or guys who transferred.”
He said he frequently worked with the special teams during the offseason and that an allegation in the report that Rodriguez’s staff broke rules by monitoring offseason scrimmages was not true, as far as he could tell.
“When I was helping with the specialists, there was never a coach, a graduate assistant, or a quality control coach there,” he said. “I wasn’t sitting there writing everything down and reporting to a coach. I worked out with a few of the new guys.
“I would just do that because people helped me out when I was younger.”
A couple parents of players have already spoken out about these allegations and basically denied them, and more are continuing to do the same thing.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central standout Obi Ezeh now plays linebacker for the Michigan Wolverines. His parents say they’re stunned by the accusations, and they don’t believe the coaching staff would break NCAA rules. Nkechy Obi told FOX 17 News, “When I read the report, the one thing I said to myself is what’s wrong in kids working hard, why is it being twisted now, that they’re breaking the rule? I don’t think the coaches are breaking any rules and I don’t think my son would go along with it.”
Je’Ron Stokes’ father posted that he believes it’s pathetic for the Free Press to twist his son’s quotes and went on to say that “Coach Rich Rod, and his staff run a very respectable program.” Stokes was one of the freshman who talked to the Free Press about his workouts without knowing what he said was going to end up in this investigation. His quotes simply read like those of an excited freshman, and they ended up in the Free Press as “evidence” against Rich Rodriguez.
Michael Schofield’s father, who talked with TomVH at mgoblog yesterday, had his full message posted on the site. It’s worth a read for sure. (Also at mgoblog is a journalist’s take on the Free Press’ story.)
Two former Michigan players who played for Rich Rodriguez have commented on the record about the allegations U-M is facing.
One of them, Toney Clemons, left the team earlier this year and transferred to Colorado, citing that he wanted to play in a different offense. He spoke to ESPN’s Joe Schad, and his comments did not do Michigan any favors.
“The allegations are true,” Clemons said. “Nothing is fabricated or exaggerated in that story. I was there on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. depending on if guys needed treatment. You were there daylight to nighttime.”
“On Sunday, it was lifting, film, dinner and practice,” Clemons told Schad. “I usually got out around 10:20. I truly don’t want to be associated with the program back there. But I am going to help benefit my teammates back there by speaking and giving testimony.”
Helping which teammates, Toney? Sure, you’re helping the few current players who spoke to the Free Press and don’t like how much time they have to spend on football, and I’m sure there are others who feel the same way but didn’t speak out. But what about the rest (majority) of the team? Do you think people like Brandon Minor and Brandon Graham, who are seniors and want to win this season, appreciate you making this situation even worse for Michigan? I doubt it. By now the damage is already done from the report itself, but the more former players like Clemons come out and go beyond simply confirming that the story is true, the worse this situation gets for Michigan.
Another former player, Morgan Trent, who didn’t transfer but simply graduated, spoke to Angelique Chengelis today on the record.
“Yes, we were there all day it seemed sometimes,” said Trent, a former Michigan cornerback now in his first season with the Cincinnati Bengals. “But if you expect to win, that’s the sacrifice you make. I was a senior (last season under Rodriguez) — I just wanted to win, that’s all.”
Chad Henne, who played his last game before Rich Rodriguez took over, spoke to Dave Birkett and echoed similar feelings, saying that putting in more than 20 hours was necessary to become a better player.
“Twenty hours is a very, very small portion of what you do, especially if you’re a quarterback at a high-profile school,” Henne, now with the Miami Dolphins, said in a phone interview Sunday. “Twenty hours isn’t enough for you. You have to be in there by yourself, studying film, no coaches around, and doing it on your own. That’s where the leadership comes in and that’s where, if you want to get better and play better, you have to do it on your own.”
Henne went on to say that while he wasn’t obligated to be there all that extra time, the hours really were already racked up enough just by practicing. He also shared his thoughts on the players who spoke out to the media.
“I really think whoever’s saying it really doesn’t want to be there,” Henne said. “If they’re saying that then they’re not really worried about the team, they’re not worried about what they’re going to do during their season and they’re kind of just giving themselves up. That’s just negative talk right there. So whoever it is just really doesn’t care about the team, I would say.
“If they’re complaining about that, then they don’t want to be the best they can be and that’s their own fault.”
I couldn’t agree more.
This past weekend, there was some speculation that Kelvin Grady was going to play football for Michigan. Grady left the basketball team in April and seemed to be planning on transferring to continue his career on the hardwood elsewhere. Football reentered the picture, though, and now Grady is expected to join the team at Michigan.
By staying at U-M, Grady will be able to play immediately instead of sitting out a year as a transfer under NCAA rules. He will have three years of eligibility.
Grady was an all-state running back at East Grand Rapids his senior year, amassing more than 2,000 yards.
Both U-M football coach Rich Rodriguez and Grady were unavailable for comment. Grady is expected to receive a football scholarship. U-M has extra scholarships available, including two stemming from the transfers of Steven Threet and Toney Clemons.
Grady will likely play slot receiver for Michigan.
- Kelvin Grady has already left the Michigan basketball team, but he hasn’t transferred to a new school yet. That may not end up being necessary at all, as he is apparently looking into playing football at Michigan. He would probably be a running back/slot receiver, which is what he basically played in high school.
- The Michigan Daily’s Joe Stapleton interviewed former Michigan receiver Toney Clemons, who talked about his decision to transfer and his reasoning for leaving Michigan. To sum it up, Clemons didn’t feel like he was a good fit in Michigan’s offense, as he saw more running than passing on the horizon. He didn’t say anything negative about Rich Rodriguez or the program, as he left because Colorado (his new school) runs an offense similar to what Michigan ran under Lloyd Carr.
- AnnArbor.com has announced the hiring of Dave Birkett as its lead reporter for Michigan football. Birkett previously covered the Lions for the Oakland Press, where I was a big fan of his work. I’m definitely looking forward to him covering Michigan football.
- According to a post on MGoBoard, Bill Martin tried to schedule Minnesota for the 2010 season opener. Minnesota declined the offer, but I like the thinking behind the idea. Martin also apparently said that the opponent in the opener will be from a BCS conference, which is good to hear.
- Want to work at Michigan Stadium during games this fall? If so, check out this release on MGoBlue.
- Braylon Edwards hit a home run during batting practice before an Indians game last week.
- Once the BCS moves to ESPN, if a non-BCS conference team has qualified for a BCS game, it will automatically go to the Rose Bowl the first time the Big Ten or Pac-10 champion qualifies for the national title game. (HT: Dr. Saturday)
- The SEC has a new rule that prevents its schools from signing more than 28 recruits in a single football class. This will limit the amount of oversigning that goes on in the SEC and prevent recruiting classes from having a ridiculous amount of signees like Mississippi last year, which had 37. The Big Ten implemented a similar rule in 2002 that made sure teams didn’t sign more than 28 players in a single class.
- Kevin Grady was released from jail on Tuesday, two days earlier than his sentence called for.
- Apparently Cal and Michigan tried to schedule a football game, but talks “fell through.” Cal head coach Jeff Tedford went on to say that he only wants to play a home-and-home series, which is probably why talks fell through. Michigan is against scheduling home-and-home series, as it wants to maximize revenue by having as many home games as possible each season, even if that means paying a school like Delaware State $550,000 to come to Ann Arbor.
- Staying on the topic of scheduling, there was a lot of talk about playing a nine-game conference schedule during the Big Ten meetings this week. Bill Martin is in favor of playing as many conference opponents as possible, so much so that he even tried to put conference teams on the non-conference part of the schedule.
Martin ideally would want to play a true round robin in the Big Ten, but he admits it’s “not realistic” because of the revenue from home games that league members need to sustain their athletic programs. The Michigan AD said he has even tried to schedule the two teams Michigan doesn’t play during the Big Ten schedule as nonconference opponents.
I’m not surprised it didn’t happen, but it is pretty interesting that Martin tried to do that. For things to have worked out, my guess is that the games would have to have been part of a home-and-home series. The games would not have counted in the Big Ten standings, but I would rather see two more games against Big Ten teams than an FCS team and another MAC school.
- Denard Robinson is featured in the “Faces in the Crowd” section of this week’s issue of Sports Illustrated for his success in track.
- Toney Clemons is headed to Colorado.
- Five of the Big Ten’s bowl tie-ins expire after this season, but the conference isn’t going to start negotiations until the fall.
- Thanks to a 3-9 season and the economy, ticket sales for the 2009 football season are down right now. Not as many students bought tickets as in past years, possibly providing an indication of how ticket sales will go for non-students. I’m not too concerned, though. The athletic department really did a poor job of promoting football student season tickets, as they didn’t get the word out very far in advance. For tickets to away games, for example, they didn’t do any promotion to my knowledge, and the only reason I found out that away tickets were on sale was because I stumbled on to the page talking about it on MGoBlue. Beyond that, I’m not too concerned with ticket sales being down right now because the waiting list for season tickets is 10,000 people long. Anybody on that list would probably be more than willing to buy tickets, so I’m sure seats will be filled no matter what.
- Contrary to a report last week, Michigan is interested in hosting World Cup games in 2018 or 2022 if the United States were awarded a bid. Bill Martin was quoted on the matter and seemed intrigued.
- The men’s gymnastics team came in second-place at the NCAA Championships.
- The United States won the gold medal at the World U18 Championships, led by five Michigan commits. Goalie Jack Campbell was absolutely dominant during the tournament, as The Blog That Yost Built summarized:
Check out these numbers for our future goalie: 4-0-0 record, 0.75 goals against average, .967 save percentage, two shutouts, and zero even-strength goals allowed. He’s from the U17s playing in the World U18s and he put on a show. In international play he’s 11-0-1-0 (that’s 11 wins and an overtime loss) with a 1.04 and probably something around a .955 save percentage to go with 5 shutouts.
Offensively, Kevin Lynch and Chris Brown played great, and A.J. Treais and Jon Merrill both ended up with positive skater ratings as well. If these guys make it to Ann Arbor, meaning a pro team doesn’t sign them first, the future is very, very bright for the Michigan hockey team.
- The Wolverine Blog put together a highlight reel of Tate Forcier from the spring game.
- Zoltan Mesko is a preseason All-American on NationalChamps.net.
- Steven Threet is apparently interested in Arizona State, and Toney Clemons enjoyed his visit to Colorado.
- Former Michigan captain and current Boston Bruin Matt Hunwick had his spleen removed over the weekend. He is said to be doing fine, thankfully.
- Jason Forcier is planning on returning to the University of Michigan. After transferring to Stanford a couple years ago, Forcier is hoping to go to grad school at U-M. He hasn’t been accepted yet, but if he is, there is some speculation that he could rejoin the football team. He has one year of eligibility remaining, but whether or not he could play would be left up to the NCAA. The rule that allowed players to transfer without sitting out a year if it was for grad school no longer exists, but apparently the NCAA can make rulings on a case-by-case basis. I don’t know if Forcier would want to rejoin the team, as he didn’t comment on it, but just having him around his brother, Tate, would be a good thing. If he was eligible to play, that would be gravy in my mind.
- Ryan Van Bergen, who was carted off the field during the scrimmage on Saturday, should be fine by the time spring drills begin.
- Toney Clemons is going to visit Colorado.
- The Knicks signed former Michigan center and D-League All-Star Chris Hunter. Courtney Sims was recently signed to a 10-day contract by the Knicks, so it’s nice to see that some former Wolverines are making it to the NBA.
- MGoBlue put up a page where you can vote for your Michigan NHL All-Star Team.
- Hasheem Thabeet is going pro.
- Isiah Thomas is Florida International’s new head coach.
- It looks like Braylon Edwards is going to be traded to the Giants.
- Michigan opens the NCAA tournament today at 3 p.m. ET against Air Force. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
- Rich Rodriguez said on Thursday that Nick Sheridan will be out 4-6 weeks due to a “small fracture in his lower leg.” That means that Sheridan will miss the rest of spring practice, but he should be ready for summer camp.
- Rodriguez also said that Ricky Barnum, who is already suffering from a wrist injury that will eventually require surgery, recently sprained his ankle. I don’t know how long he is out, but Rodriguez said that he will compete in August, making it sound like Barnum is done for the spring as well.
- I don’t believe there was any mention of David Cone being injured, so that’s good news. A story on GBW does mention something about Cone’s hand, but it doesn’t seem like the injury is anything too serious.
- Former Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Genyk was at practice on Thursday.
- C.J. Lee posted his final “Court Vision” of the season. It is definitely worth checking out.
- Toney Clemons expanded on why he decided to leave Michigan.
- Keeping with recent Ohio State tradition, center B.J. Mullens has declared for the NBA Draft after only one season in Columbus.
- The Iowa basketball program appears to be on the verge of imploding due to the recent news that multiple players are leaving the school.
- Billy Gillispie is reportedly out at Kentucky.
- Congress is apparently going to have hearings to examine the BCS.
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