Toney Clemons decided in late March 2009 to leave the University of Michigan football team. At the time of his departure, he proclaimed that the reason for the transfer was that he currently wasn’t a good fit for the new Michigan offense.
"I had a long talk with (Coach Rodriguez) and he wasn't too happy with me leaving," Clemons said. "I just don't want to play in a spread offense. This is best for me as an athlete."
But it was clear there was something deeper. It wasn’t just the offense. It was his role in it.
"It's time for me to make a change and go in another direction than what I am needed for," he said.
Clemons didn’t think the coaches were using him the way he thought he should be used.
"It just wasn't a good fit for me depth chart-wise, system-wise," he said. "I didn't feel like I was getting utilized the way I wanted to. I didn't feel like they used my talent, my fast speed and route running to stretch the field.
"I just had to go somewhere where I feel my talent would be utilized and somewhere I feel I have a chance to come in and be a factor in."
There were also personal differences with the coaches, and Clemons missed the days of Lloyd Carr, who had recruited him out of high school. He chose Colorado because "[t]hey have a coaching staff that just reminds me so much of the one that brought me to Michigan with coach Carr and his regime," Clemons said.
"I was in a situation that wasn't as positive, and the negative can really mess with your psyche. When it's positive, it keeps you focused and lets you bounce back from bad plays...he's going to coach you before he cusses you out."
Yet throughout it all, Clemons still maintained: "I still love Michigan. It's still my No. 1." And during his recent statements to ESPN that all of the allegations are true, Clemons said: “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.”
Well...if you love Michigan and your "teammates," isn’t the right move to keep things in house instead of airing your views to the media? Why not first go to Rich Rodriguez and tell him that the staff was allegedly violating NCAA rules?
And if after going to Coach Rodriguez, you weren’t satisfied, why not go to the school athletic director? Make your case known to Rodriguez’s boss. And then to the school compliance department, the agency overseeing the athletic department’s compliance with NCAA rules? And then to the Big Ten Conference, urging them in their advisory capacity to address the issue with Michigan?
And then if after those four layers of review, you still weren’t heard, why not file a complaint or report with the NCAA?
I understand the argument that it felt inconceivable to go to coach Rodriguez when you’re on the team. But one could certainly file an anonymous complaint. And if that wasn't one's cup of tea, why not start the process after you leave? After all, there's nothing to lose at that point. It surely seems like the best solution if the real interest is “to help benefit [your] teammates”, right?
Airing these allegations has certainly inflicted more damage to the school and team than it would have had things been handled internally. Under this outcome, Michigan could have simply self-reported any violations to the NCAA without this hurricane of public opinion and scrutiny at the mere allegation stage.
And if these are truly the goals, why stay silent over the summer months and choose to associate oneself with the revelation of these details in a publication merely six days before game day? Is that really good for Michigan players to have a cloud like that hanging over their heads as they enter battle?
Don’t get me wrong. I think it was a good move for both sides that Clemons transferred. But I seriously question the motive and judgment to speak to the media about this without going through established internal processes.
I will never know the truth, but I opine that there may have been some underlying dislike for coach Rodriguez and the current staff motivating the decision.
I’m surprised this wasn’t taken and handled in house. After all, it’s what coach Carr would have wanted.