It was a tough day for Michigan athletics yesterday. The controversy around NCAA rules violations within the football program came to full swell, and the storm that ensued afterwards was as expected as it was regrettable.
Far too many media outlets, namely The Detroit Free Press, decided to present these allegations as a death sentence for Rich Rodriguez. Unfortunately for them, that is not the case.
I'm going to say what very few people in the media have had the cajones to say: these allegations are not that serious.
Now, to back-up a bit, any allegations against a major program like Michigan are serious, but what the NCAA alleges is, if you take the time to look at it, not at all as serious as what other programs have gone through and are going through.
Let's set the record straight: Michigan has been paying players to play for Michigan. They gave their families elaborate gifts and in exchange, just asked for championship caliber play from the players.
Oh wait, that's USC. My bad.
Since 2005, Michigan has had 24 arrests in their football program. From felony burglary to strangulation and obstruction of justice. They can put it together on the field, but off the field the rules simply don't apply.
Ahh, sorry. That's not Michigan either. That's Florida.
So what did Michigan do? I'm glad you asked...
Michigan had quality control staff monitor stretching. This should have been considered countable athletically relatable activity (CARA), and when you count it that way it puts the university over the practice limit by 20 minutes some weeks, 30 minutes others and two hours in some instances.
To put this in percentages, the maximum time allowed for practice is eight hours; that means the university was over four percent, six percent, and 25 percent, respectfully.
The Free Press alleged the university was over 200 percent and 300 percent. I've seen it commented "good thing Michael Rosenberg isn't an architect," and to be quite frank, thank God for that.
Can you imagine turning in the designs for a sky rise and being this grossly off in your calculations? You'd be fired, and you should be. You were wrong; very, very wrong.
This isn't to say Michigan is without controversy, though. Coach Herron, a graduate assistant coach, appears to have lied to NCAA authorities and for that I expect (should the internal investigation UM launched match up with these findings) that he will "not be retained."
Indeed, there might be some additional turnover in this area pending the results of the internal investigation and some more digging by David Brandon and company. What I don't expect is for the hammer to fall of Rich Rodriguez. Not for allegations like these, at least.
Coach Rodriguez has to win, and he has to win this year. Anything outside of a January bowl and I could see David Brandon cutting ties with Rodriguez all together.
It won't, however, be for these allegations. If Coach Rodriguez is let go, it will be because in year three he couldn't turn Michigan into a winner. Of course, there will be those who argue that it was the excessive practice, and to be fair, the negativity surrounding Rodriguez at this point is enough to truly cause one pause when thinking about whether or not to retain Coach Rod.
Though, in my mind, it will come down to his win-loss record for 2010, and while that is sure to upset some in the Jim-Harbaugh-to-Michigan-at-all-costs camp, I think it's the truth.
This isn't a coach who faces allegations of having paid players on the team. Nor is it a coach who has presided over a team with 24 arrests. It's simply a coach who didn't know you couldn't monitor stretching or discipline kids for missing class without an excuse.
But let's fire him, I mean, that'll sell more papers, right?
Thankfully David Brandon isn't interested in selling papers:
“Rich Rodriguez is our football coach, and he’ll be our football coach next year," he said. "There’s nothing that I see in what has come out from the notice of allegations or our internal investigation that leads me to believe there should be any change in the status of our football coach.”
In Rod We Trust.