GO IRISH! BEAT
Wolverines stir Harbaugh controversy
Published: Wednesday, August 01, 2007, 5:16 PM Updated: Wednesday, August 01, 2007, 5:42 PM
CHICAGO - Almost three months after former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh questioned the ways in which his alma mater blends football and academics, tailback Mike Hart practically threw Harbaugh out of the Michigan football family.
"He's not a Michigan Man, and I wish he had never played here," Hart said Tuesday. "I've never met him, and I don't want to."
Now the coach at Stanford, Harbaugh fired up the controversy in the spring when he told The Examiner newspaper in San Francisco that Michigan admitted athletes who were borderline academically, then steered them into less-challenging courses to keep them eligible.
"They're adulated when they're playing," Harbaugh said. "But when they get out, the people who adulated them won't hire them."
Those comments still reverberate within the Michigan football program.
Coach Lloyd Carr said Tuesday he believed Harbaugh's statements were "elitist," "arrogant" and "self-serving." Hart added, "That's a guy I have no respect for."
Coach Lloyd Carr said Tuesday he believed Harbaugh's statements were "elitist," "arrogant" and "self-serving." Hart added, "That's a guy I have no respect for."
From the Wiz of Odds blog list of most classless acts of 2009 season
8. Rich Rodriguez, Michigan
You can't do this list without Rich Rod, who continues to drag this storied program to new, embarrassing lows.
No stranger to litigation (see West Virginia), Rich Rod was sued for allegedly defaulting on a real estate loan to build condominiums near Virginia Tech's Lane Stadium. One of his business partners in the failed venture is facing five felony counts and possibly 50 years in prison.
Michigan has gone to 33 consecutive bowl games until Rich Rod arrived. Now they've missed the postseason two years in a row. If that's not bad enough, the NCAA alleges that Rich Rod's program committed five potential major rules violations. Somehow, he's still the coach.
(i)letter from BGS to Michigan fans, September, 2005...(/i)
Dear Michigan fans,
That time of year is upon us once again, when the two titans of midwest football clash in what's shaping up to be yet another epic battle. There's something extremely powerful surrounding this mostly-annual grudge match; we fight over local and national dominance, we fight over the top spot spot in all-time winning percentage, we fight over recruits. ND-Michigan has featured some of the best games in college football over the years, with legendary names like Hamilton and Oliver, Ismail and Howard, Carter and Brooks and Mirer and Gillette spilling across the headlines. Interestingly enough, despite the proximity -- Ann Arbor is just a scant 175 miles from South Bend -- Notre Dame and Michigan aren't really the dominant rivals in each other's worldview. Notre Dame has its traditional, and longer-running rivalry with Southern Cal, and Michigan's stalking horse has always been Ohio State. That's not to say ND-Michigan is taken any more lightly by its fans; on the contrary, the emotions run just as high. But the matchup is special: I would say that Michigan and Notre Dame are less rivals and more Enemies. Bitter, bitter enemies.
ND-Michigan more often than not features a battle of nationally-ranked opponents, and often goes right down to the wire. And unlike other grudge matches that often serve as a capstone to a team's season, the Notre Dame-Michigan affair is always right up front, usually kicking off the season. A win can catapult the victor to an undefeated season; a loss can sink a team's hopes right out of the gates. Off the field, we pit our rich traditions against each other in a never-ending argument over who's got the best academics, the best colors, the best uniforms, the best marching band, and the best fight song.
In a way, Notre Dame owes Michigan a debt of gratitude. It was a group of Wolverine players who first taught the game to a Notre Dame club way back in 1887. From those humble beginnings, both programs rose to national fame and fortune. So, we give thanks to Michigan for passing down the game that has defined us so, and we are grateful.
But we owe Michigan more than our gratitude. We owe UM our scorn, for they have earned it.
A quick look at the history books reminds us why the Skunkbears have a wing unto themselves in our Hall of Shame. Shortly after the halcyon days of 1887, when players shared the game in a collegial competition, you tried to kill us. Once Notre Dame beat Fielding Yost's "point-a-minute" champions (after 8 consecutive losses to the Wolverines), Yost took the fledgling Irish program off Michigan's schedule. The humiliation ran deep; as if simply dropping the Irish wasn't enough, Yost fought tooth and nail to keep the burgeoning ND program out of the powerful Western Conference, worried that the upstart immigrant school would damage the reputation of what is now the Big Ten. Yost blackballed us, and encouraged others to do the same; for 34 years, his cowardice was enshrined in UM's schedule for all to see. Like a deranged, Munchausen-by-proxy mother (look it up), you tried to smother us in the crib when our program was in its infancy. Fear of Notre Dame was a powerful talisman, institutionalized by Yost, and the cowardice and consternation towards Notre Dame oozes out of Ann Arbor even to this day.
Yost was but the first in a litany of men of low character to hold the reins at UM. Fritz Crisler's "bias" (ahem) toward ND is well-known, and, like his predecessor, again dropped the Irish from his schedule for thirty years after a loss. Bo Schembechler sat idly by, for years, as three different Irish coaches won National Championships, while he was busy losing Rose Bowls; Bo was driven crazy with the notion that ND might enter the Big 10 and end his biannual trips to Pasadena. Gary Moeller was frustrated that he couldn't pick Notre Dame up, drink it, and then drive into a ditch. These also-rans were over-shadowed by true coaching legends just down the road from them: legends like Rockne, Leahy, Parseghian, and Holtz, who racked up championship upon championship as Ann Arbor stewed.
In the end, perhaps we do owe the Skunkbears a few more tokens of thanks. If Yost hadn't taken his ball and gone home, perhaps we would now be in the Big Ten, and our idea of football excellence would entail two or three losses per year and a trip to the Rose Bowl twice a decade. But instead, you blackballed us, and tried to choke us out of existence. You should have finished the job. We survived, and because too many teams were under Michigan's villainous spell in the Midwest, we were forced to look elsewhere to find quality opponents. And we did. We scheduled and played the nationwide champions of the day: Army, Southern Cal, Georgia Tech, Stanford, and many others. We criss-crossed the country, we were Rockne's Ramblers, taking on all comers, what tho' the odds. In doing so, we won national acclaim, respect, and the hearts of countless Americans. It was Michigan's attempt to stamp out a budding rival that created the nation's most popular and successful football program, the University of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish.
This is why we don't approach the Michigan game with the same tradition-laden respect, the pomp and circumstance, or the "contest of equals" honor reserved for the Southern Cal game. Rather, like Inigo Montoya closing in on the six-fingered man, we come with a singular focus. We are Notre Dame Football. You tried to kill us. Prepare to die.
University of Michigan buries scrutiny of athletes' academics
Published: Sunday, June 15, 2008, 12:02 AM Updated: Sunday, June 15, 2008, 3:32 PM
Administrators duck tough questions
If you don't like the questions, find different people to ask less challenging ones.
That seems to be the approach University of Michigan administrators took when two faculty members tried to examine the intersection of athletics and academics.
It's another disturbing phase in a saga that repeatedly finds U-M leaders running for cover rather than directly dealing with very troubling issues.
Last year, Professors Keith Riles and Richard Friedman began looking into whether certain student-athletes were being steered to pursue general studies degrees. They'd been concerned by remarks made by Jim Harbaugh, a former U-M football star who was critical of how academically challenged athletes were shepherded through the university.
Following up Harbaugh's charges, a four-day series published by The News in March detailed how some athletes were being guided into courses that weren't as rigorous as others at U-M.
Earlier this year and after our series ran, Riles and Friedman sent questions about these issues to U-M Vice Provost Phil Hanlon, as part of an investigation by the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, or SACUA. But though Hanlon had previously agreed to meet with them, after seeing the questions, well, that wasn't going to happen.
Hanlon now says that SACUA didn't sanction the investigation. He's backed up by two SACUA leaders - who also happen to be tight with the U-M athletic department.
Riles and Friedman believe those faculty members - David Potter and Charles Smith - derailed their probe. "It's frustrating to have skepticism or interest interpreted as bias," Riles told The News.
Frustrating, yes - but not surprising.
Hanlon didn't want to answer the questions raised by Riles and Friedman, and used a bureaucratic subterfuge to avoid them.
In fact, U-M's top leaders - including Provost Teresa Sullivan and President Mary Sue Coleman - have no interest in talking to people who ask hard questions. Unless you've drunk the Everything's OK Kool-Aid, you're viewed as an adversary.
Because this culture of denial is pervasive at the top levels of the university, we looked to faculty leadership to pick up the challenge that administrators are unwilling to acknowledge, let alone address.
Professors like Riles and Friedman - who are rightly concerned about the university's academic integrity - tried to step into that leadership role. That they were pushed back by the U-M academic bureaucracy is very telling.
Universities across the country grapple with this issue. Who should oversee the education of athletes? Should it be the athletic department, which has a vested interest in ensuring that its marquee athletes remain academically eligible? Or should that oversight rest with the academic administration and faculty, who are responsible for the university's academic integrity?
At U-M, the answer doesn't really matter. The university's top academic administrators are clearly too afraid to even respond to uncomfortable questions - questions that might reveal the true extent of the athletic department's control.
It's not just frustrating. It's shameful.
Notre Dame and Michigan - A History -ndoldtown (2003)
It is well this week to reflect on relations between Notre Dame and Michigan: how they began, how they developed, why they are the way they are and what forces impel Michigan to be the way it is. Let us review and remember all that Michigan really stands for.
Chapter One - Seeds of Smallness - The Yost Legacy
Fielding Yost is by far the most influential person in the history of Michigan athletics. A review of his tenure vis-a-vis Notre Dame is instructive of how and why Notre Dame and Michigan view each other the way they do.
"The two most powerful conference members athletically and politically were Chicago and Michigan. Both would become the staunchest athletic foes of Notre Dame. In 1898 Michigan voted to deny Notre Dame membership in the (then) Western Conference."
"In June 1901 Michigan and Chicago orchestrated the conference's banning of Notre Dame from the initial I.C.A.A. track meet"
1909 - Notre Dame defeats Michigan for the first time. After the game Notre Dame player Red Miller goes to shake Fielding Yost's hand. "When Shorty Longman introduced me to Mr. Yost, who had been my idol for years, I was thrilled beyond measure. . . To my utter amazement, he greeted me by saying 'Miller you were guilty of the most unsportsmanlike conduct that I've ever seen in all my days.'" Yost was angry because Miller had waited several times until the last minute to signal fair catches on punts and Michigan had been flagged twice for interference. "The fair catches were perfectly legal" as officials later confirmed.
Later that year despite, having a worse record and losing to ND, Michigan was voted "Champions of the West" by some Western Conference sportswriters and Yost claimed the split championship was just. "Of course we are champions. They have a good team down there, but you must recognize the fact that we went into that game caring little whether we won or lost. Practice was what we wanted."
1910 - 24 hours before Notre Dame and Michigan are to play, Yost cancels the game. The two teams do not play again for thirty-two years.
1911 - A general policy of blackballing of Notre Dame by Michigan and Western Conference schools begins. Jesse Harper writes to ask Michigan to schedule a game: "I am very sorry you could not think it best to schedule a game for next fall. If at any time you should find that your schedule is not working out to suit you and that you would like to play Notre Dame, I would be very glad to hear from you."
1913 - ND begins playing schools outside the midwest as a result of the boycott. Army, Texas, Penn State and Syracuse are added to the schedule. The 1913 Army game -- only scheduled due to the Michigan boycott -- becomes one of the most famous in ND history as Gus Dorais and Knute Rockne use the forward pass to upset the top team in the then-dominant East.
1914 - Yost to his AD "Do not favor Notre Dame game. It would be a hard game. Not much money or prestige if we won."
One senior football player, Knute Rockne, of the class of '14 bears particular ill will towards Yost and Michigan for blackballing Notre Dame. Also, despite his pass-catching ability as displayed in the game against Army, Yost works to keep this player off of All American teams. The young player swears to friends that he will ensure that Notre Dame not only never needs the Western Conference, Yost or Michigan again, but that she will eclipse them across the nation.
Rockne viewed Yost as "a hillbilly who was forever grinding a religious ax against Notre Dame, who was crooked as a dog's hind leg, who was selfish and vain beyond comprehension, who was blindly jealous of Rockne's own success and ascension to national stardom and who coached boring, neanderthal football."
1923 Big Ten track and field meet to which ND is invited. At a meeting of athletic directors Yost makes a comment in front of all listeners that Rockne is a "Protestant holdout at a Catholic school" and urges Big Ten schools to boycott Notre Dame in all sports. During the meet one of Michigan's hurdlers stumbled and lost. Yost insisted the hurdles had been placed wrong and demanded the race be re-run. Illinois, Wisconsin and other schools withdrew and Notre Dame joined in support of their protest. Yost then approached Notre Dame's captain and told him to tell Rockne that he was a quitter and that he and his "dirty Irish" would never play on Ferry Field again.
Rockne wrote Yost "The Western Conference could put in a regulation that all coaches had to join the Ku-Klux-Klan but that certainly does not apply to us any more than some of the other freak regulations they may have. Now if you personally don't want to meet Notre Dame, that is your business, no holler from this end. . . But I don't think it is fair for you to carry out a campaign against us. I have always been a loyal booster and admirer of yours and I always hope to be. However, I am no quitter. I will not sit by quietly and have my school knocked even though I am not of its faith [this was before Rockne converted]"
1926 - In a note to the Big Ten Commissioner, noting that Notre Dame had won its last twelve games against Big Ten teams Yost urges all to join Michigan's renewed boycott, "one can readily see how the Conference is helping Notre Dame."
1929 - After years of false assertions by Yost against Notre Dame, Michigan's longstanding unethical tactics are exposed in a study by the Carnegie Report on college athletics. The report cited Michigan as "among the least fortunate" of 100 schools investigated in the manner in which both the University and its alumni clubs provided loans, jobs and other forms of aid to athletes. That same year, the Big Ten Commissioner denounced the report and called Michigan "an ideal" for other college athletic programs regarding ethics.
Rockne's system, involving the famed Notre Dame Shift caught other teams off balance and was the rage in football. Yost begins a national campaign to get the shift banned and resort to old-style less fluid football not involving shifting or as much passing - in other words, a return to the rugby-style that earlier had led to many deaths and led to President Theodore Roosevelt calling for reforms in the game. Eventually, the rule was modified to require a "complete stop" - Rockne coached his players to do so - briefly - and still used his motion offense to win a national championship in 1924. Yost was outraged. Next, Big Ten officials began flagging Notre Dame on a consistent basis for its "slick" plays and quick shifts and reverses. In a game at Northwestern, Michigan alum and Big Ten official Meyer Morton penalized Notre Dame 95 yards, NW zero, leading to the famous Rockne quote to the official "Looks like a Big Ten suckhole out there to me." Rockne was also outraged that Yost had a say on which Big Ten officials called ND games against Big Ten teams, even though Michigan was not playing Notre Dame. Even with the new rules designed by Yost and his allies to impede Rockne, Notre Dame went undefeated in 1929 and 1930 and won two more national championships.
At the end of the day Rockne has become the prototype of coaches and an American cultural icon, the winningest coach in the history of football with towns, buildings, stamps and famous movies named after him and the most legendary of all team exhortations to his credit. Yost's name is generally known only to Michigan fans.
Chapter Two - The Crisler Legacy - "They Say Hail Mary's"
Finally, in 1942, after thirty-two years, a game was played between Notre Dame and Michigan. Michigan won 32-20. The n