State of Denial: Ethics Are Questioned In Michigan Report

Jay Nicols@boonta420Correspondent ISeptember 1, 2009

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 27:  Detail of a University of Michigan Wolverines helmet before the game against the Indiana University at Bloomington Hoosiers, at Michigan Stadium on September 27, 2003 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan defeated Indiana 31-17. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Getty Images)

Michigan Football is all in.

Allegations of excessive workouts have pervaded the program as of Saturday evening. On Monday, Rich Rodriguez met with the media to give his rebuttal of the Freep.com story. 

Emotional, and obviously worn down by the extensive scrutiny he has faced since leaving West Virginia, Rodriguez stood his ground. He stuck up for his Strength and Conditioning coach, and pledged he runs an honest program. 

The poison of restructuring a football program is starting to kill Michigan. The team had become soft under Lloyd Carr. They were losing games they should win and underachieving with the talent they had.  

Coach Rodriguez sought to change the climate. Turn the heat up and get these guys to compete day-in and day-out. Commitment to excellence is necessary.

The Detroit Free Press reported that recent Michigan transfer Toney Clemons reiterated that the allegations are true. "Oh, yeah ... I'll always be honest. My mom and my dad raised me to be a stand-up guy. If they call me and I have to tell them my schedule, I'll tell them what I went through. I will definitely tell the truth." 

He continued to tell the Freep that Coach Rodriguez punished those that didn't show up for voluntary workouts.  

"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. That's where the problem lies."

Toney, did you sign your compliance letter?

Maybe if these players stood up at the moment, I would take there words serious. But after the fact, to a newspaper columnist who called them looking for dirt, to sour the Michigan Football program because they were expected to work harder?

Mike Barwis was with Rich Rogriguez at West Virginia, did we ever hear that his workouts were too extreme, torture Tuesdays, or work like hell Sundays? No. Wouldn't one think that Coach Rodriguez ran the same program there? I could be off-base, but I've heard nothing to that effect.

Pat White, Steve Slaton, Noel Devine, all of them played for Coach Rodriguez, and none of them complained about the off season workouts at WVU. Right? This is what makes me wonder about these allegations.  

Did the reporters care enough to look into his workouts at WVU for comparative reasons? That would make for a better case against Rodriguez. That was not done. 

It tells me that these players are and were not committed to excellence. 

Chad Henne told David Birkett of AnnArbor.com, "Twenty hours is a very, very small portion of what you do, especially if you’re a quarterback at a high-profile school ... 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."

He went on to 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."

Ryan Kartje of MLive.com wrote about the allegations today. He said, "notice the fact that it seems as if most players they interviewed in this process (six they said contributed for most of the report) were freshmen." He also noted that these freshman had no idea where the reporters were headed with their questioning.

The reporters from the Freep said that they contacted players and asked them for their daily routines. Once they got those routines, they saw what they wanted.  

Did they inform them of their intent? I don't know. But from Brandin Hawthorne and Je'Ron Stokes, they obviously didn't know where the questions were headed.

Is this a witch hunt? A guy looking to take down a program? He sounded smug and arrogant on Drew and Mike this morning. A morning drive show in Detroit on WRIF.  

Michael Rosenberg, one of the reporters on the story, told them that since the first month of Rich Rodriguez tenure, he was getting fliers on him running a tough ship. He said it took him 19 months to figure it out.

You tell me if he was hunting for something? His disdain for Rich Rodriguez is apparent.

Michigan wanted to be tougher, stronger, and more committed to excellence. He felt they needed to continue down the old content highway.

The questions they asked were not clarified with what the end result would be. If that would have been the case, than I would find this journalism ethical. But they didn't. Rosenberg himself was unsure of this approach, but in the end he and the editors, went with it. Talk about morals and ethics!

Rosenberg told Drew and Mike, "I wasn't entirely comfortable with it for awhile ... we felt like they were just straight forward on the record questions, I didn't trick anybody into answering anything ... we really put it in context that they were not complaining, they were not upset with there coaches ... just not aware of the rules."

He may feel that he was justified in what he reported, but those freshman he called, they didn't know any better. He knew that, but he still asked those questions. He said he didn't trick anybody, but he did. He asked questions without clarifying why he asked the questions. 

He used that information against their coach, just dumbing it down with they "weren't aware of the rules."

Rules may or may not have been broken. 

If they were broken, than punishment is in order. It looks like the work like hell Sundays could be all they have on them and if that's the case, look for minor violations.  

If it is clear that they continually broke the rules, major violations and a dismissal of coach is in order.  

You can't have a coach continually breaking rules. But the facts and the accusations still need to be weeded through. I'm not convinced by anonymous sources.

This is a story that won't end this week. It will linger on and on.

Western Michigan and Tim Hiller are in town on Saturday, that is where the focus should be directed.

If they lose that game, the snow ball will just get larger.

They need to turn the heat up, melt that snow ball, and just play football. That's what the players want to do. That's all they want to do.


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