Rich Rodriguez: Michigan's Shining Knight in Mud-Covered Armor

jordan krumreyAnalyst IMarch 9, 2010

We've all heard the fairy tales as children regarding the shining knight in armor that saved the damsel in distress.

The story was always the same. The knight is hired by a king who then ask the knight to save his daughter, the princess, and return her home.

Of course, the knight would never retrieve the princess without some difficulty. He always had to go on a treacherous journey through dangerous lands with enemies by the numbers out to get him to make sure he fails.

Who could also forget the mighty dragon that this heroic knight had to slay before saving his dear princess and living happily ever after?

Well, in reality these silly little fairy tells are no different than the high school drama taking place at the University of Michigan. Think about it...

Rich Rodriguez was hired as Michigan's shining knight by Bill Martin and Mary Sue Coleman (The King and Queen in this case).

They hired Sir Rodriguez to save their princess (The University of Michigan football program) and return her to her rightful place (national prominence).

However, just like with the old fairy tales of years past, this tale would also be full of evil beings (The Detroit media, ESPN, and workers within the University of Michigan Athletic and Compliance Departments) that set out to make Sir Rodriguez's journey all the more difficult by doing everything they can to divert his attention from building his strength (coaching up his players, recruiting, etc.) so he can save the princess.

These enemies essentially threw mud all over Sir Rodriguez's armor, covering him from head to toe preventing the people from seeing his true shining self. They (the general public) even began to think that he (Sir Rodriguez) was not a shining knight but was, in fact, a dark knight (no, not Batman kind of dark knight but an evil knight).

However, the old King (AD Bill Martin) died (well was forced out/"retired"/fired) so a new King (David Brandon) came forth and gave Sir Rodriguez a new found strength.

When Rodriguez began his face off with the mighty dragon (the NCAA allegations), the new king gave full support to the shining knight, giving hope that he can beat the dragon and still be around afterward to get the princess back to her rightful place as he was hired to do.

The new king even went out of his way to say that the dragon's creation was not at the hands of the shining knight's actions.

No, the dragon's creation ultimately lie in the hands of the kingdom's Department of Homeland Security (University of Michigan's Compliance Department and Athletic Department). They dropped the ball and let the dragon come to be.

But alas, even though Sir Rodriguez knew he was not at fault, he still took the public fall in a brave effort to save the public perception of the Department of Homeland Security and the Michigan Kingdom as a whole. This was even more detrimental to the Knight's public relations that were already low enough as is.

Now, this is where the story gets interesting. Don't you love fairy tales?

As it stands now, this is as far as the story has progressed with the rest still yet to be played out.

But in case you don't see where this story was going, I will spell it out for you.

Rich Rodriguez has little to no part in any of these NCAA allegations.

Yeah, that is right, folks, he is almost squeaky clean in this whole mess, and I will explain why since the large portion of fans out there still don't seem to get the situation in any way or fail to even do any research on it.

Everyone knows why Rich was hired by Michigan by now. Carr was getting old, as was his system of predictable, boring offense.

So to spice things up and get Michigan into the 21st century, Rodriguez was hired to bring in his explosive zone-read option attack from West Virginia.

However, there were many at UM withing the Athletic Department that did not want Rodriguez to get the job, more specifically those who wanted Les Miles.

In case many of you readers haven't heard, there are actually factions within the Michigan Athletic Department. It sounds like a load of bull, but I assure you it is not.

There are those who actually took it upon themselves to put what's best for Michigan behind their own bias agendas in hopes of making sure Rodriguez fails (hence the leaking of info to the Free Press).

There are supposedly two factions that are outspoken against Rodriguez with one being the old regime (pro-Carr) and the other being the pro-Les Miles group.

Again, this all sound ridiculous, but it really isn't as absurd as it really is happening.

As for these NCAA allegations, it was all started after the FREEP reported that Rodriguez/Michigan had "far " exceeded the mandatory time limit on practice time.

However, it was later discovered by the NCAA that apparently "far " exceeding meant going an average of 15 minutes over a day for stretching.

Wow, that's is just brutal, isn't it? Bunch of cheaters. UM is going a whole 15 minutes over to work on stretching.

If you couldn't wrap your mind around that previous sentence, those 15 minutes were in fact devoted towards stretching because it turns out the Compliance Department failed to inform Rodriguez, or they themselves had no clue, that stretching counts towards practice time.

The next bit that followed the practice time allegations was about the CARA forms, which are used by the University of Michigan to track practice times.

Let it be known that the CARA forms are used as a part of Michigan's compliance plan with the NCAA. All schools have different plans set up with compliance to the NCAA.

West Virginia University DID NOT use CARA forms in their compliance plan like Michigan does.

Therefore, upon arriving at Michigan, Rodriguez had no clue what a CARA form was. He would have had he been informed about them; however, he was not (hmmm, smell agenda?).

The man responsible for informing coaches of compliance rules at the time was Assistant Athletic Director Matt Stolberg (read the second sentence of his profile).

Don't you find it funny that in January, after Michigan concluded its own internal investigation, Mr. Stolberg left to take a similar gig at Penn St?

(coincidence? I think not, can you say "fired"?)

His position has since been filled by Elizabeth Heinrich, who was previously employed by the University of Texas as their compliance coordinator.

Cleaning house is not finished at UM, and David Brandon won't rest until all responsible are gone (Notice Rodriguez is safe? Well, unless he doesn't produce on the field that is).

Now on to the next bit of allegations regarding Quality Control Staff being at offseason practices and engaging in coaching duties, which is against NCAA bylaws.

Understand this: The Quality Control staff (I will refer to them as QC) is not under the control of Rodriguez or his coaching staff.

When he (Rodriguez) arrived at UM, he inherited the QC staff. The QC runs through the Athletic Department, NOT Rodriguez.

The duties of the QC were also inherited from the Athletic Department and were NOT put in place by Rodriguez.

(Read: These things were done pre-Rodriguez by the Carr regime...gasp!)

Everything regarding the QC staff was in place before Rich even got to UM, so don't fool yourselves into thinking that these allegations were his doing. When he arrived here, Rodriguez was led to believe that these rules were all legal, as he had no reason not to trust the Michigan Compliance and Athletic Departments and their ways of "doing things."

As for the grad assistant/QC staff member that lied, well, there is no denying that is bad, but again not something Rich can control.

Also, with regards to Rodriguez "punishing" players for missing summer classes, who cares? Is this really something to punish a program for?

Yeah, what a bad man Rodriguez is for "punishing" his athletes for missing classes.

For this to be an NCAA violation just further proves what a mess the NCAA is. Don't they promote the idea that colleges athletes are students first? Well....? Looks like Rodriguez is trying to promote the STUDENT-athlete theme to me. Again, bad man, right?

If anything, Rodriguez and the University of Michigan should be extremely proud of this allegation cause it truly is one to hang your hat on.

These are the main allegations that were made, and it is pretty clear that Rodriguez is clean in all aspects.

(Only fault on Sir Rodriguez is he needs to improve upon his interpretations of NCAA rules so this doesn't happen again).

Furthermore, if you even read the allegations made, they are extremely broad and open to interpretation in some areas, especially with regards to the QC staff (Lots of grey area there, especially with the NCAA's heavy use of the word "sometimes" in the letter of notice to Rodriguez).

Hate him or love him, Rodriguez is the University of Michigan's head coach or its knight in shining armor if you will.

Now if only the public could really see him for what he truly is (a shining knight) and the media would leave him be, we could finally, hopefully, see the true strength of Rodriguez and let him build his army so he can save our beloved damsel (aka the football program).

That is if he doesn't just say, "Screw you, I'm going to save another princess elsewhere," beforehand.

If he does, who could really blame him?

Point being, people, is there are a lot of people trying to ensure Rodriguez fails, and we, the fans of Michigan, should not help aid those against Rodriguez.

Stop, think, and make your own judgment. Stop listening and hanging on every word the media says.

Let this man focus solely on his job and give him the chance to succeed.

He is without a doubt the man Michigan needs. He is Michigan's shining knight, and if, and only if, all the public and media get out of his way will he be able to fully capitalize on his new strengths and take the program to new heights not seen since the days of Bo.

This man cares about winning, he cares about his players, and he is a strict follower of rules (if you are a close follower of Michigan recruiting, you will pick up on that).

Let's give him the fair chance he deserves. Is that seriously too much to ask?


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