Tuesday, May 25, 2010

David Brandon: Media sledgehammer

David Brandon is not playing around. After getting around to looking at a bit of the University's response to the NCAA, there's this little bit of media annihilation:

Although media reports in late August 2009 brought much public attention to the issue of potential countable athletically related activities ("CARA") violations, the University was already aware o the absence of CARA forms for the football program... When the media reports painted a picture of serious student-athlete abuse, the University immediately investigated these claims, as its primary concern has always been the welfare of its student-athletes. The NCAA Enforcement Staff joined the investigation a few days later.

While the joint investigation revealed rules violations in the football program, including some of the CARA and Bylaw 11.7 violations mentioned in the articles, the University is satisfied that the initial media reports were greatly exaggerated if not flatly incorrect.

Dear Free Press, you're not playing with amateurs anymore and have been openly called out by the University of Michigan on your fabrications. David Brandon found a way to make the worst pizza chain on the planet into a profitable entity largely through marketing. Dude is going to Death Star any bad press that comes Michigan's way.

Self flogging

And the heavens opened and the NCAA looked down upon Michigan and said, "Michigan you have sinned." And Michigan looked back and shrugged.

So after all of the Free Press allegations and chatter and nonsense for the last year, Michigan finally had a chance to put all of it to bed when they sent 168 pages of a response to the NCAA concerning the rules violations. The takeaway: Michigan is going to take their beating for exactly what they did; nothing more, nothing less. The grand total of their self-imposed sanctions include:
  • Limiting quality control staff in meetings
  • Reducing mandatory practice hours by 130 hours over the next two years
  • Public reprimand (BOOM REPRIMANDED)
  • Firing Alex Herron who has been fired for months now
  • Probation, two years
And.... that's it. Michigan didn't cheat when it comes to recruiting so they're not limiting coaches in recruiting. They didn't play with any ineligible players so they're not losing any scholarships. A TV and postseason ban are obviously out of the question. The point is, Michigan looked at what they did wrong, looked at what the NCAA wanted, and imposed sanctions directly in response to their malfeasances; there will be no symbolic penalties here.

Whether or not the NCAA will respond with something more severe is yet to be seen, but as Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Big Ten blogger points out, the blame has been spread around here:

Michigan definitely spreads the blame around in its response. The compliance office takes a beating, as do Scott Draper, the school's assistant athletic director for football, and Brad Labadie, the school's director of football operations. I think it's significant that several of the people reprimanded don't have firm ties to Rodriguez and were at Michigan during the previous coaching regime.

Because of the way Michigan structured it's response, it's basically saying that this was a comedy of errors rather than anything malicious or intentional. This is the crux of Michigan's leniency on itself. They even go so far as to mention that no player's welfare or health was put into question etc. etc. Michigan is making its case and passive aggressively striking back at the NCAA. I think they're hitting the right notes and shouldn't incur any more or any more substantial penalties when the NCAA passes down its final judgment.

The thing that's most interesting is reading through Rodriguez's response to the NCAA (I didn't read through the University's because I presume it's basically what you'd expect). Rodriguez's statement basically tears apart the NCAA rules and makes a pretty solid case for him not being responsible for the stuff that went on here (he wasn't):

The bylaw does not impose strict liability upon a head coach for all violations that occur in his program. The rationale for the bylaw states: [A] violation of the proposed bylaw will occur only in major infractions cases, similar to institutional control allegations, or in very serious secondary cases. This proposal does not imply that every violation by a staff member or student-athlete involved in the head coach’s program will be considered a lack of control on the party of the head coach.

Who wants to talk about the quarterback competition?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Before Armageddon

So tomorrow is the day when we'll get one of the last pieces of the NCAA infractions puzzle: Michigan's response to the allegations including their self-imposed sanctions. Via AnnArbor.com:

Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said last week the university will make its response public on Tuesday. The response is expected to include a period of probation and loss of practice time, and Michigan already has made internal changes to its compliance practices and Rodriguez’s coaching staff.

That's basically what everyone is expecting and should anything more serious be dished out, either internally or handed down by the NCAA itself after reviewing the documents, expect my head to explode shortly after burning down every USC athletic facility.

But if history tells us anything, Michigan should get hit with the sybolic-est of symbolic penalties along with various other inconveniences. After the letters of inquiry came out, I started digging through just about every NCAA infraction case I could get my hands on. The most relevant case I found was one concerning Florida International that had a whole bunch of similarities to the Michigan case, including a coach/quality control assistant stupid enough to lie to the NCAA and subsequently get sent to a lookout post in Alaska. FIU's self-imposed sanctions are as such:

The good news? The sanctions aren't really all that damning. Florida International self-imposed several sanctions, none of which were all that painful (paraphrased):

1. Fired the coach that lied to the NCAA committee
2. Reduced the amount of coaches allowed for the next season by one. The one that was removed was the coach doing improper training who, in the Michigan case, were quality control folk. This might be a problem for the new linebacker coach we just hired, but no one else really.
3. Lost four fall camp practices
4. For every hour of impremissable practice, the team sacrificed two hours of mandatory practice/conditioning.
5. Reduction of one coach in off-campus recruiting visits
6. A few penalties against the AD that won't apply to the Michigan case because of Brandon coming in and tidying up
7. Loss of money, written reprimand, loss of bonuses, and having to attend meetings and other meaningless things imposed on the coach.
8. #7 only for S&C coaches and assistants.

So tomorrow, we're likely to read a similar list of penalties self-imposed on the program in far more scary, the-sky-is-falling language. Prepare for a wrist slap disguised as a crippling blow; these are "major violations", mind you. You will be informed of any changes or updates as they come down.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Brock Mealer video

For those of you who don't know who Brock Mealer is, here's a brief synopsis:

Elliot Mealer is an offensive guard on the Michigan football team who was recruited by Lloyd Carr. On Christmas Eve 2007--his senior year in high school--Elliot, his girlfriend, brother (Brock), and father were driving to church when they were blindsided by another car. Elliot's father and girlfriend were killed in the crash and his brother Brock was paralyzed. When the Carr-to-Rodriguez transition took place, RichRod was informed of the situation and told Elliot that, even if he never played a single game in the Maize and Blue--he had to go through intensive physical therapy as well--he was guaranteed a scholarship for four years and University support to help his now-paralyzed brother. Elliot is now on the team's depth chart and has seen playing time in a few different games. Brock, on the other hand, has gone through intensive physical therapy with the Michigan strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis. Brock intends to lead the team onto the field, walking no less, for the home opener in 2010 against UConn.

Here's a new video of him working out. Barwis is the booming voice you hear.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Greg Matthews: Bear

Remember this guy?

He did this:

Also, big ups to this "Where aMAIZEing happens" video series