Sunday, August 30, 2009

GBMW: Regarding what Michigan should do about Media access:

GBMW: Regarding what Michigan should do about Media access:

Program observers complained, when Lloyd was head coach, about not getting access to program internals and questioned the reason for the "fort mentality" that started with Bo, and continued with Mo and Lloyd. Also, people negatively perceived how Lloyd treated some of the media. Some of us loved it, because in most cases media members were asking monumentally dumb questions (like the sideline reporter and now classic half-time interviews) and receiving an affirmation of their less than stellar cognitive ability from Coach Carr.

Now, all of a sudden, when Coach Rod came in and gave the media a little more access (more than in the past, but not as much as other schools), people were jumping up and down because they would get "glimpses" of the program that they were never privy to.

Funny how when something bad happens, people want to jump right back to a position that they did not previously endorse.

Why blame the entire media for this? If a university suddenly adopts a “closed door policy,” this sends a perception that something wrong did indeed occur. Closed door could be partial defined as no admittance, no talking to players, no observation of practice, and no communication with the coaches.

If anything, UM might want to consider the complete opposite and invite ESPN, Big Ten Network, CBSC and any other sport network groups in and let them do College Football Live, Big Ten Tonight, College Gameday type of shows from inside the Michigan practice facility. Necessary discussion would follow from Coach Rod, Bill Martin and the people who are in charge at Michigan to confirm that rules are and have been followed.

This is not a time to circle the wagons, as they say. The media would simply look at this as a sign that the program is trying to hide something. This is the time to address and deal with the stated “accusations.” It is a bad time to be sure and the timing of this outbreak must be called into question.

Some have reacted by suggesting as a remedy cutting off the Detroit Free Press’ access. Well, other media people would take that as a sign of the university playing "bully" and wonder if the university is indeed trying to hide something.

Although I am certainly not in a position to determine a course of action, let us return to an original concept, that of the individual reporter versus the collective mass of media. So perhaps a single reporter should be banned from the university. It is not far fetched to say an anti-Coach Rod, somewhat frenzied and compulsive, agenda drives some reporters. Coach Rod has stated the program follows the NCAA guidelines. This is where things stand.

This is a time to let Coach Rod, the athletic department and everybody at Michigan gather information and present documentation to the public. The final impression must be there is nothing to hide.

Keep in mind we have stated several times, ever since Coach Rod took over, this program is different and more demanding, compared to the past, for Michigan players to go through. This does not mean we are attacking Coach Rod, but we know that the players have worked very hard in the off-season. Also, we have reported from both spring Michigan clinics (2008-2009) we attended that both Coach Rod and Coach Barwis stated that the off-season workouts were voluntary. Coach Rod’s comment was something like this: "Off-season workouts are voluntary just like your playing time." Coach Barwis’ comment was something similar to: "Off-season workouts are voluntary, but so is breathing, and I do not see you stopping breathing".

There are a lot of programs around the country in college and high school that will be closely observing what happens with this “voluntary participation” issue. Why so much attention? Frankly almost every program has “voluntary” programs that are voluntary only by moniker. If you want to play football at any level - college or high school, voluntary is really mandatory. This sounds a little Yogi Berra like but this is the reality. Excellence has a price and it never entails sitting on the backside for an entire three months. The emphasis of athletics is a topic that has been bantered back and forth for decades. For better or worse, purist philosophy about college football at major universities is at low tide. For better or worse, the arena of 1950’s and 1960’s college football yields few if any similarities with twenty-first century norms . Change has wedged the two eras (purist versus competitive) apart to the point where the past will likely never return.

Do all of you remember the result of Coach Carr’s last voluntary summer program? Key players did little during the summer, showed up out of shape and ill-prepared, and got kicked by Appy State and Oregon. Someone could get plenty of frequent flyer miles trying to locate a major college program where all the players do not voluntarily show up and work out extensively the entire summer.

Even in high school football, coaches tell players, in an indirect way, to show up with their teammates to work-out, run routes, condition themselves, so that when practice really does start the players can hit the ground running, instead of starting from scratch. The coaches are not there, but the seniors are. Nowadays practice time seems to continue to be cut down and less and less time is allotted before the first game, compared to the past. One reason for the tighter restrictions mandated by governing bodies is that officials are clearly aware of the off-season workout programs being used at virtually all schools.

The agenda, integrity, and methods of the reporters and paper connected to this mess will comprise a separate discussion, one that certainly will follow. As you can imagine, there are obviously hundreds of sports reporters from local papers spending their entire summer monitoring practice time, interrogating players, attempting, by any means, to discredit college football programs.

In adding to the discussion on practice time and compliance, here are five points of interest for the team and the coaching staff from CoachBt:

1) This is indeed the last thing in the entire world Coach Rod and the staff need or want at this time. Yes, it probably provides some short term motivation, but you would 100% prefer your players to be focused on the season and not deal with this type of crap! Luckily, Coach Rod and the staff are not rookies and will know how to deal with this nonsense.

2) Michigan needs to get in front of this issue and not behind. Another way of saying this is be proactive and not reactive. And in our opinion the response needs to come from the administration or athletic dept. Coach Rod and staff have bigger, more important things to do at this time than deal with this distraction/accusation. But the issue cannot go unanswered and left to fester. The last thing Coach Rod and staff now need is more negative recruiting material. The program needs some very strong support from the bosses.

3) To the accusations, do Michigan/Coach Rod and staff push the line on NCAA regulations? Probably, but I will say we would be disappointed if they did not push the line in this matter. It is what is necessary to compete with the other elite programs. I know a player from LSU's National Championship season, and I have worked out with him. I have multiple friends on Ohio State's roster, and know players on Alabama and Iowa. I can go on and on, but you get the point. All these programs equally push the line. It is how the game is played today.

4) In our opinion this episode is going to come down to how one "defines" voluntary. In our opinion there is nothing wrong with explaining to kids what will happen if they do not participate in off- season workouts. As long as coaches do not coerce by threatening to take away their scholarship, they are in bounds.

5) Nobody wants the NCCA snooping around, period. Just the taint of an investigation can be a killer. Sometimes the limbo period is worse than what is actually found. I am hoping, but not expecting, for the NCAA to get this done and over with.

Thanks for stopping by Go Blue Michigan Wolverine
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Written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine


Anonymous said...

Regarding #4: It depends on how the NCAA defines voluntary, not on how you or I do.

It's a tired, absurd tactic to blame the messenger for the bad news. It's damaging to our society: Every investigative news report has a negative affect on someone, and they promptly blame the reporter (and their publication). Shall we do away with investigative journalism? Or only with the ones that report stories that you don't like?

ErocWolverine said...

Anonymous: So why not wait until the NCAA does?

Why not take the information and send it to the NCAA instead of putting it in your paper to create the "shock journalism" that seems to be part of the Detroit media.

No offense but obviously you did not read #4 very well.

If the NCAA sees fault in what Michigan is doing in the off-season than they will have problems with every team in college football no matter what division.

Along with every high school program because even they have voluntary work-outs that are basically mandatory if you want to play.

There are high school programs that have winter conditioning, spring ball and summer workouts and the last time I checked the high school football season is in the fall and practices aren't officially allowed to start until late July or early August depending on when the season starts.

Anonymous said...

Genuine Investigative Journalism usually tries to get SOMEONE on record. Short of that check with other players who will confirm or deny the accusations.

The timing of this article -- and its one-sided nature -- stinks. I'm sure, at the very least, they had enough time to get the view of others on the team.

This is ambush journalism at its worst.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. I agree that this is how ALL the top tier teams do things. Michigan is not doing anything that any of the BCS contenders don't do.

Crybabies don't win championships. Those who stay -- and do the work -- do.

Anonymous said...

The whole "dont blame the messenger" comment Bullshit.

If the messenger is flat out wrong, uses unscrupulous methods, has an agenda etc. you dont blame them?

That line of thinking is the definition of idiocy.


Anonymous said...

@ErocWolverine: "Why not take the information and send it to the NCAA instead of putting it in your paper to create the "shock journalism" that seems to be part of the Detroit media."

The Free Press is a newspaper and not part of the NCAA. Their job is to expose information to the public, which can do with it what it wants. It would be unethical of them, as journalists, to hide the information from the public; they would rightly be accused of showing favoritism toward UM. Also, others besides the NCAA -- including many UM alums and supporters -- are interested in the issue.

@Anonymous: "Genuine Investigative Journalism usually tries to get SOMEONE on record. Short of that check with other players who will confirm or deny the accusations."

The Free Press article has three people on record (Brandin Hawthorne, Je'Ron Stokes, and Terrance Taylor) and ten players overall were interviewed. RTFA.


Regarding the player's welfare, as long as the players are given time to study, I think it's a matter of degree and I'm not sure how much is too much.

I agree that other programs probably do it too, but UM's standard has never been, 'its ok if everyone else does it'. We mean to be the Leaders and Best, and have a unique opportunity to give back to the student-athletes and institutions around the country by setting the highest standard. If Michigan can't play by the rules and still compete, who can? If every AD and coach in the country sees Michigan breaking the rules, they will assume very few follow them. We're the leaders and have a responsibility to set an example. I'm not sure how that principle should be applied in this case, but that's a problem for Rodriguez to resolve.

Part of the Rodriguez' solution and part of his job overall-- as much as or more than winning games -- must be to maintain UM's excellent reputation. Managing a public reputation requires not just doing the right thing, but making sure that the public perception is also positive. That's the way it is for any public position, from politician to CEO to football coach; it comes with the job. NCAA sanctions would be a serious blow to UM's reputation -- a failure as bad as another 3-9 season for Rodriguez. To preserve the 100+ year old reputation and institution, UM would be forced to show that its standards are still the highest and to fire those responsible, which I think would include Martin.

ErocWolverine said...


Did you ever think that maybe putting in time was voluntary?

The coaches can tell the players what they expect of them and if they do not put the time and effort in themselves.

Even though the players do not think it was?

Breathing is voluntary and I do not see you stopping that or only doing it half-ass.

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