Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Michigan Football: GBMW take on the Allegations

Posted at 8:00am -- 5/26/2010

Michigan Football: GBMW take on the Allegations

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT! GBMW’S TAKE ON THE UM FOOTBALL’S SELF-IMPOSED SANCTIONS AND THE UNDERLYING FINDINGS.

All of us here at GBMW wish none of the sordid or semi-sordid, instances of the last two years had occurred, and that the football program could focus 100% on UCONN. This is not a dream, not even a nightmare, but reality. And so the realization that reality bites but wounds can be repaired has firmly hit home (as in Ann Arbor). This article lays out some of the reality that became apparent by yesterday’s long-awaited announcement on program sanctions. The article will comment on each of the five cited violations separately and offer some thoughts that may or may not border on opinion, concluding with the NCAA as an entity. The word opinion will not be used often within the borders of this article since even though a response has been put forward, there will never be any guarantee of the accuracy of either the NCAA’s charges or the response by Michigan. Consensus equals a greater chance of fact, it would seem. If something can be debated, then that very same entity can be termed “of opinion.” Certainly there will be conjecture, scorn, sadness, and joy in certain parts of the Earth concerning Michigan’s sanctions.

There will be predictable positions brought forth that UM is still cleaner than other institutions, that UM was just the victim of spies and henchmen working with the press in Watergate fashion, that UM is the biggest cheater on the face of the planet. Perceptions will vary across a spectrum and likely the final conclusion for most onlookers will match up with the original one postulated at the onset of this entire dreg.

But none of the above really matters, the NCAA and Michigan will first attempt to have a finding of fact, and if accuracy by Michigan, or lack of evidence (or inaccuracy) by the NCAA, can be demonstrated, then UM may not have many more whacks added to the future spanking. Michigan has responded and the hearing in August will have importance. But the most important event of all will be the final disposition taken by the NCAA towards Michigan. Soon people will start asking how long will the NCAA take to pound the gavel? There is no certainty regarding time or punishment.

Reading the above introduction, one may just form a perception (a real stretch actually) that GBMW is saying Michigan’s response is (1) inaccurate; (2) a collective falsehood or (3) inept. Stand firm all, GBMW strongly believes that the university has no better vehicle to deal with the current situation than Athletics Director David Brandon. The phrase “a great hire” is true but insufficient to describe the eventual value Mr. Brandon will bring to the University of Michigan. Brandon stands a good chance of being the most important hire in the program in over a decade. He is a leader, he gets things done, forget about attacking his credibility and integrity, that is currently a non-go. Brandon is straightforward and will not let agenda questions steer him off course. Take every facet of identified success and Brandon comes out a winner, he is in the get it category.

In his remarks Brandon clearly acknowledged wrongdoing and stated the mistakes that were made by many throughout what was referred to as the chain of command. Can a large institution such as UM make such obvious mistakes? A large institution with a layered bureaucracy can and does go haywire on items taken for granted or situations said to be “unclear.” In short, even managers must be managed. The words organization, chain-of-command, responsibility, protocol, and regulation are always present in discussions of such entities, but sometimes the job does not get done, whether by accident or agenda.

David Brandon is trying to provide some cover for an embattled program by accepting blame, blame he clearly could with cause decline. In the end there will be plenty of blame to go around. The mission of the AD is to (1) fix the problem, so the program can go on, and (2) put mechanisms in place to insure that there is no future repeat. Or as Brandon stated- Michigan needs to make sure it never finds itself in this situation again (not a direct quote).

Next, the discussion goes on to the five violations of record, in no particular order. The crime and the punishment (as suggested by UM) for each will be noted, as will the take of GBMW.

Failure to adequately monitor is a serious violation, one that by itself is cause for probation. The rulebook is thick and the task is large, regarding being on the same exact wavelength as the NCAA, sort of like the IRS. But that is exactly why major universities, and smaller ones as well, spend big money on setting up large compliance departments. Here, Coach Rodriguez did not get a free ride, as Michigan provided Coach Rod in other violation responses. But, David Brandon is sticking firmly with Coach Rod in strongly asserting that he (Coach Rod) did not and never has promoted an atmosphere of non-compliance.

The likely effect: good, very good, Brandon is correct that a fail-safe system must be put into place that has checks so strong that a flea would have trouble finding a crack.

Practice time violations have been perceived as laughable antimatter to clandestine cheating. This is less serious, obviously, than the monitoring, and the stretching and vagueness rhetoric will continue onward. But the university has again admitted guilt and assigned a two for one formula (future time of practice paid back) common as a remedy. The problem here remains monitoring and reporting along a chain of command, a now recurring theme (not good, not good at all). Sloppy (or some believe purposely sloppy) is a good descriptor for not turning in forms, even upon request by compliance. The university’s protocol may have been normal and sound, but the delivery certainly was heavily flawed. An institution like the NCAA that is at the top of the procedural food chain in a voluntary membership organization will not look with favor upon a famous institution that now appears to be procedure-challenged. So, unfortunately less serious is now erased and serious is put into place.

The likely effect: Losing 10 minutes or so time per practice over a period of two years is inconsequential. The scorn of the NCAA linking this problem to monitoring may have big consequences. Coaches will have to be super-creative and organized to make up the time. Film room time may just see a new high.

Quality control staff is violation three. It has been demonstrated and admitted that official personnel were where they should not have been and doing things they should not have bee doing. Once again, the head coach is given some absolution by the administration and quality control people will now pay the price.

The likely effect: Jobs have been lost that could have led to bright futures. Reducing the quality control group and isolating them from the coaching staff is SOP for such violations. The associated timeframe of two years will make most people happy. Coaches will now have to pick up some of the lesser duties and responsibilities. The long-term effect on the team should not be substantial.

The dreaded repeat violator label is up in the air. This could by definition happen, but as AD Brandon said the instances (basketball and football) are far removed concerning timeline and substance. It would be logical to assume that UM would have had to throw Coach Rod under the bus if the NCAA had given a message the group was serious about tagging UM as a repeat violator. But this is the NCAA, enough said.

Finally, UM self-imposed individual discipline on a number of employees in the form of formal written reprimands. This is not a big deal for the program, but such action is very important, and potentially harmful for the job status of the affected individuals. Essentially, they are on notice, their own personal probation if you will.

This should have little actual effect on the actual function of the program; such an action is personnel related. In reading between the lines Mr. Brandon seems to have made it clear to the entire entourage that the gig is up, assume the precise directives and execute them or see the door.

So, what will happen next after the inquisition response to the NCAA? What is next is the final verdict. This is but one take on what may come about concerning the verdict; there will be many.

The NCAA could stand pat and let UM go with the self-administered penalties announced yesterday. This is unlikely since the NCAA is under fire as a bumbling, bureaucratic machine with little intestinal fortitude and a lack of resolve. Michigan turned itself in to the NCAA, Michigan turned itself in because there was no other choice. Yes, UM is an institute of great integrity, but Michigan had no choice.

Indiana faced a similar situation not long ago in basketball. A program once hailed as the cleanest in the nation took the high road and pointed to past record and integrity and got slaughtered by the NCAA, while close-by institutions, far more suspect, play intentional hide-and-seek, taking a lower road. Take it as a fact that Indiana is still furious over the NCAA treatment it received. It will likely take one or two more years for IU to recover.

The NCAA is in a position of total strength with the admissions of UM. It would not be farfetched to believe that the NCAA will count coup to puff up some enforcement perception around the nation. Some might ask, is there not another big institution that should be getting more attention than Michigan? One will be dealt with, Michigan, what happens to the other is speculation. Michigan will worry about Michigan and nothing extraneous will be taken into consideration.

The NCAA can have its way with Michigan and get the final word. There will almost certainly be a final word that goes past what Michigan’s sanctions were placed at. UM knows this, and the real art is for the university to place sanctions just below the expected NCAA level and humbly allow the NCAA to add a few more whacks. By all accounts, UM received excellent guidance for this decision.

Possibilities for further action include, losing scholarships, loss of recruiting privileges, a third year of probation, loss of a coach, vacating wins (unlikely from this viewpoint), or a demand that certain people seek new employment.

Sadly, an era has passed on, college football’s all-time winningest football program, and a program of high repute, has the first major blemish in its storied history.

Written by GBMW Staff

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!


9 comments:

Ben said...

I noticed you took down your prized picture of Draper.

Probably a good idea.

Rob213 said...

Everyone "cheats" and we finally got caught. I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner.

GBMW Blog said...

Ben,

It was taken down one week after the coaches clinic for your information.

Also it was to point out that guys like Labadie, Draper, Coach Rod get along.

They might not be buddy-buddy, but they sat by each other both nights of the coaches clinic when several "supposeable insiders" claimed that those guys hated each other and also was against Coach Rod.

Maybe I am a little more bull-headed then others, but if I couldn't stand a person or if I knew somebody was out to get me professionally there is no way in hell I would allow that person to sit by me for several hours each night and eat, drink and act buddy-buddy when they didn't have too.

GBMW Blog said...

Rob,

Well now the high and mighty Michigan fans cannot use the excuse that everybody else does it except for Michigan any longer.

To many times we have seen "supposeable insiders" claim that all these other schools are cheating except for Michigan ... well we are the ones that got caught while others haven't yet.

Eric said...

While I do believe that Michigan did a tremendous job of handling this entire matter, clearly they could have done a better job with the transition of staffs in general. I think that will be the end result of all of this, a realization that just like most organizations, Michigan too, has a hard time dealing with change.

If the NCAA comes down any harder on UM than UM has sanctioned itself, it will create a worse culture in college football than already exists due to the fact that other programs will surely learn it does them no good to open their doors, no good to cooperate, no good to self report or investigate.

Anyone with half a brain understands what this matter is all about. It isn't about Michigan creating an unfair advantage - it is about disgruntled people who had an axe to grind and they took a few swings and did some damage. I hope the NCAA is smart enough to understand the bigger picture. I hope they know what goes on across the country.

If they do to our football program what they did to our hoops program it will be a damn shame. I hope they have the sense to do what is right this time. They owe us one.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for finally telling it like it is. So many sites seem to discount that its no big deal...when in fact they were major violations! I guess the Freep was right after all.

Michael said...

Anonymous, I certainly don't think of major when I think of these violations. So, that is a stretch. No doubt, there were definite violations. Please explain to me how these are major? Major relative to what?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for providing some insightful analysis. One thing I would add:

"The mission of the AD is to (1) fix the problem, so the program can go on, and (2) put mechanisms in place to insure that there is no future repeat."

Also, it's essential to protect UM's reputation, which unfortunately relies on perception as much as the facts. In that respect, I think Brandon has done a good but not great job; the reports sometimes substitute excuses (I didn't know, it was many people's faults) for responsibility (I'm the coach and it's my responsibility to know and to see that others do their jobs). By taking the high road -- the highest road -- we also contribute something to college sports: A higher standard. Others may see UM's actions as the standard for integrity, and adjust their behavior from there. We are at our best when we are the "Leaders and Best". Go Blue!

Wade said...

The word major is an odd word to use by the NCAA. "I just had a major loss of $5 in the stock market" seems it should be more used like "I just had major news that I have Cancer"
Also the word "cheating" just may not be applicble if things happened in the way Brandon explained.
Also I can see the NCAA tacking on a little something, but I just can't see them messing with recruiting as these violations had 0 to do with that.
I think Brandon did a great job and now it's his job and not any coaches to deal with.
RR and the team will be thinking football and UConn, I know that's what I will be thinking about..

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