Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Michigan's Cheating Scandal Is Serious

The big news in college football the past couple of days has been the report that Coach Rich Rodriguez and the University of Michigan football program have been systematically cheating by mandating that players participate in football activities for hours well in excess of the daily and weekly limits set by NCAA rules. It has been surprising to me that much of the early spin from the talking heads at places like ESPN has largely been of the "If you're not cheating, you're not trying" variety. Commentators are basically accusing the former and current Michigan football players of whining about the hard work required to play Division I football, even at a lesser program like Michigan's. (Cheap shot. Sorry. Not.)

Here, very quickly, is why I think the current scandal at UM ought to be taken very seriously.

1. It's an integrity issue. As an NCAA institution, Michigan has agreed to abide by a certain set of rules. If they knowingly and consistently break those rules they are cheaters, and it is fair to call their integrity into question. If I were a UM official, employee, alumnus or student, I would probably not want my University's integrity ridiculed. This doesn't appear to be an isolated incident either, as Dick Rod's integrity has been questioned since the day he left West Virginia for Michigan (and tried to renege on his contract buyout clause at WVU).

2. Competitive balance. There's a group of football players at Western Michigan University who are getting ready to play the Wolverines this Saturday. The Broncos already have to contend with playing against a team full of superior athletes. Now they have to contend with playing a team full of superior athletes that is breaking the rules to gain an unfair competitive advantage. That sucks for WMU, and it isn't fair to any team on Michigan's schedule (including Notre Dame). Do you remember how OUTRAGEOUS steroid use was in baseball, because it created an unfair competitive advantage? How OUTRAGEOUS the New England Patriots' filming from the sidelines was because it created an unfair competitive advantage? Consistently getting more hours of supervised workouts or mandatory training or coaching sessions in each week is an unfair advantage every bit as serious as either of those situations.

3. These are STUDENT athletes. At least they are supposed to be. Michigan has already been identified as one of the football factories that steers its players (mostly its black players) into worthless academic majors, and then fails to graduate them. They are already under criticism for sacrificing the education of their student athletes on the altar of football, so you would think that UM administrators would be paying a little more attention to the academic progress of their student athletes. Even at a school like Michigan, only a handful of players will ever play football professionally. The vast majority of student athletes will need to find another way to make a living, and they SHOULD be able to fall back on a Michigan education. I have no doubt that Dick Rod and his assistant coaches go into the homes of their targeted high school recruits and sell the academic excellence of the University of Michigan. No doubt they promise these kids' moms & dads that their son will get a world class education at U of M. But if the football coaches are placing unreasonable and illegal demands on the students' time, it is clear that the coach and the University do not consider actual education to be a high priority. Which is a moral problem as well as an integrity problem.

If these allegations about Coach Rodriguez and U of M prove to be true, I hope Dick Rod is humiliated and unceremoniously fired. Cheating should not be tolerated. Cheating that deprives student athletes of the opportunity to actually get the world class education they have been promised should be punished.


Anonymous said...

Of course you know a few young ladies who attend a Sunday evening practice recently at their new school.

Anonymous said...

OC, I like your blog and respect your opinion.

But I cant go with you on this.

Not sure why everyone on RR here. What, Michigan is the only program that possibly violates NCAA regulations? Wow if anyone believes that. So Alabama, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma -- I guess they do everything they can to stay under the NCAA time limit per week? lol

Sort of reminds me of hardcore Chicago Bulls fans that say that Michael never ever would cheated on his wife. Um, yeah..

OC Domer said...

Anonymous #1: No rule against Sunday practices.

Anonymous #2: That's a lame response. "Everyone breaks the rules." No they don't. They might push the envelope to squeeze in as much work as possible. They might fudge things here and there. Dick Rod has allegedly SHREDDED the envelope and has these kids putting in mandatory time DOUBLE the amount permitted by NCAA rules.

lyle said...

When RichRod left West Virginia, it was noted in press reports that he and his Strength/Conditioning coach systematically shredded all S/R records of every single player on the team.

That sounds like a couple of guys who were cheating, were well aware of the fact, and were destroying evidence. I suppose their defenders could just explain that they're a couple of a-holes.

Anonymous said...

Agree with you, OC Domer. Just makes me wonder how many other schools are doing this except UM's players reported it. Why is it that Pete Carroll never gets called for anything? USC, no doubt, isn't playing by any NCAA rules.

Matt said...

100% agree UM needs punished if found guilty. Problem is we are talking about the NCAA and well even with evidence they are not prone to punish a major FBS school. All you have to look at is USC and Bush's house.

Also, I find it ironic that Rodriguez is currently getting sued for not paying his mortgage on a $4MM note!

Chris said...

Come on guys this is college football. Every player on every team who is worth a darn is putting in extra time. It may not be mandatory but man is that a skewed line. I played D-II college baseball and i put in alot of time on my own, the coaches did not "make" me but I would not have had a chance to play had i not. I look at that and compare it to D-I college football and i cannot even begin to imagine how many hours are being spent on "non-coached" workouts. You have to be pretty simple to believe UM is the only university that has this taking place. I love ND and I hate UM but this one is lame and so media driven that it makes me want to puke. Guys don't gain 27-35 pounds in one year without putting endless hours in at the gym. Not mandatory but I bet Charlie and rich Rod and Pete Carroll are telling their boys to get in the gym in some pretty creative ways to avoid this rule.

Anonymous said...

Michigan is in serious trouble for two reasons: 1.unhappy players are willing to take the risk to speak out. Huge risk for a player transfer or no. Team morale must really really suck and that bodes poorly, 2. Usually where there is smoke there is fire. I for one would not be suprised if new allegations surface. Coach R have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

RR should be fired not so much for making his players put in extra workout time in the offseason but for lying about it upon discovery.Anyone remember what happened to George O'Leary when he lied to ND about his credentials?

Anonymous said...

I have read the entire article from the Free Press. Although the writer is no fan of Dick Rod, he has interviewed a number of players and parents of players. He has even mentioned some of the freshmen by name.
There are reported calls from some of the coaching staff wondering where a player is and why he's not working out. The player replied that he was in class. If this dosen't speak volumes I don't know what will.
The uM(sucks) fans may complain all they want but the University has looked the other way often since and including the 'Fab 5'.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Some of you who posted comments just don't get it, do you? The problem is not that players are putting in extra time (they are ALLOWED to do that), but that dickrod and barwis REQUIRED them to do twice as much as the NCAA allows. There is no limit on voluntary hours. Oh, and for the pinhead who called this "lame and media driven," the media is trying to drive it, alright. Drive it into the ground. Many of the major media outlets have put up the same bullcrap excuse of, "well, everyone pushes the envelope." Double the legal required limit is kind of over the top, don't you think? Especially if they are pulling kids out of class to do so. Dickrod wouldn't start spewing tears and blaming his S&C coach for everything at a press conference if this were just "lame and media driven."

Anonymous said...

Kind of hope RR survives, as team and institutional dissention increases our chances of victory.

Sama said...

One hundred million percent agree with this post OC. Nice work. RRod is dirty and if I was a Skunkbear fan I'd be furious at what he's doing to that schools "good name".

If only the NCAA could/would do anything about it. They are so impotent and corrupt though that the only likely punishment is indirect - lost recruits, transfers, etc.

If all these things are true, then Michigan deserves to lose scholarships, TV rights, bowl games, etc.

Just like USC does for all it's cheating.

But I'll believe it when I see it. And in the meantime I'll be thankful that Charlie - for all his misgivings - at least runs a clean program that graduates it's players (early no less) and at least tries to help them be better men.

Chris said...

Is that what we have been reduced to? Calling everyone cheaters. I graduated from the Naval Academy. Would you call them cheaters? No, because ND beats them every year, well almost. Come on guys let it be settled on the field. This is college football, not politics. Leave it on the field. I love the beginning of the season, the fall, watching college gameday and then rooting on the Irish. I love seeing all the practice reports and how the team is coming together. These posts though suck all of the good right out of the game and start to sound like an episode of the gossip girl after awhile.