Here’s how to understand the CARA issue. (You need an explanation in common sense terms, because UM and RR – and David Brandon at the press briefings – have played fast and loose with the facts.) All contend that the practice time overages were tiny, if not miniscule. You need to understand: this is a preposterous assertion, with little foundation in reality. They have no good facts. Here’s why.
The UM Filing asserts things like “The 2008 regular season violations occurred because the football program did not include the time spent lifting weights on Sunday as CARA time.” This assertion is made with a straight face, despite the fact which becomes apparent if one reads the whole record: no CARA (practice time) forms were filed for at least six months after the season ended. they were supposed to have been kept daily. The CARA forms UM is referring to here were garbage forms: unreliable, incomplete, and of highly suspicious provenance.
In effect, the CARA-form process is a “Metering” one: it’s alot like the electricity meter on the outside of a business. And someone turned off the meter. Early on. That meter, as defined by UM and Big Ten reg, is required to be: a) running every practice day; b) checked and recorded every day. The daily recordings are also required to be: a) countersigned by each player; b) signed by the Head Coach each week, with a serious affirmation to which he agrees, that the information is accurate and in compliance. This whole metering operation was turned off for 18 months.
So whatever CARA forms UM or anyone else refers to are inherently unreliable. There is a strong liklihood that some or all of the data was made up after the fact. Could they get some estimates from players and coaches, 6 months or even 18 months later, as to amounts of practice time? Sure. But the data they get is bound to be unreliable, as derived not only from poor memory, but also very strong motivation on the part of those “estimators”– in the midst of a highly publicized investigation which runs the risk of serious sanctions – to shade the truth, or make up data.
Stop and think what would happen if your electric company asked you how much power you used on one particular day six months ago: you would have little or no idea. And if you felt that some crimincal or other sanction was potentially available for a finding that you or others in your operation tinkered with the meter, might it color the answers?
It is as if the Electric Company (here, the NCAA) finally came around and said, “Hey, we have some questions about the amount of electricity used, every day — where’s the meter data, and who turned it off?”
And the response by Labadie (RR’s agent): “I did.”
So the Electric Co. then turns to RR: “well, so you never signed off on any CARA forms?”
To which RR responds, “Nope, guess I didn’t.”
So then the Company turns to Martin: “So you knew about no meter in January 2009, and nothing happened to get those CARAs, or at least the freshest possible information about practice time, in time for the May ’09 Audit?
And so on, down the line. So the Investigator turns to Labadie, and say, “Hey, you worked directly under RR, every day, in the same building – you’re saying you never told him, and you both say you never discussed that the meter was turned off?”
“That’s right,” they both respond.
So the Investigator is exasperated, turns to them all (including Joe Parker, Judy Van Horn, Scott Draper): “So what in the world was going on here?”
“Inattention,” says Martin, “just…..inattention.” Then RR, “Yeah. Inattention, I guess.” “Yeah,” says Labadie, “Inattention.” And then Draper, and Parker and Van Horn, “It was inattention, that’s what it was.”
[Recall RR’s great “I’m the Boy in the Compliance Bubble” excuse in his brief, which nobody in the entire Athletic operation — his assistants, athletic administrators, whoever – can read without laughing: “From January 2008 to August 2009, no one at Michigan alerted Rodriguez or
complained that Labadie had failed to submit CARA forms.”]
Twenty months, it was, Labadie, Draper and RR, working side-by-side.
But the dissembling by UM, Brandon and RR gets worse, because they all picked up the trick of using “Straw Man” arguments. And they’ve come up with a couple of doozies:
“Most importantly, the university found no evidence of student athlete abuse, nor did it find any evidence that its employees disregarded student-athlete welfare.” [UM Filing]
RR Filing: “The thing is, all the years we’ve been together and all my years as head coach, the thing we take the most pride in is looking after the best interest of our student athletes … There are issues and mistakes were made, but there were no student athlete welfare issues. At least I can take some relief in that.”
Ohhhhh, we are GREATLY relieved; the rumors about torture chambers located directly below the Stadium fifty yard line, and the electric shocks for slow sprinters, have been rampant, and we’ve been concerned. Let’s see, is this meant to suggest that any NCAA Violation is really, just between us Real Men, pretty irrelevant as long as there’s no player abuse or torture? [By the way, now that you bring it up, what about that reference in the original Free Press Aug. 30 story — which UM and RR seem unconcerned about — to the fact that athletes quoted there were “fearful of retaliation”?]
Here’s the second Straw Man, from Brandon on May 25: “When you start talking about not counting stretching and warm-up as part of your allowable hours, it’s a violation. But I think it’s a significant leap of logic to conclude that somehow creates a competitive advantage.”
Player abuse. Competitive advantage. Neither is mentioned as an element of the Violations confessed to by UM – in a brief which – as we have demonstrated elsewhere is one huge “tap-dance” of a laydown. Abuse and advantage aren’t relevant.
But we all know what Brandon is suggesting: Real Men haven’t violated a rule unless there’s abuse or some kind of competitive advantage shown. It’s just all those fussy Compliance people from the NCAA — again. [Note: ask Joe Pa, or Kirk Ferentz whether they come anywhere close to agreeing with Brandon’s assertion of “no competitive advantage.”]
But Brandon’s sophistry doesn’t stop there. He’s studied Richard Nixon’s “Some-people-would-say-my-opponent-is-a liar-but-I-never-engage-in-that-kind-of-behavior” technique:
Brandon May 25: “I can tell you now, several months later, after completing our internal investigation, that I am even more convinced that the things that occurred, the violations, we own them, we’re not going to deny them. We’re not going to play the game of ‘Gee, someone else is doing it, so it makes it okay for us.’ We’re not going to play the game of ‘We don’t like the rules, so we shouldn’t have to follow it.’ We’re not going there. We have been found to violate certain rules with the NCAA and we’re standing up and taking responsibility for it.”
Ok, let’s see if I get it: “we’re not going to play the game of”, but we’re going to brazenly use very valuable time in this press conference, with all these reporters here in front of me, “to play the game of.”
Clever. But it’s spinning, and not upfront. Bo would be ashamed, all this smoke-and-mirror stuff. Just tell the truth.