The entire pack — Michigan press, radio, fans, and blogosphere – have gotten way off track, and forget one very important fact: that the NCAA has pending charges against WVU and Rich Rod . They’re essentially the same as the charges which UM and Rich Rod admitted to. (Too-many-coaches, too-much-practice; though the vast majority of the charges are in the former category.)
But there’s one difference: the NCAA charges against WVU include a portion which alleges that RR was told by his Compliance Dept that he may be violating rules, but RR KEPT on doing it.
Here’s the portion of that charge (see the whole WVU charge at http://msnsportsnet.com/content/allegations8510.pdf ): “Prior to the 2005-06 academic year through the Fall Semester of the 2007-08 academic year, the Compliance Staff communicated concerns to the football staff regarding various individuals’ interactions with various [players] during practice and game day activities. However, individuals who were considered to be non-coaching sport-specific staff members continued to engage in impermissible activities ….subsequent to the discussions.”
Why is this added WVU charge a bombshell? For several reasons:
1) This charge asserts a knowing violation on the part of Rich Rod. Someone told him; he blew them off. Kept on doing it. Serious stuff. So serious that people say it could subject him to a NCAA “Show-Cause” order, which could, among other things, prevent Rich Rod from being hired elsewhere (without advance permission from the NCAA.) That kind of order would give UM authority to fire RR (though the Major Violations already admitted to by RR and UM probably already give UM that authority under RR’s UM contract.) Show-Cause is what Kelvin Sampson at IU got. It’s not pretty. It’s ugly.
2) And this “knowing violation” charge is squarely relevant to the NCAA charges against UM, and to RR’s always-raised-eyebrow claims in the UM case that he “didn’t know.” That is, depending on the precise nature of testimony by the WVU Compliance people, RR’s goofy schoolboy claim in the UM case that he “didn’t know” has a good liklihood of being completely undermined.
— A note here about the world of NCAA “litigation”, which is the kind of byzantine — and mediocre, if not irrational – system common when a “member” of a club is investigated by other “members” –particularly where all members have been hit by a tsunami of TV billions in the last 20 years: By NCAA procedural rule, the WVU facts could not be used in the UM case. In addition, the pragmatic continuing result in almost all NCAA cases is that the NCAA does whatever it possibly can to avoid sanctioning a coach or AD. They only whack a coach when they have “incontrovertible” evidence. Like the photo of recruits inside Bruce Pearl’s home; or Kelvin Sampson’s cell phone records. Which reminds me, nobody got RR’s UM cell phone records, to show how many times a day he talked with Labadie… but I digress….]
To oversimplify for illustration: the “ground beneath” the entire RR and UM defense to the NCAA was that RR “didn’t know”, and that RR was credible. Both those conclusions are – right now, in the WVU case — at risk of being shown to be false. And, in turn, there is risk that the NCAA may explicitly find that RR “knew” and that his claims of ignorance are “not credible.” And with that kind of explicit finding, the NCAA result in the UM case will be shown to have been a charade.
And unless David Brandon is a knucklehead and/or is getting horrible advice (one should presume neither), he has to have considered some of these factors — and he has to be scared to death of this kind of WVU outcome.
So your next question: when does Brandon expect this (potentially scary, or at least very negative) WVU decision will come down, and why does timing matter? Most estimates are that the NCAA will decide the WVU case next spring. So put yourself in Brandon’s shoes, let’s say on December 1st, 2010, when he is looking at scenarios with his lawyers:
DB: So next spring is when WVU gets their NCAA decision?
Lawyer 2: Yup. And David, they could get could get whacked, and so could RR. RR might even get a Show-Cause penalty. They could even find he’s not credible when he says he didn’t know about the “too-many-coaches” stuff — and you know that’s what he kept saying here in A2. It could be really ugly.
DB: So ugly that there’s no way I could keep RR on as Head Coach, right?
Lawyers [in unison]: You got it.
DB: So with that risk hanging over me, am I an idiot if I announce on Jan. 2 that Rich Rod stays as UM coach?
Lawyer 1: Glad you’re seeing it as we do, David. You back him 100% on Jan. 2, tell all the recruits to “sit tight” cause Rich Rod’s my guy — and then, maybe on April 1st, three months later, you have to fire him due to the WVU decision —- then you look like you botched things up almost as bad as that Real Estate Developer Martin.
Lawyer 2: Yes, David, very bad scene. We’re talking shambles here. Could jeopardize your political career. Not good.
Ergo: There’s no way Brandon’s keeping RR.
Final Points: the word is out and about that Calvin McGee has interviewed for the Florida job. McGee’s got connections in WVU, where he and RR coached. It might be an indicator that McGee knows where all this is going. Maybe not.
Summary: Brandon’s just waiting for Harbaugh or some other candidate to be freed up. But that’s poor tactics. If he’d read the entire record in the UM case, he’d have known — without having to wait for the WVU case – that RR’s claims he didn’t know were laughable. RR has big character issues, which should trouble Brandon more than they apparently do.