Why Brandon Will Fire Rich Rod – For Sure

Here’s why.  Two reasons.  First, is the WVU “knowing” violation charge against RR.  He’s gonna get whacked by the NCAA again.  Another finding(s) of major violation against RR. [See our post on this a couple days ago.] And it could be ugly.  Because Brandon knows by now that RR is slippery, and can’t be trusted. And Brandon is, one can reasonably assume, very worried about what might come out in WVU, in terms of documents or final NCAA findings. Very worried.

But Second, anyone can go do a Freedom of Information Action of UM, to request from U of M any public documents. All four of the categories of documents listed below have the potential for making the UM NCAA’s decision look foolish (which it was, it’s a comedy it’s so lacking in integrity), and/or making it alot clearer that Rich Rod’s been lying all along. Here they are:

1.  Cell phone records for RR, Labadie, Draper and Martin.  UM pays for their cell phones, so they’re public.  Just the list of daily calls lets you figure how much these people communicated – and when. [Why didn’t the NCAA ask for these? — Because they didn’t want to know.]

2.  RR’s Text messages. He used a Blackberry at WVU, and they say he used one here.  He probably has one with a private account, but if he does “public” [UM football] business of any kind on it, it may be subject to FOIA.  This would be very interesting.  If you read the entire record as it exists right now, you come away with the weird -and patently false –  impression that Labadie and RR never once had any contact of any kind — you’d have thought they worked in different countries — when, in fact, they worked daily alongside each other in Schembechler Hall.  (Labadie, Draper and RR were the “Three Amigos.”)

3.  All emails received and sent by Rich Rod’s Secretary/Admin Asst. These would tell you more about what really happened to all those emails RR claims he “doesn’t remember” seeing. [Remember, he claims he doesn’t — amazing as it seems — have a “umich.edu” email address, and that everything goes to his Secy.  See our posting in October about the wacko job description for RR’s Secy, as if she’s working for the Secret Service.]

4.  All records associated with the UM Athletic Dept. Car “Loaner” program, back to Jan. ’07, when RR started.  What the Jamie Morris firing told us is that a Quality Control staffer was driving around in an Athletic Dept “Loaner”, just as if he were a “Coach.”  [Remember, the guts of RR’s laughable defense was that the QC guys weren’t “Coaches”.]  What the backscatter from the April 14 QC guy’s auto accident in a UM “Loaner” suggests is that there is a very strong probability that all the QC guys got, as a part of their deal, “Loaner” Cars —  just as if they were “Coaches.” [This is not to point fingers at Morris — he only ran the program, the way that he was told, by RR and Draper and others.]

The point?:  Brandon knows that the NCAA let UM skate, by the “hair on it’s chinny-chin-chin”, because the NCAA appears to employ Pollyanas, and because the NCAA’s process is a joke.  But it’s been shown in the past that when the NCAA gets “unequivocal” evidence (like, for example, like Kelvin Sampson’s text and cell phone records at IU, or the photo of Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl with recruits at his home) their hand is forced, and they HAVE to impose severe sanctions.  More to the point, any one of the above category of public documents, along with  anything unearthed or decided at WVU,  have the potential for unequivocally showing that RR, or Labadie, or Martin, for example, lied to the NCAA.  And if it’s shown that one of those characters lied to the NCAA, pack it in.

Brandon doesn’t want to have to revisit anything having to do with those NCAA charges.  UM’s lawyers and Coleman ushered Martin out of that Athletic Dept back door in December 2009 (long before his announced Sept. ’10 “retirement” date)  as fast as they possibly could, because they realized that Martin had tried for almost a year to cover-up — rather than report, as was his obvious ethical duty under the NCAA Bylaws – the Violations which UM and RR eventually admitted.  And Coleman and Brandon hoped they could similarly minimize RR’s role, and put it all to bed with the NCAA.  And, to give them credit, they did — only because they had good experienced lawyers who told them that the NCAA is a bunch of buffoons who will believe any cockamamie story you tell them.

But what screwed up that plan was the WVU (largely identical) charges. So now Brandon is going to send RR out the same door Martin exited through, so that if anything comes up (from new UM documents which someone might request by FOIA, or from the WVU findings), he can say “Hey, we got rid of that bad apple, he’s gone; leave us alone. ”

The only question is who UM brings in as new coach.  And Brandon won’t screw that up, like Martin did.  Brandon, because he’s smart, already has a briefing memo on his desk, which is the result of hundreds of hours of work by underlings and consultants, summarizing every bit of relevant information about every available coaching candidate, and all of their respective plusses and minusses, so that when RR gets dumped on Jan. 2, Brandon can get it done fast, as required.  What most people don’t “get” is that 95% of the “work” associated with finding a new coach has nothing to do with the interview. So even a very ethical guy like Brandon is going to do the 95% of that work before he ever has any direct contact with any candidate.  Every coach-hire is a flat-out sprint, as everyone — except, I guess, Bill Martin, who made a horrendus coach-hiring decision — knows.

So Brandon’s generally on the right track. Here’s my problem with him though. He’s all rounded corners, spin, PR, what the public “perceives.”  He’s not Bo.  And what he’s ignoring is the damage that RR has done to Michigan. His staff knows, his players know, and the Athletic Dept. knows that RR has told a bunch of big, whopping, outlandish lies  to coverup his intentional breaking of obvious and well-known rules.  Brandon needs to make clear to all those characters — as Bo would have, and as Bo did, for example, when he up and fired Frieder in ’89 in a heartbeat — that Michigan is not just about athletic excellence, but also about moral fiber.  That’s it: moral fiber.

I am going to take the point further though, and it is to take the side here of one of my all-time favorite- and tragic — figures in Michigan history: Gary Moeller.  A superb man, with strength, diligence, intelligence and — yes — moral fiber. Moeller had some troubles, and they got the best of him (in a way that the general public, absent more information, can’t understand), and the scene which played out in Southfield that night, in public, was not good.  But it had nothing to do with the way he did his job.  There was no one who said he cheated, or lied, or lived in the gray zone.  Or slouched at work. Or wasn’t loyal to all that had been built up before him by his predecessors at UM.  A list of predecessors who created this extraordinary thing which is Michigan football: Yost, Crisler, Oosterbaan, Elliott, Schembechler, Moeller, Carr — all men who built and acted consistent with the two traits which have made Michigan football unique and a paradigm: excellence coupled with moral fiber. Character. I put Moeller on that list intentionally, also because when Moeller left, he never said a word. He just left. He’s never complained, and has always taken the high road. An outstanding, principled and dignified man.

RR is small compared to Gary Moeller.  Can’t hold a candle to him. The public NCAA record should immediately subject RR to ridicule, and I will hazard a guess that, if the public read that entire record, they would see it for the charade that RR has made of it all. And Brandon should have the fiber to recognize it, act on it, and make a point to the entire Michigan football operation, and Michigan family, that Michigan doesn’t operate that way.

About brewonsouthu

lawyer, with interest in college sports and NCAA oversight and decisions, and sports generally.
This entry was posted in Bill Martin, David Brandon, Jamie Morris, Michigan Football, NCAA Investigation, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Why Brandon Will Fire Rich Rod – For Sure

  1. SHub'68 says:

    Very well thought out post. Well written, too.

    However, I’m going to counter your arguments…not the actual crux of them, that violations deeper than what we were hit with occurred, or that we may have gotten away with what the Free Press and the NCAA originally accused us of…but the ones that Rich Rodriguez was behind it all. Alarmingly, after reading through everything I could get my hands on last year and into this year, I think the problem was a Michigan problem and it existed both before and after Rich Rodriguez arrived.

    Two of the “Three Amigos” were at the University and already serving in their positions when Rich Rodriguez joined the program. To blame everything on Rodriguez requires us to believe that the program was running along smoothly and completely above board, then this guy comes along, starts breaking rules left and right and nobody said anything. If they knew better, Draper and Labadie were bound to have questioned this. Draper’s job is to take care of all the administrative duties for Rodriguez. Rich’s job is to oversee Draper. Draper had the same job under Lloyd Carr, so Rich would be justified in assuming both he and Labadie were doing their jobs properly (but is culpable in that he didn’t know they weren’t — but so was Lloyd Carr!!).

    Compliance repeatedly asked Labadie for CARA forms beginning with Lloyd Carr’s last season, and didn’t get them – for something like a year – and then got them a day or two after the Free Press story hit (I have a mental picture of Draper and Rodriguez, a stack of blank CARA forms, and a very late night filling them out. Not sure how you sign players’ names to them, but…).

    So what I’m saying is that the whole CARA forms fiasco is circumstantial evidence that UM had institutional issues with practice times and record-keeping, before and after Rodriguez. I believe it is likely Draper and Labadie were carrying on with business as usual, not all of a sudden forgetting how to do their jobs and ignoring all the rules once Rich got there. (Compliance is a big part of my job, believe me, if I got a new boss who came in ignoring all the rules, I’d know exactly what to do, and it would have shown up in the e-mails that were released). What I read in all those documents were people who had no clue how to do that part of their jobs – and a Compliance group that was exercising almost no oversight. Something like that has zero to do with Rich Rodriguez and everything to do with the organization that Martin had in place. THAT, I believe is why he ‘retired’ early.

    Likewise, my guess is that Jamie Morris was also doing business as usual with the loaner cars. They fired him for lying, true, but my guess is that he didn’t get stupid all of a sudden, either. He just got unlucky and one of the QC coaches got into a wreck.

    I had a big fear about what was going to come out of the NCAA investigation and it was based on a lot more than Rich Rodriguez coming in as this slimy bad guy soiling a perennially clean UM program. I have a bad feeling that if we ever get access to ALL the e-mails and if we could hear ALL the cell phone calls and know what was really happening at Michigan, it goes back a few years and it’s worse than a little practice time and a couple QC guys and Graduate Assistants watching people work out.

    Final Note: it is likely that Rich is telling the truth about not having an e-mail account. After the ENRON scandal, many CEOs of Fortune 500 companies shut down their own e-mail accounts and only had e-mail through their Administrative Assistants. This was done because e-mail records are discoverable in legal proceedings; it’s not just so they could do illegal stuff! It is because e-mail is regularly used in place of conversation and can be very, very easily taken out of context by wily lawyers. People tend to use e-mail to brainstorm and often say things they wouldn’t actually do, or make really stupid comments like ‘screw the dumb stockholders’ and stuff like that. Things that when seen in the paper or in the courtroom can look very damning and be very easily misconstrued to indicate intentional, institutional wrong-doing. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was a general rule and Martin had Rich set up this way when he got to UM. Something to check is if Lloyd had an e-mail address or not.

    Sorry it’s so long. Again, nice article. I think you’re right, but I think your sights might not be on the right target.

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