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More On The Michigan Story With UCLA Angles

I want to flag couple of more points from the Michigan story that are pretty relevant to the discussions we have had on BN for years. Let's do a quick reset with lots of links on how the story unfolded via Maize n Brew Dave:

You've read the article. Chances are, you've read most of the responses, too (Freep Reactions, Practical Matters, Mike Forcier and Mike Schofield, Toney Clemons and countable hours, and Stop bringing up Andrew Maxwell). On the off chance that if you've missed anything, here it is in summary. Mike Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press has alleged, on the basis of several anonymous sources and players, that the University of Michigan under Rich Rodriguez intentionally violated NCAA practice rules, vastly exceeding the allowable mandatory practice time for student athletes. As you can imagine when allegations of this magnitude are leveled against a program with a fanbase the size of Michigan's, reaction was strong (see above). Perhaps the best summation of reactions by the Michigan faithful has been penned by Shawn Windsor of the Free Press, which I highly encourage you to read because of its objectivity. But Here at Maize n Brew, we're not happy. As much as we'd like to, we're not going to descend into name calling or insults. But we are going to make a short statement on this before we move on.

At best, Rosenberg's article is a superficial, one-sided take on how much time players are putting in during off and in season workouts. And even at it's best, the article is openly hostile toward Rodriguez and the Michigan Football team. At its worst, it's as if someone took out a hit on the program and the Free Press answered the call. It contains quotes and nameless allegations that cannot be verified independently. It says it interviewd 10 players, but only sites six of those players that apparently agreed with Rosenberg's thesis. It implies, without support, that Rodriguez and Barwis have been violating NCAA rules since they were at West Virginia. It does not contain a single quote from a current player supporting the program, even though two competing papers had them within 24 hours of the article's publication

This was a piece not designed to inform or persuade. It was a piece designed to take someone out.

First, the issue that immediately sticks out to me was how an opinion columnist (not a reporter) was the source of this story. More from Dave:

There is the potential that we could be shooting the messenger here. I won't deny that. But when the messenger sets your house on fire then pees on your foot, it's hard to take what he says at face value.

Unfortunately what this comes down to is that this story is not a referendum on Rodriguez, it's a referendum on opinion columnists such as Rosenberg. Put bluntly, people do not trust columnists anymore. We're tired of the personal agendas. We're tired of every columnists seeming desire to be the next Woodward or Bernstein. We're tired of the vendettas. But we keep getting more of the same. And that's why we don't trust them anymore.

Had this piece been even keeled, named names, contained even a single quote contrary to Rosenberg's thesis, and examined what the NCAA actually means be "voluntary", perhaps our reaction would not have been so resoundingly negative toward the paper. If you have critical information on potential violations, don't bury it under layers of resentment and innuendo. Give us honesty. Give us analysis. Give us both sides of the argument and think enough of us to allow us to come to the proper conclusion. Pieces like this are why we do not trust sports columnists when they do their investigations.

Soooooo. Does this Rosenberg dude remind you of someone? I don't think it's far fetched to expect similar gasbags like T.J. Simers to come out with same kind of hit job on UCLA and Rick Neuheisel in the coming years. More after the jump.

Given the body of work we have seen from clowns like Simers and various other opinionators from Southern California's traditional media figures, who have always fallen over each other to serve as Pom Pom's lap dogs, it's not unreasonable to think UCLA's Neuheisel and Ben Howland should always be on full alert.

Especially if there is a miracle and the NCAA/Pac-10 actually decide to do something about the pattern of (alleged) transgressions at U$C*, you can bet that Trojans will be working overtime to plant all kinds of hit jobs on CRN and Ben Howland through columnists such as Simers who don't have any shred of intellectual honesty. So again, let the Michigan story serve as yet another warning to UCLA athletics & Neuheisel/Howland. Beware of the local columnists gasbags like Simers, who will always be looking to make a name for themselves by launching unfair and baseless attacks on UCLA coaches.

So that was my first point. Here is the second one. I thought this little detail about the Michigan story was kind of funny (emphasis added):

The school launched an investigation Sunday after the Detroit Free Press published a report in which players from the 2008 and 2009 teams said the amount of time they spend on football during the season and in the offseason greatly exceeded NCAA limits. The players spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions from coaches.

Big Ten compliance officials arrived on campus Sunday to assist with the investigation, according to two sources at the school.

So does anyone remember Pac-10 officials camping out on U$C's campus within 48 hours of blockbuster stories broke about U$C* superstars (and NFL busts) such as Reggie Bush and Dwayne Jarrett (allegedly) receiving thousands of dollars worth of  illegal benefits?