Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Little Fella deigns to become the Wolverines' moral compass, still thinks it's 1978

In today's Freep, Mitch Albom takes a break from working on his latest diabetes inducing best-seller for the Oprah crowd, to weigh in on the Michigan/WVU/Rich Rodriguez soap opera.

(For what it's worth, the latest shot in the war of words between RichRod and WVU was fired by his assistant head coach, Calvin Magee, who accused his former employer of overt racism in their hiring process.)

The Little Fella, full of righteous indignation, asks a rhetorical question about coaching buyouts.

What bugs me is that Michigan never used to be involved in stuff like this. Since when did it start buying out coaches? First John Beilein with the basketball team. Now Rodriguez. To me, this is a form of legalized extortion. Some other school wants to hire your employee, you demand a payoff. It's ugly and has no place in a college environment. I wish Bill Martin, U-M's athletic director, had the nerve to say that.

You know, the Little Fella might be correct in saying it "Doesn't belong in a college environment," but that IS today's environment. There's no putting that cat back into the bag. But buyout = extortion? A tad little over the top, methinks.

It's just a fact of today's multi-million dollar coaching contracts. Schools would like to build in a little protection on their huge investment. It's not as if a coach has to agree, as I'm sure Rodriguez wasn't forced to to sign on the dotted line.

To be honest, the only reason Michigan had not become embroiled in the buying out coaches from other schools in the past is that they were damn lucky. The Pollyannaish Albom writes as if he still believes it's 1978, and coaches were making 100K, if they were lucky. This isn't your father's college football, it's big business.

40 years of Bo Schembechler and his lineage led to Michigan football to great heights. But in the process, it also became the most sheltered program in the country. When Lloyd Carr stepped down, U of M football was no longer the best of the best, but an blinders wearing inbred anachronism that had been flailing about in a new era, and was in desperate need of new blood.

The Little Fella thinks different...

But Michigan football used to be more special. It was never sullied with departure lies or shredding, because it promoted from within. It didn't deal with buyouts for the same reason.

Special? Why do fans and alumni of other schools despise the Wolverines? Because of that high level of inflated self-importance. That's "Michigan Man" arrogance at it's most grating.

How would the Little Fella have gone about replacing Carr? Oh yeah, hire an unqualified, unsuccessful, or inexperienced coach that was already on staff. You don't think Michigan would have hired from within again if they had someone who was qualified to run the program?

The Little Fella should realize the Bo tree ended with Lloyd Carr, for good reason. None of Carr's assistants have proven worthy as a head coach. Doesn't he remember Mike Debord's disastrous tenure at CMU? Brady Hoke has been nothing more than mediocre at Ball St. Then there's Cam Cameron, who's been shown the door at 2 head jobs, running both Indiana (18-37) and the Miami Dolphins (1-15) down to new depths.

Ron English and Scott Loeffler may break the trend down the line, but as of right now, they aren't ready. Especially for a job as prestigious as Michigan. So what was the university to do? What any other program would have done. Hire away a proven, successful coach from another school.

Then the Little Fella chimes in on recruiting...

And since when did Michigan football start hinging on high school recruits? I have heard more lately about Terrelle Pryor, the Pennsylvania prep quarterback, than I ever can recall hearing about a kid who doesn't yet have a high school diploma. Is this how we are going to judge Rodriguez? By who he reels in?

You know of any other way to judge Rodriguez right now, Mitch? Rodriguez needs to hit a home run with his first recruiting class, thanks to the radical changes to come in the Michigan offense. This ain't Dropback QB U anymore.

But to answer your first question, why Michigan football "hinges" upon a single recruit? Look in the mirror, Mitch. Your own paper says as much! What's the above the fold lede on the Freeps' Sunday sports page?


TERRELLE PRYOR VISITS U-M: Fans serenade him; Rich Rodriguez hands-on; 'It's cool,' QB says

If it's in print, it must be true, right? I'm sure your paper will be more than happy to pile on Rodriguez if he doesn't land Pryor.

The Little Fella then gives his haughty, holier than thou opinion on the BCS...

If so, Michigan has jumped in the same mucky waters as many other win-crazed schools, who are only concerned with BCS, not the BS it requires. Some feel that's what sports should be. They are entitled to their views.

Get off your fucking high horse! This isn't the Ivy League. This isn't college football circa 1950. It's MICHIGAN you're talking about.

I'm not denying the fact money has changed college football, in many ways for the worse. The Little Fella also forgets that for many years, when Don Canham was athletic director, Michigan led the way in monetizing and marketing a football program. They were praised to high heave for being such a forward thinking athletic department. They became THE model of a modern football factory.

Michigan has just as much to do with creating this monster called college football, and treating it as a big time, for profit, always in the black business, as the most win-crazed SEC school. Schools the Big 10, and Albom, tend to self-righteously look down on.

The Little Fella conveniently forgets the massive amounts of cash the football program brings into Michigan's coffers foots the bill for the sports that more closely fit his view of what college athletics should be. They are called non-revenue sports for a reason.

I think it's pretty safe to say that Michigan has always been a win-crazed school when it comes to football. You know that song, "The Victors," with lyrics like "The leaders and the best" and "Champions of the west?" It was written in 1898. After the Wolverines won a football game. The school's self worth, for better or worse, has always been defined by football. That will never, ever change at Michigan.

The Little Fells finishes by rehashing what he's already written in the previous paragraphs...

But Michigan football used to be more special. It was never sullied with departure lies or shredding, because it promoted from within. It didn't deal with buyouts for the same reason.

I guess if he says it twice, he believes we'll be more likely to agree. That, or he needed to fill column inches.

Yet in Rodriguez's new Michigan contract, just revealed, there is -- guess what? -- a $4-million buyout clause. And if U-M ever finds itself on the opposite side of that one, we quickly will see how folks around here behave eerily similar to the angry fans in West Virginia.

As for Michigan inserting a buyout clause? Well, duh... It's SOP for any coaching contract. Michigan would be negligent if they didn't add such a clause. I'll need to be convinced that it's going to be an issue anyway. Michigan has been considered a terminal job, a final destination position, for...Well, forever.

If Rodriguez is successful, the only step up would be to the NFL. The only reason the NFL would come calling is if Rodriguez is winning a TON of games. I think most Michigan fans can live with taking that chance.

I find Albom's railing on and on about the lack of integrity in college athletics farcical. It's coming the same person who's been busted for what would normally be a fireable offense for any other columnist, fabricating stories. Other than a columnist who's a best selling author, and a TV/radio celebrity. That columnist just has to write an apology.

The Little Fella criticizing anyone, or any institution, for a lack of integrity? Please. Pot, I'd like you to meet kettle...


  1. Nice.

    Mitch sure sounds like a sanctimonious little twat sometimes.

  2. This isn't abou UM 'stealing' a coach, its about a coach who reneges on his committments, trying to weasel out of the contractual stipulations that he signed on to, a coach who sends his asst to whine about being overlooked when that asst took the first plane to Ann Arbor. The big joke is on UM who added a $4mill buyout to the RichRod contract. You 'ganders must be idiots.

  3. "the little fella"? "the Opra crowd"? Yeah, let's start out with ad hominem attacks, that'll marginalize that twerp. The nerve of someone to insult the 'rines!!!

  4. Couple of things, anon. I'm guessing you're a WVU fan, as every WVU defender that has bothered to leave a comment has done so anonymously. Figures.

    Renege on commitments? Then can't you say the same thing about your current hoops coach, Bob Huggins? He bailed on Kansas State after 1 season to go to WVU. And he's already committed all of the sins WVU fans are accusing Richrod of doing. Shady recruiting, bailing on contracts, personal issues, never winning the big game. Huggins' entire coaching carrer at Cincinatti was shady as Hell. As for Rodriguez, just let it go...

    And I didn't rip Albom for "insulting" the Wolverines. I ripped Albom for what was a asinine column. In fact, if you red the blog regularly, you'd know I rip Albom on a regular basis here at TWFE.

    He's a shadow of the sportswriter he once was, and has become sanctimonious and holier than thou when it comes to all sports. When he bothers to write about them...

    He's coasting on his past reputation as an award winning sportswriter. That's why I took Albom to task.

    I'd do the same thing if he wrote a column as ill thought out about Michigan State. We're an equal opportunity hater at TWFE.