Could the "RichRod" practice regiment happen to you?

There are fresh allegations this weekend that Rich Rodriguez's/Mike Barwis' practice regiment at the University of Michigan greatly exceeds NCAA rules.  Before you even form an opinion based on either the coach or the school, think about what this would mean if it was alleged at YOUR team of choice.

The original article from the Detroit Free Press.

SB Nation's Michigan Blog's initial reaction.

ESPN's Joe Schad actually gets a former player on record.

ESPN Big 10 Blogger Adam Rittenberg says you're naive if you don't think it happens everywhere

Well, ok, call me naive, to some extent.

I suppose I wouldn't be surprised if, under the 4-hours-a-day rule, players are actually on the practice field or weight room  training for 4 hours a day.  But you're actually at the facility for longer because you have to get ready for practice, or cleaning up afterwards.  That could be an example of "stretching the rules" perhaps, while still being considered in compliance.  But some of the allegations at Michigan are horrendous.

But coach, you said it was voluntary...

Players said members of Rodriguez’s quality-control staff often watched seven-on-seven off-season scrimmages. The noncontact drills, in which an offense runs plays against a defense, are supposed to be voluntary and player-run. They are held at U-M’s football facilities. NCAA rules allow only training staff — not quality-control staffers — to attend as a safety precaution. Quality-control staffers provide administrative and other support for the coaches but are not allowed to interact directly with players during games, practices or workouts.
According to NCAA rules, coaches must do more than just declare weight-room workouts as "voluntary." If attendance is kept or an athletic department staffer relays information about the activity to the coaches, the activity is mandatory.

Assuming that most of you reading this are adults with jobs, you probably know about some "voluntary" activities at work.  Sure, you don't HAVE to be there at the off-site party, you don't HAVE to participate in the charity fund.  But isn't it funny how you may get passed over for that promotion and your co-worker who yuks it up with the boss over a drink gets it?  Sure, you can chalk this up to a similar situation, you go that extra mile, you reap the rewards.  But there are actual rules...guidelines for some and laws for others, depending on who you are and the NCAA's mood of the place to govern such things.

Workin' hard for the money...oh wait...I don't get paid?

Players spent at least nine hours on football activities on Sundays after games last fall. NCAA rules mandate a daily 4-hour limit. The Wolverines also exceeded the weekly limit of 20 hours, the athletes said.
One player, echoing the words of others, said the workouts in the past two off-seasons at Michigan "affected people’s grades. People were falling asleep in class."

One parent said: "It’s very difficult for kids that take the programs seriously. They’re exhausted. According to the coaches, what they’ve told our kids is, ‘This is permitted.’ "

I reject calling college players "kids", especially upperclassmen, who are in their 20's.  But they ARE college students, and as long as they are STUDENTS...I'm actually ok with them not getting paid beyond their scholarship.  But the reason the NCAA has these rules, is so these students still have time to do their classwork and have a life.  They are student-athletes, not athlete-students.  If you really are going to work these guys full-time, all year 'round, then they actually should get paid a salary beyond the schollie.

Hell, I'm not saying Oklahoma does the same things that Michigan is apparently doing.  I really hope they're not.  But if they did, it would explain why Bomar was getting paid for not doing any work.  Under these conditions, when would a player have TIME to work?

Who was that masked man, who just committed career suicide?

The players said they had not personally reported their concerns to the athletic department’s Compliance Services Office — and, in fact, had signed forms stating that rules had been followed.

"They were making us sign those — you’d get in trouble if you didn’t sign," one player on the 2008 team said. "We signed that and joked about that: ‘We work out way more than this.’ We can’t do anything. We were trying to play."
The players described the coaches’ expectations as an ongoing concern among many teammates. Parents of several players agreed.

The players and parents agreed to talk only if they were not identified because they said they feared repercussions from the coaching staff.

 It's sometimes hard to take anonymous sources seriously.  You're left to speculate on who they are, what the motivations are.  Do they have an axe to grind, do they even know what they're talking about, or slinging mud hoping it'll stick?  But I thought about this in a "whistleblowing" sense, and it must REALLY suck to be a college football player in such a situation.  Say that you know there are rules violations, maybe major violations are happening.  If you talk to someone on record, you're potentially killing your school and your career.  Beyond "betraying your team", the NCAA could bring sanctions against the team and school, harming it for years.  And you're stuck there.  You could transfer, but you'll lose a year of eligibility if transfering to another Div 1 school (if the NCAA allows a transfer in such a situation, please let me know).  And who would accept your transfer?  (Hopefully a school who actually follows the NCAA rules)

This ain't intramurals brother, it's a 4-year NFL training camp

I love this!
What is it about Rodriguez that has proved to be such a lightning rod for these kind of things?

He doesn’t like softies. Softies get their feelings hurt and go crying to somebody.

I am liking RR more and more every day. M may finally get over the father Lloyd syndrome.

--comment from "Pinchy The Lobster" at Maizenbrew
you have to realiza how whimpy the old conditioning program had eroded too. These players who complained can't handle hard work

--comment from "prof21" at
People need to read the first two paras here - they tell the same story -everywhere-. The difference? The formers are those that left mainly because they couldn't hack it. Why not take one more stab with the knife. The currents, they're likely the ones not even tabbed to dress and who have no real chance to see any playing time. Could also be those same players RR mentions are having issues academically. The timing on this sucks and it will be a topic in the lockerroom. Cut the chaff and move on and get this program back to relevance!

--comment from "UMich4ever" at

This is what seems to be most disturbing to me.  The comments of many Michigan backers is of the "these guys were weak anyway...throw 'em under the bus and move on...screw ''s happening everywhere else too" variety.  Beauford over at Maizenbrew had some similar comments, the "it happens everywhere, no big deal" kind.  But he's at least holding out until the pending investigation brings everything to light.

I gotta say, if this were Nebraska, I'd be surprised and pissed if Nebraska was doing this.  To my knowledge, Nebraska Football has never been cited by the NCAA for a major rules violation.  Neither has Michigan up to this point.  It's one of the things about Michigan I liked.  I mean, I'll ALWAYS be a Husker fan first.  But out of the Big 10, they were the team I happened to like/respect.  They tended to do things right, and they hate Ohio State and Penn State.  ;-)  When Nebraska played Michigan in the Alamo Bowl, I decided I'd go to my first bowl game (and 3rd Husker game).  That game led to me plunking down the cash for season tickets for the Huskers.  So now I'm left with Wisconsin I guess, with the Barry Alvarez connection.

But I digress.  It's not about the players being weak or not working hard.  4 hours a day, 20 a week, plus a load of classes, is hard work.  And if they can, truly voluntarily, work out more, more power to 'em.  But I sincerely hope this type of "voluntary" overtime isn't going on everywhere.  I wouldn't think that Dr. Tom would allow it at Nebraska.  What about YOUR school?

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