A Michigan football parent speaks out against alleged rules violations
I spoke with Craig Roh's dad, Fred, last week, before allegations that Michigan had violated NCAA rules concerning practice time were made public. He said then that one reason Craig picked Michigan is because of the relationship he built with no-nonsense strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis, someone he felt would help him be great.
Earlier this week, Fred Roh reached back out to AnnArbor.com to say he hasn't seen any sign of players being forced to work out beyond what the NCAA allows, a theme central to the allegations against Michigan.
Here's his e-mail in its entirety:
"I am the dad of a first year Freshman football player at Michigan and had the pleasure of experiencing first-hand the recruiting process, the first summer with the UM program and his first Fall camp. I feel obligated to share with readers concrete evidence of the integrity and compliance of the Rich Rod program and staff. I do not wish to speak for others but rather describe one family’s actual experience with the Michigan program. My son had thirty-five scholarship offers and chose UM because it is one of the few schools in the country that has great football AND academics. With a 4.2 GPA, he could have gone to UCLA, Cal, Stanford, USC all great academic schools. He chose Michigan because he thought it had the best of both and because of the coaching staff.
He also selected UM because of the intensity and straight talk of the coaching staff. The first person he met was Mike Barwis. After spending an hour with Barwis, my son turned to me and said, 'He will get every ounce of potential out of me and make me the best I can be. That's what I want.' When he met Rich Rod, he was further impressed with his openness and vision. My son came here BECAUSE of the work ethic that was to be required of him. He WANTS to be pushed to the limits, not coddled and pampered. (Believe it or not there are still young people in our country who want this!)
He was recruited by one of the assistant coaches. I am here to say that the recruiter complied with every letter of the rules throughout the entire recruitment process, even the ones that seem senseless (and there are a bunch). He would not even give me a ride to lunch or pick up a $5 lunch tab because it was against the rules. He informed us of the recruiting rules over and over again. As I watched 35 schools recruit my son, I would put Michigan right there at the top of the integrity scale when it came to recruiting (as I would many other schools).
Let's talk about my son’s first summer. Again, his recruiter made it abundantly clear what we had to pay for and what the school was allowed to pay for, what our responsibilities were and what the school's were. I was tired of hearing about all the rules. It was like dealing with the IRS. There was NO push to report to school early, in fact we were told that if my son wanted to report to summer school early, it was on our dime and totally voluntary. His summer was very balanced. He VOLUNTARILY asked to watch tape as much as he could. Nobody pushed him to do it or even suggested it. He wanted to spend more time on football than what was available to him.
Lastly, I know for a fact that my son missed workouts in the summer and even missed parts of at least three practices at Fall camp so that he could attend class. He was excused with absolutely no repercussions by the coaching staff.
I am assuming that players who choose to come to UM under Rich Rod are coming here BECAUSE it’s hard. They want to become the best. They want to be pushed. They want great academics and great football environment. I have heard critics say they want to protect the “rights” of the players so that they can have a balanced life at Michigan. My son did not come to Michigan to have a balanced life. He came to excel and achieve in all areas of college life. He has been at Michigan now since June and it has exceeded his expectations. He has told me numerous times, 'Dad, I don’t want to offend you, but I’m not homesick at all.' Some critics think they are doing these kids a favor by easing up the workload and, in reality, they are undermining the very reason the kids chose UM! A concerned football parent.