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Posted on Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 5:55 a.m.

A West Virginia investigation is more of a problem for Rich Rodriguez than for Michigan

By Michael Rothstein

For those keeping count at home, Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez now has the NCAA investigating almost as many schools (two) as he has Big Ten wins (three).

As if his overall win-loss record at Michigan - 8-16 in two years and 3-13 in the Big Ten - wasn’t enough. As if one NCAA investigation into his coaching and practice practices wasn’t enough, now there’s this.

The NCAA, according to Tuesday’s ESPN report, is looking into West Virginia.

Thumbnail image for Rich-Rodriguez-041310.jpg

Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez. (File photo)

The focus of the investigation, the report said, is on Rodriguez, a former Mountaineers coach. WVU spokespeople wouldn’t divulge much, other than to say the university is cooperating with the NCAA.

It is worth noting this has more to do with Rodriguez than it does with Michigan. Any penalties against Michigan shouldn’t change based on what the NCAA finds in West Virginia. All it proves from that standpoint is if Rodriguez is accused of committing violations in Morgantown, Rodriguez is the one who needs to be concerned.

At best, this is the NCAA doing its diligence and piling more bad public relations on a string of incidents since Rodriguez arrived in Ann Arbor two-and-a-half years ago. It seems as if almost every month has had some sort of negativity for Rodriguez and Michigan.

One of those snafus was the allegations of massive document shredding by the Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette as Rodriguez left Morgantown - something that could come back to bite him as the NCAA digs into yet another program. Rodriguez, through his agent, denied in January 2008 shredding player personnel files and strength-and-conditioning files.

At least he’s doing one smart thing now - something Rodriguez likely would have been better to follow the last time around.

He’s staying silent, which is a departure from the last time NCAA allegations were levied against Rodriguez. That resulted in an emotional August press conference where Rodriguez defended himself and strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis.

Back then, it looked like an emotional plea from a man who felt he was wronged. Which brings us back to Tuesday. There was no emotional plea, only silence.

Michigan spokesman Dave Ablauf wouldn’t let a question about the newest revelations get fully asked before cutting it off, citing Michigan’s media policy about the current NCAA investigation.

When pressed a little further and asked if Rodriguez’ silence was meant as a “no comment,” Rodriguez did nothing. He said nothing.

Right now, that's probably the best approach. There isn’t much more Rodriguez - or Michigan - can say or do. Defending any sort of point publicly will do nothing positive for the Wolverines, at least until after the August meeting in front of the Committee on Infractions in Seattle.

Then comes the Michigan football season - one where Rodriguez must win to have any chance of keeping his job.

To that end, Rodriguez is doing all he can to stem the losing. Rodriguez knows his football. And he’s used that to try and keep himself from being distracted by the never-ending off-field drama he brought on himself.

“It’s just been that, just focusing what we’ve come here to do,” Rodriguez said. “I think our players and staff have done a good job staying focused on the things that we need to do to take this program where we want to take it.

“If I ask that of our staff and ask that of our players, I certainly have to do that myself.”

Yet you have to get the feeling that with each thing that goes wrong, the water mark for Rodriguez keeps getting higher and higher to the point that it may be a foregone conclusion what happens to the man during or after this season.

While winning would certainly help, it feels more and more that it’ll be everything else that could do Rodriguez in at Michigan.

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Mon, Apr 19, 2010 : 6:20 a.m.

BTW- Had food on my mind. That's supposed to be Custer.


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 9:20 p.m.

There once was a leader named George Armstrong Custard who had followers much like your "Faithful". They blindly followed him into battle, much like RR is leading you. He is best remembered for a battle at Little Bighorn. He was successful at his previous commands, but alas, Little Bighorn was such a great failure. He took nearly all of his Faithful to their doom. George was raised in Michigan, so this shouldn't sound too vague to most of you. George played his trump card at the wrong time and place, and was over confident of his skills, thinking that what worked in his previous command would work anywhere. Sound familiar?


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 5:31 p.m.

The king is dirty PERIOD.

Terry Star21

Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 4:04 p.m.

@Theo, Tater,Mitch, BowlforBlue, 81wolverine, mgobluegold and BabyBo here - I love you guys (man), bring a tear to my eye, you people are great writers, from the heart...MFF, man! I say we move on, let the trolls, naysayers, unfaithful talk here amongst themselves, must be a great stress release - hope they find a team for themselves sometime. Looking forward to the barbeque (I'll see a couple of you I'm sure), and watch the alums tear up the field, and then the team (more carpet to repair) Tate tells me he wants to play, that was expected - but we'll see. GO BLUE!


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 3:03 p.m.

If your drunk and disoriented you still can't get in.


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 12:19 p.m.

@ BowlForBlue Well I certainly hope you've enjoying Michigan Football for the last two years. I'm not sure the university itself is real happy with it with they way they've constantly had to cover for RR. Just a few of the notables: He left WVU without honoring his contract and UM ended up paying $4M. He brags about his team's GPA and the university issues a public statement correcting his claim. He claims that those leaving the team are just whiners, and is OK with them leaving, and the university has to go through an NCAA investigation based on what those leaving said. He states he broke no rules of the NCAA and the university admits mistakes were made and will correct them and his original statement. I'm sure there is more, but you guys up there need to realize that supporting a team and supporting a coach are sometimes two different things. The team will always try to do what's best for all on the team. The individual player that accels helps the team as long as he stays within the confines of the team strategy. You can support your team, win or lose, without shame. A coach, on the other hand, is responsible for how his team performs. If the team does well, and there's nothing underhanded in the way they achieve the wellness, the coach has every right to expect praise along with the team. If, on the other hand, the team does poorly, or they achieve good things due to illegal or immoral practices by the coach, you can still support your team but can question the faith put into your coach. Another way of putting this is: What if your team does well this year, but the NCAA causes a lot of grief for your team in the future due to the coach? If he is fired, will you still say he deserved all the praise you are giving him. If he is not fired, but can't compete due to the penalties of his actions, will he still be the right man? And what if nothing happens but you don't do well? Is RR still the right man? The only way he should be considered the coach you hope he is should be if he is exonerated of all the NCAA charges and you perform better than the two previous years. When he first took over at UM, everyone should have been supporting him, with a cautious eye on what had just transpired at WVU. So far, I don't think it's headed in that direction. By all means, support your team until you're blue and maize in the face. But I'd surely keep that cautious eye open if I were you. Sometimes too much praise is just as bad as not enough and both can spoil the child.


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 10:45 a.m.

@ Terry Star21.... nice, people just don't get it, some never will... they want to support Michigan Football, but there is always going to be some small thing that keeps them enjoying their team. Every year, every decade - some little burr will annoy them, and make them want to bash a UM FB coach, player, ect., and all it will do is keep them from enjoying Michigan Football...shame, real shame...

Terry Star21

Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 10:21 a.m.

Chelsea Bob... where have I been last few years, I have been a Michigan Football Faithful... don't believe unproven lies from disgruntle ex-schools, ex-players, etc., believe innocent until proven innocent, support my coach, team... yes the Michigan Football Faithful... try it sometime...


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 7:17 a.m.

Mitch, The grade point bs was a Richrod lie that was later proven false by the University. Fact is UM football was dead last in scholar athletes last year. Look it up. Don't come on here acting like Tater and spue a bunch of falsehood and present it as fact.


Fri, Apr 16, 2010 : 5:29 a.m.

Terrystar- Where have you been the last two years? Rodriguez violated his contract with WVU, got sued, lost and dumped the results on Michigan. He went into business with a booster who was banned from his football program, and now has 2 or 3 (I've lost track)lawsuits from those activities. His players were disgusted enough by his behavior to turn him into to the NCAA and spark an investigation. He has routinely blamed losses on his players. These are all facts. I don't know what they will find at WVU, but I've seen enough. Haven't you?


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 8:29 p.m.

I agree with the poster here stating what wvu accused Mr. Rodriguez of, what he actually did to protect his players personnel files and how the law applies to coaches (executives) files, there is also a big debate over the term 'wvu files', which hopefully Mr. Rodriguez's attorney will straighten out. The benefit of the doubt for accusers here must remain in effect, until all the facts come out. I really don't see what the big arguement here is about RR's win's losses, Carr's wins losses, etc., isn't it about a wvu investigation?


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 3:07 p.m.

Mitch, Lloyd lost to the eventual champion App State. Not the worst loss ever. App State would have likely finished 3rd of 4th in the Big Ten that year. He also beat a Tim Tebow led Florida team that same season. I can live with losing to App State and going 8-4 versus losing to all but one BIG TEN school last season and Toledo, a second tier MC school the year before. If you want to start comparing records of Lloyd Carr versus RR, you will make yourself look quite foolish.

Terry Star21

Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 2:34 p.m.

Another brief synopsis of a long story; "wvu - files were removed from Rich Rodriguez office containing personal & confidential information." "Law - It's common practice for departing executives to shred/or remove documents that they believe were confidential and/or documents...considered secret..." "Press - Shredding allegations moot, until someone from wvu puts a signature on them". "Fact - wvu can not just move on and get on with their life, without trying to get even with Rodriguez for dumping them for a better school". Oh yes, RichRod will be cleared... most cetainly, without a doubt.... GO BLUE!!!!!

Terry Star21

Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 2:25 p.m.

Wow... the jury of commenters here have reached a decision and... without a thorough investigations or defense, a character decision has been reached... "Reading the January Michigan's and wvu press again really brings to light the fact Mr. Rodriguez acted in a responsible and professional manner". "Think about it, all those confidential documents come out after Rodriguez leaves and are thrown away or passed around, someone gets them that shouldn't, gives away athletes personnel information". "Next day, Press reports, 'Confidential student information has been spread around coming from departed coach Rich Rodriguez's office'. "This happened before in college football". "Mr. Rodriguez protected his former players and has not shredded anything that the university can not replace and give to their new coach". This article is probably the only intelligent source of what really happened that has been printed. When all is said and done, wvu is going to look bad, and RichRod will continue to thrive and win over seasons to come.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 11:25 a.m.

Mitch, I really don't think anyone cares anymore what happened at WVU. It's just a way for the NCAA to enforce their claims against RR by showing repeatability. If nothing comes of it, Michigan still has an NCAA investigation to deal with. If the "Wah.." is supposed to be taken as crying like a baby, I think it's your coach RR that is the one usually getting tears in their eyes. Cutty240 and chosen1, You're absolutely right about how RR was dealt with at WVU. RR demanded so much, and some of it not proper, that when he kept getting denied, he decided to leave. RR just decided not to ask for things at UM so they couldn't deny him due to improprieties and got caught.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 10:50 a.m.

I don't think it matters whether he did anything wrong at WVU or not. The investigation there is just to enforce their Michigan investigation to show previous behaviour. Michigan is still stuck with their own investigation by the NCAA one way or another. As chosen1 stated, RR tried to get around the rules at WVU, but the AD there smacked his hand for asking. That's one of the reasons why he left. I truly believed he didn't bother to ask first at UM.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 10:01 a.m.

Well spoken, Chosen1. There is only one way this can end, and that is with a new coach. The sooner we rebuild with the right guy, the better.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 9:27 a.m.

Oh Mitch, you silly kid, if you beilieve that RR didn't do anything at WVU then you are one of the delusional fans. The AD down there denied RR the quality control coaches partly because like at UM he didn't have a job description mapped out for the compliance officers. You can fall for the "aw shucks" routine but when we get rid of him and bring a quality coach with winning ways here then we can go back to being Michigan and not the circus.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 9:15 a.m.

There is so much pressure to win nowadays.Its happening everywhere in the college game.All these coaches try to get some kind of edge.It worked for Rich when he was here at WVU.The kids at UM weren't used to this,really getting shape for football.If Rich was winning none of this would be happening,but he is not.This is a witch hunt from a certain newsapaer,and its not the Ann-Arbor news.Believe me WVU has a every i dotted,and t crossed when it comes to Rich Rod.Thats why he used to get upset at them.They are and always have been all business when it come to there sports programs.I diagree with Mr Mike on this one.THIS IS MICHIGANS PROBLEM MY GOOD FRIEND.Winning makes everyone look good,losing makes everyone stink a little.You guys have got a little smell going up there.The Pizza man,or your New AD will take care of this in about a year from now.He didn't want Rich hired in the first place.What i'd like to know,who in HELL wanted Rich hired to begin with.Seems like everyone is running for the exits on this one.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 9:15 a.m.

So what will you loudmouths say when nothing is found at WVU? Will you agree that he's being "set up" at UM? It's sad to see Michigan "fans" turn their back on OUR coach. This all happened because a few disgruntled former players were tried of not being treated like a country club at practice. "Wah... we actually have to practice hard now" Get ahold of yourselves. This is the NCAA doing their jobs. WVU have already said they found no wrong-doings. So you believe he did everything by the book for 7 years at WVU, but then comes up north to a more "strict" program and he's going to start doing things wrong? Seriously... it's sad. Give the guy a chance. That 1st year... I don't even count it. Last year was bad. This year we need to see improvment on the field. But everyone wants to talk negatively about Rich. No one mentions all he's done with Mott. No one talks about the teams GPA being up. No one talks about what he's done for the Mealer family. So soon we forget. You're mad about his on-field performance? Fair enough. But I can forget 3-9, I can't forget Lloyd losing to App St when he was #5 in the nation. You mad because you think Rich takes chances on "questionable" recruits? You must forget about Kelly Baraka, Larry Harrison, Johnny Sears, and all of Lloyd's "questionable" players. Give him a chance and start acting like Michigan fans... TRUE Michigan fans! GO BLUE!


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 9:09 a.m.

Not one comment about what West Virginia actually said. Very vague statements about being contacted by the NCAA regarding RR that don't state time or topic. Not far fetched to think the NCAA is doing its due diligence regarding the current investigation. Has RR been great on the field- no; has he been perfect off the field- no. Im just sick of the ignorant knee jerk reaction to buzz words. For example... 5 potential major violations...."Major" is a misnomer in the fact that the NCAA basically categorizes everything but 3 violations as "major" with the only distinction being in the discipline.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 9:07 a.m.

O Tater and his silly griping. Since u are a great reporter of facts lets hear the FACTS (not whispers or allegations) of players being paid at osu. Provide the facts.....I like this editorial because there is a minority fanbase that lives in a delusional world. RR at WVU only became an elite team AFTER Miami, BC, and VA Tech went to the ACC. That would be like the Big Ten losing OSU, Penn State, and Iowa (or Wisky). Then they brought in lower class teams that RR was able to dominate. WOW. So impressive. I'll be at the game Saturday urging this moronic coach to do the right thing and leave the university.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 8:42 a.m.

I don't like the practice of defending oneself with accusations against another. Michigan is Michigan in my mind. What their actions are at USC or elsewhere should not grant illegal actions at Michigan. I do not pretend to know all the infractions that exist elsewhere in the country. I just have grown to beleive that Michigan carried a certain standard that is above this current situation.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 8:38 a.m.

I don't like the practice of defending oneself with accusations against another. Michigan is Michigan in my mind. What their actions are at USC or elsewhere should not grant illegal actions at Michigan. I do not pretend to know all the infractions that exist elsewhere in the country. I just have grown to beleive that Michigan carried a certain standard that is above this current situation.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 8:16 a.m.

I don't think that the external problems will do in RR. Please don't try to portray your opinion as one of majority. In the end what will matter are wins and losses and coach RR deserves a chance to do that with his own players (recruits). I don't hear anyone calling for D'Antonio, Miles, Chip Kelly's head because they have more problems but they also have have winning programs. Dave Brandon was a great choice for AD and he'll be the one to make the call on RR's future (along with the boosters). Winning solves almost everything so I wish you would've kept your opinion to yourself.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

clark, That's true. It would probably benefit all involved if he took some time away to clean up his messes.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

A school that built a Reputation on character,integrity. Kind of like the B-ball team,WOW u fans are as blind as can be.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 7:57 a.m.

AZ - I hear you loud and clear. I do agree with you, but if you subscribe at all to the other issues he is dealing with in terms of his finances, (condo loan defaults in multiple locals)maybe some time away from football period to get his messes cleaned up would make sense. How can he truly concentrate on running a program such as Michigan and leading over 100 young men when you are in such a continuous cluster yourself? No university needs that situation.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 7:42 a.m.

clarkwgriz(I like the Vacation reference), I know how you feel. As much as I always cheer for Michigan to win, I feel like it would be in the long term benefit of the program to have a subpar year this season to get this guy out of town and start over with a new coach without the baggage. I don't think RR is an awful X-O's coach (or a great one, either), but I do think he's a horrible fit for a school that built a reputation on character and integrity; he's the anti-Bo and doesn't belong at Michigan. He's brought one negative after another to the program regardless of his so-far terrible win-loss record. RR would be a perfect fit for a bad SEC team that needs to rebuild from the ground up and doesn't care if they get hit with sanctions later. Even if he wins some games next year, he's not a fit at all for Michigan, in my opinion.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

Coach Rodriguez's many situations are an embarassment to all that have committed something significant or less to the greatness of Michigan Football. I love UM but I am just sick of him and the foolishness that is attached to him as Head Coach of the Blue. It is a strange ordeal as a fan to want the football program to be successful, but not with him. I feel guilty for feeling that way, I wonder if Coach Rodriguez feels any guilt or shame?


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 6:44 a.m.

I'm not sure if RR is UM's problem, the state of Michigan's problem or what. He is not casting an angelic profile for anything related to Michigan. As to there being a witch hunt, which a lot of people are proclaiming exists, I can only say that newspapers report what is brought to their attention. They usually verify some part of the story before printing it. Who would want to destroy a man just for the purpose of revenge? Surely not WVU and their fans as they have enjoyed success without RR, as well as without their former basketball coach. So I would have to think it is someone in Michigan who is not happy with his performance. It's amusing, at any rate, to watch the fireworks.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 5:44 a.m.

Yeah but Rich Rod is Michigans problem.


Thu, Apr 15, 2010 : 5:31 a.m.

The circus continues. Brandon should get him a maize and blue clown car. He could drive it into the stadium and he and barwis could climb out right before every game. Its a good thing UM won all those games back in 1900. Thats about all they have left right now.