NCAA reverses ruling that cost Michigan football team its stats against Western Michigan
Denard Robinson, Fitz Toussaint, Jordan Kovacs — and especially Brandon Herron — had a big week.
And they didn't even have to play a game.
The NCAA now will recognize stats accrued by the Michigan football team in its season opener against Western Michigan, after originally ruling it would not count them because the game was called before the completion of the third quarter.
The NCAA statistics and records advisory board unanimously voted during a conference call in early November to change the rule, determining that if the win-loss record from a game counts, so should the statistics. WolverineNation, a sub-site of ESPN, was first to report the ruling.
That overturned the initial call by NCAA director of statistics Jim Wright, who on Sept. 7 informed both schools, the Big Ten Conference and the Mid-American Conference that the NCAA could not count the statistics because of a "reasonable point of conclusion" policy that has been in effect for more than 20 years, according to an email obtained via Freedom of Information Act request by AnnArbor.com.
"NCAA Statistics Policies require a football game to have COMPLETED three quarters for the team and individual statistics to count," Wright wrote. "So even though your game was just 87 seconds short of that requirement, there is no rounding up or down in this situation."
The Big Ten responded a day later by asking the NCAA to reconsider its decision.
"I understand you have a policy, but our preference would be for the school, conference and national stats to be consistent, if at all possible, especially since the game was so close to reaching three quarters," Big Ten spokesman Scott Chipman wrote Wright on Sept. 8.
Wright had not responded to that request as of Oct. 17, according to the FOIA request. He did not respond to an email and phone call seeking comment Thursday. An automated return message said he would be out of the office until Wednesday.
But it appears he and the NCAA have reconsidered.
The reversal helps to clear up one-game discrepancies in statistics between the NCAA and the Big Ten, Mid-American Conference, Michigan and Western Michigan, each of which did recognize stats from the game. That caused some confusion as players such as Robinson and Toussaint neared and reached season milestones.
That's especially the case for Herron, who scored two defensive touchdowns — a school record — in the 34-10 win. He was in the odd position of being the national defensive player of the week, but not having his week acknowledged nationally.
Toussaint also was helped by the ruling. He joined Robinson in becoming a 1,000-yard rusher last weekend against Ohio State, giving the Wolverines their first pair of players to reach the mark in the same season since 1985.
But because the sophomore's 80 yards against Western Michigan did not count to the NCAA, he was credited with just 931 yards nationally.
Kovacs also had his 10 tackles restored. That was a season-high for him.