Is Rich Rod in trouble at Michigan?


The Detroit Free Press reported on its website Saturday night that Michigan’s football program has routinely and excessively violated NCAA rules which restrict the amount of practice and training time schools may require of its players.

The newspaper interviewed 10 current or former players and the parents of four other players. Five of the players, according to the report, gave almost identical stories of excessive practice and off-season workout time, which is supposed to be limited to eight hours a week in the off-season and 20 hours during the season.

If these reports turn out to be true, second-year coach Rich Rodriguez could be in trouble. First of all, the Wolverines went 3-9 in 2008, snapping a string of 40 consecutive non-losing seasons. It is a well-known fact in college football circles that Rodriguez ruffled a lot of feathers when he arrived at Michigan. He attempted to alter some facets of the Michigan football culture, which had essentially remained unchanged in the almost 40 years since Bo Schembechler became head coach in 1969 and Lloyd Carr stepped down after the 2007 season. And since Michigan has won more games (872) than any school in Division I-A history, it stands to reason there were a number of people in Ann Arbor who thought the football culture at UM was just fine.

Rodriguez and others would tell you that after watching Ohio State take over the rivalry with Michigan (Ohio State has won seven of the last eight meetings) some things needed to be shaken up in Ann Arbor.

Still I have heard stories of former players who have been put off by the changes at Michigan and want the program and Rodriguez to fail.  Remember that former UM offensive lineman Justin Boren left the program in March of 2008 and released a statement that the program’s “family values” had eroded. According to the Free Press report, more than 20 players have left the Michigan program since Rodriguez took over.

But here is my real concern if I’m a Michigan fan. What does it say about the state of a program when your own players, albeit a small number of them, will rat you out to the media in a story that runs one week before your first game? It could turn out that these players are simply lying in order to be vindictive. A certain number of players always balk and complain when a new staff comes in. But it could also be that they are telling the truth. An internal investigation will have to determine if that is the case.

Either way, this is embarrassing to Michigan, a university that has always prided itself on going the extra mile to do things the right way. Among coaches, Schembechler and Carr were two of the straightest shooters I’ve ever met.

(An aside here. Alabama fans have to be looking at this story with interest. In December 2006 Rodriguez gave a verbal commitment to come to Alabama but changed his mind and remained at West Virginia. What if this was happening in Tuscaloosa?)

And if it can happen at Michigan, it can happen anywhere. If the NCAA starts looking under this rock at every school, it could get ugly.

Now let’s be honest here. Is there anyone out there who thinks college football players only work out eight hours a week in the offseason?  I know I don’t. The demands of this sport have gotten so great, the stakes for everyone have become so high, that if I were a college football player with hopes of playing at the next level I would certainly invest more than eight hours a week into my sport.

So players attend the “voluntary” workouts and everybody understands that the NCAA time limits are not followed to the letter. But if this story turns out to be true, and Michigan has abused these rules to the degree that has been reported, the fallout could be significant across college football. The NCAA rule book is so thick because people, mostly coaches, are always pushing the limit to get a competitive advantage. The original time limits on practice and off-season workouts were put into place because of excesses by coaches. Maybe the NCAA will have to step in again with even more draconian measures.

That would not be good for the sport, but it might be necessary to save the coaches from themselves.

I do know this. Rich Rod really needs to beat Notre Dame on Sept. 12.


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129 comments Add your comment


August 31st, 2009
8:34 am

Do you know if the SEC games that are being shown on Peachtree TV in Atlanta going to be shown in HD?


August 31st, 2009
8:35 am

I’ll bet Michigan wishes they had their money back, and I’m willing to bet Rich Rod wishes he had staye at WVU.


August 31st, 2009
8:35 am

Sorry, “stayed”. Tony, get spell check please.


August 31st, 2009
8:39 am

“What if this was happening in Tuscaloosa?” They would tell the players to shut their damn mouths and remind them they are paid to play football at UA and win at all costs! That’s what they would tell them….


August 31st, 2009
8:44 am

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, even if it’s a small one.

SomewhereinGA….good one!

Tim Tebow

August 31st, 2009
8:46 am

Kenny Powers just thinks he is awesome.
His awesomeness pales in comparison to mine.


August 31st, 2009
8:47 am

It is finally here, friends. Football is back and there is excitement in the air. GO DAWGS!!


August 31st, 2009
8:47 am

Seems like Coach Rod is just not accepted at Michigan & is not a good fit there, like Donnan at UGA or Curry at Alabama. It is beginning to look like his days are numbered.

Corrine Brown

August 31st, 2009
8:53 am

This would make a Good “soap”for the Big Ten Network maybe Emperor Delaney will make a declaration were the rest of the NCAA will have to follow Michigan lead.


August 31st, 2009
8:54 am

What a bunch or LOSERS! You got a good coach in RR and you will not support him. I want my way or I’m going to tattle on you. That’s why you lose so often. Family values, what the F*&$, you need to get tough and win! It’s big time football, you are not playing in the backyard or the church gym!

Atlanta Gator

August 31st, 2009
8:54 am


Yes, Rich Rodriguez has a problem. Or, more to the point, he now has two problems. One, he has a potential NCAA investigation for violating the practice time rules. Two, and perhaps the bigger problem, he has players who are alienated enough from the program to pick up the phone and start calling the NCAA about the practice time violations. Regardless of whether the NCAA takes action, the dissension within the team does not bode well for turning the corner. Rich Rodriguez’s Michigan situation is starting to feel like Houston Nutt’s problems two years ago . . . it may get much worse before it gets better, and it may cost the coach his job.

Trade School Junkie

August 31st, 2009
8:59 am

RichRod made a MAJOR career mistake fo rtwo galring reasons:
1. THE WAY he left WV. He left behind SERIOUS bitterness between himself (A WV alum), the Admin, and the WV fans. Even the WV Governor had to get involved.

2. The State of Michigan is TOTALLY BANKRUPT. And, bankrupt states cant support their university systems ery well, and that incldues the U of Michigan.

RichRod had managed to get the WV program to a level where, despite being in the Big East, WV was all but guaranteed a good bowl every single year, and would likely STAY in the BCS Top 10-15 picture every year.

But all that is gone now.

The WV program is spiraliing down rapidly, and WV will likley have a their first losing season since 2001. ALL of the stars from the
past 3-5 years are gone. The cupboard is TOTALLY EMPTY with the exception of RB Noel Devine.

WV HC Bill Stewart is TERRIBLE, and he is almost single-handedly destroying that team. The WV Admin will fire Stewart at the end of this year, Guaranteed!!

As for Michigan, they have WAAAYYYYY bigger problems than this current NCAA issue and RichRod. Folks, the State of Michigan is completely bankrupt. And, most of the other “Big 10″ states are almost bankrupt. Just look at Ohio & Pensylvania. It wont be long at all before the disastrous economic conditions of those two states start showing up at the Ohio State & Penn State programs as well. Just look at all the the layoffs both schools have ALREADY had to make since January.

No, RichRod made a major career mistake in big ways.

If he doesnt win at least 7 this year, he’s gone….and he will have set back the Michigan program by 2-3 yrs.


August 31st, 2009
9:06 am

Nothing will happen to Michigan. They will skate. Rodriguez will have another losing season at most likely will be fired at year’s end anyway. They won’t beat Notre Dame.

Ali Akbar Allah

August 31st, 2009
9:06 am

Who cares about Meechigan. Tell us how bad you think OSU will beat Georgia this Saturday.


August 31st, 2009
9:07 am

I was glad he renegged on his Alabama commitment, but now I wish he’d taken the job. What he should’ve done was stay put at WV. He’s pretty typical of a college coach. You can’t beleive a word they say. Saban is another prime example of that. No sympathy here.


August 31st, 2009
9:14 am

Tony you wrote:
“The NCAA rule book is so thick because people, mostly coaches, are always pushing the limit to get a competitive advantage.”

Please use the English language – the rule book is so thick because coaches cheat.


August 31st, 2009
9:14 am

SomewhereinGA – just another bitter UGA fan. Alabama kicked UGA’s arse, deal with it.

Thank god RichRod didn’t come to ‘Bama, thank you Finebaum for making fun of his wife.


August 31st, 2009
9:22 am

No, These are fat whiney loser players crying about working hard for once in thier lives. Give me a break. This is like Dan Hawkins when he got to Colorado and had those issues to deal with “It’s DIVISION 1 FOOTBALLL….etc”

If anything it says that Michigan is a long way off from being successful if this attitude is pervasive in the locker room. Rich Rod didn’t forget how to win but maybe these guys never new how.


August 31st, 2009
9:28 am

Those two guys in the backfield at WV gave Rodriguez a “name”. He is a very Average coach. He’ll be gone after this year and they will set their sights on a sure bet. Anyone care to guess who ?


August 31st, 2009
9:32 am

Trade School Junkie–What makes you think WVU is rapidly declining. Recruiting for both the 2009 and 2010 classes has been excellent, and the coaching team is as strong as it was under Rodriguez. Rodriquez didn’t build the WVU program anyway; that honor goes to Don Nehlan, who, by the way, supported Rodriguez’s move to Ann Arbor. Maybe to get rid of him at WVU before Nehlan’s grandson showed up to play at WVU. Who wants an idiot to coach his grandson? Mountaineers are also a loyal group. If Coach Stew has a bad year, we’ll give him another chance. He is a West Virginian who kept our team together and beat Oklahoma when Rodriguez flipped out and insulted his school, his state, his people, and his promises.


August 31st, 2009
9:33 am

For once I agree with Nachos. It doesn’t sound well for RR and thankfully he is not in the SEC we have enough problems with the Bozo in Knoxville.

Trade School Junkie, The alumni funds the football program, if they step up the coaches salaries and facilites will be fine. If the coach runs off the fan base you will have problems.


August 31st, 2009
9:36 am

You are right about that area in trouble. I know this is a FOOTBALL blog, but if our two houses don’t shut this guy Obama down, we are toast. Government can’t fix anything. Only the private sector can, and he doesn’t believe in it and he’s going to tax the hell out of it next and then the whole country will look like Michigan ! His policies are JOB KILLERS. If you believe in this guy, you are naive.Unless you like say Cuba.

Corrine Brown

August 31st, 2009
9:37 am

Cheating his way to a 3-9 , not good

reality check

August 31st, 2009
9:38 am

It is an impossible situation and he won’t last.


August 31st, 2009
9:39 am

What about Tennessee………….How many players have left the program.


August 31st, 2009
9:40 am

I hate to see coach Rich Rod fail (lol), I mean he left WVU in the worst way possible and now failure with Michigan. I knew he would fail there. That was nothing more than $$$$$. He had the best thing with WVU and the whole state stood behind him. Can’t really say that about Michigan. This season will be a growing season with us loosing alot of our players, but we’ll be better off than Michigan. In the end West Virginia football will be the pride of West Virginia and ol’ Rod will be sitting at the unemployment office wondering what went wrong. LETS GO MOUNTAINEERS!!!!


August 31st, 2009
9:43 am

SOMEWHEREINga… back @cha! 41-30 STILL BURN’S DON’T IT BOY!!!


August 31st, 2009
9:46 am

I wonder how hot RichRod seat is going to be when the buckeyes blast the wolverines again this season. I remember he made Mal Moore look like a idiot in December of 06 saying he was going to
be the crimson tide coach only to get more money from West Virginia. Michigan deserves what it
got and that is a coach who would cheat to win at all costs!! ROLL TIDE FOLKS!!


August 31st, 2009
9:50 am

Are we lucky to have Mark Richt or what. When you look around, we’ve got it pretty good……Would we like a National title. Sure. Beat Florida more often. Sure. List the good things about the Dawgs, and then the bad, The good will way outweigh the bad.

[...] If these reports turn out to be true, second-year coach Rich Rodriguez could be in trouble……… ….. I have heard stories of former players who have been put off by the changes at Michigan and want the program and Rodriguez to fail. Remember that former UM offensive lineman Justin Boren left the program in March of 2008 and released a statement that the program’s “family values” had eroded. According to the Free Press report, more than 20 players have left the Michigan program since Rodriguez took over. But here is my real concern if I’m a Michigan fan. What does it say about the state of a program when your own players, albeit a small number of them, will rat you out to the media in a story that runs one week before your first game? Is Rich Rod in trouble at Michigan? | Mr. College Football [...]


August 31st, 2009
9:59 am

Richrod has ridden the Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia to the end of the line.

Bama Aaron

August 31st, 2009
9:59 am

This Bama fan is so glad we didn’t get him and instead have Saban.

No doubt RichRod is a good coach but the way he played Bama & WVU in successive years to get the UM job shows what his character is.

That being said this sounds alot like whiny players that don’t want to work. Everyone knows that a good 90% of teams players work more than the NCAA alotment…albeit “voluntary” workouts. These players just don’t want to put in the time. And they take the low-road by informing to the NCAA instead of just leaving like alot of players do after coaching changes.


August 31st, 2009
10:05 am

if you don’t think this doesn’t happen at your school (to some degree) you are either losing or lying.


August 31st, 2009
10:07 am

i agree– beat ND, MSU and all will be forgiven


August 31st, 2009
10:10 am

Somewhere in ga-

You sound like an Albarn fan with a big chip on his shoulder. Those in glass houses…you know the rest.


August 31st, 2009
10:13 am

Why wouldn’t it be good to have the NCAA tighten the regs if violations are found to be flagrant at many schools? Rule breakers should be punished and the notion that its ok to break one rule leads to the perception that it is simply ok to break any or most rules. Someone from opposing schools should sue the tar out of another institution that was later found to have cheated. Imagine say 60,000 season tickets, seat donations, parking fees, time spent watching the game, and yes…the pain and suffering from a loss. But the winning team was later found to have cheated. Why shouldn’t the cheaters be liable? I bet a couple multi-million dollar lawsuits would lead to much better enforcement of the rules and schools would have a couple of people with jobs to ensure everything was on the up and up rather than leaving it in the hands of coaches with a vested interest to cheat.


August 31st, 2009
10:15 am

May be Rod can get the coaching job at Arkansas
as soon as Petrino leaves to go somewhere else.


August 31st, 2009
10:19 am

NEEDED: Couch’s and beer bong’s…need at least 10 for the season…

NEEDED: New Michigan Head Coach…


August 31st, 2009
10:20 am

RichRod & Dennis Franphony.. two biggest scumbags in college football.


August 31st, 2009
10:22 am

Auburn Tigers 11-1 in 2009! Gene Chizdik SEC coach of the year! waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwwwww weagle !


August 31st, 2009
10:29 am

Rich Rod, you will soon be like 16% of this country- UNEMPLOYED! Good luck with that. Maybe Obama will make you the ex-football coach czar.

As far as someone saying something important on this blog today……My UGA D looked awesome Saturday! Speed everywhere. Zac will be on his back all damn day Saturday. UGA 34-10.


August 31st, 2009
10:35 am

The caveat is that this can happen anywhere but USC (Southern Cal variety). Pete Carroll could be pushing wheelbarrows full of cash in front of reporters and photographers and the NCAA would take 10 years to “investigate”.


August 31st, 2009
10:38 am

Rodriguez is to the Big 10 what Kiffin is to the SEC…an embarrassment!

big dawg 89

August 31st, 2009
10:39 am

this is the beginning of the end for rich rod.. if he loses this job in just a short time, who in their right mind would hire him after this…

well, maybe, or south carolina

i bet he wishes he would’ve stayed at WVa. there’s something to being the big fish in the little pond rather than vice-versa…


August 31st, 2009
10:42 am

Tough call.
I suspect the coaching staff is thinking:
“If you go 3-9 and you want to do better, you need to work harder.
Get your a$$ses in the weight room and run some stadium climbs!
Otherwise, you are doomed to repeat.”

Football Fan

August 31st, 2009
10:43 am

I am not a U-M fan, nor am I a U-M hater. But, from reading about this story elsewhere, it sounds like it started when a freshman player or two answered questions honestly. Basically, they were asked about workouts, practices, etc., and were describing how much harder it is/was than high school. Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a problem there, but I don’t think there was any malicious intent at the start.


August 31st, 2009
11:03 am

The maize and blue is going to bleed some scarlett red this year… as well as ND blue(or green or gold or whatever color they are wearing that day), some Spartan green, and maybe some Western Michigan (fill in the blank) color this weekend???


August 31st, 2009
11:37 am

GeoffDawg, very true but Tressel and OSU could be walking beside Carrol with a bucket of cash and not get questioned.


August 31st, 2009
11:59 am

The Michigan players are getting a real life lesson. Whenever a new coach or CEO comes in, he will run off existing players and start building with his players. When you are 18-19 years old, you can only cry to your mama. When you are 45 and have been with GM for 20 years, you can only cry to your local bartender. Such is life in Michigan.

Just An Observation!!!

August 31st, 2009
12:05 pm

Maybe I’m wrong but Rich Rod reminds me of Billie Gillespie without the DUI’s.