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Friday, January 18, 2008

Oh, right. Amongst the many mysteries found in Rich Rodriguez's phone records are the 112 calls to Peterstown, a tiny hamlet of 300 on the Virginia border hours away from Morgantown. This all seems verrry suspicious to crack West Virginia reporters:

Let the latest innuendo roll as many seem suspicious of the 112 calls placed by Rich Rodriguez to Peterstown in his final two months on campus. A lot of the phones calls are to faraway cities — Phoenix, Boston, Toledo, to name a few — but it’s easy to make logical connections to Rodriguez.

Peterstown is puzzling, though. I’ve gotten a bunch of calls and e-mails wondering about the identity or the person/people. I do not have the number. Every number was blacked out except for the calls made to and received from the state of Michigan. Why? I have no clue.

"The intrigue lives on," concludes crack West Virginia reporter. Indeed. The intrigue. The mystery. The... voicemail:
It does appear that the voice mail number for Cellular One (which was the carrier for at least one of Rod's phones) uses the Peterstown exchange

(304) 994-0001
Type: Cell Phone
Provider: American Cellular Corporation
Location: Peterstown, WV

I'm a cell one customer and 994-0001 is definitely the voice mail #.

Man... jeez. Everyone's ready to string up Jim Carty after yesterday, when he wrote an article stating Rodriguez should apologize and pay up, then directly asked Rodriguez about apologizing in the teleconference. Rodriguez responded "apologize for what"; Carty responded "for hurting their feelings." Which... uh... didn't go over well amongst Michigan fans. A followup today:

What he still doesn't seem to get, though, is that the main reason he's being smeared is because he behaved so poorly on his way out as West Virginia football coach.

Michigan fans want to overlook that. They want to circle the wagons around their guy, even though he's a guy they hardly know.

This cuts both ways, does it not? Both Rodriguez defenders and assaulters hardly know him. We know almost nothing about what went on in the WVU athletic department. We have no idea why Rodriguez left. Carty details a list of offenses:
Let's imagine you had a football coach you loved at Michigan, who told you, "This is my school," who said he was going to be "here a long time," and a year later, behind your back, when he was thought to be recruiting for Michigan, he's caught interviewing for another job.

Then the coach informed Bill Martin he was quitting by sending a graduate assistant to tell Martin, and called Michigan's top recruit - and incidentally the best player in the nation - to tell him he was leaving, before he told his own Michigan players, and invited the kid to ditch Michigan and come to New Job U.

Then, hours after quitting, he used his Michigan cell phone to call high school recruits who had already committed to New Job U.

Oh, and he hired lawyers to get him out of the buyout he owed you according to terms of the contract he just signed last summer.

There's no way you'd be defending that guy.
Defending, no. This is not about "defending," though. There's a proper level of disgust here that WVU fans are entitled to about equal to Michigan fans' disgust with Ryan Mallett. I don't want Mallett to be any good at Arkansas and I think the guy is a prima donna. But I'm not going to sneak into his dorm room every night and hit his fingers with a tiny hammer so they're oddly sore the entire year. He left. I don't care past that.

Rodriguez left. This is his sin. Leaving a school is unavoidably kind of skeezy in a way that taking a new accounting job is not because you have made promises to a bunch of kids in college. There's no way around that. But the same curse would have followed Greg Schiano (who flirted with Miami last year) or Kirk Ferentz or, hell, even Brady Hoke.

The rest of it doesn't bother me, though. Who was harmed by any of it? At one point Rodriguez flipped from being WVU's coach to being Michigan's coach, and he immediately started acting on behalf of Michigan. Rodriguez got burned by the Pryor call when Pryor immediately rang up Scout to break the news, but given the state of the rumors flying around it's very doubtful something wasn't going to break in the next couple hours. And does it matter how the news breaks? He left.

I fail to see anything even slightly unethical in Rodriguez's initial calls to Michigan recruits. They occurred after Rodriguez met with his team; he had discharged his obligations to WVU then. Does it matter which phone he made them from? No. Thought that may be a technical no-no, it's not unethical in any way. Sticking that in there submarines Carty's thrust much in the same way WVU now looks ridiculous for claiming that the entire athletic department went through Rich Rodriguez's shredder.

Attempting to get out of a buyout is SOP; see John Beilein. No one demanded Beilein apologize.

Similarly, the infamous "grad student" thing. Who cares? He left. He met face-to-face with his kids and told them. That's what's important. He did that. I don't care what Ed Pastilong thinks. I care what Owen Schmitt thinks:
Schmitt, an honor student, did not criticize his coach's departure.

"You've got to do what you've got to do sometimes," Schmitt said at the time. "He did all he could for us. As far as I know he did a lot of great things for this university."

Giving Schmitt a chance was one of them.
Criticisms of Rodriguez all boil down to "he left." Yes, he did, and he's already apologized to the people he had to. Yahoos like this...

...deserve nothing but pity.

Update: Wow. This blog has given Stuart Mandel a lot of stick in its history, but his latest is a comprehensive WVU takedown. I take back 20% of all the nasty things I've said.