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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Riposte. For those wishing Rodriguez himself would say anything, he has. The Toledo Blade, oddly, has the scoop:

"The things they are saying are not true," Rodriguez said. "It's a lie. How can you put out lies and think it's OK? They don't care what the truth is, they just want to smear Rich Rodriguez." [It don't matter to Jesus! -ed]
"The implication to me is slanderous," Rodriguez said. "What they are implying, to me, attacks my integrity, and that's why I'm so upset. This has gone too far.

"It's bad enough that they throw things out there, and my family gets harassed, my relatives get threatened, and they try and attack my credibility right in the middle of recruiting. And then to throw something out like this, with anonymous sources ...

"And how it becomes a story, and why it's become big news, to me, is just baffling."
"Every coach got a file when a kid missed a class. The academic people got it, and the athletic director got it. All this stuff about not having contact information or academic information on the kids, it's a lie, it's all a lie," Rodriguez said.

"They're painting a picture like I'm the only one that had those files, and I threw them all away. That's not the truth. They're painting a picture like I erased all the kids' files, and that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. And anyone with any common sense that's in a Division I athletic department or football program knows the same thing."
This is the crux of the matter: the accusations against Rodriguez are completely, wholly, and totally unbelievable. There is no way WVU does not have all the critical files the need backed up. This is a multi-million dollar operation. This is not 'Nam. Even if they did not follow basic procedures every small business in America manages, there is no way WVU would permit the announced coach of another school into the Sacred Single Hard Copy Room with a shredder, nor that "several" people would watch him shred Sacred Single Hard Copies and do nothing about it except let a single tear run down their cheek. Anything that only Rodriguez had was by definition a personal file.

More devastating allegations from WVU:
In the hours after telling his team he was leaving for the University of Michigan, former West Virginia football Coach Rich Rodriguez called at least two Wolverine recruits from his WVU cell phone, according to records obtained by the Daily Mail through the Freedom of Information Act.
The recruits in question are Boubacar Cissoko and Rocko Khoury, Wolverine commits from Michigan who never even looked at WVU. There is a third phone call that WVU thinks is Dann O'Neill, another Michigan commit from the state who wouldn't attend WVU if you held a gun to his mother's head, and others to places like Houston and Toledo that may or may not be to other Wolverine commits. This is a coach going to work at his new school after informing his old school of his decision, but doing it on the wrong phone.

Apparently either Dave Hickman or the WVU athletic department doesn't know anything about NCAA regulations, because this paragraph features in the article:
The NCAA recruiting calendar was also in a quiet and dead period when WVU believes some contact was made.
Dead periods and quiet periods have nothing whatsoever to do with phone contact -- coaches are allowed to call a recruit once per week. Instead they regulate in-person contact; a "dead" period means no in-person contact at all and a "quiet" period means no off-campus contact. The dead period regulation even has this disclaimer in it:
It remains permissible, however, for an institutional staff member to write or telephone prospective student-athletes during such a dead period.
Even an athletic department as addled as WVU's should know these things; throwing this in the article is an attempt to baselessly smear Rodriguez.

And it's one that appears to have worked. The Wizard of Odds frets that "the calls appear to have been placed during a recruiting dead period, meaning contact with recruits was forbidden, according to NCAA rules. This, of course, is an even bigger no-no." It is not a no-no. It is a yes-yes, but the dangerous assumption that something in a newspaper is correct causes memes like this to spread out of control. Reliable Spartan shill Mike Valenti got Hickman on his show yesterday and spent the time saying extremely balanced things like "he’s [Rodriguez, not Hickman] being spiteful and really, really low about it." On PTI yesterday, Mike Wilbon called for Rodriguez's suspension until the matter's completion based on one anonymous source with no evidence but one hell of an axe to grind. Even Jim Carty, so skeptical at first, now claims that Rodriguez needs to "apologize and pay up". Apologize for what? Carty says that...
The first - and best - action the new coach could take is calling a press conference to announce he's paying West Virginia the $4 million buyout that was in the contract he signed.

It's the right thing to do.

You signed the contract. Live with it.

All well and good if Rodriguez is the only one in violation of the contract; he obviously does not think so. Neither do a whole bunch of pissed off WVU boosters. Was John Beilein supposed to "apologize and pay up" when he got his buyout reduced? Everyone regarded that little standoff as a matter for the lawyers and an obvious move by both sides that would end in a settlement -- these punitive buyout clauses are often regarded as unenforceable. Not so here. Why?

Look, if Rodriguez really did shred a bunch of critical WVU documents that had no duplicates elsewhere that's a serious problem. If these allegations turn out to be true it will seriously darken my opinion of this hire. But the accusations leveled are so improbable that what's far more likely is that some very bitter people in West Virginia just can't handle Rodriguez's departure.

I'm sure Dave Hickman is getting great information from someone high placed in the WVU AD, as he claims. But he appears to be regurgitating the information provided without applying a critical eye to it. Thus the "dead and quiet" period comment, and the remarkably gullible publishing of WVU's ludicrous claims they had no idea who was even on the team in the wake of Rodriguez's exit.
"We think there was a guy named Pat something," say West Virginia officials. "And maybe a 'Noel,' though that girl must be a kicker."
Do not believe everything you read in the paper.

Expect more articles with quotes like this:
University spokeswoman Amy Neil said the WVU Office of Admissions and Records maintains grade and attendance records in a separate location, so no student-athlete’s academic career is at risk.

“We’re not sure what records are missing, but all student records, including those of the football team, are kept within the Office of Admissions and Records,” she said. “Those records are secure.”
Really. I'm shocked.