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Tuesday, 8 January, 2008 0:08 AM

The Reign of D-Rod Begins at U of M


The Regents contemplate their navels as U of M's reputation is dragged through the mud.

by Mike Wrathell



"Is shame fled human breasts? that with such ease Men dare put off your honours, and their own? Is that, which ever was a cause of life, Now placed beneath the basest circumstance, And modesty an exile made, for money?"

-Spoken by Celia in Ben Jonson's masterplay, "Volpone," page 112, Penguin Classics.

I read that passage from "Volpone" to the University of Michigan Regents and President Mary Sue Coleman at our University's monthly board meeting in Ann Arbor on December 13th, 2007. "Our" because it is a public university, funded by the hard-earned dollars of Michiganders. "Michigander" was coined by Abe Lincoln, by the way, so don't give me that "Michiganian" PC business. It really cooks my goose.

Anyway, the genius and sad, poetic pungency of Ben Jonson's Celia was evidently lost on the Regents and President Coleman, who a few days later enticed Rich Rodriguez to a secret meeting in Toledo where he decided to leave his homestate's beloved football team without a seasoned head coach for their biggest game of the year. That was decidedly despicable, Rodriguez, or, as I hope will catch on: D-Rod.

The West Virginia Mountaineers were still able to beat the Oklahoma Sooners without D-Rod at the Fiesta Bowl, though, which is a great credit to the young men there who did not let the act of dishonor Rodriquez unleashed on them unduly distract them. You go, Mountaineers!

Not that the dishonor is all his. I had implored the Regents of my alma mater to rein in President Coleman and Athletic Director Bill Martin with all my oratory power. Merely contacting a head coach of another university's football team before their final game of the season, which includes the bowl season, is dishonorable enough, but to hire them so that they can't even coach their team in their bowl game takes the cake. And then D-Rod fired every U of M assistant coach not only before our bowl game, but right before Christmas! Dishonor, Rodriguez, is not on our University Seal.

Perhaps if I initiated a class action lawsuit for the lost value of a U of M degree now that our name has been dragged through the mud by the national and local media, the Regents would heed my words and write into D-Rod's contract that he is not to quit or retire before any given season's final game, and, should we ever win a national championship during his reign, to refrain from such an announcement until the day after our victory celebration, so as not to rain on our blue parade.

Dishonor also goes to the NCAA whose artificially premature deadlines pressure colleges to act rashly before the end of the bowl season to secure coaches for the following season. Hello? High school does not even let out until June! Leave those kids alone! Let Johnny and Billy and Sally enjoy their senior years and concentrate on their studies! Let them go to their prom without getting 199 text messages from D-Rod telling them to go to whatever college he is coaching at that particular week.

It all started when Lloyd Carr jumped the gun and opened a can of worms, retiring after we lost to Ohio State. A better written contract would have avoided the entire fiasco. Then, President Coleman shamelessly and selfishly tried to pry away Les Miles from Louisiana State University before their conference championship game. That was an act of pure, utter selfishness, and I told the Regents so point blank in December.

Kudos to Les Miles for staying at LSU! Beat Ohio State!

Lastly, contrast how the NCAA turns a blind eye to head coaches who jump ship like rats from the Titanic (my apologies to rats) with how student-athletes are punished with a loss of one-year of athletic eligibility if they transfer colleges, even if it is due to being raped by a fellow teammate, as was the case with the University of Colorado's first female placekicker a few years ago. She was then forced to grovel before the NCAA to have that punishment waived, but by the time the NCAA relented, a year had already passed. When I first wrote President Coleman about her plight, one of her lackeys in the Athletic Department told me that was just the way it is, basically.

I asked the U of M Regents last summer and again in December to have our representative at the NCAA in Indianapolis push for an abolition of that rule, and was met with stoney silence, encountering stares like a deer frozen by the headlights of a West Virginia moonshine mobile.

U of M as a public university is bound to honor civil rights. All Americans have an unenumerated right not to ever have to grovel before another American. We are the home of the brave, and U of M needs to stand up to the NCAA and work to abolish any and all draconian rules, also including the complete loss of athletic eligibility for any student-athlete who dares obtain an agent when testing the waters of a professional sports draft.

The thresh-hold for losing one's right to play college sports should be if one signs a professional contract, and not before. Why would the NCAA want to throw a young man or young woman to the wolves without adequate representation? To teach them the lesson that they are nothing more than cash cows?

But, by the looks of things, hoping for U of M's Regents to do the right thing is like hoping for that pie in the sky to be my favorite: French Silk. Luckily, two of the Regents are up for re-election this year, and maybe a little pressure by Michiganders from Ironwood to Tecumseh will make them heed the words of Ben Jonson, and put honor ahead of dishonor, bravery ahead of grovelry, and French Silk pie ahead of a total abandonment of ideals.

If not, then I hope we not only replace those two Regents in November, but also pressure U of M to fire President Coleman, who masterminded the acquisition of D-Rod, tried to overturn a voter-approved initiative, and has all of Louisiana thinking we are damn Yankees, and not just because we say "crayfish" instead of "crawfish."

SIDENOTES: D-Rod rehired Fred Jackson, our running backs coach, one day after the great purge, only because a high school standout running back stood up for Fred, and threatened to not run for us if Fred was fired. It is nice to see that high school kids have a sense of honor, maybe it can rub off on The Regents....

Katie Hnida wrote a book about her hellish days at The University of Colorado that I just ordered from Amazon. I think The Regents should read it, too, and use it to inspire them to push for changes within the NCAA. Entitled "Still Kicking: My Journey as the First Woman to Play Division I Football," according to Wikipedia, it "details her accounts of abuse and sexual assault while at Colorado, transferring to New Mexico, and then making history." The history she made was to kick two extra points. You go, young woman!



Neither Starbuck nor The Regents have read Katie Hnida's book,
but Starbuck is a deer. What's their excuse?



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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.