Speed Read: Rich Rod Fails At Jedi Mind Tricks

Rich Rodriguez finally has some breathing room at Michigan. After going on the hot seat after a 3-9 debut season that was the worst in school history, Rodriguez was almost buried before the season began by a range of allegations including violating NCAA practice rules and getting sued for a condo deal gone bad. But after a 38-34 win over Notre Dame in one of the most amazing college football games ever played a college football game, the Wolverines are back in the Top 25 and suddenly relevant again.

Rich Rodriguez point

So how does Rich Rod celebrate this stunning reversal of fortune? Exactly like you would expect he would: by opening his fool mouth and blowing out any goodwill he had earned by blatantly lying. It’s not his fault: it’s human nature. We all revert back to our default mechanisms at some point. For Rodriguez, it’s making an ass out of himself.

This instance involves Michigan defensive lineman Jonas Moutan, who got into a scrape with Notre Dame center Eric Olsen after a play on Saturday and wound up popping him with a brisk uppercut under the chin. This wasn’t LeGarrette Blount sucker punching a player after the game - it was within the course of play - but a punch is a punch and it shouldn’t happen. (Even if - and this is pure speculation here - it was likely started because Olsen wouldn’t stop asking Moutan where his brothers Nick, Joe and Kevin were.)

Watch for yourself:

But here’s the amazing part: that punch that you think you just watched - the one that was slowed down with a big arrow pointing at it - that punch never happened. Why? Because Rich Rodriguez says so, refusing to acknowledge that the punch even happened yesterday when asked after practice if Moutan would be punished.

Apparently Rodriguez thinks that an AP ranking also brings with it some sort of Jedi Mind Trick abilities. “These are not the droids you’re looking for. Also, Jonas Moutan didn’t punch anyone. Move along.” Although if this really was the case, I would think he would try to convince the alumni that last season never happened.

It’s partially refreshing to see a coach avoid “coach speak” or half-fibs and just go to an outright whopper when asked about something controversial. At the same time, all Rodriguez needed to say was something to the effect of “we’ve dealt with it internally, and it won’t happen again” and this wouldn’t have even been a story. As if you need any more reason to question Rich Rod’s decision making skills.

Speaking of liars, it’s time to talk about Eric Mangini, Brett Favre and the New York Jets. Because even though Mangini and Favre are long gone, the Jets are still feeling the repercussions of having them around last season. Specifically, how Mangini’s Kremlin-like quest for secrecy combined with Favre’s biceps injury has got everyone in trouble with the NFL.

Eric Mangini and Brett Favre

As I’m sure you know, Favre played through the end of last season with a torn biceps muscle. And while everyone in America could see that Favre was hurting, Mangini still insisted on hiding that information from the official NFL injury reports. Which a lot of teams do, except that Favre wouldn’t (and still won’t) shut up about how he played hurt last season, meaning the NFL eventually had to do something to set an example.

And they certainly did bring the hammer down, fining the Jets $75,000 and Mangini and Jets’ GM Mike Tannenbaum $25,000 for their roles in the subterfuge. The fines were harsher than expected, and of course were designed to ensure fair and competitive play and have nothing to do with making sure that Vegas gamblers and fantasy football players (who secretly run the league in a cabal with network executives, French Canadian separatists and the Rand Corporation) get the right information.

Meanwhile, there’s lying and then there’s just being delusional. And I suppose that anyone who would actually show up to a Phoenix Coyotes preseason game at this point must have something wrong with them. But when the PHOENIX BUSINESS JOURNAL went to ask fans at Tuesday night’s preseason opener (all 1,000 of them) what they thought about the team’s lawsuit-plagued bankruptcy sale and possible move to Canada, they apparently walked into a group of people who make John Hinckley, Jr. seem like “a dreamer.”

Phoenix Coyotes fans

According to them, hockey is Phoenix isn’t dying because of lousy ownership, a stadium that’s in the middle of nowhere or the fact that no one in Phoenix cares about hockey. No, the problem is clearly with the media, which hasn’t done a good enough job in its role as cheerleader for local teams in “getting the word out” about the Coyotes:

Archie Baird, a Phoenix resident and long-time season ticket holder, said there is no reason this market can’t back the Coyotes. He also lamented the lack of media coverage.

“We have 5 million people here. There’s no reason we can’t support a team,” said Baird.

No reason, Archie? Along with all the ones mentioned earlier, we’ll let another fan give you one good one:

Roger, a fan who declined to give his last name, agreed media coverage is lacking, but added the fact the Coyotes haven’t made the NHL’s 16-team playoffs since 2002 has hurt fan and media interest.

No fan base, a distant arena, lousy owners AND a bad product? Yeah, this is all the media’s fault.

  • It’s worth noting the passing of Fred Cusick, who was the voice of the Boston Bruins for 40 years, including the team’s last great era in the 1970s, has died at the age of 90. He was a understated observer of the game, whose hard work help get Bruins games broadcast on local TV. As is only fitting of a hockey announcer, here’s a clip of him calling a fight featuring a very young Cam Neely:

  • Ben Roethlisberger was either showing off a wickedly dry sense of humor when he answered a seemingly innocuous question about the Steelers’ pass protection by saying that the team laughs at the media (including former teammate Jerome Bettis) “blatantly” or he was being a prick. You make the call!
  • Major League Soccer finally realized how stupid it was to insist on playing games during the World Cup (because I’d rather watch the San Jose Earthquakes versus FC Dallas than Brazil vs. Germany) and have decided to go on hiatus during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
  • New Balance is charging $75 for shoes made from leftover scraps found in its factory. For $25, I’ll sell you my old Vans from 8th grade that are held together with duct tape.
  • “The Ultimate Fighter 10″ has started on Spike, which means Kimbo Slice’s UFC debut (albeit in reality show format). CAGEWRITER gives a blow-by-blow of the first episode.
  • If you think that American sports have an image problem, please read this round-up of the year in Australian rugby and how almost 10 percent of the top league’s players got into some sort of trouble this year. Including such gems as “commentator fired over group sex scandal” and “slapping a sponsor.”
  • The Colorado Rockies did enough to hold off a furious ninth-inning rally by the San Francisco Giants for a 4-3 win to restore their NL Wild Card lead back to 3 1/2 games.
  • When it comes to TV ratings, the NFL is doing just fine if the opening weekend Nielsen numbers are any indication, as the Redskins vs. Giants game was the most-watched season opening game on record, drawing 25.1 million viewers. Meanwhile, ESPN’s doubleheader games were the two most-watched programs on cable this year.
  • It’s the end of an era, as Tamir Goodman, aka “The Jewish Jordan,” is retiring from the Israeli pro basketball league at 27. For those of you too young to remember, he was the basketball equivalent of Matisyahu, except less bearded.
  • Finally, in our never ending search for the worst ex-jocks ever: former Boise State basketball player Kerry Thomas was sentenced to at least 20 years in prison for knowingly exposing a sex partner to the HIV virus - his third such conviction. I think we can stop our search now.

When it comes to Jonas Moutan punching a ND player, Rich Rodriguez should…

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