It would pretty well suck to be Rich Rodriguez these days. After all, the Detroit press seems to be on a witch hunt, except it’s not really a hunt, since RichRod’s already right there and they’re not looking for anyone else. At the same time, though they tut and moan about everything about the program, wins are the only thing that’ll shut them up, and they’ll come when they come.
So when some good news from off-the-field business comes along and can help Rodriguez manage the media horde, well, that’s just plain great. Nothing can possibly go wrong with a piece of news like “Michigan’s GPA is the highest it’s been in 25 years,” which Rodriguez says the Academic Success Program told him. Why, just a few months ago, he told reporters, his Wolverines “have recorded the highest GPA ever recorded.” Great news! Let’s just let the newspaper double-check on this and oh dear no, we’ve got a bit of a discrepancy. Juuuust a bit.
From the DETROIT FREE-PRESS:
His statement, given during an emotional news conference while addressing allegations of NCAA violations raised in a Free Press investigation, was offered as evidence of his support for his players’ personal academic success.
But Rodriguez backed off his best-ever boasts Wednesday, saying in a written statement that the all-time GPA record isn’t known to him or to anyone at U-M. That admission emerged after the Free Press requested specific details about team grades under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act, following earlier verbal requests.
Earlier this month, U-M denied the paper’s FOIA request for the football program’s GPA history, saying that it does not maintain such records. Rodriguez issued his statement Wednesday.
The coach apologized for any confusion over the GPA issue, blaming unnamed academic advisers within the athletic department for not informing him that they were estimating the all-time record for team GPA, and not actually calculating it for him.
Right. So this was all the advisers’ fault, people, and certainly not Rodriguez for making absolutely sure that such a remarkable boast about his players’ achievements could be in any way inaccurate.
But it raises a a fairly important question - let’s say the ASC had, in fact, told Rodriguez that the GPA thing was an estimation and that fact just slipped Rodriguez’s mind. If Rodriguez’s memory gets jogged correctly and he accurately announces the GPA achievement, does anybody notice? More importantly, does it make headlines in Michigan?
Granted, complaining about the media is usually the domain of those who got caught and aren’t happy about it - nobody ever says “that headline was too generous about me.”But damn, once the papers start trying to file FOIA requests to get your players’ grades, something has gone terribly wrong somewhere in the usual press-coach relationship.
Maybe Rodriguez needs to start taking a page from Rasheed Wallace’s playbook when it comes to engaging the media:
God bless, and good night.