Big Ten: Bill Stewart
Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez just wants to start coaching football again, but his name continues to be in the news for the wrong reasons.
Rodriguez's former employer, West Virginia, announced today that it has received a notice of allegations from the NCAA detailing five potential major rule violations from 2005-09. The time period includes Rodriguez's final three seasons at West Virginia and the first two under current coach Bill Stewart.
You can check out the allegations, but trust me, it'll sound familiar.
- Improper involvement by "non-coaching staff members" -- grad assistants, quality control assistants, student managers -- in activities with players during the spring and summer.
- Improper involvement by non-coaching staff members in video review with players during the season, and meetings with the coaching staff that they weren't allowed to attend.
- Improper advice on techniques and plays provided by non-coaching staff to players from 2007-10.
Most important, the NCAA alleges that Rodriguez "failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance within the football program and failed to adequately monitor the duties and activities of the graduate assistant coaches and the noncoaching sport-specific staff members." That's exactly what the NCAA wrote in its notice of allegations to Michigan in February.
So this is basically the same situation as Rodriguez is facing at Michigan (Rodriguez, by the way, will appear before the NCAA's Committee on Infractions on Aug. 13-14 in Seattle). The only big difference is that Stewart also is alleged to have failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance.
Here's more on the situation from my colleague Brian Bennett.
Remember what Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said in May, when Michigan responded to the NCAA's allegations and strongly defended Rodriguez?
"Rich has a history of following the rules."
The NCAA seems to be disputing that history. It's hard to imagine the NCAA investigating West Virginia if things hadn't first surfaced at Michigan.
Like I've said from the beginning, these allegations aren't in the same league as paying players, academic fraud or certainly the recent problems involving agents and players. Michigan shouldn't be punished like USC.
But if the NCAA sees a pattern of non-compliant behavior under Rodriguez, it could come down hard on the Maize and Blue.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
It's not a huge surprise that Rich Rodriguez's new team has struggled early on in this season. What has been more shocking is how Rodriguez's old team, West Virginia, can't find its way, either. Both teams are 1-2, and both have struggled on offense. Aside from having two top 10 punters (Zoltan Mesko and Pat McAfee), there aren't a whole lot of positives.
The venom directed at Rodriguez throughout a messy offseason is now being reserved for his replacement, Bill Stewart.
I doubt my readers in the Mountain State will appreciate this, but here's how Michigan and West Virginia stack up in several national statistical categories through the first three games.
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The RichRod-WVU case has settled, and it seems like both sides are content the drawn-out dispute is over. Rodriguez, despite being $1.5 million poorer, can move on with his duties at Michigan. West Virginia got the money it wanted from Rodriguez, and can now look ahead to a very promising football season without him.
"I'm just glad it's over," Mountaineers coach Bill Stewart told The Charleston Gazette. "Both sides need to be able to focus on what's really important, and that's the football programs at West Virginia and Michigan."
Identifying clear winners and losers in this convoluted case isn't easy, but let's take a look.
West Virginia: The school got the $4 million it sought after Rodriguez left for Michigan in December. Waiting out seven months of squabbling to get the full compensation must provide a degree of vindication. But West Virginia still must pay its attorney fees and court costs associated with the case, so it's not a complete W. Much of the venom West Virginia had for Rodriguez was justified -- the coach should have handled his departure differently -- but the focus on this very public case didn't paint anyone in a good light. West Virginia football has a good thing going: a likable new coach (Stewart), one of the nation's most accomplished seniors (Pat White) and an improving league. To quote Les Miles, it's time for West Virginia to focus on its damn fine football team.
Rodriguez: This definitely wasn't the outcome he had hoped for, and though Michigan is picking up most of the tab, it's never fun to part with $1.5 million. Rodriguez wanted to see this through, but as the case dragged on, with his new bosses possibly having to give depositions, he agreed to settle. He clearly made mistakes during the process and should have settled this long ago. At least he can focus now on his extremely difficult task on the field at Michigan without the distraction off of it.
Michigan: Athletic director Bill Martin's post-settlement statement reconfirmed the school's faith in Rodriguez but acknowledged the positives of having the issue resolved. The much-publicized dispute wasn't the start Michigan envisoned to Rodriguez's tenure. Hiring an outsider was already a concern for the Old Blues. The school will shell out $2.5 million plus Rodriguez's legal fees, all from the athletic department's reserve funds, but at least it makes this p.r. headache go away.