Thursday, September 30, 2010

Questions on the alleged MSU sexual assault case, or lack thereof

In the case of the alleged sexual assault of a coed by two Michigan State University basketball players, there are currently more questions than answers. Here are my opinions on a few of them:

1. What did the prosecutor mean by "mutual decision?"

It sounds to me as though the prosecutor pressured the victim not to pursue this case. If the prosecutor doesn't want to pursue the case, he could easily remind the victim of the long, arduous process and the "difficulty" of convincing a jury that their basketball heroes are guilty of sexual assault.

2. Is the prosecutor a basketball fan?

If the prosecutor is a basketball fan, it could indeed have a great impact on his decision whether or not to pursue charges. It would be difficult for him to prosecute someone he cheers for on a nightly basis.

3. Is there a different standard of "justice" for MSU basketball players than there is for other citizens of East Lansing?

Often, the accused's criminal record or lack thereof is taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to prosecute. Also, outside factors such as playing varsity basketball at the local school is also taken into consideration. Sometimes, if a potential defendant is seen to have professional potential, prosecutors are less likely to "ruin this kid's life" than they are that of an average citizen.

The problem with this approach is that the victim's life, at least in East Lansing, is already ruined. The name may not be public, but I can state with confidence that it has more than likely been "grapevined" to a point where everyone who knows her and many who don't know what happened. She is more than likely the target of scorn by many fellow students who are more concerned with the performance of "their" basketball team than with what she has gone through, or the concept of the perpetrators being held responsible for their actions.

At this point, it does not appear that justice is applied equally to all citizens of East Lansing.

4. Why have the major media outlets been so slow to pick up on this story, especially the two major Detroit outlets?

Apparently, the media don't see two Michigan State University basketball players being accused of sexual assault to be important enough to cover, or at least to feature it as prominently as they would if it happened at the University of Michigan. This leads to my last question...

5. If the accused had been football players at the University of Michigan, would the coverage be different, especially in the Detroit outlets?

This has been a major point of contention for me for a long time. The media is always quick to smear the University of Michigan's athletic programs for far less than what is alleged here. The newspapers will probably say that they considered the story less than newsworthy because no charges are being filed, but the Justin Feagin story was bludgeoned to death by nearly two months before charges were filed. In addition, the Demar Dorsey story was smeared all over the sports section of the freep, when supposedly sealed juvinile records were involved.

When one adds into the equation the amount of man-hours and print that put into the "expose" of twenty minutes of "extra" stretching by the Michigan program, and the constant framing of anything negative that happens at Michigan as "proof" that "Rich Rodriguez runs a dirty program," or "the University of Michigan has a 'win at all costs' mentality," it is difficult not to draw conclusions as to the motivation of the major media outlets in Michigan.

What it comes down to is that the coverage of the major media, but especially, is driven by a pro-MSU, anti-UM agenda. This would be OK if the media were calling themselves "entertainment," but they are not. They are portraying themselves as "objective" news sources.

Wrapping it up...

It is time for the media in the state of Michigan to cover the story of the Michigan State University basketball players' alleged sexual assault with the vigor and enthusiasm with which they cover negative stories concerning the University of Michigan. Right now, a very good case could be made that the instate media care more about smearing the University of Michigan football coach and his program than they do about the rights of a young sexual assault victim to justice.

The media should be asking why there is no justice for this young woman. They should be asking why MSU basketball players are not being charged in this case even as experts in the field say that the police report in question is some of the most valid evidence for sexual assault that they have seen.

Ultimately, the media should be asking themselves if their covert agenda to act as shills for Michigan State University while attacking the University of Michigan is worth denying justice to a young victim of a sexual assault. Maybe they should all ask themselves one question:

If this happened to your daughter, sister, or anyone else you were close to, would you want this story covered up? Or would you want it to see the light of day so that a young victim could have justice?

The truth, as it was once said, is self-evident.

I would like to thank WTKA, Sam Webb, and Ira Weintraub for their coverage of this issue on Michigan Insider this morning. A few of my opinions strongly echo those of Webb. Though I didn't "borrow" any material from him, I felt that he should be acknowledged for his efforts to bring this story into the "light of day." A podcast is available at

Two Michigan State University basketball players accused of sexual assault....

...and nobody cares.

We all know many of the details already. According to the police report, on the night of August 29 and early hours of August 30 after an orientation meeting, two unnamed MSU basketball players brought a young woman up to their room. After turning a miniature basketball hoop into a vehicle for "strip poker," the players intentionally missed shots as an excuse to remove all of their clothes.

The victim said they then blocked her from leaving and, according to the Michigan Messenger, "penetrated her in various positions." To make a long story short, when she finally began to protest, one player stopped and one continued. The player who stopped later corraborated her story to the police.

So, in this day and age, when sexual assault is now taken very seriously, and "boys will be boys" is no longer a valid defense, one would think that the combination of the victim's statement and the corraborating statement from one of the players would be a "slam dunk" to prosecute. Inexplicibly, the prosecutor decided not to file charges. Here was his excuse, according to a phone interview with the Michigan Messenger:

"After reviewing everything with the young lady, this was a mutual decision," Dunnings said in a phone interview Monday. "She [the victim] fully understood and agreed, is what Ms. Bouck [Ingham County Prosecutor assigned to review sex crimes] related to me."

Since then, the victim has come forward and told Michigan Messenger the following"

"I worry about what would happen if it didn’t go through and having to deal with all the publicity and everything that goes with pursuing charges," she said. "But also I am angry. It’s just that everybody looks at them as heroes and they’re so excited for basketball season that [the players] get off without anybody caring. They haven’t even been punished."

This raises myraid questions. Among them:

1. What did the prosecutor mean by "mutual decision?"

2. Is the prosecutor a basketball fan?

3. Is there a different standard of "justice" for MSU basketball players than there is for other citizens of East Lansing?

4. Why have the major media outlets been so slow to pick up on this story, especially and

5. If the players involved were from the University of Michigan football team, would the coverage be different, especially in and

I will give my opinions on these questions in my next post.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Week four thoughts...

1. Ho-hum: another 189 yards of total offense in less than a quarter for Denard Robinson...

Denard was at it again on Saturday, showing what the spread option can do against a weak defense when running at optimum speed. We all know that he went out with a minor and temporary knee injury, but that he will be ready for Indiana. Denard is rapidly becoming the prototypical Spread Option Quarterback. Taylor Martinez of Nebraska is also becoming a force and Trey Burton of Florida may follow in his footsteps soon.

2. Tate is still Great...

Tate Forcier showed that rumors of his demise are somewhat premature. His 12-for-12 performance said a lot about how he has responded to his benching. If MSU and OSU fans get their way, and Denard is indisposed for a few games, Forcier showed that he is more than capable of leading the Michigan offense and has, to all appearances, taken the number two slot on the depth chart back from Devin Gardner.

Forcier can't run as fast as Denard, but he is a very good distributor, and can run just fast enough to "move the sticks" if needed. It is easy to forget how good Forcier was before his myriad injuries last season; the BGSU game was a reminder that he can still play on an elite level. And rememer, he is only a sophomore.

3. Potential...

Devin Gardner showed that he isn't quite as good as the other two QB's yet, but that he does indeed have a very high upside. As the game "slows down" for DG, he will get better. He isn't as quick as Denard, but does appear to have pretty good "top end" speed once he gets going. DG will get a lot better as he gets to know the offense better and makes decisions sooner. He will realize that he doesn't have enough speed to run laterally, but has plenty to run "downhill," and will make the adjustments with experience.

His height helps him see over the line better, and he does have very nice touch on his passes. Potentially, he is the most gifted passer on the team. It should take a year or two for that potential to emerge, though.

4. Let's whine about the defense...

Instead of celebrating a blowout win in which Michigan was able to give their "depth players" invaluable experinece, and were still able to score pretty much at will, the Chicken Little segment of the Michigan fanbase chose instead to bemoan the "deficiencies" of the defense.

Really, though, except for a couple of bad plays, Michigan's defense was servicable against BGSU. And a servicable defense, combined with a state of the art offense, will be enough to win the number of games to which Michigan fans are accustomed. They only gave up 21 points. Many will say that this was to a MAC school, but it's not like they had to win in a shootout.

As I have posted before, the offenses have the advantage in this era of college football. Everyone struggles on defense except maybe five teams. Nobody is really stopping the spread at this point, and Michigan's version appears to be nearly unstoppable with Robinson at the helm.

This defense has a lot of young players, and will consequently have a faster learning/improvement curve than an older defense would. They are big enough up front that they no longer get pushed around, and the mistakes being made by the younger secondary are errors of commission, not omission.

Iowa could be a pretty bad "learning experince" game, as could PSU, but by the time Michigan plays Wiscy and OSU, the players will have had ten games of major college experience. I think we will see a much-improved team the last two games of the year.

5. Ryan Mallett loses his poise...

Ryan Mallett had it all in his hands: a chance to beat defending National Champion Alabama on national TV and thus increase his leverage in the Heisman Trophy race. So, what did he do? He whined and cried like a baby the first time he got hit in the mouth and every time thereafter.

As he showed at Michigan, Ryan Mallett is the bully who is full of confidence and poise until someone stands up to him and hits him back. Mallett looked great until Alabama started hitting him, and he started complaining to the refs after every hit. Soon, he was so busy complaining to refs and thinking about getting hit that he threw two fourth quarter interceptions.

Ryan Mallett didn't leave Michigan because he didn't fit into the offense. Ryan Mallet left Michigan because he didn't fit into the RR/Barwis mold of player. RR and Barwis want a team-first attitude and stress responsibility for one's own actions. They want players who have poise in the fouth quarter. They want players who "tune out" all of the outside influences that keep a team from winning.

Comparing Mallett's fourth quarter performance to that of Denard Robinson against Notre Dame, it is obvoius that Mallett was right: he didn't fit in. But not for the reasons he thinks.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Why are we so sad about another victory?

Michigan pulled out a potentially-damaging game against UConn yesterday. They overcame three potential negative "game-changing moments" in the last few minutes and did what many teams might not have done in that situation: they won.

Michigan endured a pass completion off a deflection in which the UMass reciever was out of bounds and made it back in on a play that was so close that there was no conclusive evidence from the replay. They endured a dropped interception that ended up gaining yards for UConn. They endured a blocked punt. And they still won.

Still, the "Chicken Little" segment of the Michigan fanbase is back, and all too ready to tell everyone how this team is going to collapse, how it was overrated, and how it won't stop anyone in Big Ten play. Last week, the defense gave up too many big plays, so GERG reacted by "playing safe." This week, they gave up a lot of yards but no big plays. The obvious next adjustment is to find a "happy medium."

Besides, most people miss the obvious here: without two of the "game-changer" moments, the defense played more than well enough to win this game. As it is, they still won. Sometimes, though, you just have to give credit to the opponent. UMass came in with a great game plan and worked extremely hard. They played the game of their lives and came up just short. Instead of congratulating them on a job well done and giving them credit, though, too many in the Michigan fanbase would rather focus on Michigan's shortcomings than give UMass any credit at all.

Anyway, I think Michigan is still in good shape. The whiners, naysayers, and those who embody Sparty's use of the phrase "Walmart Wolverines" can complain all they want, but this team is still going to be playing on January 1.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What if The Denard Experiment is a success?

Yesterday, I wrote about the possibility of Rich Rodriguez pioneering yet another trend in college football: a small, hypermobile quarterback named Denard Robinson. I am calling this, for the time being, "The Denard Experiment." Today, I want to look at what the future might hold if Denard were to have Tim Tebow-ian success.

First of all, RR's influence on the Big Ten has already made it a faster conference. The days of slow, bulky Big Ten teams piling on the lard for "leverage when the weather turns cold" are pretty much over, unless Michigan State and Wisconsin count. Northwestern was the first Big Ten team to use RR's spread option offense. It was their 54-51 victory over Michigan in 2000 that made the mainstream football world pay attention to the offense.

Ironically, Northwestern head coach, the late Randy Walker, learned the offense from Rich Rodriguez, who would be coaching the team he beat eight years later. Northwestern was able to have a better record than it "should have" with its personnel using this offense. Still, nobody really paid a lot of attention to it until Urban Meyer won a couple of National Championships with it at Florida.

When Appalachin State and Oregon used the spread to embarass Michigan in 2007, Michigan finally decided to go outside the old, incestuous coaching tree and get some new ideas. The newest and most modern idea was still the spread option. Who better to coach it than the man who invented it: Rich Rodriguez?

Jump ahead to 2010. Michigan has finally gotten past its struggles, and is being led by a quarterback who is under six feet tall, doesn't weigh 200 pounds, and can run a legitimate 4.3 forty. Denard Robinson has put up insane numbers running the offense, and is already being mentioned as a serious Heisman Candidate. Regression fallacy projections based on his numbers for two games work out to 2730 yards rushing and 2580 passing for a total offense of 5210 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Obviously, Denard can't keep putting up numbers like this all season, but what if he comes close? What if Denard becomes the best player in football for the next three years, and brings home one or two National Championships to the Maize and Blue? I could see the following effects on the game and on Michigan:

1. Denard Robinson might become the prototypical spread option quarterback. No more statues, no more tall guys, no more "sneaky fast" guys: just burners who can stop on a dime and hide behind the linemen when they have to.

2. Michigan, by virtue of the success of TDE, might become THE school for spread option quarterbacks.

3. The requirements for a passer may change. Because a fast quarterback running the spread option creates a lot of space and mismatches, it won't be as important for a QB to be a complete passer. All he will have to do is be able to run really fast, manage the offense, and hit high-percentage passes when his recievers are open, which will be often.

4. The NCAA may no longer be a "farm system" for NFL QB's. This could cause:

5. And NFL development league. Not a crappy imitation like Arena Football or a joke like the UFL, or whatever it is now called, but a real developmental or "minor" league where players who want to get to "the show" can develop their talents in a pro-style offense. Or:

6. The NFL could actually start using the spread option, or at least a lot of shotgun and spread formations. The NFL likes to think it rules the sporting universe, but college football has its way with the NFL. College football can support a lot more teams than professional football can, because the game is a lot more fun. One of the reasons it is so fun is that everybody doesn't use the same offense.

7. A college football playoff system. I'm only kidding on this last one. The only two things that will cause a D-1 playoff are money or government "interference."

Anyway, the football world is watching TDE with great interest. Denard is talented, humble, and charismatic. If he continues to perform on an elite level and continues to exemplify ideals such as teamwork, commitment, and humility, he could be the new "face of the spread option." And he could be the new prototypical spread option quarterback.

I would like that a lot.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Rich Rodriguez: Twice a Pioneer?

It is well-documented that Rich Rodriguez is the pioneer, or "Godfather," of the spread option. The last two weeks, it appears as if he is pioneering "Spread Option v.2:" this time with an elite athlete behind center.

For years, conventional "wisdom" has held that quarterbacks have to be big. Big enough to stand in the pocket and see passing lanes. Big enough to absorb punishment. Even in college football, at least on an elite level, quarterbacks under 6-2 have been the exception and not the rule, and the preference has been at least 6-4, with 6-5 or 6-6 being "ideal." It's almost as though there has been a de facto "rule" against using a QB under six feet tall since the demise of the triple option attack.

Quarterbacks have been used to distribute the ball, whether through the air, or by simply handing it to a running back, but they have not been encouraged to run the ball for fear of injury. This has made it easier for defenses because the QB is no longer a threat to run, so they don't really have to account for him. This has given defenses a numerical advantage over offenses.

When Rich Rodriguez invented the spread option, he basically combined the old triple option offense with the run and shoot. For fans, such as myself, who used to wonder what would happen if option QB's actually passed once in awhile, it has been very refreshing. For those who remember how much space the run and shoot gave Barry Sanders, it has also been great to watch.

RR's use of Pat White was an eye-opener. He didn't have the best arm when he started, but developed into a servicable passer by his junior year. As his recent failure to crack an NFL rotation showed, White doesn't have an NFL arm and his athleticism isn't considered to be so elite as to force them to give him an opportunity at another position, but he was able to pass for 6,051 yards and 56 touchdowns in four seasons while rushing for 4,480 yards and 47 touchdowns. This works out to 10,531 yards of total offense and 103 touchdowns in four years.

White was very close to what RR has today; he is a close-to-elite athlete with a decent arm and above-average speed. White, even though he was seen by most schools primarily as a safety, could be better described as a bridge between a conventional QB and what RR has now at Michigan. Enter Denard Robinson.

Denard has world class speed, and is a truly elite athlete. He was recruited by most schools as a CB or reciever, but was promised by RR a chance to compete at QB. Denard is generously listed as six feet tall, and doesn't fit into what scouts or coaches usually seek as "prototypical QB's," but was given the opportunity promised by RR: he was allowed to compete for the QB position.

As we have all seen the first two games, Denard has been successful. He has rushed for 455 yards and passed for 430 for 885 yards of total offense against two D-1 opponents projected to play in bowls this season. He has rushed for three TD's, including one for 87 yards against Notre Dame, and passed for two.

I know that projections based on a sample like this one are regression fallacies, but I will do it anyway for the fun of it. If Denard were to somehow sustain this level of performance, it would work out to 2,730 yards rushing with 18 touchdowns, and 2,580 yards passing with 12 touchdowns, for a total offense of 5,210 yards and 30 touchdowns. The most amazing feature of Denard's stats so far is that he has gotten all of them within the flow of RR's offense. There hasn't been any "gimmickry" such as Tim Tebow's status as main option in the goal line offense.

I'm not in any way predicting that Denard will actually amass these kind of statistics over twelve games, but I am pretty sure that he will look quite good by the end of the season. Most of all, the team will look a lot better at the end of the season than it has the last three.

Denard has earned all of this with his own work ethic, talent, speed, ability to grasp the offense, ability to manage a game, and ability to put it all together on gameday, but it was RR who gave him a chance when no other elite team would. RR has challanged a lot of "conventional wisdom with Denard." If RR were part of the herd instead of a pioneer, he may have listened to "pearls of wisdom" such as these:

A player as fast as Denard should be a CB, RB, or reciever.
A QB under six feet won't get the job done.
QB's are fragile, and should carry the ball as seldom as possible to prevent injuries.

Instead, RR has given Denard the "green light" to make his own decisions once the play has started. So far, the results are staggering. This version of the spread option may be RR's most successful version yet.

What are possible future implications if what could be known in retrospect as "The Denard Experiment" yields a National Championship and a Heisman? I will cover that tomorrow.