Forty-two #2

Did we miss an LC breakthrough?

Lost in the melodrama of the Carr/Trent/RR saga was an occurance that may be one of the bigger breakthroughs in the RR "era:" Lloyd Carr actually spoke in RR's defense: sorta.

Since RR was hired, Carr has gone out of his way to keep silent, saying that he doesn't want to "interfere" with RR. In the meantime, his silence has been interpreted in different ways. Some have taken his silence at face value. Some have taken it as "proof" that Carr is involved in the alleged anti-RR faction within the AD. Some, such as I, have taken a "wait and see" approach. Intrisnically, Carr's silence doesn't really prove anything, but call for solidarity in the style of his mentor Bo would go a long way toward uniting the department or at least changing the perception of a "Big House divided."

Consequently, I was very glad to see Carr finally speak out on the Trent allegations. I would like to see Carr realize that his words, when used correctly, can still carry a lot of weight in Ann Arbor. Also, he needs to realize that his silence can "speak" louder than words in some rather inflammatory situations. Carr didn't ask for it, but the role of Schembechler-style "coach emeritus" and mentor is begging for him to step in. He doesn't need to involve himself in the minutae of coaching, but a few well-placed words, such as the ones he gave us concerning Trent, or a well-timed "LC glare," could keep those who are allowing their personal agendas to harm the program in line.

Anyway, Lloyd, thanks for finally speaking out and helping to change the perception of opposing factions destroying the AD from within. Hopefully, Carr will continue to use his position to help RR and the football program in any way he can, even if it involves more public statements or putting a few people in their places behind the scenes. As he realizes his true power and settles into his role, he could make a huge difference in helping to return UM to its rightful place among the elite programs in college football.

What's up with Sparty Dave?

Sparty Dave Birkett seems to have been making an effort to do his job without allowing his Spartan emnity toward UM to affect what he writes, but he sorta "fell off the wagon" last week. First of all, his coverage of the aforementioned Trent allegations was all too enthusiastic. Then, he got a little carried away in his coverage of the charity golf outing. He asked a bunch of former players what they thought of the program. Most said they didn't like losing, but the program was on the right track.

So, what did Sparty Dave do? He described the mood of former players as "trepidation," which is roughly equivalent to dread. Even though none of the quotes used in the column demonstrated anything remotely resembling dread, he used the word as if it were the prevailing opinion. To me, it appears that he is a nice guy and is genuinely trying to be objective, but eventually and often falls victim to the old adage that "blood is thicker than water."

I wish he could find a job for more money working the Sparty beat somewhere and Andrew Reid could have the UM beat. That way, everyone would win. I wouldn't wish for Birkett to be fired because he hasn't shown any malicious intent like Carty, Rosenpuke, or Shyster, but I fail to see what Tony Dearing was thinking when he hired an MSU grad to work the UM beat for A2 Dot com. Birkett would be happier reporting on his alma mater, Reid would be happy using the considerable talent he displayed at the Michigan Daily reporting on his alma mater, and readers and advertisers would benefit from someone who likes the school reporting on it.

As for Birkett, I think he could probably advance his career faster if he were elsewhere. If I were a Spartan stuck on the UM beat, I would feel like I was jogging at the beach in galoshes. I think his talent needs and deserves a more appropriate opportunity than "sleeping with the enemy." He would actually be a lot of fun to read on a national beat as long as he wasn't discussing UM.

It will be interesting to see his reaction and his reporting style when UM's self-punishment and the NCAA's response come out. I would like to see him cover it objectively with a lack of histrionics or drama, but I think the chances of that happening are about the same as me finding a well-insulated case of 1963 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild on my doorstep tomorrow.

Is "Fort Schembechler" back at UM?

From all appearances, yes. And many of the players have made it easy for RR. Some players, including Tate Forcier, are so pissed at the local media for their "reporting" that they don't want to talk to reporters. When one of your team leaders hates the media, it's great for keeping them at bay.

There is an old saying that if you give someone enough rope, he will hang himself. This is obviously a metaphor, but it is exactly what has been happening at UM in a metaphoric sense. When RR came in, he gave the media unprecedented access to his players. Did the media thank him for making his job easier? No. They busted his chops worse than any coach in the last fifty years, lied to his players to get information for hatchet jobs, and even turned the school that is indirectly putting roofs over their heads in to the NCAA.

For years, reporters have lamented that they didn't have the access they felt they needed to do their jobs at UM. When they finally got the access they have desired for so long, they abused it. Consequently, they no longer have the access they were given by RR. I guess they would rather have RR give them the Carr glare from the cozy confines of Fort Schembechler.

How many freep writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Oh, that's too easy. The answer is, "none." But they will turn you into the NCAA if it takes you a couple of minutes too long.

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