Mailbag question: Making excuses


Posted at 8:00am — 6/17/2010


Does it seem like Michigan has become the “excuse” program lately, at least by some sites?

It does appear that plenty of blame for all the problems surrounding the football program has been levied to many, excepting the people in charge of the program and the university.

Excuses are like “you know what” and everybody has them. I want to see results on the field — isn’t that what really matters?

Your thoughts please?

Craig R. From Syracuse, NY.


Thanks for the question.

Our opinion has been consistent since the beginning of this entire (semi or total) fiasco; there is plenty of blame to go around. A venture as big as Michigan football may have only one Captain, but there are plenty of mates, and all have a meaningful purpose and delegated assignment(s) past the decoration or figurehead status.

Many old expressions could be used concerning the past 18 to 24 months. “Another fine mess”, “I know nothing,” fill in your own here ____________________________. The current football program’s status, while not in shambles, is messy and it is a flat out shame.

There are many good guys on this site who wish a time eraser could turn back some pages and create better results. But Alice left Wonderland and the Grinch has dropped in by parachute.

Sooner or later, good people, seeking to rebuild the foundational support and restore the prestige of the Michigan football program, will carefully analyze the inglorious and very sorrowful mysteries floating around the Wolverine world like whispy ghosts. This is/was the expectation of the NCAA and the vehicle for explanation was Michigan’s report.

Our staff collectively does not believe the potential position that the Michigan football staff should be insulated from ANY blame in the current “situations.”

Again, as in past mailbox responses, coaches are in charge of understanding and applying the institutional rules and are also in charge of the Michigan football program in actuality, not by a de facto status. As the old saying goes “the buck stops here”. This is an old saying the NCAA believes in.

Just as accurately, the coaches should not be made to assume “full blame” for all the happenstance that has quickly turned a mildly bubbling pot into a high-end vortex. No one short of administrative status is in a position to place a quantitative or qualitative amount of blame on any single individual (yes, names were named). Finding of fact, already undertaken, can (assuming a good process) clearly demonstrate: (1) a flow chart of responsibilities; (2) who or what entity had assigned responsibility; (3) the timeframes involved; (4) documented attempts to comply with prescribed duties and timelines, and (5) errors committed during the process and the nature of the errors.

This is not that difficult, hundreds of sports programs successfully navigate through this maze annually. Yes, the paperwork is thick and the context can be somewhat vague, but there are dozens of people within an athletic department along the assignment continuum and the NCAA has an available phone line.

Frankly, it should become obvious that many people and departments made mistakes of omission or commission, and in the normal path of such events individuals are held accountable, either in an actual vein or as a scapegoat. In any big enterprise, intra and interdepartmental happenings can fall through the cracks or fall victim to bad communication. The nature of the failings here, far exceed a normal/typical threshold of error.

There will be quick (and further) scurrying in August when the NCAA comes down off the mountain and gives the judgment (yea or nay) to Michigan’s suggested remedy to the allegations, whereupon, the commandments will be issued, and some housecleaning may result out of necessity. There is nothing pleasant for the university staff that will have to live through this personal nightmare for the next two months, or longer.

The biggest, and maybe the only, possibility of a silver lining is a well thought out and well-managed compliance plan that should put the program on good administrative footing in future times.

Concerning other sites, we will give our comments solely on these happenings. Our viewpoints, like every other enterprise assessing the blame game, are not privy to a finding of fact in totality or guaranteed certain accuracy. Even those in the midst of the actual process cannot likely guarantee a perfect final product based on perfectly accurate findings.

Just like the BP situation, many of the players in this several act comedy (or tragedy) are trying to cover their buttocks and their pocketbooks (livelihood). By the way, everyone here knows that football is a game and the Gulf situation is a disaster that pales any athletic program malfunction.

Again, this situation can best be described as, “It is what it is.” Sometime in the future this somewhat depressing novel will be traded in, rewritten, or edited for a better chapter of Michigan football. That comment is directed at administrative method, anticipated change, and program success, not personnel from any branch of the football program or university departments.

Written by GBMW Staff

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