September 01, 2009
Whatever its intentions, the Detroit Free Press' weekend broadside at Michigan's workout regimen is being widely met locally as a crusade to hasten the fall of the Rodriguez administration, or at least to advance some hidden agenda at the program's expense. That's probably to be expected from the homers. But you know your muckraking is losing traction when your target starts receiving moral support from its mortal enemy:
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP)—Ohio State players say if their rivals at Michigan are putting in extra time, they’re not alone.
So are the Buckeyes. And so is any team, they say, that wants to be any good.
Join the club, the Buckeyes said.
Ohio State captains Kurt Coleman and Doug Worthington and head coach Jim Tressel all said Tuesday that it takes extra work to compete these days in major college football—and the players who want to be great understand that.
The NCAA may have a 20-hour per week cap, but the players don’t live by that.
Why, those kids are chomping so hard at the bit, Jim Tressel sometimes has to chain the doors of the Woody Hayes Center, you know, to get them out of there. You can't keep them away from that weight room.
Seriously, you can't, or so I hear: After three days in the headlines, I think it's safe to say the broad reaction has veered sharply in Michigan's favor from the standpoint that a) There's no effective way (short of staring into players' souls) to distinguish between what was actually mandatory and what was just strongly encouraged, if you know what I mean, and b) The precedent from an actual crackdown would send ripples toward the compliance departments of essentially every major program in the country, forcing halfhearted reforms no one cares about except, apparently, the Free Press. They got their investigation, but when you're up against a cultural norm so entrenched that Ohio State comes rushing to Michigan's defense, that boulder's not going anywhere.