Commentary

Feeling the pain of a coach

Updated: September 3, 2009, 3:29 PM ET
By Dick Vitale | ESPN.com

Whether you are a coach in basketball, baseball or football, you had to feel the pain of Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez when he recently addressed the media.

Michigan is currently under investigation after several anonymous players claimed they were overworked, NCAA rules violation.

This story is unbelievable to me. If someone studies these rules, you need an attorney or a rocket scientist to break them down. It is so confusing, trying to figure out what is valid and what is not allowed in time management.

Think about the athletes spending time in the weight room. What about therapy work to recover from an injury? What goes against the 20 hours in the NCAA time allotment? What about film study, trying to prepare. Players spend time trying to improve, trying to become the best they can be.

Is there something wrong with that?

I wonder what Bo Schembechler would be saying now if he was still alive? Think about work ethic, pride, dedication, passion, all the factors that make for a great athlete and hopefully, a great person. Imagine having guys complaining about effort and work ethic?

I am all for rules. If a coach is committing a violation, I am all for punishment. I have a problem when guys in your own family are complaining about working hard.

Whatever happened to the old-fashioned American way, of giving your best.

I think about my dad, who is up in heaven. He used to press coats, working so hard, spending hours just sweating and giving his all in a factory. He was never late for work, then he would come home and put on a coat and serve as a security guard. He would bust his gut the American way.

Some of today's players have to look in the mirror. They have to understand what it takes to make it in life.

There have to be a bunch of malcontents, probably unhappy with their playing time, making complaints about hours spent working on improving.

When I heard Rodriguez speak in front of the press, I believe him. I think he has been sincere and genuine. If there has been a violation, I don't feel there has been any intent.

The staff at Michigan has had one intent -- to put the best team possible on the field. We're talking about one of the great universities in America, both in academics and athletics. When you talk about the Maize and Blue, you talk about greatness.

Last season was a disaster. A 3-9 season was unheard of given all of the tradition in Ann Arbor. One must understand there was a lot of turmoil during the transition from Lloyd Carr as coach, to Rodriguez. A number of players transferred.

Let's give the guy a fair shot and see what he can do. He came in as an offensive innovator with an impressive resume. Rodriguez had all kinds of success, and all of the people moaning and groaning now about his decision to go to Ann Arbor, understand that any coach should try to elevate himself. Going to a place like Michigan is like going to Notre Dame, Florida, USC ...tradition-laden programs.

Can you blame the guy for moving on? It was a really ugly departure, and now people are taking shots.

It would have been nice if some of those players that complained about Rodriguez showed accountability and gave their names. They took the coward's way out, and that was gutless.

This situation not only affects college football, but basketball as well. I have always believed it is absurd to have these stringent rules. I look at foreign players and the amount of time they put in to get better, and I see why they are improving and catching up to our talent.

It makes it tough for a coach to help a player develop to his full potential. Some of our regulations are simply asinine.

Come back to me when you have complaints about schools buying players, getting cash and clothing, kids cheating on tests.

Give me a break, criticizing an athlete for sweating, working hard, spending time to perform at a higher level! That is a joke!

Dick Vitale

College Basketball analyst
Dick Vitale, college basketball's top analyst and ambassador, joined ESPN during the 1979-80 season. His thorough knowledge of the game is brought forth in an enthusiastic, passionate style. Vitale also contributes columns to ESPN.com.