About 16 months ago (sorry, we have a baby on the way, so I speak in months now), this blog took a rather discerning look at the life and times of former Wolverine CB Morgan Trent [link]. I took a full swing at him in one of the most controversial posts I've ever done on this blog. At the time, I felt justified after watching Trent compete in a senior bowl where he adorned his Michigan helmet with a buckeye sticker - which as you might assume did not go over so well here at MBN HQ.
To make a long story short, the post drew a lot of attention, and this blogger took a fair amount of heat for having such strong feelings about a Michigan player who has the audacity to adorn his helmet with a buckeye sticker. I won't go into the specifics, you can read about that here, but lets just say as a Michigan fan who grew up in Ohio, I have a short fuse when it comes to Michigan-Ohio relations.
So fast-forward to present day.
A couple days ago, MVictors dropped a story about a book is being published that is chronicling 4 mid-round draft picks from the 2009 NFL draft. The book is entitled Draft Season. And, you guessed it, Morgan Trent is one of the players followed. Bengals.com provided a snippet of the book regarding Trent. Basically, Lloyd Carr told Trent that Rodriguez was "trashing" him to every NFL scout that he could.
So, there is a fair amount of "he said - he said" going on here. As can be seen by Rodriguez's rebuttal [via mgoblog]:At the end of the book, Deren describes the scene with Lloyd Carr, the former Michigan head coach that recruited Trent to Ann Arbor, breaking the news to Trent that current head coach Rich Rodriguez did him no favors.“Rodriguez had bad-mouthed him to every NFL scout he could,” Deren writes. “Rodriguez claimed that Morgan was lazy, he had an attitude problem and he was a big reason the Wolverines finished with a 3-9 record…”
Trent admits the words were “jarring,” and they were hard to understand given that he was so serious about his career that he actually moved in with his brother and sister-in-law and their two small children while going to Michigan.
But Trent was also worried about what Carr thought about his words showing up in the book. He talks to him, not Rodriguez.“I really like Coach Carr. He’s been very good to me,” Morgan says. “I think at first he was wondering, but I let him know it didn’t put him in a bad light. I would never do something like that to Lloyd. He’s great.”
Coyle heard the rumblings, but he didn’t talk to Rodriguez and put more stock in other people close to the Michigan program that had been there before.
“When there is a coaching transition and the team ends up not having success, you have to step back and try to decipher what the truth really is,” Coyle says. “There was a lot of heat on those people and there was some pointing of blame. Plus, the players were somewhat chagrined, so you had to look at everything.”
Coyle had a big edge. He coached Trent at the Senior Bowl and not only was Trent impressed with him two months before he was drafted (“He’s not really a screamer and he seemed like he really cared,” Trent says in the book), but the feeling was mutual. Coyle spent a week with him and was sold on his solid personality and physical prowess.Coyle never heard the words of Rodriguez until later and it wouldn’t have mattered.
“I guess it was motivation,” Morgan says of the words that Deren estimates may have cost him $1 million. “(I) want to show people it was all false.”
Consider it done.
“The comments attributed to me are inaccurate and absolutely ridiculous,” Rodriguez said in a statement. “I said just the opposite about Morgan Trent to NFL scouts and wish him well with the Bengals.”You have to ask yourself, what could Rodriguez possibly gain by trashing Trent to NFL scouts? Unless he's got a serious problem with Trent and wishes him ill-will, which I just can not see. As Greg from MVictors points out, I'd also like to see with whom the author got this information. Its likely he got it through the grapevine by Trent who got it from Carr who got it from some unnamed NFL scout (or a friend of an NFL scout) who somehow got it out of Rodriguez.
If you ask me, it's not altogether outside the realm of possibility that Rodriguez didn't have the nicest things to say about Morgan Trent. Why? Here's a great example.
If asked his honest opinion of Trent in 2008, the only season Trent played for Rodriguez, I'd be willing to imagine that Rodriguez would struggle to find anything glamorous to say about his departing CB.
The fact is, Morgan Trent was a mediocre cornerback at Michigan. He was a starter because he had the look of a good CB, and at times, acted like one. But by-in-large, he just wasn't all that great...and Michigan, apparently, didn't have any better alternatives.
Brian from mgoblog agrees:
He was not particularly good at football. He badly regressed after a promising junior season. Then when he went to the Shrine Bowl he "struggled," reinforcing the opinion of scouts "already down on him." The reason for this is now obvious: he hated the transition to Rodriguez, probably hated the coach himself, and spent a year half-assing it. The responsibility for this lies with Morgan Trent, even if he was so serious about football he lived with relatives(!). Attempts to deflect it only reinforce the very criticism (possibly) leveled by Rodriguez. It had nothing to do with the quality of the team, as Trent claims elsewhere in the article. A guy from Hillsdale went in the third round this year. The Bengals hadn't even talked to Rodriguez and still waited and waited and waited to take him.Brandon Graham steps up to back Rodriguez:
During the very moments when Trent was doing whatever it was that made him a team cancer, Brandon Graham was turning himself into a first-round pick. We have not had any reports on what Rodriguez told NFL scouts about Brandon Graham, but dollars to donuts they were along the lines of "draft this man first overall and ask if he will adopt your kids." The reason Rich Rodriguez would say this is because of the things Brandon Graham did. You see, Rudy?
"Coach Rod’s a good coach, and people are just trying to get him in trouble to me," Graham said.The longer you look at this story, the more BS you uncover. Its pretty clear that there were guys who loved Carr and hated Rodriguez. And then there were guys who liked both and thrived under both administrations. Its a pretty clear the impact of Rodriguez on this program was like oil and water at first. And even today, lingering effects of that marriage are still being contested by certain unnamed newspapers from the greater Detroit area which we will no longer link to from this blog...ever.
Until he finds sustainable success, you will have some bitterness and resentment from all sides against Rodriguez for what he is trying to do at Michigan.
I might be pissing into the wind here, but does it seem like Carr really shouldn't have an office or a position inside the athletic department? Not that Carr is a bad guy or is the source of all this friction, but just his presence alone seems to be a major distraction. You hear reports form time to time about Carr not being happy with Rodriguez, or a former player spouting off about what Carr said about Rodriguez. Those are relatively harmless if the guilty party comes clean, but Carr doesn't. He stays silent. Thus giving these rumors and stories legs.
To me, one athletic department is not big enough for two football coaches with vastly different styles and personalities. Dave Brandon needs to have a sit-down with Carr (as uncomfortable as that will be), and then set the record straight publicly. These clear divisions within the department are a cancer on the program, and will only lead to more stories like Morgan Trent.