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Last updated: 12/13/2011 2:09 AM
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Waiver Whips Up Wolverine Whining At Record Pace
By Tony Gerdeman

Way back on December 1st, our own Brandon Castel wrote about the NCAA waiver that Ohio State applied for, and was granted, giving the university the ability to have Urban Meyer hit the recruiting trail immediately.

What the waiver from the Subcommittee on Legislative Relief allows is for Meyer to count as one of the ten allowable coaches who are permitted to recruit. At the same time, one of the outgoing coaches who used to recruit is no longer allowed to do so.

"These are the parameters: We won’t go over 10 people who are coaching and we won’t go over 10 people who are recruiting, and we’re still limited to seven recruiters off campus at any given time," said Chris Rogers, Ohio State's Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance.

It was a perfect explanation, people moved on, and that's where we thought the story ended. Then, more than a week after Castel's story, the AP did a story of their own regarding the waiver, and suddenly the "controversy" went national.

To be more geographically correct, the controversy went northerly, all the way up to the state of Michigan.

Asked for comment, Big Ten Coach of the Year Brady Hoke responded, "It's different. That would be my reaction. I've never heard of it. Is that an advantage? Yeah, I think so."

But is it really?

Let's speak clearly here—the waiver isn't the advantage, Urban Meyer is the advantage.

Meyer isn't doing any actual coaching, he is merely recruiting—just like every other head coach should be allowed to do. Just because he's good at it doesn't mean the rule is unfair.

Right now, Ohio State is seeing a buzz unlike anything they have ever seen before in recruiting, and it's not because of some waiver granted by a gaggle of suits in Indianapolis.

This seems to be one of those simple things that is hard for some people to grasp or understand. Take Michigan Athletic Director Dave Brandon, for instance.

In an email to the Associated Press, Brandon stated that he just couldn't wrap his mind around this waiver situation.

"It allows more coaching resources to work on the two primary responsibilities of any staff—coaching and recruiting. I am struggling to understand how this relates to the 'level playing field' the NCAA claims it is always working to create."

Brandon can be forgiven as he has only been an athletic director for less than two years. He can't be expected to understand all of the rules that would benefit his athletic programs, can he?

This after all is the same guy that slow-played Jim Harbaugh and subsequently lost him to the NFL. Sometimes things can take a little bit of time to register for him.

Heck, he could have applied for the waiver himself had he fired Rich Rodriguez in November rather than waiting until after the bowl game to do so. But even then, that would mean he would have had to know about the waiver, which he probably did not.

Once he gets a few years under him, however, he'll have a better understanding of what's available to him. After all, experience is the greatest teacher that we can have. Just look at Gene Smith. This wasn't the first time he had used the waiver.

Plenty of Examples

Illinois is also requesting the waiver, which is actually fairly common given the situation. NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn echoed that sentiment in an email to the Associated Press.

"The NCAA has certainly received similar waiver requests prior to the bowl season from universities that have recently experienced coaching staff changes. When granted, these waivers are temporary, typically lasting through the bowl game, and only provide relief from maximum number of coaches allowed to be employed by the school. To prevent competitive advantage, the university still cannot exceed the number of coaches allowed to recruit at any one time and the amount of coaches allowed on the sidelines remains the same."

It was probably missed last year as well when Miami went through the same thing. It's understandable that nobody thought to be outraged. After all, Miami's not Ohio State.

UCLA also plans to use the waiver. I am waiting to hear Pat Haden's outrage screamed from the hood far and wide.

And the Wolverines?

Throughout all of this, the most vocal opponents of this common rule have been Michigan men (and women), all proudly professing their ignorance of long-standing rules.

The ultimate gotcha in the whinery would be if Michigan had filed for the same waiver when Rich Rodriguez was hired in December of 2007. Requests to the University of Michigan for that information have remained unanswered, and my extensive Googling has yielded nothing in terms of any waiver requested by the University of Michigan.

While we just don't know if Michigan requested the same waiver that they are inconsolable about now, we should probably be inclined to believe that they did, because if they didn't, then it would seem to me that the Wolverines had too many coaches recruiting.

It was well-documented that the news of Rodriguez's hiring was broken by Terrelle Pryor as he spoke to various recruiting sites advising them that he had spoken to Rodriguez prior to any official announcement. As we know, only ten Michigan coaches can be recruiting at any one time.

Pryor wasn't the only recruit contacted, though. There was also offensive line recruit Dann O'Neill. Were there more? What do you think?

So, either Michigan had a waiver, or Michigan was committing NCAA violations by having more than the NCAA-permitted number of coaches recruiting. Given the fact that Rodriguez put Michigan on probation, either of these two options are resoundingly plausible.

Waiver Wonder

If you really want to get upset about this whole waiver situation, point your anger at the likes of Texas and Maryland. Why? In January of 2010, the NCAA passed a rule that "coaches in waiting" were bound to the same type of recruiting rules that head coaches were.

Assistant coaches are permitted more recruiting freedom than head coaches, and the NCAA didn't like that "coaches in waiting" were essentially head coaches with assistant coach freedom, so they implemented a rule holding coaches in waiting to head coach standards.

This rule affected only Texas and Maryland. Texas had already tabbed Will Muschamp to be their next head coach, and Maryland had done the same with James Franklin. Texas and Maryland then filed a waiver request to the Subcommittee for Legislative Relief asking to be allowed to continue having their future head coach recruit like an assistant.

The NCAA agreed and gave both schools a one-year waiver to not follow the very rule that they had only months ago implemented to combat the very advantage that Texas and Maryland were enjoying.

Nobody got upset over that? Why doesn't Michigan Nation lose sleep thinking about that one?

Oh, that's right, it doesn't involve Ohio State.

On the upside, thanks to The Waiver, Michigan Men are once again being educated by the Ohio State University.

Here's hoping they finally put that education to good use for a change.

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