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Michigan beat writer in hot water over Dorsey comments

Apparently jokes at the expense of Rich Rodriguez’s heralded Michigan recruits don’t go over so well with the hometown newspaper. And’s Michigan beat writer Dave Birkett just got a spanking for making one.

This from the website’s chief content office Tony Dearing, who explains the story quite well:


“During a live chat on the site, University of Michigan football reporter Dave Birkett made an inappropriate remark relating to a player recruited to play for the Wolverines.

The comment involved Demar Dorsey, a blue-chip high school player from Florida who was arrested for burglaries during his teen-age years, but never convicted of any crime. He comes to Michigan with no criminal record and deserves to be treated as such.

During Monday’s live chat, Birkett briefly left the discussion to allow a repairman into his home. When he returned, he explained why he was away. A participant in the chat, using the screen name “Demar” made a joking remark about planning to come over to Birkett’s home. The comment was screened, and did not appear in the chat. But Birkett thought it was being posted in the chat and responded: “And thanks Demar, I’ll see you here shortly. No need to bring your crowbar.”

For those of you needing a refresher course on Demar Dorsey, take a gander back at JT’s Signing Day report on the exploits of Dorsey who had been implicated in multiple burglaries, including one with a deadly weapon.  While the settlement of those legal cases by diversionary programs or juvenile law was good enough for the University of Michigan to give Dorsey a second chance, it doesn’t mean that the local media should be forced to ignore the very real past of the controversial safety.

I’m all for hoping that Dorsey has turned his life around, but for a newspaper website to force its writers to pretend that an athlete wasn’t arrested multiple times for burglary is plain ridiculous. Maybe Birkett didn’t show the most tact, but its not up to the hometown news team to protect the players wearing Maize and Blue. If Rich Rodriguez is going to accept high-risk athletes with a criminal past into a program once known for its stringent discipline, he’ll need to accept the you-know-what that comes with it. 

(H/T: Ty Duffy at

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Respond to “Michigan beat writer in hot water over Dorsey comments”
  1. EFWolverine says: Mar 16, 2010 10:09 PM

    1. You’re right, it’s not the hometown media’s job to protect the players wearing the hometown colors. And as Birkett has shown multiple times over the past year, he’s not interested in doing so. It’s the media’s job to report, not crack jokes about kids who are trying to get away and start fresh. Birkett is a hack, this is not his first slip, and he deserves to have his feet put to the fire.
    2. Do some research. Michigan taking in “high-risk” athletes is not some Rodriguez-exclusive trend. Look up Kelly Baraka, Eugene Germany, Marques Slocum. Look up some of the activities from names like Brian Griese, Ernest Shazor, Carson Butler, Mario Manningham – while Lloyd Carr was the coach. This isn’t new.

  2. oldmancoyote says: Mar 16, 2010 10:35 PM

    What a stupid take. What a strawman argument. “But for a website to force its writers to pretend that an athlete wasn’t arrested multiple times for burglary is plain ridiculous.”
    I’m sorry but that’s not what happened at all. Birkett was participating in a chat alongside another sportswriter and made a gratuitous joke at a 17 year olds expense. A kid who made a mistake when he was 15 years old. A kid who wasn’t there to defend himself or participate in the “fun” had at his expense.
    Its one thing for some random chat guest to do so by signing in under the name of “Demar.” But its a whole other level of inappropriateness for a beat writer to take a gratuitous shot at Dorsey. Its a grown man making fun of a minor, a man whose very livelihood depends on his integrity to faithfully cover that kid next year with integrity.
    I think your take is either ignorant or purposely misleading. Take your pick.

  3. QVIST says: Mar 16, 2010 11:07 PM

    Lloyd took many players with troubled pasts. He just shut the door on the media unlike Rich.
    It’s good for Demar to get a fresh start thousands of miles away from the place/people that he has had trouble with. He’ll be a great player and will (hopefully) turn things around.

  4. TonyC says: Mar 17, 2010 2:42 AM

    My gut feeling on this kid is that he will be gone in less than 2 years. One mistake is just that but multiple offenses mean this kid is more than likely someone who has an entitlement mentality and will cause serious problems on campus.Not the kind of person I would want on my team.

  5. BrownsTown says: Mar 17, 2010 8:58 AM

    What a joke. “Michigan Men” have torched their prestige by dancing with the devil (and you STILL can’t beat THE Ohio State University).

  6. Keith Arnold says: Mar 17, 2010 12:30 PM

    @oldmancoyote: If you’re going to just pull one line from the post, I guess I have to chip away at your argument, too. Dorsey didn’t make ONE mistake, he made multiple… Also, I said that I didn’t think Birkett showed any tact, but the line Dorsey has “no criminal record and deserves to be treated as such,” is a joke.
    @EFWolverine: This may not be new to UM, but RRod certainly can’t make another slip after the cocaine incident last season, and — more importantly — two sub .500 football seasons.

  7. interested says: Mar 17, 2010 1:44 PM

    I dig Maize fans coming to Rich’s defense, no problem with it. As I have stated on here before, as a person pretty well aquainted with Michigan football and the university I think this was a terrible hire in terms of what Michigan has looked for in a coach in the past and how they went about doing it. This guy no more fits into the Michigan culture than Mike Leach would. However, maybe Michigan’s administration and key boosters want to go in a different direction. All that being said, spare us “the kid made a mistake when he was 15 years old argument”. This kid was arrested 5 timies in a 22 month period. The disingenuious comment from Tony Dearing that “he was never convicted of any crimes” is an insult to the reader. As correctly previously noted, the only reason he wasn’t “convicted” is because he entered diversion programs and also took advantage of youthful felon laws. Not saying he doesn’t deserve a second chance, just call it like it is, this kid hit the lottery with Michigan. This is a kid that both Florida and Florida State backed off of once this was all published in the south Florida press. Have Michigan players got in trouble in the past? Sure they have, just like everybody else. However go ahead and list for me all the players Michigan signed who CAME TO MICHIGAN

  8. oldmancoyote says: Mar 17, 2010 1:45 PM

    Keith –
    You really ought to know your facts. Demar HAS no criminal record. That is a fact. He has a JUVENILE record which is generally expunged for a reason. Talk to any attorney, if you have any questions, about the difference between the two.
    The kid was 15 years old when he got in trouble. He is exercising a respectable level of maturity by choosing to get out of state and away from those influences for his college career.
    But all this is beside the point. It’s not supposed to be about Dorsey at all. It’s supposed to be about a grown man taking a gratuitous shot at a kid he is supposed to be covering in a professional fashion.
    You can’t on one hand claim to call the comment tactless and then mischaracterize what the website’s statement said in an effort to diminish the classless error in judgment exhibited by Birkett.
    But by all means, defend the snarky too-cool-for-school style of your website. Lord knows it’s what passes for “original” commentary these days.

  9. NAACPNOFRIENDOMINE says: Mar 17, 2010 2:24 PM

    Boo hoo. Dick Rod and all those other “Meecheegan (wo)men” are reacting incredibly hypersensitive about this. Perhaps they should have scrutinized the player practice logs this closely.
    Screw the Blue!

  10. oldmancoyote says: Mar 17, 2010 3:08 PM

    Interested –
    Florida and Florida State did not “back off” the kid. Florida State was recruiting him hard all the way up to his announcement on signing day.
    Florida pulled his offer only after Demar started to take trips to other schools. He had committed to Florida very early on in the process. But after a point, Demar decided to visit other schools. Florida gave him an ultimatum – stay committed here or visit other schools. He visited USC and they pulled it. From UF’s point of view, they were running out of spots and didn’t want to get left at the altar on signing day. They had that luxury.
    But oddly enough, as soon as Demar decided to visit other schools and Florida pulled their offer, the news broke then. Since Florida knew all along about this kid’s history, the timing of the scoop was fairly curious. Urban and his coaches play pretty hard at the recruiting game. There’s a lot of speculation, including from the Dorsey camp, that these sealed juvenile records were exposed by the UF staff/supporters pissed off that he reneged on his verbal.
    Anyway, for someone who intends to be strict about people calling things what they are, you seemed to be fairly uninformed about the circumstances surrounding Demar’s recruitment.
    Also, the “22 month period” framing obscures the fact that he was a kid, not an adult, during that time frame. No one denies that he was part of a pretty bad crowd. What’s important in respect to Demar is where is his head at now? There’s a reason that UM admissions and the AD signed off on him during a time when RR’s clout wasn’t overwhelming. If you understand the culture at UM right now during the course of this investigation/NCAA allegations, you should be able to appreciate that point.
    And again – let me reiterate. This story is about a grown man making fun of a teenage during a public forum.

  11. interested says: Mar 17, 2010 3:22 PM

    Apology for typo above. What the last sentence was supposed to say was….List for me all the players who signed and CAME TO MICHIGAN with multiple arrests during either the Schembechler or Carr years. Don’t know if there was ever one. This is not a kid they would have signed. Not saying that is right or wrong. Just don’t pass this off as business as usaul for UM. Rich Rod runs a different ship, that is fact. By the way oldmancoyote, be careful acting like you know something about the law. Your comment “he has a juvenile record which is generally expunged for a reason” is not necessarily correct. A record can be sealed, expunged, or left in tact. It varies state by state and case by case. Mr. Dorsey may indeed have a record since I nor you know the facts of his particualr disposition.

  12. oldmancoyote says: Mar 17, 2010 3:39 PM

    interested – i do know the law. i am an attorney. and you’re right that the RECORDS have different dispositions depending on the state. but a juvenile offense is distinct from a criminal offense for a reason.
    as far as the multiple arrests challenge – hard to do since these records are not supposed to be a matter of public record. but i guarantee you that UM has recruited many players who have been arrested multiple times as children. every school has.
    btw – i had a juvenile record too (expunged now). i went to michigan, graduated, served in the army as an intel analyst, went to law school and now i’m an attorney. the notion that mistakes i made as a child define who i am as a man is ludicrous and fundamentally unfair. people ought to have a bit more perspective on this issue and stop utilizing the most superficial process of analysis to define a kid/issue.

  13. patrickg68 says: Mar 17, 2010 3:46 PM

    Its funny how burglary could be considered a “mistake.” As in I’m sorry, I must have accidentally broken into your home and taken your posessions without knowing it. There are plenty of people who grow up without making that “mistake.” To try and downplay criminal behavior is no better than condoning it. And unless he is legally retarded and just doesn’t know any better I don’t care if he was 15 or 50. At that age you KNOW that it is wrong to break into someone’s home and steal their things. And what does it tell you that he was arrested multiple times? How many burglaries did he commit without being caught? I’m sick of people making excuses for criminal behavior.

  14. Lucky5927 says: Mar 17, 2010 4:30 PM

    I grow so tired of people sugar coating things to make someone feel better about themselves. It was a joke, nothing more and nothing less. So many hypocrites on here who have no doubt made a joke at someone’s expense. and NO it doesn’t matter if it was in public or in with a small group of people. People do it all the time. late night talk show hosts do it over live tv everyday (Anyone say Tiger??). Lots of people do it, yet, this guy gets crucified. This kid has a history. And from what it sounds like, an extensive history. Sure this guy may be a jerk. Not doubting that. But if this kid has the guts to participate or hang around with individuals who are breaking the law constantly, then I am fairly certain he can handle a joke or two at his expense. Sounds more like people are freaking out for this kid and not because he has made a statement that he has a problem with it. Let go of the double standards and get back to work.

  15. HailVictors says: Apr 8, 2010 12:23 PM

    Do you honestly pretend to make jokes about criminal histories of Wolverine players? Take a look in your own back yard. Glass houses, man. Glass houses. Clarrett, Holmes, etc…….the list goes on. Christ, Katzenmoyer couldn’t even spell his damn name.
    As far as not beating tOSU? Remember, there’s still a 15 game lead Michigan owns in the rivalry. tOSU still has a long way to go. Go burn some more couches and wait ’til November when the Wolverines will put that gap back at 16 games.

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