Griese on WTKA gives Gittleson major props for 97 National Champs

Submitted by Blue boy johnson on May 14th, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Brian Griese on WTKA gave major credit for the 97 season to the off-season work of Mike Gittleson, and the workouts he put the team through. Griese then went on to commend the team on their focus, dedication and teamwork in the 97 off-season. Griese made it sound as if the team gave a renewed and increased dedication to not being denied by anything in 97, in other words the players were all in.

Gittleson gets a lot of unwarranted grief on this blog IMHO, despite all the stellar players that came through and developed under his watch. Recently Mike Barwis has gotten a lot of credit for the development of Brandon Graham (I would give more of the credit to Brandon).

Should Mike Gittleson get equal props for the development of David Harris, a lowly 2 star recruit, who blossomed under Gittleson's masterful tutelage?



May 14th, 2010 at 1:10 PM ^

There are a lot of questions in your post.

* Gittleson was apparently widely respected in his field.  Barwis himself has praised the old S&C coach.

* Most of the readers are probably familiar with the "increase Massey's weight with pizza" strategy, which is referenced here: (A link to MGoBlog, too!  I could have just referenced that, but I thought it would be interesting to show that Dan G. was famous outside of town.)   I don't know whether it's true.  But, it doesn't sound cutting-edge, does it?  Perhaps DG was out-of-date near the end?

* As far as David Harris is concerned, there's more to football than S&C, right?  If it were that simple (and we can safely assume that the reputation of Barwis is deserved) we wouldn't be talking about RichRod's job security.  No, I think Harris developed as a football player, too (gains in size and strength aside).  I mostly agree with you on Graham's development, by the way.

It might not be easy to separate the S&C program from player development.  I'd be interested in what the 'blog experts have to say.


May 14th, 2010 at 1:15 PM ^

highly of LC after 97, but things change. 

Clearly there was a disconnect in player development in later years.  Could be that someone might not have wanted MG to push players so hard....The answers are not easy and clear, of course, and one can find examples of development in every class.   But it would be tough to deny that MB and the modifications to the weight room and program have not been good for UM.  For some example, merely read recruits comments. 

And hopefully this year, we will see more physical antedotal evidence...Taylor, Schofield, etc...


May 15th, 2010 at 9:02 PM ^

on MGoBlog and other places.  There seems to be a pretty big dissent on whether "pretty much everyone" still thinks pretty highly of Lloyd.  I would venture that as a football coach that it is not "pretty much everyone."   And even Brian has written some perhaps not so flattering comments about some of the final years of LC's tenure as the football coach.    

But, if you are talking about what LC has done as a person for the University - - such as the hospital fundraising, the behind the scenes stuff like taking an interest in Bree Evans, then yes you are likely right, and people should think highly about LC's commitment to Mott etc.

And since you missed the entire point of the post, it was that the evaluation of LC, the football coach, was a lot higher in 1997 than 2007, and the same could be same for Gittleson. 


May 14th, 2010 at 1:20 PM ^

But never forget the S&C coach is only as good as the entire teams focus.  Lets face it, 2006 team showed up in a huge way, they looked great from the 1st game.  2007 many of the same players and the team looked like crap.  Was that Gittleson or was that the team not showing up in the offseason?


I wanted a modern up to date S&C program focusing on power & explosion, concentrate of football movements and stability muscles as well as speed training.   The thing is was it Lloyd who wanted to stay the same or was it Gittleson.  I had heard Lloyd was big on the hit method and machins rather then free weights for a couple reasons but one was safety and second was focus on indivudiual muscle groups....  But it was difficult to work on power/explosion through those methods.

The other thing 2006 team did was run and they put in miles every single day.  and at this level you need to run 3 miles a day for lineman and probably 5 for athletes.....


May 14th, 2010 at 1:21 PM ^

type of kid that each system seeks to develop. Barwis is faster, smaller, better conditioned, Gitt was slower but stronger.

Barwis needs his linemen to get to the 2nd level, play a uptempo and no huddle offense, while Gitt's guys had a huddle & only needed to hold their blocks for a few seconds while the QB threw, the RB ran by them.

One isn't better than another, but RR's system demands a guy like Barwis.


May 14th, 2010 at 1:22 PM ^

"Griese made it sound as if the team gave a renewed and increased dedication to not being denied by anything in 97, in other words the players were all in."

I think your definition of "all in" is a bit higher order than what RR has thus far intended. I would define RR's "all in" as believing in the new program and having faith in the coaching staff. It's more of an internal perspective. The mindset Griese discusses seems more external - Michigan against everyone else. Thus, it seems Griese discusses more going "all out" than being "all in." And while they overlap, I would say that "all in" has to precede "all out" to some extent. RR would like his "all in" to develop into Griese's "all out." Maybe we will see it this season. Maybe next. 


May 14th, 2010 at 1:35 PM ^

..for his time.  However, just as with Lloyd Carr, the game passed him by. 

Gittleson did his job very well; his job was to produce the stereotypical, bulky Big Ten beast.  However, it seems to me that too many players slowed down between their freshman and senior years.  In today's game, speed is more important than bulk: thus, the transition into coaches like Barwis. 

Though the subjects of this "argument" are contemporary, the core argument has been going on for years.  One side says that you can't win in the Big Ten without bulk because you need it for leverage when the weather gets cold.  The other side says that bulk wins the Big Ten, but fails massively on a national scale because there isn't enough speed. 

Barwis'methodology is apparently desigined to produce both strength and speed, with an accent on explosion.   

I attended somewhere around a hundred games in the Big House when I lived up there.  One of the most frustrating and repetitive experiences for me was to see maize and blue linemen or LB's bust into the backfield, only to have the QB scramble just out of reach and complete a big play.  I don't see that happening with the current team. 

Will Michigan get pushed around by bulky BT linemen?  It's possible, but I don't think so.  I think we need to wait until there are some fifth-year seniors who have been through five years of Barwis before we make that kind of judgement.

I think Gittleson was great for his time, but I think Barwis is great for the current era, too.  As a somewhat experienced complimentary health (massage) practitioner and teacher, I can say from experience that the health field is going through  near-exponential advancement.  The worst thing one can do in the field of health is to stop learning and say, "this is how we did it ten years ago."

I'm willing to give both men credit.  I don't think it has to be mutually exclusive.

Pea-Tear Gryphon

May 14th, 2010 at 1:57 PM ^

I don't know why people need to bash the old regime to praise the new. This isn't directed at Tater's comments, but more of an overall feeling around here. We were the epitome of a consistently good team. There were peaks of "great", valleys of "ok", but most of the time we were contending for B10 titles and beating our rivals more times than not. I think Lloyd, Mo, the staff and Gittleson had a lot to do with that. Those were great times.

I think we can praise the work being done by RR and Barwis without having to say that the game passed the others by and they weren't good at their jobs anymore.



May 14th, 2010 at 2:26 PM ^

Asking the exact year the game passed Lloyd and Gittleson is like asking why we lost to OSU so much towards the end of Lloyd's tenure but beat them at the beginning.  It isn't one reason just like there wasn't an exact year.....but some of us watching the games just sort of felt it.  That isn't to take anything away from the earlier years, but the first 2 games of 2007 should tip you off at how far we have to go to get back to being elite.


May 14th, 2010 at 2:25 PM ^

I think "passed him by" is a loaded phrase, as it can mean more than 1 thing, e.g., do you mean no longer winning at an elite level or do you mean no longer any good at all?  If you mean, the former, the answer is yes.

Obviously, to the very end, Carr could get big wins (see his last game vs Florida, though they weren't a Top 10 team that year; they just were a very good team paired with the magic of Tebow).  However, the 7-5 record in 2005 was a big misstep (though how we would have loved that record last year!), the 2006 season started fantastic, but our vaunted D gave up 30+ in its last 2 games (both losses), and then 2007 had the Horror, the galatic beatdown by Oregon, and yet another loss to OSU.


Carr went out when he should have - the program was slipping.  Unfortunately, it has slipped much more since then and it's been a hard road to get back.


May 14th, 2010 at 2:47 PM ^

he would say the game was changing, and he preferred to retire and enjoy life, and let the next coach help guide UofM through the changes. In fact I think he damned near said that in his retirement presser.

When Bo took over there supposedly wasn't a strength and conditioning program. Gittleson came in and created a program that built players to win the Big Ten. This worked great for a long time. We won Big Ten Championships and most teams in the Conference hated to play us.

Football evolved in the outer world, and the evolution edged into the Big Ten. Gittleson to Barwis is a continuation of our own evolution.

Respect the past and cheer for the future ...


May 15th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

I don't think that you can point to one game that showed the decline in Lloyd and company. However, there were a lot of pitchforks and torches being brandished after that App State game.

That being said, I don't think there was a decline in his ability to coach...maybe a shift in interest in coaching. Wins on the field started to decline. Recruiting efforts started to wane...maybe that is too strong a word...classes weren't as balanced as they had been in the past. And there is that God awful Ohio State record...Being a college coach means staying on top of kids going to class, recruiting the next great Wolverine, knowing the latest trends in teaching football in it's many aspects, including strength and conditioning and being able to adapt (figure out the spread). It all can take a toll on you. I just think Lloyd was transitioning in life later in his years and whether consciously, or unconsciously I think it started to show in the performance of the team.

Blue boy johnson

May 15th, 2010 at 5:34 PM ^

I tend to agree with you, I don't for a minute think the game passed Lloyd by, but I do think Lloyd could not keep working at the relentless pace necessary to stay on top. Just look at Urban Meyer and his burnout. Working in such a pressure filled environment takes its toll on people. Check out how much RR has aged since taking the M job. Here is hoping RR gets some good fortune this season and exceeds expectations.


May 14th, 2010 at 2:46 PM ^

this may be right.  it might  be the case that gitt's conditioning methods were at the head of the class in 97 and just aren't now.  we don't have to think lowly of gitt to think highly of barwis.


May 14th, 2010 at 3:11 PM ^

"Barwis'methodology is apparently desigined to produce both strength and speed, with an accent on explosion."

As opposed to Gittleson's, which was designed to produce weakness and slowness, with an accent on implosion.

"One of the most frustrating and repetitive experiences for me was to see maize and blue linemen or LB's bust into the backfield, only to have the QB scramble just out of reach and complete a big play.  I don't see that happening with the current team."

Why scramble to complete a big play when you can immediately complete the pass over 5'8" Boubacar Cissoko, freshman walk-on Jordan Kovacs, etc.?


May 14th, 2010 at 4:48 PM ^

Both of Magnus's comments here are 100% on the money correct for ether their sarcasm or analysis.

Like others have said, both Gittleson and Barwis were/are really good at what they did/do. Not sure we get anywhere with this armchair criticism.


May 14th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

The thing was, his training style would not have worked with the type of athletes we need on this team now. He was a solid strength coach but I think Barwis is a lot better.

Big Boutros

May 14th, 2010 at 1:43 PM ^

Barwis always speaks highly of Gittleson when his predecessor comes up in the course of an interview. Gittleson was as much a pioneer in the field during his time at Michigan as Barwis is today. I don't think Barwis would take offense to Griese's comments, so I'm certainly not going to.

Elno Lewis

May 14th, 2010 at 1:47 PM ^

about Gittleson, but he has a NC, and 5 Big Ten Titles.  What does Barwis has?


And, who doesn't love pizza!


don't worry. i'll neg myself out the door.


May 14th, 2010 at 1:52 PM ^

Mike Barwis would also agree with you wrt Brandon Graham. Barwis has said repeatedly that all he does is provide the tools, the kids do the work. So yes, BG gets credit for becoming the player he is because he himself put the work in to get there.

Also, I never thought the glaring issue with Michigan's program had ever been S&C. Michigan's problems had a lot more to do with injuries, early departures, lack of significant defensive talent, and not maxing out potential on offense.

In a lot of ways Gittelson's program made a lot of sense given Michigan's style of play. Barwis is running a program to fit what RR does. Simple.


May 14th, 2010 at 2:15 PM ^

 I played multiple sports in high school, and I can tell you that even at that level, there is a distinct difference in how your body feels in football, wrestling, basketball and baseball.  The training regiments are different for each and it doesn't take long for your body to feel different.  I agree that Gittelson's program was probably geared towards the power game than the speed game we are trying to play now.  I don't know if it is out of date or not, as I think Wisconsin and some other schools still use it to a varied level of success, but we are deffinately stepping away from it here. 


May 14th, 2010 at 2:24 PM ^

If I recall Brian Griese's training regimen while at Michigan, it would have gone very well with Gittleson's pizza-based program!


May 14th, 2010 at 3:05 PM ^

a Big 10 team, or any D-1 team for that matter, "stepped up" or "really committed" themsleves to the off-season conditioning program is complete horseshit.  That's like saying a Big 10 or D-1 team nees headline materials from an opponent to get "motivated" or "fired up" for a game.  If you're playing at the D-1 level, particularly for the Big Ten, you should already be committed 100% to the off-season conditioning, just like you should be fired up and motivated for every game.  I just find it hard to believe that this "extra effort" in the offseason translated into a national championship.  If they weren't working that hard already, they shouldn't be playing at Michigan, let alone any other D-1 program. 


May 14th, 2010 at 3:36 PM ^

Gittleson did not get to be or stay an S&C coach at a major program like UM by knowing nothing and not producing results. Was he perfect? No.

Barwis did not get to be and will not stay an S&C coach at a major program like UM by knowing nothing and not producing results. Is he perfect? Well, maybe, but the jury is still out ;)

The point is, there is nothing to be gained in ceaselesly comparing the two coaches, their philosophies and their S&C programs.

I loved Lloyd and his staff for the Michigan teams that I cheered during their tenure. I celebrated their victories and agonized over their defeats, but  just as importantly I respected the character they brought to the program. Go Blue.

I am all-in with RR and his staff thus far. I will cheer the teams they field during their tenure and will celebrate their victories as well as agonize over their defeats. I also respect the character that he and his staff bring to the program and will bring to the program long term. Here is hoping that the on the field results give us all reason over the next year or two to get past all the recent kerfluffle and bad PR. Go Blue.

Can we just say 'separate but equal' and move on?


May 14th, 2010 at 3:47 PM ^

The thing about Gittleson is that originally - in the 1970s - he was a revolutionary.  His methods were way ahead of what most other programs were doing, and served us very well.  The only problem was that he stuck with the same methods for 30 years, and his counterparts eventually caught up with and passed him.  He is a very good S&C coach whose time simply passed.


May 14th, 2010 at 4:08 PM ^

An Unverified Voracity from 2007 references an article in which Ryan Mundy compares and contrasts the two flavors via direct personal experience.

As far as the strength and conditioning program is concerned, Mundy says West Virginia’s program is much more intense than Michigan’s. Other players that have transferred to West Virginia have said similar things in the past, explaining that at some other places the players coming into the program are physically bigger and more explosive. West Virginia develops it.

Also, an article from the worldwide leader that references a revamping of Michigan's S&C program going into 2005.

"The offseason conditioning approach was revamped, too, with special attention paid to trimming fat and improving diets. "

I don't know anything about Gittleson's program or weightlifting, but that's a pretty poignant quotes in regards to this discussion. Gittleson can simultaneously be a good S&C coach and need to update his methods. Why does everything devolve into picking sides?

Hey! Michigan should go back to single platoon football because that's what Yost did and he won 4 consecutive national championships.

C'mon guys...


May 14th, 2010 at 4:46 PM ^

The style/technique comparisons between Barwis and Gittelson are kind of irrelevant to me.  It isn't like (as Magnus pointed out above) Gittelson was trying to train guys to be slow blobs of dough (nor is Barwis attempting to produce lightning-quick, wirey dwarfs).  The guy also gets way too much grief for an off the cuff comment about eating pizza to bulk up.

The thing that bothered me about the S&C program under Carr/Gittelson is exactly what Griese is referring to.  Before the 1997 season, everybody bought in and participated.  After all the close/late losses in 2005, I remember just about every offseason article referring to the renewed focus on S&C.  The team came out in 2006 and blew people away.  When the entire program got on board with offseason workouts, Carr had probably his two best regular season campaigns.  This makes me lament the fact that it wasn't as big a focus every year, so I like the fact that now it at least appears to be a prominent focus of everyone involved in the program.